Pop Touched Me, Too

Bill discusses why Young's work was so successful (and tells us the correct way to pronounce Kymia's name).

Pop art was the original mash-up, and while Andy Warhol is remembered as the king of pop, there were many others involved in the movement from Ed Ruscha to Roy Lichtenstein. Our guest judge on this challenge was a major coup for us, because Rob Pruitt embodies what pop art means today by hosting an annual art awards a la the Oscars and making slick glittery paintings a mile deep. I called Kymia's installation an example of product displacement. It shined a light -- quite literally -- on issues of environmentalism and consumerism without reading like an AdBusters cover. The fluorescent lights recalled Jeff Koons' pre-new work, and I agree with The Sucklord that her decision to go topless here surprised me. On a side note, I confess that for the first couple of episodes I had trouble pronouncing Kymia's name until someone explained that phonetically it sounds like leukemia without the "leu." Terrible comparison, but hey, it worked.

Young's Prop 8 billboard reminds us that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and Lola dismissing it as political art you see everywhere in California was a disappointment. Street art at its best has the ability to make real change. Does anyone doubt that Shepard Fairey's Obama poster helped him get elected president? The other aspect of Young's piece, which didn't fully read on TV, was how much of a hub it became in the gallery with people writing messages on the back. The participatory quality made everyone a stakeholder in Young's artwork. Rob Pruitt wrote "Will You Marry Me?" in Sharpie and I accepted. (Please don't tell his boyfriend Jonathan Horowitz, another great conceptual artist.)

My problem with Dusty's garbage can was that his message came off like someone wagging a finger in your face and not the call to arms we need in a country full of couch potatoes.
Jazz-Minh's commentary on celebrity culture was half-baked. I think it's fair to say that America invented what we call fame today. You need to push the conversation beyond Britney Spears' frozen smile. Inserting herself into the picture was risky, because it revealed the fine line between introspection and narcissism. (I'm talking perception here, not necessarily Jazz-Minh's intent.) I had a similar issue with Leon's floor piece in that the communication was fractured and reductive. I applaud his inclusion of the Facebook and Twitter logos as corporate icons of the 21st century, but to crack their facade didn't feel like enough of a transformation to save this piece. Plus the American flag is such a loaded symbol that unless you can really put your stamp on it, maybe this image too easily becomes a cliche.
Michelle faced a near identical challenge depicting the Coca Cola can, her reasoning being that Coke Zero is different than the original painted by Warhol. But to me it's just Diet Coke men can feel manly about drinking. Her decision to paint the soda can on a phone screen was the most interesting to me. In the world we live in surrounded by so many invisible filters, perhaps the mediation is the message.

You May Also Like...

Recommended by Zergnet

Tiny Coincidences

Simon catches up on Episodes 8 and 9.

Since my day job keeps me slightly busy, I have fallen behind with my comments on the current season.

The last two episodes were the most fun to watch and of course decisive in determining who would make it to the finale.

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn has a proven track record of a great eye and being able to spot great talent early. She had a very positive and strong influence on the panel of judges during Season 1. Had she been a guest judge for Episode 9 instead of 8, the outcome might have produced a slightly different trio of finalists. 

In Episode 8 Sarah Kabot produced work that sold for the least in the street and impressed the least in the gallery competition. Her elimination therefore did not surprise and did not lead to a lot of discussion. Kymia took a risky path by taking a conceptual and clearly noncommercial approach with her exchange of signatures. From the selling point of view she was second to last and beat Sarah Kabot only by a single dollar. What saved her is that the judges liked it and that she had decided to take Dusty as a team mate. Dusty was the third best street vendor which boosted their team's financial tally. It shows that his surveillance camera on the American flag had a considerably more positive response from the street than from the gallery. Incidentally I would really have loved to go to Arkansas. At least I have meanwhile learned how to pronounce it properly!

Lola did her best work of the whole competition in these last two episodes, and it therefore must have been all the harder for her to have narrowly missed making it to the finale. In Episode 8 her self-portrait with secrets was very striking and worked as well in the street as in the gallery. I regret that it was not possible for the TV viewers to read her secrets. Her portrait of the two coin dealers from Cold Spring in Episode 9 was strong and truly original.

Kymia's portrait of the antique dealers got her the victory in the last challenge and secured her position as one of the finalists. As much as I am in awe of the drawing that she did for the children's challenge, I find this portrait, while technically impeccably executed, a bit creepy and definitely not something I would wish to own. Sara Jimenez like Lola is in top shape towards the end of this competition. She beat out Lola in the street vendors challenge and took considerable risk in her portrait of the Cold Spring fireman. In her case it paid off for her and the reward is a place in the finale.

With most auctions behind me this year I took the time to read the various recaps, and some of the numerous comments this competition causes in cyberspace. First of all Jerry Saltz's recaps are totally brilliant and are the compulsory complement that one impatiently waits for after watching the episodes. Several other regular recaps are very humorous and fun to read. The heated discussions about which artists should have won or been eliminated are exactly the same as discussions I have on a daily basis with friends and colleagues on which artists in the non-TV world we admire or believe in. It demonstrates how highly subjective art's appreciation is and this is precisely the wonderful thing about it. China Chow, Jerry Saltz, Bill Powers, and the guest judges did a great job throughout Season 2 in discussing the relative merits of this season's contestants. The three finalists are all very talented. Lola, Michelle, Dusty all had the talent to also make it to the finale. As in life it is tiny things or coincidences that can make a difference.

Now I am highly impatient to see the finale!

You May Also Like...

Recommended by Zergnet