Work of Art: The Art Industry Makes It Through Season 1

Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 06:19 AM

Grab Your Detritus and Go: New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz delivers some hard news to a contestant on 'Work of Art.' (Carolina A. Miranda)

If Bravo TV's fine art reality show, Work of Art, proved one thing—it's that all Bravo reality shows are inherently alike.

There is the panoply of television archetypes: Nao, the abrasive she-devil getting all up in everyone's grill, Ryan, the slinky hipster, Judith, the spunky older lady. And, naturally, there is a challenge. (Everyone had to do a portrait of everyone else.) And, plenty of judging. (Amanda, an abstract artist, was the first one out.)

In its structure, pacing and style, the show is a repeat of popular Bravo programs like Project Runway—less about art than the personalities that shape it. (It would have been too much to expect that commercial television would deliver any sort of thoughtful meditation on what it means to be an artist.) Moreover, the hosts and judging panel could use a little work. Host China Chow (daughter of restaurateur to the stars, Michael Chow) is stiff. Auctioneer Simon de Pury—in the tricky Tim Gunn role—seems to have pumped up his French accent to the point of caricature. And fashion mag contributor and gallery owner Bill Powers' art crits are hilariously banal. At one point, he says he just "can't get off" on the work before him. Like, that's totally gnarly, dude.

Even so, the program is a hoot to watch. I saw the premiere episode in the company of roughly three dozen artists, bloggers and art journalists at WNYC's headquarters, who chortled derisively through the grandiose I-am-an-artist statements and cheered on New York Magazine critic and show judge Jerry Saltz as he delivered his verdicts (he was the best of the bunch). One participant came up with the inspired idea that the producers should incorporate Klaus Biesenbach into the program, the curator known for putting on the Marina Abramovic spectacle at MoMA. But the general consensus was that the show is Cheez Balls for the brain and will likely do little to encourage pretty much anyone to go visit a museum.

The best thing that came out of the evening? Work of Art inspired its own work of art: Brian Piana, an artist in Texas made an abstract rendering based on our little group's Tweets. I can definitely get off on that.

Thanks to all who attended and followed us online. Special thanks to Chris Henderson from Moviehouse at 3rd Ward for screening some incredible art videos prior to the main event.


Bravo TV
The Season 1 Cast of 'Work of Art.' Amanda, an abstract artist (in the red poncho), was the first one voted off.
Carolina A. Miranda
Bill Powers: co-owner of Half Gallery, husband of Cynthia Rowley, 'Work of Art' judge.
The Peanut Gallery at WNYC: A gathering of artists, art journalists, bloggers and Tweeters took in the premiere episode of the show.


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Comments [4]

Greg Sanchez from Scottsdale AZ

Will you point me in the right direction for season 2 Work of Art. I rep a group of incredible artists with a gallery is in Scottsdale AZ. We're the busiest gallery in the district I'm confidant that we're on the upward trend with this style of Modern Abstract that most people have yet to experience. Our 3 top artists are Josiane Childers (our top seller), Nancy Ngo (graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Robert Charon (incredible artist) See their work on our website. Check us out here.


Jul. 13 2010 03:34 PM
Daniel Ramirez

Please! This is television. Do not try to make a reality television concept into an artists real life, if you do, you end up mixed up on what creating art is and what it means to make a television show.
One has excellence, process, creativity, wonder; the other is a television show.

Jun. 24 2010 04:34 AM

Unfortunately, I think programs of this nature have less to do with any sort of aesthetic excellence than they do with creating a soap opera with sassy, brassy characters...

Jun. 12 2010 04:24 PM
Carole Laventhol from La Jolla, California

While is it nice that "fine art" gets a public venue, I suspect this show will do little to inspire the masses to embrace museum quality art works.

The level of intelligence is just under what one would hope for. Where are the participants, and judges, who aspire to achieve true excellence?

Jun. 12 2010 11:16 AM

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About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net


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