First off, the title sucks. Seriously. Why not just stick with The Next Great Artist? What’s this Work of Art business?
Second, the show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist ain’t bad. Bravo’s new art reality program, produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, features fourteen artists competing against each other for $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. During last night’s debut episode, we were introduced to a usual cast of characters – the sexpot (Jaclyn), the guy with absolutely no formal training (Erik), the curmudgeon who’s not there to make friends (Nao), the vegan chain-smoker (Ryan) – but we also saw some decent portraiture and heard some genuine criticism from Jerry Saltz, Bill Powers and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn.
The pacing and editing of the show are pretty much straight out of the Top Chef / Project Runway playbook, and there’s little surprise that some of the same folks are involved, but I can’t really hold that against Work of Art. You can’t taste the food on your flat-screen Sony, and there’s less wiggle room with fashion than, say, large-scale installation. But snap judgments, arbitrary limitations and bright colors – wait a minute, am I talking about reality TV or contemporary art here?
Spoiler alert: The woman no one would remember anyway was the first one voted off.
Most authentic thing said so far: “His painting looks huge, and my painting looks small and stupid.”
Random prediction: At least one of the contests will claim her appearance was all part of a performance piece. Too bad James Franco got there first.
Final thought: There has to be a better line for kicking off the contestants than “Your work of art didn’t work for us.” I’m thinking “Your time on this show is as permanent as a Felix Gonzalez-Torres piece.” No? Ah well. Maybe I’ll have something better next week…