I went to an art exhibition this weekend (because I love art and more than that, I love being able to ram my culturally superior exploits down other people’s throats when they ask about my weekend) and while the exhibition was incredibly enjoyable, I was suddenly struck by an epiphany (it didn’t hurt, I was wearing padding) that challenges the popular belief that art is pretentious. Here it is, my epiphanal strike: It’s not art that’s pretentious, it’s the pompous arses who go to see it!
I know what you’re thinking. Technically, because I too attend art galleries, I must be including myself in this grand sweeping statement. Let us clarify that there are, of course, many fine people who attend these spectacles who aren’t the least bit annoying or affectatious but if I wrote about how “nice” people were, you lot would get bored. No-one dares say it but it’s way more fun to join in the scorn and derision of those around us and revel in feeling vastly superior in some way. It’s not wrong, it’s called “social humour biasing” and was documented in a study by Dr Noteffenriel. Ok, I totally made that up but didn’t you feel more comfortable about laughing at blog posts based on a scathing view of society, just for a moment?
I would also like to say that yes, there are indeed artists out there who have their heads shoved so firmly up their bottoms that they can taste the reverse of their own tonsils but that’s true of a certain number of people in most professions. You can’t blame the art that they produce for being pretentious, it is what it is. It’s the unnecessarily verbose gallery visitors who give misguided voice to these works of creativity in the same way a bimbo socialite gives anthropomorphic voice to her pet pooch – “ickle Fi-fi doesn’t wike tap water, she onwy wikes Evian! She wuvs it when we dress in matching outfits, isn’t that right Princess?” Bleurgh. All the poor dog is actually thinking is “food, poo, sleep, food, PIGEON!”. Perhaps the artist was thinking the same. None of us will ever really know.
An artist does whatever it is they do because they feel a need to do it, in much the same way I need to write and will continue to do so even if my only readers are my mother and a highly trained therapist. Sometimes they have an idea or a story that they want to tell but most of the time they don’t really have any crazy deep-rooted society warping agenda, they just felt the need to put some green paint on a pink telephone and stick it in the middle of an empty room. Probably out of boredom or quite possibly because they only had green paint left and there wasn’t a hardware store open at 03:00am in order to buy orange.
The sad thing is, certain over-inflated cretins feel the need to search for meaning and complexity in places where there isn’t necessarily any and flood the atmosphere with their fetid hot air. I love hearing about situations where these buffoons are presented with abstract works to deconstruct and they wax lyrical for hours on end, regurgitating the type of flowery sentences that usually only occur after a few good tabs of acid, only to be left choking on their free wine when it’s revealed that the artist was an elephant, or that the “painting” is actually something a toddler did with the overflow from its used nappy. Much embarrassed faces from the pretentious farts who declared it the revolutionary works of a troubled genius, much laughter from those in the cheap seats who just liked the pretty shapes and colours.
Art is many things to many people. It is something to be enjoyed, it is something to be treasured, it is something to be admired and sometimes, it’s something to cover a crack on the bathroom wall. Sadly, it is also now something for people to stand in front of while they pour forth a steaming pile of random adjectives in competition with the smug faced ego next to them. These people are ruining art galleries for the rest of us.
At the recent exhibition I went to, I read the first little plaque right by the entrance where the artist (Grayson Perry, in case you were wondering) gave a humorous introduction to his collection and advised his audience not to search for silly hidden meanings because there really wasn’t one. Thanks Grayson, tell it like it is so we can just get on with looking at the funny pretty things you made. In silence. Using our eyes… Oh dear. Sorry Grayson, you tried but it was to no avail. The arty farts were there in droves, eager to experience the exhibition. At full volume. With their mouths.
“Ah, look Timothy, see, what the artist has done here is that they have used a citric yellow in juxtaposition with the cerulean blue to create a potato waffle of incandescent visually orgasmic lampshades. This is to convey to the audience that we are mighty orbs of strawberry jelly in the pattern of life’s washing up bowl.”
“I see what you mean Patricia but I would conjecture that in this next piece, there is a small red square of angular feeling where the artist was clearly trying to convey an angry masculine sexuality and power… oh, that’s the fire alarm.”
It’s all very well to have differing thoughts and interpretations about what one sees in these places and heaven forbid that I should tell you what something is supposed to mean or how it should be appreciated but please, can we keep the verbal farts to a minimum and perhaps leave the competition to see who can be the loudest, most obnoxious talker of toot at the door? Some of us are trying to appreciate the interesting/beautiful/witty things before us and it’s difficult to see through the haze of audible manure.
Art is not pretentious, art is what it is. Even if I don’t like it, I don’t hate it. It’s the pretentious farts who leave me craving earplugs and a chainsaw. Maybe I could turn that into an exhibition… Just don’t bother trying to find a deeply profound meaning, unless you feel like participating in some grisly live performance art!
I thoroughly enjoyed your post. You seem to share my feeling that the world is gassy enough without the drivel that pours forth from the mouths of people trying to say something profound. My son has a favorite saying, and I’ll quote, “Why is it that those who know the least, always know it the loudest?” If we could instantly rid the planet of this type of gas, the populace would all be about 10% of their present volume, and we’d have plenty of room leff for growing food to feed ourselves, and we could all ride around in FIAT 500s.
Your son is a genius. Hopefully not a tortured one…
Very.eloquent…..as always . Something tells me you would find joy in spray painting profanities on an 80 year olds door . Easily my favourite part of this post would have to be where you said ‘arse’ . Cracks me up everytime (^.^)
Why thank you! 🙂
I would only spray paint rude words on a door if I could then charge people lots of money to come and see my “art”.
You SO hit the proverbial nail on the head! STFU and keep it to yourself. Artists can be really strange, others are more realistic, not badgered by the imaginary voices in their heads saying “KILL ALL SQUIRRELS!”.
It’s like blogs. Mine isn’t deep. Don’t look into it like it’s a spiritual or life enhancing venue of words and meaning. But some people have meetings to discuss shit like this! Scary, really scary. I can’t imagine what a discussion over dinner at their house must sound like!
I think a discussion over dinner with these people would be painful. The food would get cold as they deconstructed the placement of the peas on context with the abstract scattering of salt granules. SNORE!
Another sterling post. 🙂
I was at the Dali museum last month and I had someone ask me, “What do you think Dali was trying to say with this piece?”
I answered, “Well, that he likes the color red and sex… oh yeah, and that he’s kinda weird too.”
I wish you could have seen the look on his face; it was somewhere between crumbling expectations and the horrific realization that his over-analysis was a waste of his life.
I love that you were able to enlighten that prat as to what a pretentious hash he was making of his life. You’re such a giver, so selfless.
Reblogged this on Four Blue Hills (A repository, of sorts) and commented:
This is GREAT!!!!!!
Thanks so much!
I am ignorant when it comes to art. A friend spent serious money on a painting. We went to ooh and ah over it. The verbal farts were flying. I was confused. When I was asked for my opinion I said it looked like a 4 year old with crayons drew some buildings (well I’m sorry, it did) and I was wondering why it was in a frame and in the living room (with its own light, no less) when it would be perfectly at home stuck on the refrigerator with a magnet.
I’m the idiot.
Hahahahaha. That would be me, too.
I’m glad to say you wouldn’t be alone.
The emperor truly is naked sometimes and there’s no other way of telling it!
What a fantastic comment! If all that gas could be used as a propellant, those gasbags could be flying all over the room, spreading not only the offending gas, but also the offensive odor of it, as well as diminishing the source.
We could power entire cities based on the amount of guff you find in modern art galleries.
I think that the reason they looked at you like that was that they were hoping you would finish your sentence with “it looks like a 4 year old drew it… because the artist was trying to tell us about the fragility of innocence through their use of bold infantile strokes.”
Please don’t. You’re perfect just the way you are!
I hear/see this with photography all the time.
“Look at his use of negative space as an allegory about the oppression suffered by the Maori population in the 19th century.”
“The geometry of her photo clearly communicates the latent sexual tension which exists for all women within her socio-economic class.”
I get that all the time when people look at hy holiday snaps. 😉
Too true, too true. Though as an artist, I enjoy sneaking around openings where people don’t know I’m the artist and listen to the stupid things they say about my work. Unfortunately a lot of artists are also guilty of writing incredibly pretentious artist statements, which then makes viewer feel like they have permission…no are ENCOURAGED to be equally pretentious. (Not me, of course.)
I would LOVE to do that; Sneak around listening to all the waffle and piffle that people come out with in relation to something I’d done before going home to count my money and laugh maniacally.
I am not sure where I got this link from – possibly even from one of your posts. Regardless, it is an appropriate insertion to this discussion as it is an extraordinarily useful tool for such situations. I am sure there is a mobile app to go with it, somewhere. Never again will you feel at a loss for (polite) words when confronted with art farting.
I LOVE that phrase generator. I think we’ve now discovered the source of most of the hot air in London’s galleries.
I can walk through Tate Modern in about 15 minutes, I often have to go back to find my friends still staring at the first picture. People do try to read too much into something often, I just tend to do things quickly in every aspect of my life so I am not being ignorant of someones work by speeding through a gallery. (Mostly I’m just gagging for a pint so tend to hurry things along)
I have to say, I like to take my time looking at art. I like to know that when I leave, I’ve seen every single detail and therfore got maximum value from my ticket. I think a nice refreshing alcoholic beverage is a nice way to recover from having to listen to people “deconstructing” a fire extinguisher though.
I’m not adverse to carrying a cocktail through the gallery with me if they decided to provide refreshments
If the Tate started doing that, I’d buy membership for sure!
My first term on my Fine Art degree, we were told categorically to forget about “meaning” and just make it look good.
By the end of the course, I’d had to gen up on so much post-modernism, feminism, sociology, psychology, iconography and semiology to deconstruct other people’s work that I now, 3 years and another baby later, can’t understand the essays I wrote about my own work!
Still, it’s proof that the arty fartiness does wear off. Just put them all in the Priory for a couple of months with no visual stimulus other than a copy of Heat and The Very Hungy Caterpillar, and they’ll be fine in no time.
I say force them to listen to recordings of their own drivel in a kind of A Clockwork Orange style aversion therapy.
Speaking of culturally superior. . . I’m reminded of an old joke: Psychiatrist to patient: You don’t have an inferiority complex. You ARE inferior.
Love it. It reminds me of a similar joke. A person suffering severe paranoia decides to move to London, so at least their fears will be justified.
“Engaging the inner life without distraction is the only path to real truth” (JamesW 2012, excerpt from ‘The life and times of a trying man’ which is not available in good book shops). I too despair at waffle even when I’m guilty of committing it myself(!). Clearly we are suffering from clutter overload: Too much possessions, distractions and as you point out, even verbal diarrhoea in an art exhibition. With great posts like this, the eternal message of ‘Less is more’ still stands a chance of winning the day.
I shall avoid a waffly reply and simply say “thanks”!
Some people have WAY too much time on their hands if they are choosing such a subject matter as a fart! What the heck!? In the fart’s defense, maybe it is feeling “severely under appreciated” and this artist just picked up on it. Or maybe the artist was just expressing his “bad gas” and sharing it. You know….it’s no different than walking thru the store and crop dusting…share the wealth!
Brilliant. I think I shall rename these art “critics” ‘verbal crop dusters’ from now on.
I recently went to an art exhibition (mainly for the free appetizers and wine – not to be sniffed at). Anyway, after over-hearing many comments about use of space and light, other-worldly representations and all that, I concluded that I simply didn’t “get it”. Thankfully, I was with friends who didn’t “get it” either – I believe our night was much more fun than those who were in the know!
I doubt that anyone in the room “got it”. You were just the only ones sensible enough not to try blending in with the verbal flatulence and clearly also sensible enough to hang around the door where the waiters bring out the canapés and vino!
I thought you were talking about this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Fart-Joy-Flatulence-ebook/dp/B006MISNFI/
Now that’s art! 😀
I now desperately want an anal accordion.
Going with my gut memory here. Upon being forced to read A Separate Peace I began to like it, then was told there was deep symbolism in the Tree and Branch. I wrote the following, “Sometimes a tree is just a tree.” And Sometimes a patch of red is just a fire alarm. Go figure.
As for writing as art, I like to say write for yourself, but leave room for the reader. ~Regards, Dan
(PS – Is it pretentious to stare at The Green Fiddler for about an hour and answer when asked what I thought, “I liked it.”?)
I can think of no better answer to give as to why you stared at a painting. Well, other than “is it hanging straight?” 😉
Hidden symbolism makes me run for the door, especially when it’s a phrase being touted by anyone other than the person who allegedly put it there. Load of old toot!