A Wonderful Exercise in Absurdism
July 4, 2018 3:31 AM   Subscribe

A Work of Art by Janet Malcolm [SLNYRB]
posted by chavenet (14 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Nice work, G Botsford.
posted by Thella at 3:46 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Apart from perhaps chopping the nearer persons feet off at the ankles, I really like the photograph! It's a proper work of art!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:46 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by unliteral at 5:30 AM on July 4, 2018

That's delicious.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:37 AM on July 4, 2018

A buddy and I did something similar as teenagers. We had summer jobs at a picture framer who was working with an important New York collector. Among the works being framed were prints and drawings by a very famous artist.

This artist's work is characterized by its scribbly, scrawly lines. One bored afternoon, my buddy and I took pencils and judiciously added additional scribbles to these works before encasing them in frames. A few decades later, the collector -- never noticing our added scribbles -- donated these works to a major museum in New York.

The museum put the donated collection on display.

I, not knowing this, happened one day to be in NYC and visiting the museum on a borrowed membership card. Wandering into a certain gallery, I found something strangely familiar about some of the works there. Looking closely, I recognized the work of my own childish hand.
posted by Modest House at 5:45 AM on July 4, 2018 [29 favorites]

Martin Parr's Boring Postcards, with the wonderful Picturesque Indiana, influenced my photographic aesthetic considerably.
posted by PHINC at 6:17 AM on July 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

A buddy and I did something similar as teenagers.

Modest House, this comment is gold, and also it belongs in this other thread: What is the least plausible story about yourself that's true?
posted by Fizz at 6:55 AM on July 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

A while back I visited the DIA where I saw a man very enthusiastically arguing to a woman that a man in a portrait looked, quote, "just like Joaquin Phoenix." She, being sensible, was unswayed by the evidence of her eyes. This man's adamant belief that a man that looked absolutely nothing like Joaquin Phoenix looked just like Joaquin Phoenix was hilarious, so after they left the room, I took a quite poor snapshot of the portrait to share with the social media. Because the camera on my phone was not good and museum lighting is moody, it took a couple tries to get even the blurry mess I got.

A second, lesser round of fun came when this sort of generic portrait became the stuff of important consideration for the people who had seen my photo session. My takeaway was that if your glasses are big enough and you take a lousy photo, people will assume you know something about Art.
posted by palindromic at 7:36 AM on July 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do art critics lie awake at night wondering if they've taken themselves too seriously? It's a mine field out there.
posted by klanawa at 8:17 AM on July 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

A story I saw years ago. There was an abstract painting hanging in MOMA, an elderly woman looked at it and started saying “It’s upside down!” She got one of the security people to fetch a curator, who told her, that it was fine, and it’s been hanging there like that for twenty years. She told him that she was a friend of the artist and she saw the painting right side up on the easel in his studio. After a little bit of research, the painting was rotated 180 degrees. This was supposedly a true story. I’d like to think so.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:50 AM on July 4, 2018 [8 favorites]

This is delightful, thank you.
posted by daisyk at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I definitely believe the abstract painting story because I went through a great deal of anxiety once about a similar type of thing. I still get a dropping sensation in my stomach when I think about it.

My museum has a Barnett Newman paining that is one of his rarer horizontal ones but in its first exhibition Mark Rothko bullied him into hanging it vertically. After the show was over, Newman titled it Horizon Light and signed it so it would stay in his preferred orientation.
posted by PussKillian at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've heard the upside-down story about a Rothko, I think
posted by thelonius at 1:19 PM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was fresh out of college I was working as a mural painter, and painted my own work at night in a rented roll up garage. I managed to squeak my way into a solo show at a local small gallery. I was interviewed by the Charlotte Observer’s resident film critic. He met me in the lobby and as we went upstairs he pointed out a large abstract painting. He told me that artist had come by at some point to visit someone at the paper that he painting had been hung sideways. But it was fine, he liked it better that way.
posted by device55 at 5:21 PM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

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