Pretentious Art

First, I need to clarify that I do not hate art. I love a lot of it, but this is going to be about pretentious art. I get angry when I see extremely talented artists give up on their passion while an artist whose art can be recreated on MS paint gets her own exhibit and articles written about her.


herra 2

Or entire galleries wasted literally on a white thumbtack pinned on a wall.


What really makes this exhibit “pretentious” is the fact that they named it “Huis Clos” instead of naming it what it really is – “a thumbtack.”

So why does this type of art exist? And more importantly, how is this a business that makes money?

I have a theory that pretentious people tend to be insecure when it comes to their personal tastes. And this leads to a large amount of people following this type of art because it’s what the cool people do. Here’s the experiment I’d do to prove this theory (it’s also my Penn and Teller: Bullshit show pitch). Make up a fake artist, Jan Stejyokof, “a Swedish transsexual whose art reflects a post-contemporary response to the pseudo trans-humanist culture.” Buy a few poster boards from rite aid and tape them to the walls of a gallery. Watch as people spend minutes staring at 99 cent poster boards. Seem farfetched? Here are some pictures from actual art exhibitions:



Anyone who was confident in their taste of art may say, “I don’t get it,” or, “these are obviously just poster boards from Rite Aid, the price tag is still on this one,” but most likely no one will. Why? They’re afraid of a response like, “Why don’t you go back to [insert southern state here],” or, “you embody the pseudo trans-humanist culture this artist is rebelling against,” which means absolutely nothing because these are random words I strung together.

So what about the artists who create these masterpieces?

I do have a bit of personal experience with creating this so called contemporary art. When I was around 14 I really wanted to own a Corvette Zo6 ,so I decided to sell art until I reached $50,000 (yes, I was that delusional). When I was coming up with ideas about what to paint, I was not thinking about what would make an intriguing painting, or what would look good on a wall, I was thinking “how can I trick people into thinking this art is worth a lot of money without spending more than twenty working on it.” This is an example:


I described it as post abstract and then related it to feminism somehow, when in reality, it just a bunch of splattered nail polish and a solo cup. This took about 2 minutes to do. I never made much money on this, but it’s probably just because I sold this stuff on Ebay instead of Etsy.

I’m sure there are many genuine contemporary artists, because most people are not greedy assholes like me. The seat cushions on airplanes may be very emotionally significant to Fabio Keiner. Who knows?


For all we know Carmen Herrera’s art could be an insight into human nature, so deep nobody can understand it, or maybe she’s sitting in her loft laughing at us stupid Americans for buying her triangle paintings.

But we as a people need to stop looking for meaning where there is none. Sometimes it’s just a damn thumbtack.

-Ileana Kennedy, Staff Writer



  1. Claudia

    Ok, I’ve never commented on articles or any sort of online media before, but I’m so relieved that something like this came up.
    Nice job!

  2. First off, I generally do not approve of “hate” articles because if anyone likes anything, well, let them be.

    However, I have thought about this too, and I think that it’s a sort of “Emperor’s New Clothes” situations, where nobody understands the thing, so they just declare adoration for the thing in fear of being ridiculized for their lack of culture.

    That or contemporary art is “fresh.” At least that’s what my opinion is.

  3. I understand where you’re coming from, but when Herra was creating her work during the 1950’s she was part of the avant-garde. Nobody was making work like the paintings she was doing; her minimalist aesthetic was fresh but immediately rejected. She was doing something quite radical and it’s only now being appreciated today. Her work is actually part of a very important contemporary art history movement. Abstract expressionism isn’t pretentious, it’s just more focused in color, form, and minimalism and doesn’t aim to create large statements, rather it wants to present something that is visually pleasing.

    It depends what you want from art. If you want a masterful display of technical skill then maybe this art movement isn’t for you. Some people find simple beauty in Herra’s works, but it doesn’t mean her work is pretentious.

    • TOTALLY agree with you from an art-historical POV, and any appreciation I have for modern art is usually from that perspective. But I also think that sometimes it’s difficult to exist in the “art world” or to have opinions about art that are maybe not as academic or informed as they should be. Because a lot of art really IS just reacting to it and talking about how it makes you ~feel or whatever. And when I look at Herra’s stuff, I just don’t get it. I don’t feel it.

      I guess I agree with you, but I also love that this article even exists. Because sometimes it’s just nice to say that you don’t get it when you don’t get it.

      • nononoyesyesyes

        what’s funny is that I dont think these kind of articles are ‘uncommon’ as you say. i think people say this all the time and that’s basically THE general opinion on contemporary art…. nowadays we have this type of culture where we want to push everything to the limit and everything’s really subversive etc etc so everything edgy is considered the norm so people rarely talk about this. of course a lot of the time its all hype. a lot of people also take art for art sake and devoid of any context stories so that doesn’t make any sense at all. and there are certain people with aesthetic preferences.. why do we like milkbbi’s work? hype? the colour palette is all very typical (pale etc)? personally im so sick of all the pastel colours that covers a lot of teens blog and theyre all the same.

        idk what this comment is just giving my ~2 cents. js.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: