If you didn’t follow the link to ArtPrize at the end of my post yesterday, don’t worry. Because if high-handed art-ad warfare deserves a post, so does a ‘radically-open’ art competition with the biggest prize in the world ($25,000 for first place) whose fate will be decided this coming October 1.
I’ve mentioned before how American taste and critical opinion can go separate ways (for example, see post on Andrew Wyeth and Norman Rockwell)–I can’t wait to see if that proves to be the case with Artprize.
Will some hot shot of the Whitney Biennial, an art fair that “characterizes the state of American art today,” win? Or perhaps an older, half-forgotten artist? Will it be a traditional oil painting, or a minamalist poly-resin casting containing nothingness? I feel like this is a litmus test for what America considers beautiful. What will it say about American’s ideas of beauty? When I consider the opinions of the various people I know, I’m really not sure how to answer that question. (The New York Times mockingly called it ‘Art Idol.’ )
ArtPrize is as much a social experiment as an art contest. Venues are provided by volunteers and matched with entrants. Entrants are encouraged to stay for the duration of the fair to promote their work. Voting can be done only by people who visit the fair, which is being hosted in Grand Rapids, MI. (The prize is funded by a Michigan politician) Grand Rapids might seem out of the way, but that $25,000 prize speaks pretty loudly. In fact, it screams “Pay Attention To Me.”
But what will the ArtPrize and its voting methods reflect about the state of populist American taste? I think the winner could be as follows:
- appeals to the lowest common denominator
- the prettiest
- the best social networker
- the next Leonardo da Vinci, who has been hiding inside a cave in Grand Rapids
- a perfectly reputable, established good artist with credentials*
*That would be the most unintersting result.