I've always enjoyed art as an expression or interpretation of the world around us. Art, of course, means something different to everyone, and that is part of the beauty of it. Sometimes, though, the "art world" takes matters from the realm of the sublime only to land in the realm of the ridiculous. Such is the direction we find England's Tate Gallery (once again) heading.
As you may recall, the last time we checked in on the British art community, it had awarded a major art prize, plus 20,000 pounds (about $30,000) to an artist named Martin Creed, for a work titled The Lights Going On and Off. It consisted of a vacant room in which the lights went on and off.
Yes. He got thirty grand for that. Why? Because The Lights Going On and Off possesses the quality that your sophisticated art snot looks for above all else in a work of art, namely: No normal human would ever mistake it for art. Normal humans, confronted with a room containing only blinking lights, would say: "Where's the art? And what's wrong with these lights?''
Most folks accept art they can understand: pretty pictures, imaginative landscapes, well-proportioned sculptures, and the like. That's understandable. Most people who aren't "aficionados" tend to be much more utilitarian in their approach to art, although many have developed a tolerance (if not an indulgence) for modern art.
This kind of thing drives your professional art snots CRAZY. They cannot stand the thought that they would like the same art as the stupid old moron public. And so, as the public has become more accepting of modern art, the art snots have made it their business to like only those works of ''art'' that are so spectacularly inartistic that the public could not possibly like them....
Which leads us to the latest development in the British art world. You are going to think I made this development up. Even I sometimes wonder if I made it up, although I know for a fact that I did not, because I am looking at a story about it from The London Telegraph. Here is the key sentence:
"The Tate Gallery has paid 22,300 pounds of public money for a work that is, quite literally, a load of excrement.''
Yes. The Tate Gallery, which is a prestigious British art museum, spent 22,300 pounds -- or roughly $35,000 -- of British taxpayers' money to purchase a can containing approximately one ounce of an artist's very own personal . . . OK, let's call it his artistic vision. The artist is an Italian named Piero Manzoni, who died in 1963, but not before filling 90 cans with his vision. According to the Telegraph, "The cans were sealed according to industrial standards and then circulated to museums around the world.''
Now if somebody were to send YOU a can of vision, even sealed according to industrial standards, your response would be to report that person to the police. This is why you are a normal human, as opposed to an art professional. The art museums BOUGHT it. The Telegraph states that, in addition to the Tate, both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Museum in Paris have paid actual money for cans of Mr. Manzoni's vision. (Notice that I am tastefully refraining from making a joke involving "Pompidou.'')
And I'm sitting here thinking, "now why couldn't I have had that vision??" I could ship my "vision" to art museums worldwide, and I could claim as my muse none other than one Thomas Crapper, without whom none of this would be possible.
Geez, before you know it, someone will be suspending a crucifix in a Mason jar full of urine and calling it "art"- and perhaps even getting an NEA grant for it. Man, I think I might just be on to something here....