Circling Back Round to Good, Accidentally | Open Thread
I'll come back to that...
But for now, following up on a quality well expressed by yesterday's video, today I point you to a wonderful article in the New York Times about Boston's Museum of Bad Art (bad art is "loosely defined as having a compelling image but poor technique"):
With its U.F.O.’s, suicidal clowns, smiling genitals and other shocking, humorous or bleakly sentimental imagery, “bad art” — or “vernacular painting” and “found art” in polite circles — has achieved the status of a genre, a tiny but devoted corner of the art world. It’s a place where the passion of an amateur is prized over the skill of a technician and where an artist’s identity is of little or no importance. It’s neither kitsch (too cheery) nor camp (too smart) nor outsider (way too good and way too expensive). The best bad art is anonymous, strange, clumsy and cheap (or free, if you’re lucky).I'm guessing that in this circle the reason the artist's identity is of little or no importance is that few expect the creator of one really good example of Bad Art to necessarily be able to produce more than one, but I'm not sure [any one?]. And that would suggest to my mind that what makes a work of art circle back round to being seen as "good" is often entirely accidental on the part of the artist.
[Don't miss this nice interactive piece "Art So Bad It's Good" with Michael Frank, the museum’s curator, talking about some of the paintings in their exhibittion: “Bigger, Badder, Beautifuller.”]
Which brings me back (cutting through via the diameter, not through some warm and fuzzy meeting at the end of a circle) to the political question. Even if someone can be so far to the right that some of their ideas are indistinguishable from those on the left, this is clearly accidental on their part, meaning it hardly matters in terms of what you can expect of them. It doesn't make them "one of us."
Which brings me back to the Museum of Bad Art article:
I don't think that "thrift store paintings" is as nonjudgmental as Mr. Shaw seems to think it is (but then that's because I know most thrift stores would present a significant work of fine art for all of about 1 day before it was snatched up by those culling through them for just such finds). I also don't think many visitors to the Metro Pictures exhibition saw it as anything other than ironic (regardless of how much they have liked individual works in the show).
The paradox of placing these works within the art world at all has roots in the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of Dada and Art Brut in past decades. It was a 1991 exhibition at the Chelsea gallery Metro Pictures, “Thrift Store Paintings,” that really put bad art on the map. The show of ugly children, distorted landscapes and other oddities, along with a book with the same title, were the brainchild of the artist Jim Shaw, a longtime collector of the horribly wonderful.
“Thrift store paintings was a nonjudgmental term,” Mr. Shaw said recently from his studio in Los Angeles. “I don’t think you should tell people what to think.”
So what's my point?
Even when the setting would suggest similarities, in politics and in art there remains a very important difference: intent.
Consider this an open thread on intent, "bad art" you love, or the vestiges of summer. We're nonjudgmental here. :-P