Bill Powers

Bill talks about the creative partnership between writers and artists, and reconsiders Judith's eliminated work.

on Jun 23, 20100

 

Rock stars get it. So do comedians, professional athletes, actors, and politicians. But where is the applause for artists? Maybe Work of Art can provide a round of that. I hope so. I, for one, would like to recognize Judith who went home this week. She stopped by an opening at my gallery a few months ago with Trong and started explaining her book cover idea for Pride and Prejudice in greater detail. Apparently after the taping was over Judith discovered that Jane Austen had actually written some letters backwards to her niece Cassy, which I found a cool little piece of voodoo and it definitely pushed me reconsider what Judith presented during the Penguin challenge. Since men began illuminating manuscripts, artists and writers have worked together and I'm glad to see the tradition continue. Richard Prince provided cover art for James Frey's novel Bright Shiny Morning, John Currin lent Amy Sohn an image for My Old Man, and a Tom Sachs happy meal graced the dust jacket of Deluxe.

I also love how current events can recontextualize literature. Recently, I've been reading some op-ed stories about how Moby Dick relates to the BP oil spill and it's precisely these types of deconstructionist readings which prompt us to revisit paintings and photographs again and again. It was great to see John win for his take on The Time Machine. We think of a time-traveling contraption as being something sleek that a visionary like Marc Newson might design: all-bended metal and reflectively futuristic. John 's treatment was both counterintuitive and California retro, which made for a wonderfully weird combo. Can't wait to see it on bookshelves!

24 comments
Elaine McD
Elaine McD

I agree that Judith should stay....bad call! Reallly liked her. Now we're left with the kids....Uggh! Maybe you can ask her to come back...they do it on other show.....hint-hint! Think about it and let me know....:)

DW
DW

Don't know if it was edited out of the show, but to me the obvious first question re competence of the artists is -- Did ANY one of the artists bother to ask what the proportions of the actual published book would be so they could design within those measurements? I know -- most of them consider themselves "fine" artists or whatever, but it's like Michaelangelo designing the Sistine Chapel decorations and not bothering to ask the dimensions of what he had to paint. Just a total lack of professionalism, tinged with the egotistical "I'm an 'artist' so reality doesn't matter."

corih
corih

Too bad you eliminated the two most interesting characters (Nao and Judith) so early in the game.

VJ
VJ

Hey! How come no one made it a big deal that Nicole spelled her author's name wrong, too?! She should've been in the bottom three with Jaclyn because of that! It's LEWIS CARROLL, not Lewis Carrol.

James Totulis Viewer
James Totulis Viewer

What makes a great artist? The seasoning of rejection and the ambivalance of the mispelled word. ----------James Totulis

totaljeff
totaljeff

I sent in the idea for this show 6 years ago... I think someone needs to talk to me, I just found out today it made it to a show. I'll be waiting for a response. jeff

bronx girl
bronx girl

Judith's narrow view of what constitutes art and her overinflated view of herself was what sent her home. She thought she'd be cute and not participate but it backfired and I'm glad she's gone. What's with her spaghetti on a plate anyway? I thought Jaclyn's semi-nude cover for Pride and Prejudice and the fact she'd never read the book deserved more conversation. She was my number 2 for going home. I guess I didn't understand the winning cover because it was "California retro" and I'm anything but California retro. My vote was for the "Dracula" cover. Updated, modern, readable title and you didn't have to explain it to me.

jhgoforth
jhgoforth

I imagine that Austen writing backwards was merely coincidental as it was quite obvious Judith was doing it out of spite for a project she looked down upon. I think that episode in particular shows us the difference in generations. The baby boomers and generation X butting heads over what is and is not 'fine art'. Many painters in the 30something age range are doing just as much digital/'commercial' artwork now than traditional. That does not mean however, that they are devoid of traditional skill sets (the best animators in 3D are still the ones with the strongest basic art skills, for example). Just like the transition from Photography merely being a documentary item to it becoming an art form in itself at the turn of the last century, we are now experiencing a change of similar sorts with newer media. I do want to give you judges credit, for the most part I agree with the assessments given on the works (though to be honest i'd have probably eliminated Judith on the junkyard sculpture episode) and I am looking forward to the rest of the season. Definitely gets me motivated for my own work to see others at their craft.

JeaDeVoe
JeaDeVoe

"...current events can recontextualize literature" I agree and I would add "Art" as well! Many great works take on a life of their own, regardless of their original intent.For me Jerry Saltz comment"if Erik had just shown us his arm, he would have been my hands down winner" is conceptual art in action! Kudos Jerry,the tattoo of "Alice in wonderland" on someones arm, as a book cover, updates the genre, gives it mass appeal and makes a book cover more than just an illustrated piece of so called, crass commercialism. There is no defense for Judith's failure and John's piece was the clear winner.As far as a cool piece of Voodoo, "WANGA" the acronym for the show is also a mystifying talisman, accident or fate? you decide!

rrr
rrr

I'm confused -- the junk assignment was to create a three-dimensional piece using at least ONE piece from the junk.... So, what rules were bent for Miles to win last week? Unfortunately, it is a reality show! I would prefer to witness/experience the creative process of each artist, rather than the BS behind the scenes.

Andrew B.
Andrew B.

I like that U admitted that the judges bent the rules to allow Miles to win last week. With the comment about allowing artist to break the rules we they have grounds to do so. I still think Judith piece was well less then art and more unhinge idea that didn't come together. I am still waiting to see Judges really push the artist into creating something other then what can still be viewed as with in our times contemprary movement. I am also still really stuck with the idea that somehow artist have to respond to somewhat highschool/Univeristy assignments. I don' think artist can really create in a vaccum at such extreme pace. I thought the work this week was weak. I would like to see more art education going to help raise the level of discussion and get away from the artist persona. I was wondering by your comments if you are saying the show is done and in the "can" so to speak.

saywahh
saywahh

Judith was lost in the weeds and failed to take responsibility. "I am a fine Artist" means nothing! "Fail,Fail again, Fail better" Samuel Beckett

saywahh
saywahh

Judith was in the weeds with out a clue and failed to take responsibility "I am a Fine artist" means nothing "Fail,Fail again, Fail Better!" Samuel Beckett

Justine
Justine

Okay, an odd coincidence discovered AFTER...maybe Jane was channeling thru Judith, who knows. I actually did know that odd little fact prior to watching the episode last night. It's way too random a fact to be used in the creation of the cover for the book.

No matter what, when one thinks of a Jane Austen novel it conjures thoughts of youth, innocence, whimsy, romance, etc. Neither artist captured any of that, however Judith was the closest, so maybe she shouldn't have been the one to go. I think she has more to offer than Jaclyn. Her cover looked like a movie poster for "All That Jazz" or some similar dancecentric film.

So you left us with the uninspiring, let me take nude photos of myself, remanipulate them and call them art, Jaclyn. Perhaps it was the attractivness quotient between the two woman that was the real deciding factor for Bravo.

At least with Judith I was curious to see the finished piece. Even if it made me wince and say, "what the f**k was she thinking?".

sharprof
sharprof

Love, love this show! I teach humanities and this is great! Thanks, S. Proffer

Fern
Fern

Whereas it is truly wise NOT to judge a book by it's cover, the cold, harsh reality is...everybody does. That is why the artist has such an important role in the publishing world, and always will. I have illustrated, worked for a publishing house, and also ran a bookstore for many years. I learned very fast to merchandise my store according to the eye appeal of the material we sold. Naturally, bestsellers and classics got the big displays up front, but to bring people into the store, I always knew that it was the cover art that would make them pick up that first novel or non-fiction title by an unknown author. It's not always shock value one needs to pander to. Sometimes, depending on the content within the book, subtlety needs to be the watchword. I felt Jaclyn's piece was judged far too harshly, and calling it 'middle school' quality, as Jeanne did was way out of line. Really. Middle school?! Here's the truth..never having read through Pride and Prejudice myself..I would have picked that book up, and probably bought it based on that cover. It created a mood, and just the right atmosphere to make me want to see what it was all about. And that is exactly what "ART" is supposed to do. Furthermore, I would have gone for a copy of The Time Machine with a more traditional cover, and left the one with John's cover sitting on the shelf next to it.

bronx girl
bronx girl

Judith's narrow view of what constitutes art and an overinflated view of herself set her up for failure. She deserved to go home and I am delighted. The backwards writing was her childish way of telling the judges what she thought of the challenge and had nothing to do with what she later found out about Jane Austen. Her spaghetti on a plate was a poor offering last week. There are too many contestants working hard to win this competition to have to deal with someone who could care less. Bye, bye, Judith. Glad to see you go. Now I know why I don't fully "get" John's cover. It's California retro! Does that mean it'll only play in California? Did anyone else have an OMG moment when seeing a semi-nude cover for "Pride and Prejudice?" I thought there would be more conversation about that and the fact that she hadn't read the novel. I know the cover had to be updated, but semi-nude? After all was said and done, my vote went to Mark's "Dracula" cover. Updated and eye-catching...it was a winner. And no explanation was necessary.

charmcitymomma
charmcitymomma

Thank you for clarifying why Miles won for his bed last week - the absence (for TV viewers) of recycled electronics had us questioning the entire judging panel's objectivity and ethics.

Judith should have been asked to leave on the simple premise that she did not complete the challenge according to its clear parameters - designing a cover that would grab readers and motivate them to BUY the book: The title appeared NO WHERE on the book -- writing it backwards was an "artistic element", NOT the title. She was being a diva artiste - "I don't like this challenge, so I am going to do what I want." That is NOT PARTICIPATING in the challenges, nor in the show's CONTEST -- which is what she contracted ("was commissioned") to do!

You were brutal in calling Jaclyn out on misspelling the author's name - yeah, that was bad, it was sloppy, but not defiant. The judges should have come down mercilessly on Judith immediately flauting the rules and then critiqued for producing a rushed, thoughtless, drab piece of work. (The fact she just happened to discover that Austin wrote backwards a couple of times did NOT in any way inform her process, so is completely irrelevant to evaluating her piece - even in retrospect. She was more interested in proving that she was "RIGHT" -- So what! her piece FAILED as art AND as a response to the challenge. It deserves no reconsideration whatsoever.

Next season, please provide catalogue quality, 360 views of each piece so that we CAN see what you judges see. Everyone has HDTV now, so it would make a difference for us in tv land, as well as give the show stronger cedibility and the artists a fairer showcase for their efforts.

We do love this show!!!

thelakeeffect
thelakeeffect

To me...tho...Judith was trying to fail!

The judges (I thot) gave a clearer summary of the guidelines than they did in the "junkyard" challenge.

There, I liked her work but the implied guideline I think she transgressed was...not involving a large appliance in her interesting little work!!! However, the directions were more vague...!

In this episode, the judges gave better guidelines. Artists had no real excuse if they didn't "get' the objectives. ALL of us have seen book covers since we were in diapers. The judges also showed examples of good book covers...And the Penguin representative spoke also.

(I had just seen the new black & white Pride & Prejudice cover at a bookstore yesterday...a great combo of modern 1950's to 1960's style human silhouettes of early 19th century persons!)

The backwards writing thing Judith was referencing...was still too obscure! And it still did not fit with P&P!!!

It might have been good as BACKGROUND on a bio of Jane Austen and her family but - yet again - we have some artists creating wallpaper without including focal point, eye grabbing persons, places, or things!

Max Fischer
Max Fischer

Judith was a self-important narcissist, and the kind of artist that turns people off to art.

Jea DeVoe
Jea DeVoe

The behind the scenes peek of the book cover challenge was quite a surprise, so much agony among the contestants! I do feel the winning piece deserved it, John made it look easy! I have to agree with Jerry Saltz though, if Erik just took a photo of his arm, with the Alice tattoo and lettered it, in photoshop, for me that would have been the game changer! Please pass this quote, from Samuel Beckett, along to all the remaining contestants "Fail, Fail again, Fail Better."

min
min

I would buy that copy of the Time Machine. Looks like it's a modern story now! I even liked his smoke drawings too, although the ladder was awesome. I so enjoyed seeing how complex the colorful machine was to make. So clearly the winner for me.

Char17
Char17

I cannot believe you passed over not one, but TWO brilliant covers for Dracula for the Time Machine. Which, while agreeably art, reminds me of the book jackets circa 1960's and George Orwell. Someone give the graphic artist a big job in lieu of not being chosen as the winner!!!

Jack Rabbit
Jack Rabbit

Glad you re-thought Judiths work. Some of us, few; re-learned a age old lesson tonight.... you can't always judge a book by its cover. Judith would have been a interesting character to keep around. But it would have taken a wise sage to have seen that.