Jerry Saltz

Jerry gives his thoughts on the final three exhibits.

on Dec 22, 20110

“Then all collapsed,” goes the last passage of Moby-Dick, “and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.” Work of Art ended last night, although without sublime terror. Its end brought three good shows by three good artists, any one of whom could have won, all three of whom could have real careers (ditto the recent losers Lola and Michelle; Sucklord, get thee to Mordor). The three finalists, plus with my overall feelings about the program this season, tell me that a sea change took place on our show this season, in public and private. Last year, waves of hatred predicted the collapse of the art world and the destruction of art by television; this year unfurled in its own spreading shroud. A bit like art itself: sometimes capturing attention, mostly gliding slowly by.

This year’s Work of Art was less sideshow, more grad school. I suspect that it made for less entertaining TV, though the artists were better and, unlike last year’s, had a sense of how it would go. Each found ways of making personal work in the midst of one of the most impersonal situations any will ever face. As for me: I tried to be clearer in my criticism, weighed fifteen pounds more than last season, marveled as Bill Powers blossomed into an excellent judge, crushed on China Chow, gasped at Simon de Pury’s charisma. I stood in front of a dozen cute stylists. I saw my bald head powdered with makeup. I wore white Spanx that broke my dark heart. It’s a hard … it’s a hard … Wait. Sorry.

10 comments
digitalmonkey
digitalmonkey

I really enjoy this show - having struggled in art glasses in undergrad, I learned a lot from watching how the artists struggled through challenges to come up with creative solutions under very intense time constraints. I was always pretty good technically, but I really see how much you need to observe and reflect on life to have something strong to say. I don't think this show diminishes art at all. In fact, it gives us a peak (albeit somewhat distorted) of the process and mindset of the artist in creating the pieces. The willingness to start over, to throw something away. The perfection, self-doubts, faith and courage. In the museums and galleries, we only see finished pieces, on WoA, we see the journey behind the pieces.

Kathy C
Kathy C

I respect your opinion, but my husband and I both thought the Sara was the winner of the season. I would love to buy the birdcage from the final show.

D E Paez-Ramirez
D E Paez-Ramirez

Glad to read the impressions from other artists / but, my wife. Susan, and I watched and viewed from perspective(s) differing - even we each from each other . . . (witness the art-work accumulated and filling our walls and flat spaces . . . sculpture, ornament, collage and sundry drawings and acrylic as well as oil pieces (and none of it 'clutter' amid the furniture also, welcome visitors opine, as being well placed) . . .

As just 'regular viewers' (DVRing that which cannot be taken in until weekend enjoyment) we too cite our wishes for the series to continue and reveal the many talents (yes even what a 'struggling' viewer here wishes to call BS {unfortunate, misplaced prejorative} as it's supposed some combative artists tumble into their vision with the weight of their own slants), the evolution of originating pulse which brings them to the 1st episodes to begin with . . .

You producers and judges, continue doing that which you do - all of you - and clue me/us in as to how much of sponsorship merchandise is kosher to consume to keep the wheels greased and turning . . . Bravo! (and, P.S. where's the artwork the closing episode said was available at this site?)

WitchesBrew
WitchesBrew

I really liked your comments on this final show, I like when you are on the artist side and show your investment in them. I also got the feeling you saw through the BS of Youngs 'art'. Thank goodness someone did.

MaraLouise
MaraLouise

Watching this season in its entirety, I never understood what you and the other judges saw in Lola's work. On TV, it always came across as a thoughtless thrown-together mess. Was she let through because of her cunning ability to create drama and conflict? Anyways...Loved the finale, thought all three artists produced beautiful and emotional pieces. Peace.

Mandy3
Mandy3

I think you are too harsh on Sara's final collection and I would argue that all three artists succumbed to cliches. But, who cares, I thought all collections were amazing! Peace.

LarueLaPalooza
LarueLaPalooza

Does this mean you will not be on the next season? Assuming there will be another season. I hope there will be another one as I find the show fascinating! A peek inside others artistic processes and a glimpse into the realm of "high" art. I found your critiques (and China's) to be the most honest and straight forward. I realize that the show has been blasted as another hollywood sellout by other artists, but I personally have found inspiration from it. Thank you Jerry!