Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Museum of Bad Art: Celebrating Bad Art Since 1993!

Unknown, Lucy In The Field with Flowers.
Rescued from the trash, 1993
One of the apps that I have on my iPad and iPhone is called Flipboard. You can select topics and the news or magazine items that feed into them. I have news, technology, business and museums. There have been some interesting museum articles of late but the one that caught my eye (cross-eyed?) was the article and paintings in The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). I truly believe that art created by anyone for any reason is the artist's attempt to express themselves but even I had to admit these were pretty bad.

The article stresses the museum has "exacting standards." Director Louise Sacco notes that "when considering new acquisitions MOBA looks for artworks with that special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent." They scour flea markets, thrift stores and curbside trash to find striking pieces worthy of the MOBA spotlight. However, even doing this can produce amazing finds. The Jackson Pollack that a woman found in a yard sale in Covina, CA. Purchased for $50, she insisted after many tries that this was a genuine Pollack. A forensic specialist finally found fingerprints in the paint that were his. He neglected to sign it. The value? It started at around $5 million. Not bad for junking it. However, it should also be noted that finds such as this are very, very rare. She was one lucky lady.

Anonymous, Blue Tango purchased at a thrift shop
Indiana, 2014
The article notes that word has spread and that they received "donations" from around the world. Now even trash collection companies call the museum with tips on especially bad finds. In fact you can submit a painting to I'm sure they will appreciate checking it out!

I don't know about you, but I could have sent a few of my failed paintings and recounted one such event not long after starting this blog. I wanted to paint five persimmons yet no matter what I did I couldn't get it right. Sick with a cold I tried again after a nap. Not even looking at the first failed attempt I was able to start all over from scratch on a new canvas creating a charming painting complete with a newly added checkered tablecloth the persimmons were sitting on. It took me two hours. Guess where the original went? I could have submitted that. 

What were these artists trying to say, to create? Dancing dogs, Really? Every time we pick up a brush and put paint on canvas, well, you just never know. Looking at the photos in the article you just have to wonder. What was the artist thinking of?

The museum's beginnings date back to 1993 when antique dealer Scott Wilson spotted an oil painting 
The Better To See You, My Dear
Acquired in a barter
in the trash, his infamous "Lucy In The Field With Flowers," found in 1993. Friends encouraged him to start a collection that was shown first in his home. Attendance grew so much that he had to find a more permanent home first in the basement of the community theatre then finally he found a permanent home in Somerville, MA, another theatre. Can you believe this?  They also operate two branch galleries ... in Brookline and South Weymouth near Boston. Regular artists must cringe.

The collection is home to over 600 works with approximately 60 shown at any given time. Everyone is an original but cannot be on velvet, paint by numbers or well-known kitschy works. The museum's slogan is "art too bad to be ignored." I guess!

Jack Owen, He Was A Friend of Mine
The MOBA museum works long and hard at building the finest bad art museum in the entire world.
They take their mission very seriously. They are often shocked and indignant at derisive comments and innuendos. I mean, how else would you take a collection such as this? Now really.

"Guernica" by Pablo Picasso
Going a step further though, have you ever been to MOMA in New York City or MOCA in Los Angeles and looked at the art there? These are modern art museums and you definitely will not find any Impressionists there. Isn't some of it, well, a bit different? Over and over again you hear patrons, usually in their older years, that find what they are looking at is strange, even crude. Hitler sure did. They wonder at why it is even there. It isn't even art, or what they think of as art. Many of Picasso's later pieces are strange to the untrained eye. That these MOBA artists are not there to explain and define themselves in some ways adds to the mystery. I look at these pieces and wonder, "What is their story?" What are they trying to say to us? There are plenty of revered modern artists whose work clearly upset their audiences. Duchamp's "Nude Descending A Staircase" caused riots in Paris. Many famous artists that we love and revere today were not loved and revered in their own time. Maybe familiarity does not breed contempt. Showing a single Van Gogh painting for the very first time to patrons in Dresden, 15 years after his death, changed German art forever.

For a much wider selection of MOBA's collection go to Google, select Images and type in Museum of Bad Art. Trust me it is there in all its glory. If its bad art you seek, you will not be disappointed. Looking at them I find that some aren't quite so bad finding that many famous artist's styles were imitated. You see Van Gogh, Seurat, Matisse, Da Vinci, even attempts at Picasso and Chagall. It's literally a smorgasbord of styles and art.

Take heart, it appears there is a museum for the rest of us!!!

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please check out some of my other posts. I find that everything in the world is designed therefore subject to scrutiny.  Comments are always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. HAHA! Great post, Alan! I LOL'd all the way to the end! I've thrown a few of mine in the trash, too. Obviously, I am still undiscovered!