Is It Art? Eyeglasses on Museum Floor Began as Teenagers’ Prank


NY Times:

Is It Art? Eyeglasses on Museum Floor Began as Teenagers’ Prank

Two California teenagers who recently visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art were less than impressed by some of the exhibits and wondered if they could do better.
And thus a scheme was hatched: They placed a pair of eyeglasses on the floor, stood back and watched as, within minutes, visitors regarded their prank as a work of art, with some even taking photos of the fake installation.
The teenagers, Kevin Nguyen, 16, and TJ Khayatan, 17, both of San Jose, had been left scratching their heads at the simplicity of some of the museum’s exhibits, including two stuffed animals on a blanket.
“Is this really what you call art?” Kevin said in an interview over the weekend.
TJ added, “We looked at it and we were like, ‘This is pretty easy. We could make this ourselves.’ ”

Inspired during their visit on May 21, they experimented with putting a jacket on the floor and then a baseball cap, but neither drew attention.
Kevin then placed his Burberry glasses on the floor beneath a placard describing the theme of the gallery. He said neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses.
Within about three minutes, people appeared to be viewing their handiwork as bona fide art, though Kevin said that without his glasses, he could not see what was happening too well.

The museum was referring to Duchamp’s “Fountain,” a urinal that the artist turned on its side and put on a pedestal. It was among the works he used to challenge traditional notions of making and exhibiting art, the museum said on its website.
Kevin, who will be a junior in high school in the fall, said that when art is more abstract, it is more difficult to interpret and he loses interest.
TJ, who plans to attend community college in the fall, said the two did not get to see all of the museum’s exhibits and would probably visit again.
And if they do return, will they pull another prank?
“Given the attention it got, it might be a good idea,” he said. “We had a good laugh about it.”

I love it. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that the glasses were an exhibit given what passes for art these days. A few years ago visitors to MOMA were treated to a crazy woman suddenly screaming at the top of her lungs – no, it’s Yoko Ono doing a “performance piece.”


So funny. People really are sheep.


I guess about 20 years or so ago the MOMA in NY had a piece of artwork that consisted of 3 mirrors arranged to be half of a cube. A pile of straw was placed on the bottom mirror.

I didn’t read the description, so I don’t know what the artist was trying to tell us.


When art became understood as self-expression, this sort of thing became inevitable.



Last summer I visited the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and I was not always certain which objects were art. Upon a large window facing the Boston Harbor, countless smudges and handprints were faintly visible in the daylight. Art? Perhaps. Near the elevators, there was a small table with various small trash items (soft drink cans, water bottles, crumpled paper, and the like) both on the table and on the floor below. Art? Perhaps. Certainly more to my liking than some of the exhibits.


Hay Hay Hay?


I potentially like some concept or abstract art, but I have to say a lot of it strikes me as being completely pretentious.

Interesting symbolism and metaphor has been a part of art for centuries and centuries.

But that doesn’t meant that “real” art has to be pure symbolism and metaphor, or that it should be the conceptual equivalent of a fortune cookie message.

One of the things that impresses me about art is the difficulty and craftsmanship and learning that has to go into a particularly great piece. If I can do it, I’m not impressed. If it’s something like Michelangelo, and no one can imitate it even with modern tools, I’m certainly very, very impressed.

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