Go Ahead Poop in the Museum! The Case of the Gold Toilet.
As a kid I loved drawing stuff. I carried my pencils and pads around trying to appear as le artiste français. Finally my mother sent me for a brief course at the Pasadena Art Institute but I never produced anything worth viewing. Later, I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and spent a good many hours in the Little Theater working at my art. I still didn’t produce anything of quality and I pretty much failed art history, several times. I kept on drawing determined to eventually prove myself by creating something magnificent, or at least a painting that would not garner laughter.
I Just Don't Get It!
One troubling thing I took away from this artsy group was a healthy skepticism about “great art” and the entire art world. I still have it decades later. As a young art student I became suspicious. Although my work seemed on a par with the other students, I may have been the only student that got a straight F. First, I did not wear gauzy dresses or flowers in my hair, nor did I smoke pot or hang out with the professor at the “Sink.” (Beer joint). Secondly I could not join the other students in swooning over some of the so-called “great” art as the instructor pontificated over its outright genius. Stuff like “Alchemy” by Jackson Pollock. I know I know he’s very famous and has made tons of money, but I just didn’t get it and I still don’t. I didn’t fit into the art community.
I appreciate all forms of art. Well almost all! Like this “Several Circles,” by Vasily Kanadinsky. It’s just circles but it makes me feel good when I look at it.Or this charming childlike painting, “City Scene.” By Harry Gottlieb. Love it!
But folks, I think we are being conned! I’m pretty sure a big hunk of the art world is a giant phony, pretentious scam involving a group of ridiculous elitist who don’t know art from their you know what’s.
I need to mention the Guggenheim in New York. A magnificent museum founded in 1939 and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It houses fabulous collections of impressionist, modern and contemporary art.
AND it houses a gold toilet. For a fee you may sit on this gold throne and deposit your excrement. Lucky us, the artist Maurizio Cattelan came out of retirement to create this 18-karat gold john he has titled “America.” I guess he felt a sort of an affinity with Donald Trump and all those gold filigree accoutrements in the Trump residence. According to an article in the New York Post, by Chris Perez and Elizabeth Rosner the museum says, “ It allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”
Well yeah, I guess that is unprecedented intimacy. But don’t you worry. There is a private room for creating this art expression and there are folks assigned to keep everything clean and tidy with medical wipes and so forth.
It Gets Worse
Of course everyone has heard of "Piss Christ." A photograph taken by the artist Serrano of a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine. But did you know it sold for $15,000.00 and the National endowment for the Arts, (A tax payer funded group) paid him $5000.00? I guess they really liked it
This so called art is so vulgar I almost didn’t add it to my article. But I pretty much rage at this ludicrous affront to art and I want you to rage too. There are artists that work for decades to hone their craft and produce something of quality. Getting paid to put Christ in urine is overwhelmingly offensive.
And There's More
Almost on a par with Serrano’s crucifix is a masterpiece sculpture from renowned Chinese artist Zhu Cheng. Cheng and several of his students created a Venus de Milo out of excrement. They wisely encased it in a see thru box to spare the museum visitors the stench. According to this story from Oddity Central some damn fool art collector bought it for $45,000.00. Maybe he placed it in the foyer of his home to greet his guests.
And Then There Is This!
But it gets worse. British artist Tracey Emin received $170,000.00 for her contribution to the art world entitled, “My Bed.” Gallery owner Charles Saatchi not only put the bed in his gallery, he set up a room in is home to display it. The actual bed is strewn with bed sheets stained with bodily fluids and the floor dotted with condoms and blood stained underwear and other junk.
Worth Every Cent
Finally here’s the grand poo pah. Artist Gerhard Richter of Germany received $750,000 for his piece entitled “Mirror.” He painted a mirror red. That’s it! Artist Richter has done some marvelous abstracts for which he was paid millions. His “Abstraktes Bild” sold for $36 million. As absurd as that seems that painting is at least a fine design of color, shape and line. I like it.
I guess over the years I’ve become a cynic. There are artists, authors, singers, and performers across the country creating amazing works worthy of placement in the grandest museum, but they will never be discovered or appreciated. These artists will never be accepted into that clique of wine sipping elitist snobs that run the art world. While those positioned to judge will slobber over a mirror painted red or disgusting dirty bed sheets or a crude book with a theme of gratuitous sex, those secret precious works of the unknown artist will slip into a drawer and be forgotten.
That really angers me. It doesn’t seem fair. Sadly, one must accept that life is not so fair and trying hard and working hard doesn’t always mean success.
Courage, Determination and Luck
Because it takes more than talent. When my sons became discouraged I used to tell them about Sammy Davis Junior. Sammy achieved greatness despite numerous and overwhelming roadblocks. A member of a minority race and a minority religion he was short and skinny, unattractive and he had one artificial eye. But Sammy had courage and determination and a beautiful voice. He could have chosen to withdraw and never try and used those stumbling blocks as an excuse, but I suspect nothing could have held Sammy back.
And it takes a bit of luck. Yeah, unfortunately it usually takes a bit of luck. We can all help by supporting those among us that produce wonderful secret things.