Thursday, June 17, 2010

Team Jamie Lynn

Tom Wesselmann, Still Life # 30 (1964)

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Season 1, Episode 2)

I feel valuable essences being drained away just by commenting on Work of Art, thereby exposing my vulnerable Bravo-watching side, but am a little compelled to defend Jamie Lynn's tableau of the lamp, vacuum cleaner and painting. The arrangement of objects was consciously boring, purposely so even, but the real meat of the piece, that maybe didn't get mentioned to the judges, was how the objects bled into each other having spent so long in a room together: the lamp cast a shadow on the painting while absorbing part of its image painted on the bell, the vacuum cleaned up part of the painted rug with traces of the image splayed on the side. Simple idea, kinda corny, but still, a smart piece.

If you need sanctioned references to tie into Jamie Lynn's piece, look to Tom Wesselman's painting assemblage work, some of Richard Hamilton's living room installations and collages and Flann O'Brien's surrealist novel The Third Policeman, where in one small village people have been riding the same bicycles for so long that they start to trade molecules with the bikes and take on each others personalities and traits. I think its the Third Policeman, if not, it's in Tristan Shandy, or even then not, it's a good idea. Hers the only piece taking to heart the "objects have a memory, a life" business (They do, mind you, but so what? Everyone has a story; it doesn't mean that it's a good story) being laid down by the famous guest artist who does corny rolling-TV-image-with-stuff-dangled-over-it art. Except maybe for the woman that made the TV full of objects buried in cement. That was a good one too.

I do appreciate the critiques on these shows because its one of the few places an expert opinion gets credence in pop culture. It makes you want to form expert opinions. Look how people talk about food now. Michael Pollan might be the voice of reason behind the New Foodie Jihad, but Top Chef is the muscle. C'mon celebrity judges, rip them a new one. But, though I fear I am being successfully manipulated by the show's producers to state as much, I'm on Team Jamie Lynn, y'all.

The celebrated piece by the delicate, damaged rager Miles was aesthetically pleasing in an IKEA/design magazine way but that's about it, and not any more or less than Jamie Lynn's. Hers is not the best piece of art I've ever seen or anything, but out of what was presented, it was sharp, concise, had a synergy with her materials that is crucial in assemblage art, unless you are trying to turn a pile of junk into a different pile of junk. And the conceptual haircut guy who worries about What Would Tom Friedman Say? should really worry about what Nam June Paik would've said about his TV-watching-other-TV's piece were he still with us. Paik was kind of a loose cannon and might have gone after him with a chunk of a busted violin or something.

OK, I am done defending staged art by made-up people on a highly choreographed reality show for now.

Nam June Paik, "TV Buddha" (1974)

Tom Friedman, untitled, 1999, soap and pubic hair, from here


  1. Little kids at MoMA always think that Wesselmann piece is interactive, walk right up, and grab the refrigerator handle. And we can't blame them, but I have seen many a mom just fall down dead over it. Like, she grabs the child away from the wall with her last twitches, shudders, and that's it.

  2. Jaime Lynn HendersonJune 18, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Hi Alex! Thank you so much for supporting my piece! While I didn't think it was remotely Earth shattering, I WAS proud of the concept behind it...and the execution to some degree given that I was working with new materials...I really hope you enjoy the rest of the season- for a much more lengthy reaction to Episode 2, feel free to read my blog here: Thanks!