Sitting through a boring movie doesn’t mean you’ll never watch another movie again. Hearing a tedious piece of music won’t ruin music for you. A dull comedian won’t prevent you from laughing next week. But one insufferable play can keep you from ever wanting to go to the theater again. Likewise, one banal art exhibit can scar you for life. Do you find that to be so?
I had a big laugh last May when this sink by “artist” Robert Gober sold at a Christie’s contemporary art auction for $4,197,000.
I’d never heard of this guy and thought the piece suffered from naked-emperor syndrome. This is the type of junk that alienates people from contemporary art. It’s a $4.2M joke played on the buyer. I’d forgotten all about the damn thing until I walked into the Museum of Modern Art and saw a career retrospective of Gober’s work.
I did a quick breath meditation and cleared my mind of all preconceived notions and previous judgments. I went in fresh. A white, blank slate.
I found the work so pretentious and uninspiring that I’m angry that my time was wasted. I’m getting all worked up again typing this. I want to take the MoMA curators and shake them. What do they see in this crap? C’mon down to the famous art museum and pay $25 to see a leg sticking out of a wall.
Or a leg sticking out of the wall with an anchor hanging from it.
Or a realistic, anatomically detailed, paraffin torso…
…with a music score written across his ass. What is this? It’s NOTHING.
I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it. I don’t want to be one of those precious deep thinkers who find metaphorical mystery in bundles of newspapers stacked in a corner. I guffawed at this because I’ve got the exact same installation in my garage.
Remember the $4 million sink? You want more? We got more! We got sinks with running water.
Sinks filling a room. (With bundles of newspaper. Fancy. Introspective.)
Giant sinks. Sinks within sinks.
Apparently, he went through a wallpaper phase. Here, we have a room covered with images of penises and vaginas. Aren’t you shocked?! Tee-hee. I guess I can’t bring the kiddies to this one.
The next room was covered with wallpaper containing images of a lynching while whitey-white man sleeps peacefully. Ooh. I feel so guilty.
The perimeter of the room is ringed with bags of cat litter for NO APPARENT REASON.
This was the one piece I liked. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. A suitcase sits on the gallery floor.
Look inside and you’ll find a sewer grate.
Below the grate you’ll see that they’ve actually cut a hole in the gallery floor. A tabloid scene is below. The feet of a man standing in a pond holding a child. It’s a big surprise and the only thing I saw that showed a modicum of imagination.
I don’t need pretty pictures. Heaven knows those Francis Bacon smears are fairly horrific but I enjoy them. And I like pop art. It’s simple but fun. This stuff has no admirable qualities that I can detect. I am astonished at its popularity. MoMA owes me one free admission, those bastards.
Suppose someone is new to the art world and wants to expand their horizons. They walk into MoMA and see this crap. What are the odds that person will ever bother with art again? Especially contemporary art? On the other hand, they laughed at Degas for painting dancers who were tying their shoes and reading newspapers instead of dancing. What do I know?
Step aside, junior, and let some contemporary artists with vision and a fertile imagination
As always, feel free to disagree.