I’m a little shocked to realize that I like Work of Art: The Next Great Artist more and more every week, and that this week was the best hour yet. Tasked to “create a shocking work of art,” our little army of art-makers were guest-judged by that master of schlock-shock, Andres Serrano. Actually, I don’t know which was more shocking: That Work of Art so casually showed us an image of Serrano’s “Piss Christ” — the image of Jesus drenched in urine that helped provoke the 1980s culture wars — or that Abdi, an art-school grad, didn’t recognize the piece. And this art-history illiterate was the night’s winner.
The rest of the episode was a non-stop hoot. Loser John and his drawing of “auto-follacio” [sic]; near-winner Jaclyn and her second-in-a-row display of her own nude torso; smuggie Ryan’s declaration that he could shock “your average suburban housewife” (way to aim both low and condescending, Ry); adorable Miles and his interpretation of his “first erection” as inspired by The Little Mermaid (prompting Simon de Pury’s first unforgettable comment, about getting his first erection to a Renoir — one-oopsmanship!). Add Steve Coogan showing up at the judging gallery to make a random comment, and this Work of Art was the gift that kept on giving.
How about that fight between Jaclyn and Erik over her stealing his idea for part of her entry?
Jaclyn is a former assistant to Jeff Koons, for pete’s sake — doesn’t she have the brains to b.s., art-world-style, and say that “stealing” is, ahem, “appropriation”?
The most shocking things about Work of Art last night were the choices for the double elimination. John’s work was crudely drawn, but it was nowhere near as devoid of original ideas, let alone shock, as Jaime Lynn’s listless Last Supper cartoon. And poor Nao! Even with the support of judge Serrano, she and her crazy bag-lady performance-art silliness couldn’t defeat the far more banal “sex education” poster created by Erik.
Even though most of the works created this night were ho-hum, the hour still had a crackle of energy, an air of the unexpected — not in the art, but in the behavior of both the artists and the judges. The editing was superb this week as well: Having insomniac Miles announce a major disaster, only to have it turn out to be, “The coffee maker is broken!” Marvelous.
What did you think? Were you shocked by any of the art? Did the right people get eliminated?