Our playful artists

The Bizarro from the 10th, with a piece of meta-art:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

I’ve blogged many times about art that isn’t squarely in the representational tradition: meta-art, plus conceptual, surreal, minimalist, and abstract art. I’ve looked at works that are several of these at once, many having a significant language component and many distinctly playful. The statue in #1 is conceptual, meta (it’s a statement about art), and playful (but doesn’t involve language).

The model for playful conceptual meta-art is Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. From Wikipedia:

Fountain is a 1917 work produced by Marcel Duchamp. The piece was a porcelain urinal, which was signed “R.Mutt” and titled Fountain. Submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, in 1917, the first annual exhibition by the Society to be staged at The Grand Central Palace in New York, Fountain was rejected by the committee, even though the rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Fountain was displayed and photographed at Alfred Stieglitz’s studio, and the photo published in The Blind Man, but the original has been lost. The work is regarded by art historians and theorists of the avant-garde, such as Peter Bürger, as a major landmark in 20th-century art. 17 replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s now exist.

The Stieglitz photo:


The work in #1 is in the playful, self-mocking tradition of René Magritte’s paintings; see this Magritte posting of mine, with a series of examples, including his famous piece of playful meta-art The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images), aka “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (which does, however, crucially turn on language). A long series of plays on Magritte works appeared in Zippy the Pinhead a while back and were posted about on this blog; Bill Griffith is evidently very much taken with Magritte.

I would be surprised if something like the statue in #1 hadn’t been created by some sculptor in the real, rather than the cartoon, world.

2 Responses to “Our playful artists”

  1. Andy Sleeper Says:

    It was a meta week for Dan Piraro! (aren’t they all?) http://bizarro.com/2015/10/11/hey-good-looking/

    A comment on Dan’s blog, link above, referencing the statue cartoon:”I wish the final cartoon today didn’t have the speech bubble, just don’t think it needs it.”

    Dan’s response: “I almost went that way but decided to avoid spending all day answering comments and emails from readers who didn’t get the joke. :^}”

  2. Stan Carey Says:

    It amuses me how political parties (for example) “unveil” new candidates. A recent flurry of such stories in Ireland that used this term made me wish the parties did this unveiling by whisking away a sheet to reveal the new member. It would make the event so much more dramatic.

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