Saturday, April 02, 2005

Democratic art?

One realization most college students work out at some point is that art isn't fair. The general public isn't always right. Components that should produce a great work of art often fall flat; and great works of art often can't be explained by analyzing the individual components. Art falls outside of the rules that Americans want to apply to other fields of knowledge and power.

Two Russian artists, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, have set out to demonstrate this concept. They contracted with a public opinion polling company to conduct a survey of popular artistic taste. The first poll targetted Americans, but they have since expanded their pool to the global community. They used the results of the survey to produce paintings that correspond to the reported "preferred" and "least preferred" results.

The people like blue, outdoorsy scenes. (So do I.) Americans like paintings that include lots of water and sky, some wildlife, and George Washington. The Dutch seem to be the only people to prefer abstraction. The Chinese want their paintings to be the size of a wall; the Russians want their paintings to be the size of a television. The paintings produced, of course, are pretty ghastly, although very competent.

The Dia Center hosts the artists' website, which provides more information about the survey, its goals, and letters received by the artists from the general webpublic.

(Via Grammar.Police.)

5 Comments:

Blogger Katherine:

You could accuse them of cheating a little to make their point...George Washington and a hippopotamus? You could produce a wonderful painting that followed these specifications: hanging in my bedroom is Rembrandt's polish rider, and okay, we don't know who it's of so not a historical figure, but otherwise it fits the bill. Oh, it's red-dominated rather than blue dominated, but even so.

And that Holland "least favorite" one is suspiciously decent.

But, as this really does seem to be how TV shows, movies, political campaigns, etc. are made, I think it's very well done.

4/07/2005 01:36:00 AM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

You're right, Katherine; they do push the results a bit. I poked around in their survey questions, and for the animals, they only had a couple of follow-ups: wild or domesticated? large or small? A moose might have been slightly less silly than a hippopotamus. But they did actually survey for specific historical figures, and Washington did win out...

4/08/2005 08:21:00 PM  
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