A while ago, I wrote a piece about how I don’t “get” art. For some reason, a lot of people have been looking at it lately. After reading through the several hundred really really fucking boring comments that were left on it about why I’m wrong, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to give art yet another chance. This time enlisting the help of someone who claims to know what they’re talking about.
That chappy up there in that photo is our friend Alex, who is currently studying at the Courtauld Institute of Art which, from its Wikipedia at least, seems very important. We went to “First Thursdays,” which is the night of the month that galleries in East London stay open late to show off their new collections.
I recorded his critical thought-storms and told him I’d respond to them later. Let’s see if Alex can help me to finally “get” art.
I don’t know what this one was called, there was no sign.
Alex says: ”It’s the Jubilee soon. The idea of monarchy is back in fashion as a way of reorienting the national spirit. A way of shoring up the shortcomings that Britain is feeling, a sense of crowning icons, or creating a cult of saints. As such, these seem timely. That banal, Nicki Minaj-type-celebrity just doesn’t resound as much with people in the way the true male icons of the 60s did. People hark back to the 60s as a time when masculinity and sexual attraction could be found in its icons. In James Dean, in Elvis, in Hunter S. Thompson.”
Glen says: ”Eugh. Somebody subverted an image of Elvis again. I get it. There’s some kind of statement being made about celebrity culture. Which, sure, whatever, valid point. People DO care about celebrities as though they’re royalty! But is it not a point that’s been made a billion times before? Or a point that could be expressed verbally? Just because an idiot has a very obvious opinion on something, does he really need to create an artwork to let the world know about it? The thought of these prints hanging on the exposed brick wall of some Shoreditch warehouse conversion is making my butthole hurt.”
"Night Angel" by Ben Young
Alex says: “The childlike element of scrawling is a spontaneous reaction to what you find around you. Often the problem with people’s expectations of art is that they’re expecting something ingenious—the journalistic value of art isn’t enough. They want surplus value, they want sweat off the brow, a unique, new and seductive aesthetic. But I quite like this canvas. I think there’s palpably a lot of labor in it. I like the color. It has a nice aesthetic correlation, and in that sense, it’s considered. I think historically, it’s particularly novel.”
Glen says: “Not 100 percent sure what you’re saying here, Alex. Maybe I’m just uncultured, but I don’t think something can be both “spontaneous” and “considered.” All I’m seeing is a pile of scribble that is worth thousands of pounds, that people are going to come and stare at, in a gallery in East London that probably also costs thousands of pounds to rent per month. I can see that it might aesthetically please some people, but could they not look at a photo of it? Or give a baby some crayons and create their own pile of scribble? It all seems very wasteful.”
"L.H.O.O.Q." by Kate Hawkins
Alex says: ”You say these are both Ikea shelves? Look at his witty little mustache. It’s supposed to be a comment on how this combination of items is very infantile, low labor. It seems to be a humor comment on the middle class, or a certain type of nostalgia, perhaps for the Swedish modernism that Ikea used to be known for before everything was mass-produced. It’s meant to be a sort of art naive, in that anyone can produce it.”
Glen says: "Anyone can produce this? I am SHOCKED. So the point of this is that it’s possible for it to exist? Is that really something that needs to be pointed out to people?"