Art Things With Which I Have Become Annoyed

Now, I don’t mean to say that an artist shouldn’t make any damned thing they please.  Really, go on, do as you like.  Just don’t expect me to think you aren’t full of shit.

Caveat: I’ve had the flu for more than a month, so it’s possible I’m just cranky.  Gonna rant anyway.

I look at a lot of art on the web.  This qualifies me for absolutely nothing, except knowing what I like.  That said, here are a few things I’ve become (mostly, I hedge) tired of:

Artistic appropriation of pop culture. Your stormtrooper collage no longer moves me.  Your serious examination of the pathos of Alfred E. Neuman, presented in a series of room-sized oils, neither thrills nor informs me.  Rather, it says you were late on an assignment in art class because you were busy reading MAD magazine.  I know, that’s not fair.  What I’m criticizing is often serious work.  I have merely ceased to take it seriously.

Vulgarization of innocence. I admit this video of Miss Piggy singing “Fuck The Pain Away” is well-edited.  I even liked it for five minutes. But it’s still low-hanging fruit. It’s a small attempt to shock, maybe a try at humor through contrast. It doesn’t work for me anymore.  Cynicism needn’t stain every sincere thing. The teletubbies don’t need to swear.  Leave it.

Finally, the one I’m sick to death of: Altering of classic works. Every time I see an altered Mona Lisa, The Scream, or American Gothic, my eyes roll up so far into my head that I’m afraid I’ll be blinded for life.  Perhaps that would be a mercy.  There are a few dozen works that have become language on their own, and are re-used over and over again in our culture as expressive shortcuts.   For example, Warhol’s use of repetition is often used as a shortcut for the idea of mass-production.  Grant Wood’s American Gothic is altered for commentary on anything American. Neither use is inappropriate, merely lazy. Often, the artwork is altered, well, just because, with no real understanding of its use as a symbol. Oh, how my poor teeth grind.

I do realize that the artifacts of our culture are language.  There can be perfectly good reasons, other than the burning desire to be sued, to slip iconic mouse ears into a painting. Occasionally, appropriation is accomplished so well that it transcends imitation or homage, and becomes original.

Usually, it’s just crap.

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