Sarah discovered this t.v. show Art or Not? which is on the Ovation channel, whatever that is.
It’s entertaining, although there’s something about the premise that is a little bit corny — I mean, the question isn’t really whether the jello sculpture, say, is art (what else would it be?), but whether it’s crappy art or at all smart/interesting. Each episode features some contemporary artist and then a few responses to the work by critics, art professionals, and ordinary joe types. Most of the commentators are blandly positive: “conceptually, the jello sculpture makes a really interesting statement…” What makes the show is this guy Matt Gleason who is amusingly mean and biting with a kind of Michiko Kukatani flair for the crushing one-liner. On Shepard Fairey, for example, creator of the Andre the Giant icon and, recently, one of the better-known Obama posters (which we actually have on our wall): “he’s a brand promoter… At the end of the day, it’s a very empty experience.”
Gleason is the (an?) editor of the Coagula Art Journal which on a quick perusal seems really good.
I’m sure Gleason is very conservative about the contemporary art scene and perhaps unfairly prejudiced against certain kinds of conceptual art, but it’s just fun to encounter a strong-willed critic who has a forceful P.O.V. and is not afraid to call out work he finds empty or vacuous. This drives me crazy about a lot of contemporary art criticism (what little I see of it), its tendency towards bland description as a norm.
I’ll also point out that Gleason was a big fan of the tattoo artist they had on the show, so it’s not as if he’s only into oil painting or whatever. This is an excerpt from the Shepard Fairey episode of the show: