Art for the Seriously Twisted

I recently searched the internet for the most f’d up, twisted sh*t I could find. Believe you me, I got an eye full. The following artists make Joel-Peter Witkin look like Thomas Kinkade.

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Vargas

ABOVE: Guillermo Vargas, Exposición N° 1, 2007, performance at the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua  

I recently came across an article about Milo Moiré: the artist who lays eggs with her vagina. Yep. Her vagina.

Whether it be Lady Gaga’s vomit girl, or the Red Square nut sack guy; the art world never ceases to amaze, or enrage.

In that vein, I decided to scour the internet for the most fucked up, twisted shit I could find. Believe you me, I got an eye full.

The following artists make Joel-Peter Witkin look like Thomas Kinkade:

Rick Gibson – A Cannibal in England

In July 1988, Gibson ate a canapé of donated tonsils. A year later, he publicly ate a slice of human testicle.

Said Gibson: “I became the first cannibal in British history to legally eat human meat in public.”

Mom must be so proud.

Guillermo Vargas – Exposición N° 1

In August 2007, Vargas tied a street dog up in a Nicaraguan gallery, then allowed the animal to starve to death while gallery goers watched. *

He was often asked to free the dog, but he refused, and he instructed viewers not to feed it.

One word: evil.

John Duncan – Blind Date

In May 1980, Duncan purchased a female corpse in Tijuana for the purpose of sex, then taped himself doing the nasty with it. **

He later got a vasectomy “so that the last potent seed I had,” he recounted, “was spent in a cadaver.”

John Duncan: In a league of freaks and ghouls, you truly are a man apart.

* According to the gallery owner, the dog was actually fed and managed to escape. Here’s hoping.

** Audiotape. Not videotape. Hmmm.

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Terror and Beauty: Francis Bacon and Henry Moore

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Francis Bacon and Henry Moore exhibition. This show isn’t for everyone. It’s depressing as hell.

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ABOVE: Francis Bacon, Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, 1966, oil on canvas, 37.1 x 31.2 x 2.3 inches, Tate Collection, Photo: © Tate, London [2014]

BELOW: Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1951, plaster cast, 42.5 x 91 x 29.5 inches, Art Gallery of Ontario, Photo: © Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto [2014]

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This past weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see the Francis Bacon and Henry Moore exhibition.

Titled Terror and Beauty, the show is heavy on the terror, and light on the beauty. Even the Moore’s – which are the prettier of the two – are curated in a manner that draws attention to the ugly within.

This show isn’t for everyone. It’s depressing as hell.

Fortunately for me:

  • I don’t rely on art to make me happy.
  • I don’t need art to be pretty.
  • I love the dark.
  • I love the twisted.
  • I love the ugly.

I’ve seen many Moore’s, but rarely have I seen a Bacon. That’s because there are very few of them on display in Canada, and that alone, is worth the price of admission.

Some may dislike the curation; others the art. If you’re like me, you’ll like it just fine.

Terror and Beauty: Francis Bacon and Henry Moore is at the AGO until July 20, 2014.

They Said What?

I love artist quotes. Oftentimes, they are insightful, informative, and inspirational. The following statements are none of the those things.

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With Dead Head 1991 by Damien Hirst born 1965

ABOVE: Damien Hirst, With Dead Head, 1991, photograph, 22.5 x 30 inches, Tate/National Galleries of Scotland, Photo: © Tate, London [2014]

I love quotes. Oftentimes, they are insightful, informative, and inspirational. The following are none of the above:

“I’m the closest thing to Picasso that you’ll see in this fuckin’ world.” Julian Schnabel

“I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it.” Damien Hirst

“A lot of my work is about sales.” Jeff Koons

“I’ve nothing to say.” Anish Kapoor

All is not lost. Here’s Ai Weiwei to save the day:

“For me, it is OK as long as I can breathe, as long as my heart is pumping, as long as I can express myself.”

“If my art has nothing to do with people’s pain and sorrow, what is ‘art’ for?”

Thanks Ai.

Defending Conceptualism

Let’s be honest, a lot of conceptual art is total bullsh*t. Yeah. I said it. More than any other genre, it is is academic, vague, and elitist. And now, the defense…sort of.

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ABOVE: Martin Creed, Work No. 876, 2008, cardboard boxes, 42.4 x 23.9 x 18.5 inches

Let’s be honest, a lot of conceptual art is total bullshit. Yeah. I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, concepts are important – maybe even more so than aesthetics – but there’s something to be said for accessibility too.

More often than any other genre, conceptualism is academic, vague, and elitist.

And now, the defense…sort of:

Most of what passes for conceptualism today, isn’t conceptual at all.

In it’s original incarnation, it was actually quite brilliant…and necessary…and noble.

It fought against the commodification of art, it subverted the gallery system, and it called to question the role of the artist, authenticity, and ownership.

By contrast, today’s conceptualists are anything but. They often sell their “concepts” for millions, they’re beloved by the establishment, and the last thing they want to do, is rebel against the system.

The defense rests. Maybe conceptualism should too.