Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Current State of Art Criticism

Boingboing has a post about what has been voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by British art: a urinal signed by Marcel Duchamp. I have been ignoring art and art critics ever since modern art turned into a contest of who can be more shocking than the rest. In some ways I think the reaction to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" was about the crassness of people who think juxtaposing vastly different concepts is the same as being an artist.

To pick a toilet that an artist found, signed, and put on display over the works of Matisse, Picasso and so many others is just stupid, and insulting. I have to quote the whole story below, because it's just so unbelievably moronic:

A white gentlemen's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year's Turner Prize which takes place on Monday.

Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) was second, with Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych from 1962 coming third.

Duchamp shocked the art establishment when he took the urinal, signed it and put it on display in 1917.

"The choice of Duchamp's Fountain as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock," said art expert Simon Wilson.

"But it reflects the dynamic nature of art today and the idea that the creative process that goes into a work of art is the most important thing - the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form."

Picasso's Spanish Civil War painting, Guernica, came fourth, while Matisse's The Red Studio was fifth.

Duchamp has influenced many contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin - her unmade bed was inspired by the French artist.


Her fucking unmade bed? My unmade be was inspired by getting up too late to make it before work. Am I an artist too? I guess so, since "the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form." My view of the modern art world is easy to define, in the words of Chip Morningstar: a "constitutional inability to adopt a reasonable way to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff." Or in the words of H.L. Mencken, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Amen, brothers.

3 comments:

Borhol Quib said...

Being a fan of art theft, and its potential as an art movement in itself, I've always fancied the idea of nabbing this urinal and attempting to get a refund on it from a local toilet store.

This should in no way be construed as intention to perform said theft.

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Anonymous said...

I think you might find the artist Duchamp would agree with your general contention, but perhaps with a higher intellectual understanding of it's logic.
The concept involved in the work, specifically called 'anti-art' for a reason, is that it disengages from any accepted aesthetic of the time. Duchamps purpose was to make a mockery of the art world and the sucess of the work would delight him further.
It was really a great acheivement, and certaintly not worthy of such mindless insults from the likes of you. Honestly, had you ever consider to think before you spoke.
Very amusing post otherwise (I'm sure it was wholly and unconsciously done.

S.