ArtPrize: A ‘Radically Open’ Taste Test

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:

  1. appeals to the lowest common denominator
  2. the prettiest
  3. the best social networker
  4. the next Leonardo da Vinci, who has been hiding inside a cave in Grand Rapids
  5. a perfectly reputable, established good artist with credentials*

*That would be the most unintersting result.

3 thoughts on “ArtPrize: A ‘Radically Open’ Taste Test

  1. I’m happy I came upon your blog – nice commentary on a variety of art topics. Reminds me that now that I live in CT I’m only getting into the city once a month or so. In between I’ll have to stop in here 🙂

  2. The art prize would please me. Let’s see, I could hire a group of wanna-be-artists-like-me and have ’em organize my work. (Kinda like Warhol’s Factory.) I’d certainly take a year’s sabbatical to NYC, rent my a 5th floor studio in Tribeca (with an old iron fire-escape where I could stand and smoke and watch the goings-on below.) Fill sketchbooks. Shoot the bull at sidewalk cafes, hopefully impress young ladies (find one who has a “grandfather” fixation (I’m 70!)) Maybe even visit a museum or two.

    Could win. I’d certainly appeal to the lower denominator. I could also be the next de Vinci (There is one area in art where de Vinci, Picasso, Wyeth, Chagall…whoever, CAN NOT match me! That’s in being and seeing and reflecting by the world as Ralph Ivy (ME!) can.)

    No. 5? Most uninteresting results? NO Way!

    The only problem is it costs 50 bucks to sign up. Oh, well… (Ah, wail…) it’s the life of an artist.

  3. Bill, thanks so much! Please do stop in.

    Ralph, that sabbatical sounds idyllic (I mean, maybe not my cup of tea, but certainly not bad) but you only have until October 10! You’d better get cracking if you’re going to enter ‘Art Idol 2009’.

    I would enter just for the experience

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