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Old 08-14-2019, 01:28 PM
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Weird artworks you've seen


There's lots of odd things out there presented as being art. Some of it wonderful, some of it less so in the eye of this beholder. What is the weirdest, most peculiar you have ever seen?

Mine was probably an exhibit at New York's New Museum of Contemporary Art. There was a double bed in the middle of the floor and the artist had hired students to take a sleeping pill and, well, sleep.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:16 PM
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I recently was walking past a gallery and in the window there was a painting of the Brady Bunch kids all in a row by age, behind a high barbed wire fence, like a concentration camp. Don't know if this was some current political reference or something completely different. All of the kids had smiles on their faces.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:17 PM
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One that stuck with me (although not to the extent of remembering its name or the name of the artist) was something I saw at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. It was just a pile of wrapped hard candies on the floor in the corner with an invitation to take one. The placard said it was meant to represent the body of the artist's lover, who had AIDS, as it diminished and disappeared.


I didn't take one, but still... Candy!
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:15 PM
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At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art I saw Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain", which is just a urinal laid on its back with the signature "R. Mutt 1917" on it. I don't think it was the original one, IIRC he made several "copies" over the years. I thought it was cool to see just because it's probably one of the most famous examples of "weird art", but I know there's a lot of controversy over whether or not it's art.

SFMOMA also has several... statues? Mannequins? Things that look like people, and they're so lifelike they're downright creepy. And they're not roped off or anything, they're just kind of standing there near the wall, so you totally mistake them for actual people at first. The first one I saw upon entering the room was dressed like a policeman, and I assumed he was a museum security guard at first. Except he was completely motionless. At which point I realize that's not a person, it's art. Then across the room was a construction worker standing next to a step ladder. Is he here to fix the lights or something? Nope, also art. And once you notice they're not actually human they kind of fall into the uncanny valley. IIRC that was the artist's way of honoring the average working class Joe or something like that.

I'm not sure if you'd consider it weird or not, but just want to share my absolute favorite piece I saw at SFMOMA: "Night Clerk at the Young Hotel" by Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz. If I understand correctly, the artists preserved the actual reception desk from this hotel prior to it being demolished and created this entire life sized tableau. It's not only visual; there's old country music playing from the radio on the desk. You almost feel like you're really standing in the lobby of some crummy, run down hotel, well if it weren't for the weird frame around the clerk's face.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:44 PM
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At the local "big" museum the modern "art" section has some weird stuff. E.g., one thing is just ends of an oval table top, painted primer gray, stuck on the wall.

And people are supposed to want to look at this because???
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:46 PM
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Can I nominate The Berlin Wall? After the re-opening of the border, most of the wall was torn down. For at least some of the remaining sections, artists were commissioned to create paintings on the wall. Over time (my observations from 3 years ago) "unofficial" art was added to the official pictures; and on top of this, inevitably, tagging and graffiti. So over time the great symbol of oppression has become covered with layer upon layer of freedom - starting with commissioned art and then growing organically.

In large part I disliked Berlin - it's a really oppressive city - but this art, which we found on the last day, turned the visit around for me. It's very moving.

j
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:53 PM
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I worked in the mailroom at the National Endowment for the Arts during Serrano & Mapplethorpe. 'Nuff said.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:04 PM
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SFMOMA also has several... statues? Mannequins? Things that look like people, and they're so lifelike they're downright creepy. And they're not roped off or anything, they're just kind of standing there near the wall, so you totally mistake them for actual people at first.
The little city where I live has several of these... all realistic but some with unnatural skin tones. If you follow this link, near the bottom of the page is a section on Public Art where you can see them. I think the cop one was moved because many people were stopping for him.

https://www.mswoods.com/blog/carmel-indiana/
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:17 PM
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SFMOMA also has several... statues? Mannequins? Things that look like people, and they're so lifelike they're downright creepy. And they're not roped off or anything, they're just kind of standing there near the wall, so you totally mistake them for actual people at first. The first one I saw upon entering the room was dressed like a policeman, and I assumed he was a museum security guard at first. Except he was completely motionless. At which point I realize that's not a person, it's art. Then across the room was a construction worker standing next to a step ladder. Is he here to fix the lights or something? Nope, also art. And once you notice they're not actually human they kind of fall into the uncanny valley. IIRC that was the artist's way of honoring the average working class Joe or something like that.
Possibly pieces by Duane Hansen? He was really good at making those lifelike figures. I believe the Nelson-Atkins museum of art in Kansas City has the museum guard.

Back in the days after I had graduated from college but was still looking for a "real job", I spent some time working in the cafeteria at Yellow Freight HQ. They had quite the art collection at the building, including a Duane Hansen figure of a truck driver sitting at a table in the lobby, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:18 PM
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Weirdest has to be a large white room with two very large folding tables. Both filled with ordinary russet potatoes. Just piled with them. A few thin wires running from the top of each table to a very basic analog volt meter hanging from the ceiling, registering some voltage, as it would. This was part of a modern art display in a modern art museum, not an elementary school science fair. Yeah, still scratching my head about that one, even though it was explained to me. Art. Go figure.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:36 PM
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The little city where I live has several of these... all realistic but some with unnatural skin tones. If you follow this link, near the bottom of the page is a section on Public Art where you can see them. I think the cop one was moved because many people were stopping for him.

https://www.mswoods.com/blog/carmel-indiana/
That's similar in concept, except the ones at SFMOMA are wearing actual clothes as I recall. So I guess they're more like mannequins in that sense.

Ah, I found one of them in their database. It's "Policeman" by Duane Hanson. Can't find the construction worker; maybe he's not in their collection anymore. But this looks like the one I saw.

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Possibly pieces by Duane Hansen? He was really good at making those lifelike figures.
Yes. You posted while I was busy researching them myself.

Last edited by WildaBeast; 08-14-2019 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:40 PM
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I worked in the mailroom at the National Endowment for the Arts during Serrano & Mapplethorpe. 'Nuff said.
I went to the Jeff Koons, exhibit when it was in Whitney Museum in NYC several years ago. Jeff holds the record for the highest paid for a work of art for a living artist, $91MM.

He is a very broad artist, paintings, sculptures, photographs mostly in the pop culture vein.

The Whitney exhibit IIRC, covered a few floors of the building. There was one section that was walled off with warning signs, that contained photographs, that he took of he and his former wife, Cicciolina, an Italian porn star. The photos were massive, approximately 10'x30' or larger of close-ups of their genitalia before, during and after them having sex.

It was me and a few of our co-workers of both sexes that happened to be visiting the exhibit that day. Needless to say the dinner conversation was different that evening.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:47 PM
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At Frostburg State University in western Maryland in the 1990's, there was a sculpture in front of the Fine Arts building. It was a car door with the leafless stems of a bush shoved through the window opening. The bush was big enough to fill the opening completely and what stuck out took take the shape of the opening.
There was another sculpture added while I attended that was just some bright silver curved pipes and other shapes. Students hated it, and quickly bent at least one pipe.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:48 PM
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That's similar in concept, except the ones at SFMOMA are wearing actual clothes as I recall. So I guess they're more like mannequins in that sense.
Ours are all outside so real clothes wouldn't work out so well. They are fun though, and placed in appropriate places. The lady with the groceries is right outside of a butcher shop (my favorite butcher shop by the way), the guy with the violin is by a music store (my son always checked his case and often found real bills tossed in), the cop is at an intersection, the kid on his dad's shoulders is by a candy store, etc.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:34 PM
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I think the cop one was moved because many people were stopping for him.
Seems more like one not stopping.

There's one in Montgomery County, MD, as well.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 08-14-2019 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:14 PM
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Some years ago, at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice, I saw a work that was a simple canvas, painted a cream colour, and with a long diagonal cut near the centre.

I was mesmerised. To this day I don't know why...but I stood there staring at it for at least ten minutes.

There were other works by the same artist, all of them blank canvases with one or more cuts, but none of them affected me the same way. Strange.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:21 PM
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Weirdest I've seen was at the Milwaukee Art Museum, which was a periscope-looking lens facing downward in the middle of the floor. When you look into it, it appears that you're looking into a hole about 10 deep deep with running water at the bottom and the sound of people whistling and some rocks and a fishing line floating in the water (perhaps even a leg). To me it seemed to represent the naivety of the newly born child, and as far as its medium goes, it was the most unique artwork I recall experiencing.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:26 PM
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Some other ones I've seen:

-- An empty hallway with a labyrinth pattern on the floor with dancers slowly dancing in the pattern.
-- Someone stopped me as I was entering an art hallway and asked me my name and when I said Ludovic McLudson, he repeated in a booming voice "ENTERING LUDOVIC MCLUDSON", which he did for everyone who entered the hall. I'm mostly certain it was performance art.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:15 PM
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Cloaca.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:15 PM
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I saw a whole tableau of a crowd scene made with brown craft paper. The only reason I know it was a crowd scene is cause the card said so. It looked like trash. In fact there was a McDonald's French fry wrapper thrown in there. Not sure if was done by the artist or a passer-by. It was inspired. It added a little something to the crowd scene.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:09 PM
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I went to an "art show" for a friend's husband where he displayed (for sale!) abstract art that he made out of trash. Most of them looked like various pieces of garbage glued together into weirdly shaped mounds. One was as big as a car & another (possibly the least ugly work) was called "White on White" & consisted of pieces of white trash (crumpled up napkins, cups, paper, etc) all glued together into a misshapen heap.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:25 PM
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A favorite weird wonderful artwork: Marisol's "Self-portrait looking at The Last Supper". Clever, interesting and reflective.
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/484650

A least favorite weird "artwork":
Marina Abramović's "The Artist is Present" show at New York's MOMA in 2010
This one looks like fragments of tabletops:
https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibi...image_index=49

A pile of bones:
https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibi...image_index=66

People with their hair tangled together
https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibi...image_index=60

NSFW
Nudes: two in a narrow doorway so that viewers need to squeeze between them to get to the rest of the show; one lying with a skeleton on top; one hanging from a wall

Last edited by gkster; 08-14-2019 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:49 PM
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Anything by Chillida, with my apologies to the gent. Most of it would make an ok paperweight except they're huge. I live close to the Chillida Museum; apparently he had these supercomplicated theological explanations for all his tubes and cubes but, sorry man, for those of us who didn't go to art school they're tubes and cubes.

I've been to at least three separate small towns which boast a Chillida piece and the local name for it is along the lines of "el quécojones" because "when people see it they exclaim '¿qué cojones?'" (=what the fuck?).
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:26 AM
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At a New York art museum there was a big installation on the wall. A bunch of black shapes, in a pattern. I approached this cautiously, it being New York. Like, it could have been elephant shit. But it was baguettes, hundreds of them, baked by the artist (burned by the artist in fact, or maybe scorched is a better word) and then arranged in this...pattern.

My husband has had works in a couple of juried shows this summer and each one of them has had some very perlexing stuff including at least one work in each show that made me wonder: Is this part of the show? Is this somebody's artwork? WTF?

In one of the exhibits, the artist had made papier-mache doll houses and furnished them with pix of furniture from ads, and then peopled them with people from newspaper stories (all black and white photos, some from really old newspapers, like Nixon was there). Below this was a wooden box with a bunch of holes, and an orange heavy-duty extension cord was wrapped around it, in and out of the holes. Actually it may have been more than one orange extension cord, but the thing was, it wasn't connected to anthing. A wooden box, on wheels, with an artfully (?) arranged series of extension cords. It didn't have a tag. Was it part of the papier-mache thing above it? Was it a different work by somebody else? Did some maintenance guy just leave it there? I have no idea.

I guess it depends on what the artist thinks art should do. Obviously there are a lot of possible thoughts on this. And note that these juried shows included my husband's work, which are pretty standard oil paintings (well, they aren't representative, but they're oil on canvas, therefore recognizably art, but a complete different world than some of the other things.

In another show, there were boxes wrapped in black duct tape and stacked up on a pallet with wheels. Again, no card saying if this was a work although it had to have been. For some reason it just seemed to me a lot more intentional than the electric cord thing. And it was not the only work in that show that didn't have an identifying number. The other one was clearly part of the show, and I think the boxes must have been too, but is the point here to get somebody admiring a duct-tape-wrapped box as art and then say, "Ha, fooled ya"?

That electrical cord box though. It kinda haunts me.

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Old 08-15-2019, 04:03 AM
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Another couple I remember, both at London's Serpentine Gallery but on different occasions.

The first was in a corridor joining two parts of the exhibition and consisted of several people dressed as old fashioned museum guards with dark gray suits and peaked caps with "Museum" written across the front. They sat on chairs arranged along one wall and just looked into space. It was really uncomfortable to walk past them.

The other was an entire exhibition of life-sized photographs of domestic interiors. Confusing at first working out what was the point, until you twigged that the artist hadn't just photographed a kitchen or a bathroom, he had modelled the entire scene, life-size and in meticulous detail, out of construction paper and photographed the models. Inexplicably those photographs then became fascinating.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:10 AM
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Many years ago at Denver art museum I saw a life-sized 3-D sculpture of an anime woman. She had a big anime smile, and her big anime tits were spraying milk everywhere.

Some years ago I encountered the "Understanding Joshua" photo series on the internet. You can see some of the pictures here, and get a textual interpretation of the series here. I have to admit I still don't understand Joshua.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:38 AM
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When my husband and I went to Innsbruck, Austria, we stopped in a place which we ever after referred to as "the worst art museum in the world". There was only one exhibit, really, which was spread throughout all the various rooms. It mostly consisted of clear pipes filled with rushing green fluid. One room also had a TV set, showing "snow", and an empty open refrigerator. There was also a room that the pipes went into and out of, but it was dark. We walked all over this museum, looking for some art, but had to give up.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:52 AM
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I worked in the mailroom at the National Endowment for the Arts during Serrano & Mapplethorpe. 'Nuff said.
I saw the one Mapplethorpe show; disturbing it was but I am not sure I would call it weird.

That I reserve for some things like this
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...PA/PGH025A.jpg
dubbed from the beginning "The Tomb of the Unknown Bowler". I'm sure it has an actual name given it by the artist but I don't really care enough to Google for it. That whole thing just always struck me as weird.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:20 AM
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Not the weirdest by any means, but I just heard about this portrait in the late Jeffrey Epstein's paedo palace.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:21 AM
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Not one to seek out 'wierd' art, but did see this while in St. John, Nova Scotia this summer: https://deliciousdivas.files.wordpre...pg?w=640&h=687 Apparently there are several of these characters around the city (which is a quite nice place to visit, IMHO), all by the same artist.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:22 AM
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Back in 2000 in Sydney, we saw several paintings by an artist who specialised in adding clumps of elephant dung to the paintings. Turns out it was Chris Ofili, who is apparently fairly famous.

Quote:
Chris Ofili, whose bold, decorative paintings made with beads, glitter and elephant dung incorporate folk art techniques with African traditions. (He was part of the British Sensation show that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to have banned in New York.)
https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/01/s...y-art-map.html
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:26 AM
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There's also this rather explicit statue of Britney Spears giving birth (spoilered for explicitness):

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Old 08-15-2019, 12:12 PM
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I Like the "Giant 3-Way Plug" at the Oerlin Art Museum near me: https://amamblog.tumblr.com/post/229...f-the-academic

It looks nicer then that photo, very realistic.

I made an art display of my own that I wished I had a photo of. We used to have an employees art show every year. I copied my entire body on a copy machine, one piece at a time. The prints that had my shirt were done on yellow paper, the rest on white. They were just done as best as I could position myself for each print so when I taped it all together, arms and legs were akimbo, not naturally joined. I cut a slit in the shirt pocket and placed a real chrome pen in it. I loved it, but the art committee turned it down.

Dennis
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:26 PM
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At Frostburg State University in western Maryland in the 1990's, there was a sculpture in front of the Fine Arts building. It was a car door with the leafless stems of a bush shoved through the window opening. The bush was big enough to fill the opening completely and what stuck out took take the shape of the opening.
There was another sculpture added while I attended that was just some bright silver curved pipes and other shapes. Students hated it, and quickly bent at least one pipe.
When were you at Frostburg? I was there from 91-95 and don't remember any artwork that was outside the building. That was one of the main buildings I used when I was there too, that and Dunkle.
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:21 PM
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Growing up in Columbia, SC, when I did (70s-80s), you learned quickly that people are stupid.

If for no other reason than because it was a relatively common occurrence for people to try to drive into Tunnelvision, a mural.

(The Atlas Obscura article linked from that Wikipedia page is optimistically misinformed. People absolutely have tried to drive into that mural.)

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 08-15-2019 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:15 PM
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I can't decide if this is weird or incredibly cool. I saw this in person when it was at Hains Point (D.C.).

"The Awakening"

[Google some of the images for a better view.]

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 08-15-2019 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:23 PM
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Not too weird, but affected my best friend and I. In a good way.

Denver art gallery. Probably 20 years ago. I don't remember the exhibit name. But it was a collection of portraits of archduchess, monarchs and kings and such. All in full dress with sashes and ribbons. All very prim and proper. One, I swear, looked just like Gene Wilder. My friend and I saw it, didn't say a thing, and just cracked up.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:48 PM
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(The Atlas Obscura article linked from that Wikipedia page is optimistically misinformed. People absolutely have tried to drive into that mural.)
How are you defining "tried to drive into"? Do you mean people have driven towards it and slammed on the brakes at the last minute when they realize it's not real? Or literally rammed their car into the wall a la Wile E. Coyote? If it's the former the article does say there have been many close calls.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:08 PM
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How are you defining "tried to drive into"? Do you mean people have driven towards it and slammed on the brakes at the last minute when they realize it's not real? Or literally rammed their car into the wall a la Wile E. Coyote? If it's the former the article does say there have been many close calls.
That wall had several scars from car bumpers the last time I looked at it*. How fast they were going, I don't know.

* Disclaimer: "the last time I looked at it" was ca. 1988, so there's every possibility it has been repaired.
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:26 PM
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When were you at Frostburg? I was there from 91-95 and don't remember any artwork that was outside the building. That was one of the main buildings I used when I was there too, that and Dunkle.
I graduated in 1991. It was still there then, because my father commented on it on graduation day.
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:39 PM
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I can't decide if this is weird or incredibly cool. I saw this in person when it was at Hains Point (D.C.).

"The Awakening"

[Google some of the images for a better view.]
A little of both IMO. This, on the other hand, in downtown Orlando, is more weird but less cool: weird because she doesn't express any emotion or thoughts: she's just there, which simultaneously makes it less cool.
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:23 PM
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Womanhouse - Los Angeles 1972
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:55 PM
adhemar is offline
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Originally Posted by Dung Beetle View Post
One that stuck with me (although not to the extent of remembering its name or the name of the artist) was something I saw at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. It was just a pile of wrapped hard candies on the floor in the corner with an invitation to take one. The placard said it was meant to represent the body of the artist's lover, who had AIDS, as it diminished and disappeared.


I didn't take one, but still... Candy!
I saw that one. It was...odd
  #44  
Old 08-16-2019, 10:02 PM
adhemar is offline
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Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
I went to the Jeff Koons, exhibit when it was in Whitney Museum in NYC several years ago. Jeff holds the record for the highest paid for a work of art for a living artist, $91MM.

He is a very broad artist, paintings, sculptures, photographs mostly in the pop culture vein.

The Whitney exhibit IIRC, covered a few floors of the building. There was one section that was walled off with warning signs, that contained photographs, that he took of he and his former wife, Cicciolina, an Italian porn star. The photos were massive, approximately 10'x30' or larger of close-ups of their genitalia before, during and after them having sex.

It was me and a few of our co-workers of both sexes that happened to be visiting the exhibit that day. Needless to say the dinner conversation was different that evening.
This was my strangest one I have seen. . I thought I really don't. "get" modern art.

I also saw one with thousands of little people under a plexiglass floor for you to walk on.
  #45  
Old 08-17-2019, 03:14 AM
Melbourne is online now
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Museum of Modern Art here in Melbourne. There is a sign out in front -- for a funeral parlour (and a fairly well known brand here). It was only after I checked the map a couple of times and turned into the carpark that I realized it wasn't a funeral parlour sign --- it's a sculpture of a funeral parlour sign.

Not famous. Because it's not actually really inovative in this day and age. But it had me going for a while.

Much better (but not nearly as weird) was something I saw today -- a female nude implemented as a transparent film with kind of random black-and white plane behind which you could see through her. From the front, an interesting picture: the pattern made her look sort of dressed or sort of tatooed. Walking past, a striking element of 3d as the depth made it look like she was moving or following you with her face. And then when you noticed and stop to examine her up close, the stand! It was sort of tan, nearly flesh coloured. When you stood close to her to examine her closely, looking down through the film she had a flesh coloured naked bottom beneath the white/black patterned top she was apparently wearing. The magic element was that I saw three different things as I approached and examined the art. Color me impressed: the artist had achieved something interesting and unique.
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