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"Hey, my Cheetah could paint that!"
February 9, 2008 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Human artist or ape artist? Six paintings, six chances to show your expertise or just guess correctly. (Previously) Hint inside.

All the ape paintings are by the same primate; all the human paintings are by different famous humans.
posted by maudlin (71 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got a 100%.

To make it interesting you could add the cat paintings and elephant paintings. There is an elephant painting site where you can buy the art to help protect the elephants.
posted by 45moore45 at 10:43 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Woohoo! 100%, Baby, I know my primate art!

Fun link, thank you.
posted by misha at 10:43 AM on February 9, 2008


83%. I think Jackson Pollock was actually an ape, though.
posted by not_on_display at 10:47 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I got one wrong. But I was using the rationale "If it looks shit it could be either, but if it looks like its trying to be something, then it's likely a human did it.

I'm not sure what this proves - I thought the first one was so shite that it had to be random chimpanzee paint splodge, but apparently some guy did this. What's the conclusion? That apes can produce works similar to (supposedly) great artists? Or that great artists produce such hideous piles of shit that an ape could do the same in 10 minutes of flapping a paint brush around randomly?

I suspect the other pieces were only considered 'art' because of who painted them, rather than any statement of their content. I'm not sure that 'famous artists' should get immunity from people pointing and saying "What the hell is that pile of shit? Were you drunk?"
posted by Brockles at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2008


Well, the Pollock or birds quiz on the same site is even easier. I thought only the primate one might fool a few people.

But so far, people are being clever. Very, very clever. Oh, will no one come on over and provide us keeners with the chance to point and laugh at your imperfections?

(On preview: *points and laughs at not_on_display, then gives him a playful noogie*)
posted by maudlin at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2008


100%
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2008


Your score is 100%

It was easy. The human art looks more deliberate.
posted by interrobang at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2008


100%. The three that were by artists had structure, the three by apes didn't even stay on the canvas. Really easy.
posted by flatluigi at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2008


My chimp painting.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on February 9, 2008


The fact that people who know much about modern art can ascertain the difference (100% for me on this admittedly small sample) is really a good argument against those, the majority by far, (see Komar and Melamid, previously posted here, I'm sure) who think modern art is just flung paint that would be worth nothing were it not for the name (Pollock, Klee, Rothko et al.) attached. Aesthetics, anyone?
posted by kozad at 10:58 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got an 83%. That means I got one wrong. I second guessed myself on the first one. It looked like someone just sat by the canvas and spread paint onto the canvas with their hands. Since it was so obviously ape-like, I figured the first image in the quiz would be a trick question, so I chose human. I used similar pessimistic reverse psychology determinants on the other five, which actually means I may have only gotten one right.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2008


It was definitely the variation in composition and the more deliberate technique that tipped me off for my 100%, even though I didn't recognize the specific famous paintings.

But even some of the ape paintings pleased me. It appears that Congo and other ape artists do behave as if they have an aesthetic impulse they're trying to satisfy, even if their results fall technically short of the great abstract painters. If you judge art solely by results, I'd say that ape art was interesting but mediocre art, or something falling between art and nature. If you judge art by the intent to make art, I'd say that some apes, and maybe some other animals, are artists -- at least until they get bored of the whole thing.
posted by maudlin at 11:08 AM on February 9, 2008


Your score is 100%
Art school was not wasted on me. oh yes it was, but let me have this moment kthx.
posted by dabitch at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I looked for repeating patterns and geometric shapes. 83% isn't bad, methinks.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2008


83% for me.
posted by jayder at 11:11 AM on February 9, 2008


True Art or Fake is a bit tougher...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2008


100% -- gotta love the Philistines though who make these sorts of tests though.
posted by Raoul de Noget at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


100% As others have said the monkey art looks a bit more random.
posted by chunking express at 11:44 AM on February 9, 2008


67%

:::stays after school::::
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 AM on February 9, 2008


If being done by an animal makes it not art, then aren't the one's done by artists. by definition, not art? Or are Pollock et al not flesh and blood as we?

Humanity has a couple advantages over the apes. The big one, mentally, is speech, which opens up all kinds of possibilities in cognition department. A while back I read about an experiment a while back where they gave people a dirt simple task to perform and they succeeded about 100% of the time. They they gave them a second, speech center occupying task to perform and had them try again. Suddenly their performance fell to the same level as that of a rat - about 50%. Words don't help with these paintings. As someone said upthread, if it looks like they were trying to paint something, it was clearly a human.

But going back and looking at everything stylistically, it should have been obvious that 1 (which I really like), 2 and 5 were done by the same individual. If you gave me a mess of ape paintings would they all look the same or would individual styles stand out there as well?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2008


83% on the True Art of Fake quiz, which is way trickier, since abstract art is pretty crap.
posted by chunking express at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2008


100% -- I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. (And btw I think it is precisely this ability which distinguishes us from the apes.)
posted by sour cream at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2008


100%. All ape pictures go off the bottom and did not fill in the top of the canvas.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:47 AM on February 9, 2008


Kid Charlemagne: If being done by an animal makes it not art, then aren't the one's done by artists. by definition, not art?

You're totally begging the question, dude. (Ha, take that, prescriptive linguists.)
posted by sour cream at 11:52 AM on February 9, 2008


Looking at some of the other tests, well, look at "Donald Judd, or Cheap Furniture?" It's not like Greene and Greene or Gustav Stickley made the furniture that they designed. I could take the design elements of the Greene's or Stickley, apply them to the concept of an entertainment center, and end up with an attractive piece of furniture that would not look out of place with other pieces of their furniture (as long as you didn't think about it too hard). I would not say that I designed that piece of furniture.

So why is it not be Donald Judd if someone does knock offs using his design principals?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:57 AM on February 9, 2008


whoa, I thought it said "...or rape artist". That really confused me for a minute there.
posted by revmitcz at 12:03 PM on February 9, 2008


100% was that supposed to be hard?
posted by smoothvirus at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2008


If being done by an animal makes it not art,

The first line in the post says "Human artist or ape artist?" so I'm not sure how you came to your conclusion.


::leaves school early:::
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on February 9, 2008


The first line in the post says "Human artist or ape artist?" so I'm not sure how you came to your conclusion.
But the choices you are given after each painting are "Ape" and "Artist".
posted by Flunkie at 12:19 PM on February 9, 2008


I don't like the questions, because 100% of the paintings were produced by artists, and 100% of the paintings were produced by apes. But I understand what they meant. Got 100%.
posted by yath at 12:31 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


from FearfulSymmetry's link:

"Josef Albers, Study for homage to the square, 1954
12. Right answer: True art Your answer: A fake "


It's just a square inside a stupid square. My answer still stands. Albers was a fake. I'm not a fan of minimalism.

What I don't understand about myself is why I think this is crap, but this is inspired.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:40 PM on February 9, 2008


83%

I got the first one wrong. Back to Art Theory class with me, so.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2008


But the choices you are given after each painting are "Ape" and "Artist".

::drops outta school, starts dealing:::
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2008


Sad to say, 83% is me.
posted by malwilde at 1:03 PM on February 9, 2008


100%. I thought it was fairly obvious. I didn't know any of the human paintings before.
posted by unSane at 1:16 PM on February 9, 2008


I also got 100%.

*shrug*
posted by delmoi at 1:16 PM on February 9, 2008


While my 8-year-old could probably not produce a Pollack, she did just get a 100%. All those years of dragging her kicking and screaming to SF MOMA have finally paid off. Woo Hoo!
posted by Fennel B. at 1:22 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just a square inside a stupid square. My answer still stands. Albers was a fake. I'm not a fan of minimalism.

Albers is easier to deal with if you think of him simply as a color theorist, not a Minimalist. He put squares inside of squares to see how the colors would interact. As a student-of-a-student-of Josef Albers, my appreciation for him is about how he looked at colors quasi-scientifically: if I put a green square inside a red one, does it turn grayish? Yes, it does. Let's see what happens if we put a blue square of the same intensity inside the green one. It looks bright and shiny! That's what Albers was interested in, and that's what his work is about.
posted by interrobang at 1:24 PM on February 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


One of those ape paintings is very attractive, and I would happily hang it in my home. So there.
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2008


I can imagine that you could make a much tougher True Art or Fake quiz if you spent more than 10 minutes in Photoshop to create the fakes. I'm also pretty sure that if you presented the real art at a higher resolution, it would be incredibly easy.
posted by ssg at 2:11 PM on February 9, 2008


ZachsMind: What I don't understand about myself is why I think this [Albers] is crap, but this [Malevich] is inspired.

It might be because the Malevich piece retains a lot more displayed at 300x300 on a monitor than the Albers does.
posted by ssg at 2:17 PM on February 9, 2008


100%. Next.
posted by itchylick at 2:24 PM on February 9, 2008


100%

But I'm an artist, and I recognized all three of the human created paintings.

However - if you know art at all, and how paint and brushes behave - it's easy to tell the humans apart from the apes by brushstroke and "hand" alone. The brushstrokes on the ape paintings are all from coarse brushes held in a sort of "fist" or "overhand" grip with lots of stabbing/jabbing brush strokes.

Tangentially, elephant paintings tend to have a more "slappy" hand with lots of bent-brush strokes.
posted by loquacious at 2:24 PM on February 9, 2008


If being done by an animal makes it not art, then aren't the one's done by artists. by definition, not art? Or are Pollock et al not flesh and blood as we?

But the choices you are given after each painting are "Ape" and "Artist".

But that view involved some odd assumptions/leaps of logic:

That someone has to be an artist to produce something that can be called 'art'.

That if someone/thing doesn't call themself an artist, they can't produce art.

There are also some other implications too, that everything an artist produces is 'art' (not just a 'bad day/fuckup' mess of colour) and that art can only be from humans.

Kind of opens up a whole load of philosophical questions about when a load of paint becomes a painting, and when that painting becomes art, but that is hardly new ground, is it? Personally, I thought they were all pretty much random messes of colour, but I'm an Engineer, so I'm not sure that's entirely surprising.
posted by Brockles at 2:26 PM on February 9, 2008


I inquired about purchasing a Cheetah painting over a year ago and never got a reply. Brilliant painter, but what an asshole to just leave me hanging.
posted by itchylick at 2:29 PM on February 9, 2008


Human artist or ape artist?

That's kinda like saying "penguins or birds," considering humans are apes....
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:32 PM on February 9, 2008


Engineer here, too, but also an artist. I got 100% without much thought.
posted by rocket88 at 2:33 PM on February 9, 2008


100%. It was easy.
Dots and streaks of paint, but nothing else = ape.
Inclusion of some actual shapes painted within the layers = human.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:35 PM on February 9, 2008


100%

They kind of ballsed up the quiz by making it so short and picking two incredibly famous artists with easily recognised styles, though - if it had been full of relative obscurities like Nay, I wonder if we would all have done so well.
posted by jack_mo at 3:12 PM on February 9, 2008


OR if they had just included some apes who weren't abstract expressionists.
posted by dirtdirt at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Being "art ignorant" (i.e. dunno much about, but know what like nngh), I found the "famous or unknown artist" quiz a little more challenging. The "unknown artists" are people who are famous in other walks of life.
posted by not_on_display at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2008


100% on the True Art vs Fake art. Damn those tricky apes.

100% on Famous Artist or not, but that was kinda easy 'cause many signed their paintings.

Never seen any of Hitler's art before. He would have made a nice commercial illustrator.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2008


Holy shit! Check out the Adolf Hitler pieces on that "famous or unknown artist" link that not_on_display posted.
posted by 45moore45 at 4:31 PM on February 9, 2008


100% Chimp or Human
58% Abstract by a famous person vs. Fake
92% Famous vs. Unfamous --I actually liked Churchill's nuns among the trees. It had elements that reminded me of Tolkien's illustration, which makes me wonder about art education in Britain at the beginning of the last century. . .
posted by MasonDixon at 4:40 PM on February 9, 2008


I thought Hitler's painting was at best mediocre. Churchill's pic was kinda interesting though.

On preview: Hi, masondixon.
posted by ersatz at 4:48 PM on February 9, 2008


100%, didn't know any, not an artist. Very easy.
posted by asusu at 4:56 PM on February 9, 2008


100%. Another helpful hint: the human paintings aren't made out of tempera paints and construction paper.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 5:22 PM on February 9, 2008


Urrr, I got ONE HUNDRED PERSANT! And I'm going to post it in the comments section here, because that's what it's for: petty schlong comparisons. Oh no, there's nothing else interesting about this website.
posted by tehloki at 5:40 PM on February 9, 2008


100%
posted by MythMaker at 6:12 PM on February 9, 2008


Yet another 100%, but I spend my money on the ape art.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 7:40 PM on February 9, 2008


I suck at this flash game.
posted by not_on_display at 8:08 PM on February 9, 2008


I actually think the Hitler paintings in the "famous/unknown" quiz do pretty well at disproving the philistine idea that "abstract=bad, realist=good." Look at them: they're realistic, but they have no emotional impact, no expression, no vividness. They're just draftsman's sketches. Whereas, if you look at something like the Kandinsky painting, the essence of art comes through. Whether you're receptive to it is another question, of course, but it's hard to deny the almost musical quality of that piece.
posted by nasreddin at 10:43 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got the first one and the last one wrong, for a mark of 67%. But 100% of these paintings suck.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 PM on February 9, 2008


Apparently I'm a fan of Eisenhower's paintings...
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:34 PM on February 9, 2008


100%
posted by jeffburdges at 7:22 AM on February 10, 2008


I wonder if they've gone so far as to attempt to teach chimps any sort of drawing/paint techniques beyond "slap some color on this". They can be taught to understand symbols. Could they be taught mimic those symbols? Google search is failing to reveal anything relevant.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:32 AM on February 10, 2008


interrobang: Thanks, that was a great, succinct explanation. If I have one complaint about art is that it often doesn't come with a user's manual or a history lesson. It's so much more interesting when it does. When the wife and I hit Europe, her background knowledge made Italy (and Rome) fascinating.

Art takes effort. Who knew? Maybe I should start ponying up for the headphones at the museum...
posted by thomsplace at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2008


and when I say "and Rome," I mean "especially Rome."
posted by thomsplace at 10:45 AM on February 10, 2008


I'm getting pretty tired of these attempts to prove something by teaching animals to paint. You can teach animals to do all sorts of things they wouldn't normally do. You can train your dog to fetch your slippers, but don't expect her to open up a shoe store anytime soon. You can put a straw hat on a donkey but that's not going to have much impact on the world of fashion. You can train a chimp or an elephant to slap paint around, but they're just responding to the cues of their trainers and their own way of reacting to stimuli around them. That's a far cry from having ideas to express.

If we're going to talk about animals having aesthetics and creativity, it makes a lot more sense to talk about animals that make things from their own impulse from materials already in their environment, like this bower bird. Notice that his intended audience is not human.

That said, I had high hopes for the post right below this one, "Wildlife Photographer of the Year," but the description was really misleading. Only this one kind of qualifies, and it seems to be a happy accident.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2008


See, these here are more like it.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:22 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now here's a fun game... "Who's the Artist Dictator: Hitler or Pol Pot"?
posted by 80onelove at 11:28 PM on February 10, 2008


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