Punk'd: Fine Art Edition
In "The Tuymans Experiment," the acclaimed Belgian painter Luc Tuymans and some art-world collaborators punk the plebes. The painter-whose work sells for millions at auction and whose importance is, we're assured, beyond dispute-paints a mural on a busy Antwerp street. A hidden camera records whether passersby stop to appreciate the work of a master. It's a thought-provoking video.
We're all for public art, and the modest Tuymans is a good sport. But, when only 4% of passersby stop, the narrator hopes that "these numbers will wake people up...[to] take more interest in art." We're a little uncomfortable with the suggestion that a busy student, or surgeon, or postal worker, is obligated to stop just because a Tuymans painting is there. After all, people routinely walk past entire museums full of art for perfectly good reasons.
Just for fun, we'd be curious to try the opposite experiment: take a painter without critical credentials, put them in a respected gallery, and secretly tape the praise of the aesthetes.