Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resurrection Blogfest-Is It Art?


  Mina Lobo, from Some Dark Romantic, in celebration of her 1st year of blogging, is hosting a Resurrection Blogfest (which, I would think, goes a long way towards explaining what that creepy badge to the right is-and you thought it was Keith Richards).  For this competition, those who agreed to participate agreed (damn!  couldn't think of a synonym for 'agreed') to repost something from our first year of blogging.
   I selected "Is It Art?" from December, 2009.  After I saw the comments, I noticed that even Sherilin didn't read it.  And, after a cursory glance at my posts, I didn't think I reposted it ever.
   As I re-read this offering, I've seen that my style has undergone some changes.  First, even though I used pictures, I didn't caption them.  So, even though I really enjoy doing that, I resisted the urge to put them in.  Neither did I edit it because I wanted it to appear as it was three years ago.
  Finally, and most importantly, IT IS BEASTLY LONG (that's what she said).  From personal experience, I know that short posts are the best.   So, I apologize for its length (that's what he said).
  To make up for it, I've rescheduled tomorrow's "Facebook Funnies" for Saturday.
  You're welcome.
  Okay, I'll stop blathering on and on now.  You have a lot of reading to do. 

    Scanning the newspapers recently, I’ve noticed a most unusual art exhibit is once more making the rounds. 

    Touted as a cutting edge celebration of the human condition, it consists of skinned human bodies (oh, did I mention they were dead?) frozen in various activities such as dribbling basketballs, riding bicycles, or juggling pizzas.  To prevent them from stinking like French longshoremen, they’ve been injected with some sort of Super Glue resin to keep them as stiff as Al Gore at the Senior Prom.

    The whole shebang is the brainchild of a German scientist (insert inevitable, tasteless joke here). 

    Even though it strikes me as something of a freak show, it does a pretty good job of showing us what we actually look like on the inside (um, that would be pretty yucky).

     But, is it art?

     Fine art has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.  Whether it’s an impressionist rendering of man’s inhumanity to circus peanuts or a Flintstones jelly glass, most art to me looks like it belongs in the Monkey Flings Poo genre.



    Except dogs playing 

poker.  Or anything with Elvis on it.  Now, those I like!

    I’ve visited a buttload (caution: not to be confused with the eminently larger “shitload”) of museums in my day from the finest New York galleries to what you generally find scrawled on bathroom walls.  I distinctly remember my first such experience. There I stood, transfixed by what was before me, lost in deep thought.  Pompously stroking my chin, I waxed eloquent to fellow museum mavens on what creative message the artist was trying to convey with his bold, dynamic blend of colors juxtaposed against the tragedies of our daily lives.

    Until I realized I was looking at a “CAUTION-Piso Mojado-Wet Floor” sign.

    Since then, I’ve learned it’s better to just keep my mouth shut.

    It’s not just paintings, either.  Unless it’s a Greek or Roman statue (identified primarily by missing arms or genitalia), most sculptures to me look like something a kid whipped up with his Play-Doh Fun Factory.

    Take THIS ball of clay, smash it into another, differently-colored ball of clay, toss it into an oven and-voila!-we have the Creation of Man.  Or Oprah.

    Even the masters leave me cold:  Whistler’s Mother (Get a good TV), The Thinker (I’M thinking he should put some clothes on), Michelangelo’s David (I feel sooooo inadequate), The Last Supper (Separate checks?), and ANYTHING by Picasso (“Hey, didja get the license plate of the truck that hit ya?”) cause me to look at them and gasp, “Huh?”

    OK, maybe I’m not the most sophisticated guy.  To me, one of those velvet sad clown paintings, a Beers of the World jigsaw puzzle, or a statue of the Virgin Mary made of elbow macaroni are mucho classy.    

    Several years ago, I took a trip to Paris with some friends.  The City of Lights was nothing like I expected.  Clean and well-organized, its citizens were as friendly as can be (oops, sorry-that’s Epcot).

    Actually, though, we were treated extremely well, despite the sneezing powder in our escargot and the Jerry Lewis Marathon on the hotel TV.  At any rate, we were treated better than we probably deserved, given our propensity to amuse the unamuseable (CAUTION:  NOT a real word) with our Pepe Le Pew impressions and our complaints of “You call THIS French Toast!?”

    While there, we did all the goofy things tourists are supposed to do:  gawk at the Eiffel Tower, marvel at the Arc d’Triomphe, sashay (or is that mosey?) down the Champs Elysee, and take in a show at the Moulin Rouge (YOU know what type of show I mean).

    After nearly a week of carousing around the city, we grew tired of idling away in tourist traps and cheesy trinket shops-“Hey look! A statue of Napoleon made of butter!”  Drawing upon the cultural aspect of our natures, we thought it would be a good idea to stroll through the Louvre.

    Even though my distaste for artsy stuff was well-known, I still thought I should give the most famous museum in the world a try.  What could it hurt?

    Plus, I might get to see some dinosaur bones or a mummy.  Cool.

    Unfortunately, we hadn’t allotted enough time to adequately tour the joint, as it is truly the mother of all museums.  We were practically forced to run through each of the galleries and didn’t even have time to see any caveman exhibits.

   Despite the seemingly endless assortment of objects d’arte, we were dead set on viewing DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre’s biggest draw. 

    Like a pack of bloodhounds fixed on the scent of a fleeing bank robber, we dashed through the museum, stopping only scant seconds to view anything which remotely caught our eye.
 
   Thank goodness there were signs leading us to our destination because, without them, we would have gotten hopelessly lost.  Still, I’d really like to catch that joker who swapped some of the signs around.  We wasted a half hour in the Men’s Room trying to find which stall was hiding the Mona Lisa.          

    Finally, as we smacked into the back of a huge queue (Fun with English Tip: a snooty, ten dollar word for “line”), we knew we’d arrived at our destination.  Somewhere up ahead was arguably the most famous painting in the world.  Even I was moved by the experience as we prepared to view history.

    As we drew up to the head of the line, though, we couldn’t help but feel disillusioned.  Rather than some huge production or jaw-dropping masterpiece, our Holy Grail came across as a bust (which, incidentally, can also be a ‘sculpture’ for you art aficionados.  It’s also a much more sophisticated term for boobs.). 

    Not much bigger than a postage stamp, the Mona Lisa was safely segregated from the crowd by Plexiglas and looked no more impressive than some kid’s paint-by-numbers set.  We felt that all the hype amounted to little more than a P.T. Barnum sham.

    Of course, we took the obligatory photographs, if for nothing else than to prove to our families we actually did more in Paris than drink cheap wine and wolf down cheese which smelled like feet.

    Once done, we proceeded to look for an exit, our thirst for culture dashed and our feet weary from our madcap race through the labyrinth which is the Louvre.

    Shuffling into a huge gallery, we were startled by the many tapestries covering the walls.  An ancient smell of must hung in the air.  We knew we were in the presence of masterpieces which were several hundred years old.

    One tapestry, in particular, held our interest.  Despite being dulled from the passage of centuries, it excited our senses through its riotous display of colors and imaginative themes.

    Depicting the pomp and majesty of a king holding court, the tapestry illustrated dozens of courtiers (strangely, NONE of whom wore pants-except the king) and their ladies paying homage to their noble sovereign.  Interestingly enough, it also showed quite a few animals cavorting about with each other and half-men/half-goats chasing chickens.

    The thing was massive, as it fully covered an entire wall.  At a good ten by twenty yards, we knew it would never hang in somebody’s trailer or rec room.

    Craning our necks to the ceiling in an effort to take in its full scope, we felt our visit to the Louvre was vindicated by this wonderful expression of some unknown artist’s muse.  We each stood, enthralled, knowing we were in the presence of something larger than ourselves.

    My awed concentration was quietly broken by one of my companions.  In one brief instant, he gave voice to a heartfelt sentiment.  A sentiment which shook me out of my revelry and brought me back to the role for which I am best suited:  Art Non-Snob.  A sentiment I identified as my own.

   “Gee, I wonder if you buy a couch to match it or buy it to match your couch?”

    Or your collection of plastic dead guys?

Epilogue:  I hope you had time to catch your breath.  Good golly, I was verbose back then!  Now I are no make posts with am verb absence, yes, but short.  Before I forget, Mina asked for my email.  So, here you are, Mina:  alpenwasser@hotmail.com
But, if you going to send me something, I already have lots of pictures of chimps smoking cigars.

45 comments:

  1. That was a very entertaining post. I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre on a high school trip and remember feeling kind of let down. And don't get me started on what passes for 'art' these days. My former boss in WA knew that modern art bugged me so he always made it a point of taking pics of the most outrageous stuff he saw in museums on his many trips, just to hear me go off about, 'you call THAT art? OMG I COULD DO THAT!'

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    1. I was really quite surprised at how underwhelmed I was by the Mona Lisa. Kinda liked the naked statues, though.

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  2. verbose "back then"!!!?? cuz you're not anymore?
    some of the craziest stuff got made into art. things showing debauchery and nudity that would generally never get displayed in current homes. very eye opening to the young and naive when visiting museums.

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    1. I have a tendency to verbally announce my stated positions on a variety of topics which can at times be most pedantic, if not encyclopedic in their overall scope of being. However, I hope that my preponderance of verbal and written discussions, to say nothing of the occasional humorous bon mot, don't grow as tiresome as an evening spent with an insurance salesman, especially if that evening was spontaneous and not actually requested.
      Yep. Can't shut up.

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  3. It can be pretty good to look back at something you wrote some time ago. Give you an idea of how you have changed and what directions you took. What you added and left out, captions on pictures for example. As for art, I think everyone is going to disagree on what art actually is. No one is going to make up their mind and actually give a general, universal, definition of "art". For me it is something that speaks to you, something that you can connect with. When I see a picture, or a statue, I can wonder at what was going through the artist's mind (often a buttload of drugs) or if it was a portrait, even what was going through the model's mind (often the idea of a lot of money and a wish to not be violated by the artist) so I can connect with them. A room full of frozen, skinless people doesn't move me, it scares me.

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    1. Those skinless people really skeeve me out. I just saw a billboard advertising that the exhibit is coming back to town. Yeesh.

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  4. This shedding idea is crazy haha. I love this post Al. I'd love to see that photo of the monkey smoking the cigars, like in all seriousness because I have this on running joke with a friend about a guy who told him that he seen monkeys opening a pack of cigarettes and smoking them at a zoo and I'd love to show him some photographic evidence that it can work haha! I love the idea of revisting old posts, I can't remember this one either, is it possible it was written before I came around? I've been here for a long time, I'd feel bad if it had been written last month and I didn't remember it or something.

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    1. No, it was long before you. I'll post my monkeys smoking pictures.

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  5. as an unashamed art snob, please tell me that you were not using flash on mona lisa... camera flash- because i think she could use a bit of skin! ohhh louvre, how you gawk at us all!!!!

    and i don't care who else does, but i love "dogs playing poker" as much as i love "real" art...it is all personal taste- al, so who cares in the end?

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, I think I MAY have used a flash. I'm going to look up the picture I took with Mona. I guess that makes me a despoiler of art.
      Probably shouldn't have wiped my nose on the mural, either.

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    2. boogers are less damaging to art, unless it is performance art, in which case- you may improve upon it!!!

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  6. The dogs playing poker I don't know, a lot of butt sniffers there haha But yeah art is really in the eye of the beholder, I mean some of those sculptures and stuff do look like what you'd expect to find in a dumpster, but to each their own I guess. Still whacko when people spend millions on the things.

    And yeah always interesting to look back, to see the changes at your shack. But then you repeat posts all the time, kind of cheating huh? hahaha

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    Replies
    1. You're right about me reposting. As I looked up posts for the Resurrection Blogfest, this was the only one from 2009 that I didn't put out there before. Man, I really should write more original stuff. After the new year. December will have a few reposts. It's a holiday thing.

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  7. Well, you know I'll read anything that has to do with art, and this post was very funny. Many people are underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa.

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    1. I was honestly very surprised at how small it was (that's what she said). I should post the picture of me standing in front of it.

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  8. I long ago accepted that I will never "get" art. Even things I find pleasant to look at lose my interest after a few moments. I know that as a man I am supposed to at least like the dogs playing poker but after my initial chuckle, my interest was over.

    Great piece to highlight, certainly longer than some of your more recent pieces but well written and funny.

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  9. Long, but good (That's also what she said) Art is hit or miss with me. I rarely like the classics, but LOVE the weird and obscure. (Dali is a favorite) When I was in Rome (and when not doing as the Romans do) I went to the Sistine Chapel. It was beautiful. But what I found even more beautiful than the art on the walls was the architecture, the ancient-ness of the streets outside, and the levels of the city.

    I guess the classic timeless art is lost on me. Now the body art? That's creepy to me.

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    1. I've been to Rome five times and thoroughly enjoyed gawking. The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking. So was the BO of the dude next to me.

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  10. Glad I read your post today - what a fun linky! I've had both experiences with art, from being totally awestruck by how much something touches me to thinking any kindergartener could have done the piece. Or that yes, I see it was difficult, but it's boring and generic and I don't get it. I saw that Body Works Exhibit too and it was so surreal that I wasn't as freaked out as I expected.

    It would be cool to see the Louvre but I wouldn't make a special trip to Paris to see it.

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    1. That "match your couch" crack still makes me laugh.

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  11. I would love to see many of the pieces you saw, but I'm not much for art snobbery (or any other kind of pretense and snobbery). 'Cause really, here's the thing: If it makes an impact and emotionally moves you, it's art. That's it.

    Great resurrected post!



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    1. Thanks. I think I would have liked the Louvre more if I had the time. I've had ample opportunity to tour the Vatican Museum. There are a LOT of fascinating pieces there.
      I also liked the museum of medieval torture devices in Mallorca, too.
      So, I'm probably not terribly sophisticated.

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  12. Good gravy, Al! Why can't I write posts this long?
    Pretty sure my favorite phrase was "stinking like longshoreman." You still had it, even wayyyy back then. ;)

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    1. I hope longshoremen aren't hacked off at me.

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  13. I love the Louvre and art in general, though I'm no connoisseur. I don't know much about tendencies, styles, or those details people in the loop talk about. Still, I enjoy throughly visiting museums of all kinds. Europe is a fascinating place full of culture and art.

    About the exposition on the Human Body, I saw it with my kids (six and five, then) and since I'm a Physician, I had a great time explaining to my family what they were seeing. My kids loved it and keep asking when will we see it again. I think it's an amazing exposition for those interested in the human machine, but I don't think of it as art... But what do I know, right?

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    1. You know what you like. And, as a physician, I bet your perspective was fascinating.

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  14. I'm afraid I'm artless.....but I always enjoy your posts!

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    1. Give me a "Velvet Elvis" and one of those "Fat Lady Bending Over" wooden yard signs and I'm good to go.

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  15. Yes! Medieval apparent pantslessness! It's a whole big thing. Hilarious post, Al. Nice to meet you. *curtsies*

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    1. "It's a whole big thing."
      Verily, tis what the King wishes were true.

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  16. I was gonna say, "For a different sort of "art," next time you're in Manhattan you should come to the Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue," but I thought that'd be crass.

    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!
    Some Dark Romantic

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  17. I started laughing with your line about the glue making the skin on the exhibits,"as stiff as Al Gore at the Senior Prom! " Then I felt a deep sadness when I longed for my original Flintstone jelly glasses. Later, your adventures at the Louvre picked me up again! I'm so glad that you resurrected this story, as it is a true classic. Julie

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