Good morning to you. Today, I am going to teach you a very valuable lesson in Appreciation of the Arts. Thus, when next out with a potentially hot date, you can suggest going to the local art gallery to ponder the artist's inspiration and impress your paramour. He or she will be so overwhelmed by your abilities to deconstruct these masterpieces that they are likely to treat you to one of those over-priced frothy coffees in the Tate café, which would quite frankly bankrupt me at the moment.
Please note, there is a right way to critique art, and a wrong way. I provide both, so you can distinguish accordingly.
Axehead (1982) by Tony Cragg.
Right Way (RW): This modern art sculpture, created using a variety of hardwoods is creatively assembled to display an aptitude for perspective using 3D objects. The use of wood is symbolic as wood represents new growth; an organic texture - organic literally meaning, in this case, ever-growing, reproducing and spreading, which is reflected in the way the smaller sections expand across the floor in a jagged, axehead-like arc. Yet this is also oxymoronic, as an axe is that tool which destroys wood.
Wrong Way (WW): This looks like a bloody Rag & Bone yard. I chucked out a desk like that a few weeks ago and slung it on the tip. I bet that cheeky sod went bin-diving and picked it out. Half of it's got woodworm. What's he done? Just chucked all his scabby furniture and junk into the corner of this room? There's half a bloody rain forest here. Rubbish.
If The Shoe Fits (1981) Richard Deacon
RW: A metaphorical reflection of modern slavery to fashion. We walk a thousand miles in our own shoes, but never in other people's. Using steel to create such a vision of pain indicates the angst (this is always a great word to throw in and impress others - it's just a posh way of saying, 'apprehension and depression') reflected in modern life. The analogy continues in the disfunctional appearance of the shoe: this 'shoe' is impossible to wear and thus man cannot begin to empathise with his fellow man.
(WW): What the bloody hell is that supposed to be? There's half a hundred weight of stainless steel in that! No wonder the bloody steel industry went belly-up if that's all they're selling it for these days. How can that be a shoe? What's this say, it's inspired by Sonnets to Orpheus? Who's this joker? Inspired by a bloody sonnet. My bum! I'd use that as a door stop. There's a decent canteen of cutlery in that, you know. Rubbish.
Monsieur Plume with Creases in his Trousers (Portrait of Henri Michaux) 1947 Jean Dubuffet
RW: "The outline figure in this work is roughly gouged into the thick paint, the face and body scarred and crumpled. It is blatantly a caricature of the poet-painter Henri Michaux, whose writings featured ‘Monsieur Plume’, a semi-autobiographical comic character. It belongs to a group of unconventional portraits made from memory of Dubuffet’s angst-ridden artistic and literary friends."
WW: Urgh. That looks like someone's swirled a stick round in dog poo. How old's this geezer? Bloody hell, he was 46 when he did this? Was he in a loony bin? Was this his therapy? I hope his basket-weaving was better than this. R Julie's lad can do better than this and he's only five. I wouldn't stick that up on my walls. I'd be too embarrassed. Could you imagine Her Over The Road seeing this above my mantle? And she's got a poster of The Hay Wain? I'd be the laughing stock. Rubbish.
Fountain 1917 Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968
RW: "Fountain is the most famous of Duchamp's so-called ready-made sculptures - ordinary manufactured objects designated by the artist as works of art. It epitomises the assault on convention and accepted notions of art for which Duchamp became known."
WW: Fountain? FOUNTAIN? That's a bloody urinal! They haven't even had the decency to scrub the catalogue number off the side of it. Bloody hell! Who, in their right minds, would pay for THAT chunk of bloody porcelain to sit in their front room? Could you imagine that thing next to the telly? When Dad had had a few, he'd pee in it instead of the Aspidistra. Rubbish.
Azalea Garden: May 1956 Patrick Heron 1920-1999
RW: "Heron painted this picture, inspired by his garden in West Penwith, Cornwall, during a period when he saw himself moving from representational art to abstraction. He recalled: ‘I referred to the series as garden paintings, since they certainly related in my mind to the extraordinary effervescence of flowering azaleas and camellias which was erupting all over the garden.’"
WW: Did he do that with his fingers? What's it supposed to be? Is it a load of people at the station? Looks like a load of hippies at the station to me. It's what? Azaleas? What do you mean, 'Azaleas'? They're flowers, not people. You don't get azaleas waiting for a bloody train. I don't give a turquoise toss if it's abstract. They're not flowers. Rubbish.
So, your crash course to Art Appreciation is over. If your date does not want to go to an art gallery, you can still use this knowledge in your local pub. Most local pubs these days display crap art on the walls which you can buy when you have had so much to drink, anything looks great. Fantastic marketing technique, I reckon. Next week, we will be covering Wine Tasting.
Photographs and some of the less pretentious art interpretations lifted from The Tate Online