My nominee for worst art of the 21st. Century

Posted in blog post on July 28th, 2010 by Merrill Markoe
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bedbathian #1

I went to UC Berkeley where I was an art major all the way through to a Masters degree. Why? Because in the words of the great Joe Strummer, “There’s only one answer to what you’re going to do after school and that is art school: the last resort of malingerers and people who don’t want to work.”  I admit that  I may have screwed around an awful lot in the name of academia. But  I also learned a few things. And I was thinking of those few things today when I was waiting to get out of  Bed, Bath and Beyond.  While I was trapped in a lengthy check out line,  I was stuck staring at the big wall full of the theoretical “art.” they sell.  It was directly in front of me. There is enough of it to  take up one whole side of the store.

So I started playing a game called ‘Which of these pieces of art would you buy if a terrorist had a gun to your head?” (And by the way,  it took something that melodramatic for me to motivate myself in this game because  the selection of framed pieces I was looking at each had the ability to ruin my mood in just a second. ) (Though even in the context of the game, I’m still not sure what would be motivating the terrorist to make such a threat . Except perhaps  gleeful sadistic thrills from punishing a western infidel floozy with the rotting fruits of her culture’s decline. )

Fortunately for me, it was time to hand over the credit card before I had to  finalize my difficult decision. Because there was no way I was able to pick a piece out.  But on the way to the car, I began wondering what one might call the ‘school’ of art this store is selling . Not Moderne. Not Cubist. Not Impressionist or Fauvism.  Not Abstract Expressionism. Not Pop. And then it came to me:

The works are Early Twenty First Century BedbathandBeyondian.bedbathian #2

Worse by half than Twenty First Century CostPlussian and twenty First Century PierOneian.


11 Responses to “My nominee for worst art of the 21st. Century”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think this is one of the healthiest vegetables. It always helps satisfies my hunger and doesn’t have much calories versus the amount.

  2. kara says:

    So I can safely assume you don’t appreciate “Dogs Playing Poker?”

  3. Susan says:

    You were playing what I like to call the Best of the Worst game. I play it all the time. While on the subway, for example: Who would I sleep with if I HAD TO repopulate the world?

  4. Lane says:

    If I saw junk like that in my primary care physician’s waiting room, I’d get up and walk out, even if I were on the verge of death. In fact, that kind of offal would only hasten my death.

    My eyes hurt…

  5. Tina says:

    I’ve often wondered what to call these images myself, Merrill. As usual, your spot-on observations have accurately defined this genre of so-called art. As someone who makes art for a living, (at least I used to actually make a pretty good living at it) I am sadly coming to the conclusion that real art – you know those pictures and statues you see in museums and stuff – is probably coming to it’s final end as we know it. There is so much BedBathandBeyondian crap out there it’s no wonder American’s have no clue about what real art is anymore and what it really takes to become an artist.

    If I hear one more time about how someone paid only a couple hundred dollars at some internet site for a painting of their entire family on canvas and how damned expensive mine are… or,

    If I see one more painting demonstration “artist” on tv claiming everyone can be an artist… or,

    If I see one more (Kinca*d) “artist” on QVC raking in millions off their “art” on quaint, little Christmas ornaments… or,

    If I hear one more time how the state is cutting funding for unimportant subjects like art and music in public schools…

    …I’m gonna take out that whole quart of Rocky Road in the freezer and eat it with a spoon.

    You made a smart move Merrill switching from art to writing. But you obviously saw the writing on the wall long before I did.

  6. paul buttles says:

    I understand your feelings about conveyor-belt art, and I feel the same the same way. However, most people can’t afford ‘real’ art, and so are left with little choice in their art purchases. I would love for everyone to be able to purchase original art, and appreciate it, but alas we live in a time where ‘real’ art is for the comfortably well off.


    • Then how about some nice photos of the family? Or drawings the kids did? ANYTHING else is fine with me. Including a montage of favorite cereal boxes.

      • paul buttles says:

        Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve asked my wife to start saving all of our shredded mini-wheat boxes. Don’t have any kids, but I do have a dog. Perhaps I could get BaBu to roll in paint, dump him on a canvas and let him create something for the living room. He’s a Westie, so he has plenty of hair to absorb the paint. I also have a load of CAT scans and PET scans that I could frame. I like this thinking outside the box. Oh, and I have hundreds of family photos dating back at least 100 yrs. You’ve inspired me. I’ll get my wife right on it!



      • You obviously think I am kidding. But the truth is I would totally find a wall full of PET scans and CAT scans and shredded mini wheat boxes more visually stimulating than any thing I have ever seen for sale on the art wall at Bed Bath and Beyond.

  7. paul buttles says:

    I know the tone of my note was a bit flippant, but I really do appreciate your point of view. I’m fortunate that my mother worked for Saul Steinberg (the artist not the financier), and over the years he gave her quite a few original works of his, and she in turn passed them on to me. I’ve looked at them for years but I still haven’t a clue what they’re supposed to represent. I have all my important documents (wedding certificate, college degrees, old school reports) framed and displayed on my toilet wall. Every time I pee in there, I look at them and reminisce. As for the Cat/Pet scans, I would do that in a heartbeat, but I suspect my wife would be crestfallen every time she saw them.

    With you in spirit,


    • Here’s an idea: Go to the library and page through books in the photography section until you see some work that you admire. Look at them for a while. Now go out and take some photos of stuff you find interesting. When one comes out good,(and with the cameras they make now, its not that hard to get a good picture)…. frame it! Ta da!

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