Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I don't know much about art but I know what I don't like

Man, here's August already. Tempus fugit, eh?

I watched Art School Confidential, based on the Daniel Clowes comic story (and written by him). It was directed by Terry Zwigoff, who also did the remarkable and moving documentary Crumb. And, I saw with surprise, it was co-produced by an old family friend with whom I've lost touch.

Well, this film was mediocre, but the way Clowes nailed pretentious art geeks really tickled me. I didn't go to art school, but I took a few art classes at a tiny liberal arts college in California, and the effect seems to have been the same. We had all the art school "types:" the artist manqué professor living vicariously through his students; the suck-up; the other suck-up; the arrogant snob; and so forth.

I identified quite a lot with Jerome, the main character, during the scenes where his class discussed each other's work. I'm not as talented as he was meant to be, but I'm rather a dab hand with the pencil and pen. I was therefore simultaneously amused and pissed off to be regarded as a hack since I drew recognizable figures, and to see the professor and the suck-ups engage in a big circle-jerk of praise for the masturbatory crap everyone else produced. There really was no question of talent in these classes; all anyone cared about was how to "act arty." The more abstract and layered and rough a thing was, the more they liked it and bent over backwards trying to explain it as the product of some kind of vision and talent. To them, art began and ended with Andy Warhol.

Just for one example, one guy brought in a canvas which he'd scribbled on and then attacked with an axe. Ooh, innovative! Daring! Pretentious! Utter shite!

Anyway, I'm clearly bitter. But I did like that facet of Art School Confidential.

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