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Art Show

"Divine Bull" by Nicole Lowden. It would look even better if you could see a version that wasn't taken from a phone. 



I went to my friend’s art show on Friday. I didn’t stay for a very long time because I had an urgent subway Twister appointment. The other reason was the fact that it was an art show. I’m terrible at those things. It was some thesis project? Maybe. I don’t really know. There was some amazing stuff, and I am thankful for the fact that things I hate are not made by my artist friends. The fact that one of my friend’s pieces happened to be my absolute favourite is essentially just a bonus at this point.

That would be "Divine Bull".  

Anyway. I did say that there was some amazing stuff, but it constituted a minuscule portion of an art show that wasn’t actually big. This is probably something that everyone already knows about art shows. I’ve been to enough. This is one of the reasons for which I’m not going to dwell on that part. I’ll just say that the most egregious offence was committed by the individual who decided to paint a noose. A noose on a black background would be pretty boring, but it’s the kind of thing I expect. Honestly, one could almost excuse the theoretical first monochrome painting by emphasising the nebulous originality of the artist, but it can’t really go anywhere after that. I still don’t know why I saw a series of three in the Museum of Modern Art. I’m vaguely disturbed by the fact that it’s an entire genre.

I’m really distracting myself with my opinions on art. I know that I shouldn’t do this because art’s subjective, but I currently feel that this is leading toward something. Perhaps it seems disingenuous to delete what delivers me to my point? I’m going to go with that for the moment.


This guy painted a white noose on a black background. But then he successfully duplicated the same noose on three other black backgrounds. He actually put in the effort to paint each one individually. I am impressed by the technical skill with which he reproduced his chosen image. I readily admit that. He even managed to paint that same white noose on a blank white canvas. A total of five nooses. Five identical nooses.

Now. Here is the most interesting thing about the piece. In fairness, I suppose that it shouldn’t be hard for something to be the most interesting thing about this particular piece, but that’s not the point. One of my friends happened to know this guy, and his primary criticism was based around the fact that the artist had entered the class with this idea. Though he didn’t care for the finished product, he was most displeased by the fact that the artist had not allowed anything from the entire semester in this art class to influence his project. By my friend’s reckoning, this defeats the purpose of an art school project. If that’s true, I believe that art school defeats the purpose of art.

There is precisely one matter in which I support the noose painter. If an artist has an idea, he should endeavour to bring it to fruition at any cost. He has no obligation to dilute his vision for anyone else. If he’s a bad artist, the product won’t be appreciably improved by external influence. If he’s a good artist, it will probably be awesome. I took creative writing courses in high school because I had a choice between those and math. I can’t sit through math class, but those courses were still awful. There seem to be two main schools of thought that are espoused by the majority of art teachers. Well. The majority of art teachers who actually care enough to espouse any thought. One of these points to the work of the masters and asks you to imitate it. The other says, “Don’t even think about trying to be like these guys because you’ll never be as good as they are.” I’m fairly sure that the majority of the old masters would not have been improved by art school. Their diversity is only one thing that points to the truth of this. Artists are fully capable of choosing their own styles without need for imitation or modesty. Some of my best friends are in art school. They have my full love and respect, but I still don’t get the concept. Generally, bad artists can’t be stopped, and good artists can’t be created. 

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.