The Laws of Nature

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reality TV & Art


Do fine art and reality TV belong together? A new series on the Bravo channel, entitled "Work of Art" aired for the first time last week. The premise for this series is similar to other reality series where competitors are given elimination challenges and someone goes home every week. The ultimate reward for the lucky artist who wins this competition is a show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, $100,000, and the title of "The Next Great Artist." A panel of art experts (well-known critics, etc.) act as the judges for each elimination challenge.

Skeptical, I watched the first episode and found that I became very interested in the creative solutions used by the competitors as well as the opinions of the critics who have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary art. While I don't necessarily agree with some of the opinions expressed, they informed me nevertheless. However, I don't like the idea that a reality TV show is going to decide who's the "next great artist."

If you haven't seen the first episode and are interested, you can view it here:


I think that this blog would be a good place to discuss our opinions about this series. Is it a good idea? Does it present a fair and balanced view of contemporary artists and art? In what ways will this influence the general public's idea of artists and art? I'd like to know your opinions.

20 comments:

Elizabeth Seaver said...

It's too bad they couldn't come up with their own format. It's a copy of project runway with visual art.

I don't know how comprehensive a look at contemporary art only 14 artists can provide, but there is some interesting stuff there. And I guess, we have to let New York tell us what the right answers are about art.

Having said that, I'm interested enough to keep watching! I didn't even know this was happening. Thanks for the link. Let the conversations begin.

Casey Klahn said...

Elizabeth got off a good one: And I guess, we have to let New York tell us what the right answers are about art.

I question the work of critics, today. Maybe because the market has changed so tremendously. I mean, do newspapers even exist anymore?

I lack the internet kibbles or the tv to watch this, but I was going to try to feed it on my computer when the internet kibbles are unregulated (after midnight). I did enjoy Survivor when it was fresh, and The Apprentice. But, I couldn't get over how completely incapable the majority of the Survivors were to outdoor survival! Idiots!

Then, of course, the next layer became evident, and I saw the genius of Mark Burnett's idea. I imagine there will be much to hate about the Work of Art show, but that the kernels of value will attract me, too.

Fair and balanced? What is that? I expect it to be 90% things that don't relate to me, but then again, the business aspects (exhibiting one's art, meeting people, presentation, representing oneself - endless) will be interesting.

Nancy Goldman said...

I was excited to see that they were going to do a reality show to pick the "best new artist". It's such a crazy idea. Art is such a subjective thing and always will be since we all have our own likes and dislikes. Most of the art on the show probably wouldn't appeal to mainstream America. I see the show more as purely entertainment, pitting different personalities against each other. I think in some of the other reality shows a person stays on longer than they should because their type of personality is good for the ratings. We'll see what happens here.

Eva said...

I saw the show and was surprised that it turned out better than expected. Like you, I enjoyed watching the creative minds at work. I didn't agree with all of the judges decisions. Somehow I felt they were instructed to let personality rule. Meaning to keep the more controversial personalities stay as long as possible.I do believe they were right on with the winner, but the "next great artist"? That will take longer and more than this show to know that.

hwfarber said...

I'm glad you posted this. I had planned to watch but missed it.

Myrna Wacknov said...

I am glad that you are using your blog as a discussion forum for this show as I am anxious to hear what others think. I see a formula where contestants are chosen for entertainment. The inexperienced novice, the "one you love to hate", the neurotic, etc. I hope that the best art will win out over personality, which is often not the case with these types of shows. It will be fun to see the solutions this cast of characters comes up with for each challenge. As a portrait artist, I was most engaged with the first challenge and what the "experts" had to say about the pieces. Should be a fun series.

Kathy said...

Hi Elizabeth - yes, it seems like a copy-cat format to Project Runway. I hope to see the second episode in the series just to find out more about the judging. It will be interesting to see how this influences the way the general public views artmaking.

Hi Casey - it's an interesting experiment, but I agree that it's too narrow. I probably won't get to see the entire series since I can't get TV at my home in Maine, where I'm going on Monday for the rest of the summer.

Hi Nancy - you've got that right! This is designed more for the entertainment value than for understanding art.

Hi Eva - I, too, felt that some of the artists were selected and retained just because their personalities will keep the viewers interested and the ratings higher. And, I agree that there's no way that this is a legitimate way to identify the next best artist. Phooey!

Hi Hallie - please share with us your thoughts about this once you've had the opportunity to view it.

Hi Myrna - yes, this did seem to select all the stereotypical personality types. As you say, it's for the entertainment value. I thought of you on the first challenge since your forte' is portraiture.

Mark Sheeky said...

I've seen a few programmes like that over here. They're all quite interesting. The entertainment value seems to outweigh the art value. Challenges can stifle and restrict a voice sometimes.

PAMO said...

I wasn't able to watch it all- but I'll catch up on it next week. I'm so glad to see it- I think it's fascinating!
Mostly I'll be interested in what the "experts" say. It's like a little window into a world I've never seen. Bring it on!
I did see the very final vote on the portrait contest- and was surprised that the two abstract representations made it into the bottom- along with the poor novice who needs to blog so he can learn not to put his skill down. :-))
Yep- I'm hooked for now.

Celeste Bergin said...

thanks for the link..I will watch it. Visual arts don't seem to fare well in movies..I assume that is because non-artists don't find art very interesting (?) I know that my former husband always fell asleep if a show about art came on the television. lol. It will be interesting to find out if the series is successful or not. I think it is a weird premise--but it fits our current culture.

Dana Cooper said...

I was sorry to have missed the opening segment of this, the LA Times had an interesting commentary about it. Thank you for the link, I think this could make for interesting discourse!

Dan Kent said...

I haven't had a chance to watch yet. I tried the other day and Hulu wouldn't play it. Desparate, I got a password and signed in, and that didn't work either.

In general, though, tv has the cooks and the interior designers, both creative pursuits. I love Ace of Cakes even though I usually find cooking shows very boring because there are many talented artists showcased there. Their medium: cakes. I always wondered why there wasn't a show about artists! So I'm glad that there is now.

-Don said...

I'm glad to hear that art is getting the limelight in a "reality" show, but I'll not be seeing it. "Reality" TV is something I stopped watching about 5 years ago. It grosses me out that people put themselves into the limelight to be judged by others and to show off the train wrecks that are their lives - or at least what the producers script into train wrecks in the edit bay...

I hope it's a good series and shines a positive light on contemporary art. I'll look forward to hearing what you all think about it.

The closest I'll come to reality TV is when the football season starts back up...

-Don

Kathy said...

Hi Mark - I agree with you. It seems that these challenges would tempt the contestants to paint for the judges rather than for themselves.

Hi Pam - yeah, the novice really needs to learn to respect his own vision and work. He was pathetic.

Hi Celeste - I suspect that this show will be a one-season-wonder. It doesn't seem like it could be all that popular, but I haven't actually looked into the ratings.

Hi Dana - I haven't seen any reviews of this show (mostly because I haven't looked). But it would be interesting to know what the TV critics think.

Hi Dan - I'm sorry you couldn't access the show, and would be interested in your opinion if you get the chance to see future episodes on TV. I've watched the Ace of Cakes a couple of times and think that Duff and his crew are really cool! It's amazing what they do.

Hi Don - football!! My husband is a total football fanatic and I'm just the opposite. When he watches the Superbowl, I watch the Puppy Bowl:-)

Sharmon Davidson said...

Great topic, Katherine! I haven't seen the show yet (I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't have cable), but thanks for the link; I'll have to watch it later.

My first thought is that it's kind of silly to think you can pick the world's next great artist from any 14 people you would care to choose. How were they chosen, and where do the contestants come from? Do they show this process at all? Of course, they will certainly become famous just by virtue of being on TV, like Kate, who has no discernible talent except for having six babies at once.

My second thought is that I'm not so sure that the "New York ART WORLD" is as relevant as it once was as far as dictating what "good art" is. The internet plays such a big role now, allowing people who are not in New York to be recognized. (And personally, I think a lot of New York art is crap, but that's another issue, I guess.)

The upside of this is that maybe it will spark some interest in art among the general public. The art world is very insulated, and not very important, in the larger scheme of things, in most people's lives. Anything that gets them to look at art is potentially a good thing. As they say, any publicity is good publicity.

The other good thing is that it may be interesting for us to watch, and maybe even learn from!

Kathy said...

Hi Sharmon - I really don't know what criteria were used to select the 14 contestants or who selected them. It would be interesting to know that. I do hope that this show doesn't give the public the wrong impression of who artists are. There are so many myths circulating and the last thing we need is support for those myths. We'll see...

Claire Beadon Carnell said...

Interesting dialogue so far! I watched the show, and was actually surprized to find that it had some appeal. It does seem to follow the reality challenge show 'cookie-cutter', but I was thrilled that there was no corny remark for the contestant who is voted off!!!
I'll be watching because there seems to be a nice range of talent.

Kathy said...

Hi Claire - I, too, found interest in the variety of artists selected. I hope I can stay interested :-)

David Lobenberg said...

Hey Kathy, I can log on and off HULU but when I try to load anything I get a message that says "Sorry we are unable to load the player. Please check your internet connection". I work on a 3 year old IMAC with a high speed internet connection. I use both Safari and Firefox. Got a clue here?

David Lobenberg said...

Problem solved. When I can get the time, I'll look at a few episodes and post my 2 cents worth.