Vice In Advice And Farce In Ars

There are many humorous — and serious too! — advice as to how to fake art appreciation and get ahead in a company of snobs who might snub you if you are a dunce.

Such as Adopt THE stance. Stand back a distance from the piece of art, purse your lips as if in deep thought, and say, “I find this piece entirely derivative/jejune/neo-Slavic.” is pretty blunt in its helpfulness: 

Tired of feeling stupid when the conversation turns to art? Here are some easy ways to impress art snobs without the tedium of actually learning anything.

That’s what it says, without the tedium of actually learning anything.  Because it might damage your brain if you’d try to subject it to such tedium, you know.

So, if in fear of learning, don’t read further, because there is a remote possibility you might learn something… You know how the knowledge can sneak upon you when you are not careful.

Michelangelo Merisi (Amerigo) Da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610 ) was an Italian artist, active in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily between 1593 and 1610.

Caravaggio’s paintings, especially portraits, often depict young men in various stages of undress, either adorned, surrounded or both with luscious organic fruit and vegetation, making cow eyes at you. Most of them look like adult maidens of the age of consent.

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There is, however, quite famous image of a woman by Caravaggio’s talented brush. She looks more masculine than feminine, her full name is Medusa Gorgon (no middle name), and she resembles — am I imagining it? — Johnny Depp. Take a look:
And here is Johnny:

El Greco, born Doménikos Theotokópoulos, (1541 – 1614) was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. His paintings often have sharp contrasts and lots of skinny bearded faces. Most of them bearded faces are either vividly blue or somewhat bluish, hinting on high odds of them turning purple… or green:

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Lots of boisterous little people in the picture, all making broad, emphatic gestures, mostly in village setting – this  must be Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/30–1569). As a connoisseur of the Flemmish art and Bruegel in particular, you might say, “Notice, that far from simple recreations of everyday life, Bruegel’s paintings have powerful compositions that are brilliantly organized and controlled, reflecting a sophisticated artistic design.”

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Lots of boisterous little people in the picture, often naked, all making broad, emphatic gestures, mostly defensive ones, and lots of ugly, repugnant creepy-crawlies – this must be Hieronymus Bosch. (1450 – 1516). As a connoisseur of Early Netherlandish masters, you might say, “God knows, I don’t believe in Hell, not really. But I’m sure Master Bosch made a few trips there and back.” Modify the sentence to closely adhere to your own spiritual leanings.

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And, finally, if nearly every painting has at least one face that is marked by uncanny resemblance to a newly single Russian President Vladimir Putin, then it is Jan van Eyck (or Johannes de Eyck) (before c. 1390 – before c. 1441), a Flemish painter active in Bruges and is generally considered one of the most significant Northern European painters of the 15th century.

Take a look. Here they are, Jan van Eyck’s people.

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And here is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

For each man or woman  Jan Van Eyck put in, there  is at least one Putin. Not very masterful a phrase, but simply couldn't resist

For each man or woman Jan Van Eyck put in, there is at least one Putin. Not very masterful a phrase, but simply couldn’t resist

While we are at it, I could’ve given you a few suggestions on how to distinguish mature Jackson Pollock from the canvas produced by a 5 year old with access to cans of spray paint in primary colors, but I won’t. There are others that can do it much better.  Anyone, actually, who had a brief but unforgettable period of heavy drug use but beat the habit and turned out to be a great dad who gives his kiddies an unlimited access to cans of  spray paints. Pollock can be found in my post Contemplation of Art Appreciation. You might find a painting to compare to Pollock’s affixed to your fridge with a magnet – a gift from a child or a grandchild. Heck, if not then DIY! You can do it.

I know I shouldn’t have. Ah, well…


One comment on “Vice In Advice And Farce In Ars

  1. This was awesome. That Bosch guy was a freak. I had to do a paper on him once. At the museum of modern art in San Francisco, they have had a pile of newspapers tied with twine laying against the wall in an upstairs gallery for years. I can never tell if it is a piece of art, or somebody left it there and they just forgot about it. But if that is art, I say we just ignore the snobs who ‘get’ it.

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