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Sunday, May 10, 2009


The last time I was in New York City, almost 10 years ago, I went to a show at the Whitney Museum for the Biennial that was going on then. It's a show of new artists that gallery owners picked over the last year or two as up and coming and some older ones out there on the cutting edge.

Much of what I saw tested the boundaries of art/not art. Much of it the kind of thing you look at and think nothing of it because you yourself could do it easily and see there's nothing to it but, essentially a pile of trash. I stepped out of the elevator and saw before my very eyes a big wad of at least a hundred mattresses suspended from the ceiling by cables. In one little niche the artist had smeared a cake with her hands. It was called
Mattresses and Cake. My thought at the time: OK, whatever. Beauty was not its reason for being there. Art has nothing to do with beauty any more.

After an hour or so looking over the place, liking some of it, disliking some of it, I stepped out the door onto the sidewalk. There at the street corner was a power pole, a steel trash container with a big black plastic bag in it, a post holding a fire alarm box, the post with the blinking sign of a hand and a figure walking to indicate when it's more or less safe to attempt a crossing on foot. This cluster of mundane objects struck me as better than anything in the show inside. It was what everything inside was imitating in the name of art.

As I drive around in our county I see mundane objects spontaneously displayed in such a way that if put in the Museum of Modern Art with, say, Robert Rauschenberg's name on it, it's art. Out here in the world it's not art. Well, I'm saying it is art out here in the world. Out here in the world is where the inspiration comes from in an artist's expression of his/her own time in the evolving natue of art. I like it even best when it's spontaneous without any thought of art.

I've been getting pictures for the Found Art column, which I change ever how many days. The two above were found yesterday. I love the broken sign. Whoever put it there must not have anticipated the force of wind through the gap there. It's the envy of every mall in the country. The black square with duct tape is minimalism pure as it gets. Right out here in the world. It's all around us.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, exactly! I think that's what artists like Rauschenberg were pointing out. Art is endless. When I'm walking in Central Park, I'm always finding paintings that have escaped the Metropolitan Museum.