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After watching this episode, I can definitely say it the most entertaining show so far. For me personally, it provided me with the satisfaction of staging a mini-retrospective of an artist I love, Andres Serrano at Phillips de Pury & Company. It was great to see the genuine excitement on the faces of contestants when they first saw his work and met him in person. While he has been widely known in the art world for a long time, the art market has yet to fully recognize his true significance and his work is, for the moment, still undervalued in financial terms. Listening to his comments to the contestants it demonstrated that no person is better placed to judge the work of an other artist than an artist. In terms of collecting, it is also artists who make the most interesting collections by far.
Jerry Saltz is totally brilliant in this episode, as in all preceding ones. He is as entertaining on camera as he is off camera. His self-deprecating humor in the show, in his blogs relating to the show and in life put him in a league of his own, or in a league with one of my ultimate heroes, Woody Allen.
We live in a time where very few things have the ability to shock. The only work in this episode that truly disturbed me was Mark's. His way of presenting a horrendous theme while utilizing an advertising technique worked. The audience is drawn into the work because of the pretty colors and the presentation. Once you actually realized the subject matter, one cannot help but be overcome with disgust. However the work did not impress the judges, and he was not given a spot in the top three.
I can sympathize with Erik and I understand his reaction when he lamented he was not credited for an idea he offered Jaclyn, an idea that transformed her work from banality to a work that was a contender for the challenge win. The best ideas always come up in informal exchanges between friends or colleagues. It is perfectly OK to pick someone else's ideas, but one should have the elegance to give credit where credit is due.
John's departure must have come for him as the only real shock, especially given his win in the previous week's challenge. At least he will have the Penguin cover as a lasting testimony of his participation in Work of Art. On my rounds to visit the artists I always enjoyed my encounters with Nao who exudes no arrogance whatsoever, contrary to the impression the viewers may have based on some of her sound bites. Miles's drawing, which one could only see quite rapidly on the screen, was very good and extremely close in style to the work of Sue Williams. When I mentioned that to him on my studio visit he did not seem to know her. What impressed me with Abdi, besides the obvious impact of his winning entry, is that like Miles he has the skills and resourcefulness to attack any medium.