Work of Art: Season 2, Episode 3

Ah, this show. It’s not horrible? By no fault of its own, the art world just happens to be in the midst of one of its biggest weeks of the year; we’re on the verge of the big contemporary auctions in New York, which occur in mid-November and mid-May. I say “happens” because you wouldn’t have known that having watching this week’s America Hates the Arts! It’s ironic given that the ostensible mentor is none other than Simone de Pury. In fact they visit the auction house, Phillips de Pury, which is incorrectly described as a “gallery.” The Bravo audience wouldn’t understand that? Ugh, moving on.

There’s a hilarious little blip at the beginning where the contestants joke that maybe this week they’ll have a “physical challenge,” which I appreciate because despite this show obviously being artificial and dramatic by nature, these people are probably actual practicing artists. They know they are on TV, and they know this show has little to no bearing on their lives. Later they joke further that the judges will force them to use only one hand to complete their pieces. It’s perhaps a silly, delirious suggestion, but certainly not one I’ve never seen on the likes of Top Chef. Sure, it’s a small point, but one of the rare moments when I realize it’s also OK if I participate in the show by proxy.

It’s odd that the artestants are given all of these tools and supplies, yet they don’t have a darkroom or even a photo studio. They do have a large format roll printer, computers, and cameras. But no space to take professionally lit pictures. Why? So that we see them cowering in the bathroom half-naked; that’s the only reason I can think of.

They all clap a little too much when it’s revealed that the winner will receive a “two page spread in Entertainment.” Um, that’s a thing? What does that even mean? When it’s a modeling, fashion, or even home design competition I could see how a photo spread in a mainstream magazine would be beneficial. But an artist? They couldn’t get Art Forum? Actually they probably couldn’t get Art Forum, for other reasons.

Here’s a compliment for Bravo: Thumbs up for not blurring those breasts when they were displayed in the obvious context of a work of art (they were blurred in the more verite filmmaking of the show itself). It was more than a little surprising to see straight-up nipple on cable television. Of course, they still bleep “tits,” among other expletives, but still.

Before we get to the “gallery show,” I just would like to take this opportunity to seriously question how they were able to get Rob Pruitt to be on this show. Now I would like to question why they did not give him a makeover. This is television?

Side Note: As The Sucklord is exiting the “gallery show” after being named one of the not winning yet not losing group, we see he’s bogarted at least four beers. Loves it.

The Winners!

Young: I did like this piece. Yes, it’s sort of obvious. But it stands up well, no pun intended. For once, I think the judges’ thoughts are spot-on. It does pop, which was the point, yet it isn’t so literal. Yet it is. It’s large and red, which you know, in art school is never bad. It’s got an interactive element (graffiti?) yet that doesn’t really hamper it. Overall it’s definitely not the most interesting, but he deserves to be in the top.

Kymia: This is maybe my favorite. Again, everything the judges say is true. They’re on a roll this week! I keep coming back to the lights. In her earlier mockup we see she’s placed the fluorescent tubes behind the image, but in the final piece they are up front. It’s maybe not subtle, but it’s a smart decision. Her piece works (and by “works” I am mean in the sense that this is art school, which it is..with cameras) because it requires almost no explanation. It’s a water bottle with a clear display element, yet it’s not just a backlit advertisement, and obviously we have the aforementioned nips. I dunno, I don’t want to sound like I’m just so in love with it, but for what she had to work with you have to admit that there is something interesting in what she produced. Sadly, she LOSES to Young, although again, I don’t think he totally was undeserving.

The Losers! (The Winners?)

Gosh, there were only two top artestants.

Dusty: Wow, I am surprised. I rather liked his trash/recycling bin thing. It was one of the few (only?) that didn’t take the pop challenge either literally or make it so politically charged. It is very cleaned made. That gives it, for me at least, a really subdued pleasant presence. But it’s a trash can. I don’ t really get one reading from it. I think what really brings it home for me is that little raised part on the top — that element that keeps your trays in place after you’ve dumped your garbage in the can at a Wendy’s. It’s such a mundane and forgettable part of everyone’s experience with fast food, and for that I think he maybe completed this challenge more than the others. I kind of thought he’d be in the top? Then the judges think it’s too open-ended? What? They want it to be super straight-forward and literal? Then China suggests he used “poppy colors.” Because that’s pop? Ugh. In the judges defense, I do think Rusty sort of happened on this aesthetic (maybe he’s just good at making trash cans?). SAFE!

Michelle: The editing makes is painfully clear that she’s ripping off Warhol without “updating” him. Which, I mean, so? What is this show anyway? Isn’t this just all a rip off of everything? Oh I give up. STILL SHE’S SAFE!

Jazz-Minh: Yah, I mean…this is such a disaster. Where are we getting Brittany Spears, exactly? She just took a picture of herself. Why is the bad girl photo reversed so that you can’t read the writing? I mean there’s so little to talk about here. ELIMINATED!

Leon: I mean there’s really nothing here that’s altogether amazing nor terrible. It’s exactly the kind of piece you’d see in art school and say, “yah, you did a lot of work, and I can see you had a clear point of view.” It’s a solid B. Right? Plus, I gather that Leon is by no stretch of the imagination not an actual practicing artist (as opposed to a fame whore). I seriously don’t think he was the worst. PEACE’D OUT!

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