Work of Art: Season 2, Episode 9

It’s the last deathmarch before the finale! Just like the artestants, I have no idea what to expect. Work of Art’s second season has been all over the place — from the inspired to the tired. Mmm hmm, you see what I did there? We have two peoples’ dreams to crush, so let’s get to it. The Fiat 500 waits for no one!

For no apparent reason the challenge is to make a portrait of someone in Cold Spring, NY. Not a…here’s a crazy idea for a challenge set in a majestic Hudson Valley hamlet…landscape? No, a portrait. No need to explain. We totesunderstand. As a former portrait photographer, I can attest to it being extremely difficult to get people to sit for one. Well, not extremely difficult when you post impostor pictures of yourself online and don’t tell your subjects you’re photographing them. I mean what? What’s happening? Art!

Young has the brilliant idea of photographing another artist who is painting a portrait of him for $200 in 20 minutes. He then goes on to describe the object:subject relationship, the gaze if you will, inherent to photography — the reason I’m personally interested in it. Young’s time with the artist is of course very brief (and we are given but a few seconds onscreen anyway), but I think there must have been some enzymatic reaction between the subject and his object, but which was which? Having both in their element, I imagine each was able to gauge something deeper from the other. Plus, I intuited some sort of homoerotic dynamic between the two, and that’s seldom not an interesting layer in portraiture.

Since I’ve complained about Simone’s studio visits so frequently in the past I feel compelled to point out that this week he had several pointed things to say. Maybe it’s a result of the work being overall much improved over last week’s. Dusty is the only one who changes his course, although all he really does it change the “pixels” of his portrait to origami “fortune tellers” (from M&M’s?).

So how did everyone do? In general I’d say every piece feels finished, falling-apart candy or no.

Dusty: The problem with the piece isn’t that candy is falling off — which Lola oddly takes the stance that it’s unintentional and thus not a positive — it’s that Dusty admittedly interviewed his child subject and went straight to a literal “kids like candy” approach. It’s garish and boring. And the candy isn’t edible [because it is covered in glue]. I’m beyond impressed that China says that there is nothing special about it because it could just as easily be made out of Lego or some other colorful generic object. Touche. ELIMINATED…finally!

Young: I also really like Young’s, but I have two problems: 1) it’s too Roni Horn, and 2) it doesn’t need the other artist’s painting, despite what the judges say. Jerry points out that the piece is messy yet tidy, and not in a good/tense way. Sadly, he is only SAFE.

Lola: Shockingly, I really love this currency piece. It is admirable, and it is the best of the five. I barely want it to be more anthropomorphic, despite the challenge, but even so on some level it reminds me a little of legs and feet. I think this week we learn that Lola is actually a text-based artist, as evidenced by this being maybe her most successful piece. She should drop the drawing for now and concentrate on her interest in text. Like Sara, we don’t really need to know her subjects have an interest in collecting money; it’s clear. ELIMINATED…what the fuck! This piece was Lola’s best and this week’s best.

Sara J…just “Sara” now apparently: I loved this portrait. We have the strange aluminum pin/line drawing thing on the one hand and then the burnt/charcoal etching waterfall thing on the other hand. Both are cool, and if I had to make one complaint it would be that maybe each stands on its own. We don’t even need to know that the subject has a background in firefighting to appreciate it. SAFE!

Kymia: The painting is certainly agreeable and fun, but I’m not really getting anything either way from it. It’s weird and detailed. OK. It has a little antique box from the subjects. OK. What is going on? It looks decorative, but in the sense that I’m impressed by her hand. THE WINNER…meh. I feel like she won because she had the most intricate hand-drawn detail.


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