The Cratering of Contemporary Art

Crappy, but clean, art
What you're looking at is a cheap plastic pan that you can pick up at any Lowes or Home Depot, surrounded by equally cheap lumber that can be picked up at the same locations.

What makes this particularly cheap plastic piece unique is that it is a part of a contemporary art [sic] "installation" in Germany titled "When the Roof Begins to Leak" by German artist Martin Kippenberger. It's unfortunate he died at the age of 44 in 1997, or he might have been around to stop a cleaning woman from cleaning part of his "installation" and thus ruining what is valued as a $1 million work of art [sic].

A tall pile of artistic crap
It should be noted that the hired help "was unaware of museum rules prohibiting cleaning staff getting with 20 centimetres of pieces or art." That's what you get when you pay minimum €uro for your cleaning help, and fail to invest in decent art education capable of training the hoi polloi to recognize art when they see it.

But then if we had decent art education we wouldn't have to worry about trashing such trashy but expensive art, because the people who are paid significant sums of money (relative to the cleaning help) to be in charge of gathering and maintaining art would recognize a pile of trash when they saw it, thus not spending outrageous sums on obvious trash, thus avoiding setting up such situations in the first place and avoiding the embarrassing results.

If This Goes On

This is certainly not the first time that good money has been spent on worthless art. This abuse of art can be traced directly to Marcel Duchamp and his 1917 work Fountain. Duchamp was part of Dadaism, which stated in part that the art of the time had so degenerated that what was considered art really wasn't art. And so the Fountain was produced as both a joke on the art world as well as a statement about the art world's inability to tell a urinal tipped on its side from real art. The majority of the art world, wanting so desperately to be considered cool by their peers and the hoi polloi, refused to recognize the joke let alone the implications of Dadaism.

And so Fountain and every other pile of junk that could be even remotely considered art was accepted as art just to be on the safe side, lest the keepers of artistic order be considered exclusionary, pretentious, intellectually bankrupt and tasteless bourgeoisie, completely out of touch with reality, which of course they proved to be by supporting such crap.

Even more crap disguised as art
But Wait, There's More!

If this were an isolated incident I wouldn't vent so much of my spleen. But there's a whole lot more of this crap posing as art, and a lot of it front and center. Consider if you will some of the posters for the London 2012 summer games (Bridget Riley and Chris Ofili to the right).

The ones that really catch my 'ire' are a series of twelve produced by "leading UK artists" according to the BBC.

I've seen better work produced by five-year-olds. I've seen better work from Congo, the dead chimpanzee. I've seen a hell of a lot better from LeRoy Neiman, and he's still alive and thus available. Even I could do better, and that's not saying much.

Art is an important barometer of cultural health. Bad art and the poor interpretation of good art doesn't necessarily mean our civilization teeters on the brink of a new dark age, but when you combine it with all our other issues involving climate, finance, violence, and the sorry state of the world in general, is it any wonder we literally throw crap up on a wall to see what sticks and consequently label it as art?


  1. Bill...

    Art is a pretty subjective thing, and beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.

    However, I still find myself in full agreement with your post.

    I just don't think you can label every piece of crap made as "art" simply because some fool is willing to pay a lot of money for it for it.

    Picasso, Rembrandt, Mattise, and Degas are all safe. No one will ever enter the pantheon of great artists with a plastic pan and some sticks. Heck, even Norman Rockwell is safe...


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