Priceless art from home improvement materials?
My brother and his family just returned from a whirlwind trip to the other side of the pond. They spent a week touring London and returned with hundreds of digital images of their travels. In the olden days, you had to bring your dozens of rolls of film to be developed at a one-day kiosk, or more recently, a one-hour photo counter and set up the projector and screen before you could subject your family and friends to a slideshow of your very own European Vacation. Now it's easy and immediate on your giant, flat screen TV.
Luckily, my brother and nephew are decent photographers, and their tour guide tipped them off to the right places to go and where to stand to get the best shots. I haven't been to London, but thanks to their photos, I feel like I almost have. Now I don't have to spend thousands to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, although I really do have the travel bug and would love to visit in person when I stop hemorrhaging money to fix up my home. I almost forgot how much I love the centuries-old architecture and art you don't find in our still relatively young country.
What passes for art today?
We got into the usual Is-that-really-art? discussion when they showed us their photos from the Tate Museum. I can remember these same arguments about Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup can, or Jackson Pollock's splattered canvasses, not to mention paintings that were just all black by an artist whose name I don't even recall. I am even willing to bet that the first artists to paint a bowl of fruit got a similar reaction: "You call that 'art'? It's a dish full of apples and pears!" In those days, your value as any kind of artist was questionable unless you were depicting some "One" of significance, like Jesus or the king. A pear was just a pear. You could pick it from a tree.
So when they came to the photos from the Tate, my brother and sister-in-law wanted to prepare me for the expected comment, "Why did you take a photograph of a pile of plywood?"
Actually, it was a sculpture made of several sheets of particleboard. They did not appear to be adorned in any way. My brother was quick to point out that the artist took a year to create this "masterpiece," which, for all I know, could have served as his or her makeshift home during a "starving artist" phase. This was not the only startling piece my brother photographed out of sheer disbelief for what passes for modern art. There was also a collection of fluorescent-bulbs, some in different colors. Pretty, but they were fluorescent bulbs!
We concluded that for under $100 and a trip to the nearest Home Depot, you could DIY some of your very own modern art like this piece made from ductwork.
I can't wait to get home and try it myself to complement my midcentury modern decor. Except for my kitchen mosaic and a few older framed pieces I've lugged around the country before settling into my current home, I've been negligent about adorning my home with art. I smell a new wave of home improv projects in the works -- maybe even a business making cheap knock-offs of priceless industrial artwork.
Maybe one day I'll get to the Tate -- posthumously.