Work of Art – Who Says?

WORK OF ART – THE NEXT GREAT ARTIST is yet another reality competition show on Bravo. The apparent brainchild of Sara Jessica Parker (her LOVE of art evidentially is so strong she wanted make a show about it )WORK OF ART is produced by her production company Pretty Matches in partnership with Magical Elves (the original producers of PROJECT RUNWAY before it went to Lifetime).  Like other shows, there is a big cash prize for the winner and the next great artist receives a private show at the Brooklyn Museum.

Casting has done a good job of gathering together a madcap group of artists, some who have been in the art world for many years and some newbies. The show’s host is the very cute China Chow – best remembered for her pixie-like lesbian character in the movie Head Over Heels. Apparently she comes from a family of art collectors, which is seems to be a strong enough skill set to make her a judge as well as a host. Unfortunately the pixie brightness she brought to the movie screen doesn’t carry over to the smaller one.  Too bad. Her lack of expression and monotone critiques make her come off as if she’d rather be sipping a cocktail at the bar at the MOMA.

I have to admit I’ve never heard of the judges – Bill Powers, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and the Tim Gunn-like mentor Simon de Pury. But outside the Parsons world, who ever heard of Tim Gunn before he made a splash on PROJECT RUNWAY? But I don’t think my questioning is due to the lack of familiarity with the fixtures in the contemporary art world. I think it comes down to the parameters of the judging.

In PROJECT RUNWAY, there are guidelines in judging a garment – construction, execution, fit, fabric choice color, etc. Books, screenplays and stage plays are critiqued on structure, conflict, characterization and plot. These things are tangible parameters, although still subjective. But when you remove those parameters and replace them with feelings, then I think the judging is skewed.

The thing I question about WORK OF ART is – Just because someone tells you that your creation is not art, does that mean you’re not making art? In grad school I had a professor ask, “Does it move you?” Good or bad, does it move you? And the show reiterates that art is not only what you make, but how it makes you feel. So, just because these three people in charge don’t feel anything that means that art is not present? I know…I know it’s subjective, but that is what makes this show different from other competition shows. It lacks the strong parameters involved in judging that a show like PROJECT RUNWAY possesses.

I guess it just comes down to what Sondheim says, “Art isn’t easy.”