Almost a century after Marcel Duchamp submitted a porcelain urinal titled "Fountain" to the Society of Independent Artists, we are still seeing readymade sculptures on view. We don't know about you, dear readers, but we find this highly troubling, so we want to start calling out the worst offenders in a new series that takes on contemporary art's excesses.
In the wake of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, we tried to make sense of the overwhelming amount of "found" or repurposed objects that were hung on the wall or placed on a pedestal and suddenly became contemporary art. We understand that the first time around it was interesting, but you have to admit that now the idea is pretty stale. In fact, we're more than a little peeved that an artist can get away with profiting from this insouciance in a recession. As the artist Alex Katz told Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine, "Weak people are corrupted by money. If you're strong, you're after something else."
The unspoken theme in the works included in the slideshow below seemed to be "recycle, reduce, reuse" but as you will see, the results aren't innovative, they're infuriating.
Did you get something in the mail? Oh, goody. I can't wait to see what's inside... What? I can't open it? Didn't <a href="http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2002/christo/packages.shtm" target="_hplink">Christo and Jeanne-Claude do this better in 1962</a>? Frieze Art Fair 2012
Glass in the shape of a FedEx mailer! How inventive. Perhaps it would be better if you placed them side by side so we knew... Oh, you did? Thank you. Frieze Art Fair 2012
A large mirror with a garbage can in the bottom right corner. When I stand in front of it, I can pretend to throw something away. I can just see the countless hours of fun ahead... Frieze Art Fair 2012
A gold motorcycle helmet placed on a white pedestal. That's it. There is nothing added to it, or even subtracted. Duchamp's "Fountain" at least had "R. Mutt" scrawled mysteriously at the bottom. Frieze Art Fair 2012
A lonely toxic water cooler stands before us. What is this saying, exactly? That the artist (or the artist's assistant) is able to use spray paint to evenly coat a surface? That the office is no longer a space for real conversation? I'm giving this too much credit already. Frieze Art Fair 2012
Did you finish your pizza? Great. Now put it on the wall. Make sure it's a little bit crooked -- it really adds to the authenticity of the piece, doesn't it? Frieze Art Fair 2012
The Slinky or "Lazy Spring" was introduced to the American market in the 1950s. If you are nostalgic for it, perhaps you will enjoy this "scales of justice" piece involving a wire spring? If not, you might just ask, "Really?" Frieze Art Fair 2012
Are you done with your fruit? Perhaps you'd like to string the bags together and charge an obscene amount for the privilege of owning such a common item. Can you see the dollar signs already? Frieze Art Fair 2012
Your body is a temple. We understand. Which is why you consume organic yogurt. But what to do with the tops? Well, you could create a work of art, couldn't you? Your friend with the fruit bags certainly did, so why not jump on the bandwagon. Frieze Art Fair 2012
We saved this for last because it is the most ridiculous installation we encountered at the fair. In fact, we second-guessed ourselves, readers. This isn't really supposed to be art, right? They must be handing this out to the guests...except that it's Bud Light, and you know gallery owners and patrons won't be shotgunning these later. Plastic-wrapped cases of The King Of Beers, courtesy of a contemporary art star. You're welcome. Frieze Art Fair 2012