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Monday, July 14, 2014

Satirizing Art

Wearing art...clever, funny, even educational, meaning no disrespect whatsoever.
Both Vermeer and Leonardo would be honored and amused.
I've always been of the opinion that art takes itself way too serious. In saying that, I have to confess I've been guilty of doing so far more often than not. I suppose the reason for this is that artists are constantly in search of respect for themselves and their output. "Serious" art tends to lead to their thinking that such respect also entails more sales, more awards, and higher prices. Perhaps it does, though I'd have to say the evidence of that is questionable at best--probably more conjectural than actual. One of the hallmarks of today's Postmodern art is the fact that it tends not to take itself too seriously (or tries not to). Art should be fun, perhaps even funny, and quite often makes its point far better when doing so using humor and satire.

Funny? Perhaps, but in poor taste at best, obscene at worst.
Michelangelo was not known for his sense of humor. He'd likely be outraged.

Estevez Gillespie, This Is Not a Medical Satire--
a tribute to Leonardo's Vitruvian Man (1490)
--no reflection on Leonardo though women today
might take issue. Perhaps a male "companion"
piece might be in order.
Several months ago I wrote on the subject of Funny Paintings. I'm not talking here of painting handlebar moustaches on the Mona Lisa. Dali not withstanding, that hasn't been funny since Marcel Duchamp first did it nearly a hundred years ago. Moreover, its also too easy a target as if she and Grant Wood's iconic couple had targets painted on their backs. The same applies to Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, last suppers, crucifixions, and various visual depictions of Jesus. They're not only not funny, but sacrilegious as well. Any point such "art" might make is heavily overshadowed by the element of disgust. Though not religious, the same applies to Munch's The Scream, any number of bare naked ladies lying about on couches, scatalogic, and or pornographic exhibitionism (as seen above) aimed at the perfectly respectable output of artists down through the ages. Such efforts by such "artists" is art desecration just as surely as if they'd attacked the work with a butcher knife. If considered to be art at all, what with various digital photo-editing software, it certainly can't be admired for the technical skill involved.

Chicquero does van Gogh's
Starry Night (1889), adding a
whole new dimension to face
painting. Vincent might not be
 "crazy" about the idea.
Not just wearing art, but
becoming art--Roy Lichtenstein's
Wham (1963) by Chiquero.
Satire,as with imitation, may be
the sincerest form of flattery.
Liberty Enlightening the World
regarding Women's Liberty.
It's far easier to make "new" art funny than to make the work of old masters amusing. For the artist attempting to make people laugh with his or her own art, all it takes is a sharp sense of humor, a daring attitude, and an overriding sense of good taste to keep from going "too far." From that point on it's only a matter of employing skills adequate to the goal. The problem with doing the same with "old" art is that doing so all too often leads to a classic piece of art becoming trite. If one artist makes fun of Bartoldi's Liberty Enlightening the World, it may, or may not, be humorous or "enlightening," but if dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds, of artists do so, it cheapens the work and its original theme. The trick is to cast a new, amusing light respectfully upon a given work of art, perhaps bringing to light a new, updated view of the artists original intent. In my book, Art Think (above, right) I employed a sketch of the Statue of Liberty dangling a burning bra in place of her torch. The reference was to the "Gorilla Girls" from the 1970s kicking off the Women's Lib movement by climbing to the top of the green lady and setting fires to their bras, then casting them down at Lady Liberty's feet.  Amusing? Slightly, perhaps. Disrespectful of Bartholdi or his work? Not in the least. Adding new meaning to the word "liberty" ? Certainly.


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