ARTS & CULTURE

'Idiot Box' Is Out To Prove How Important TV Is To American Art

05/05/2015 08:55 am ET | Updated May 05, 2015

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The poppiest of Pop art has finally arrived -- though not for the first time -- at Gallery1988. "Idiot Box 2," the Los Angeles gallery's second exhibit of that name, once again spotlights art created about TV shows.

At a time when "flatscreen TV" sounds redundant and prestige TV shows are studied in college seminars, "the idiot box" no longer holds much currency as a pejorative for the television. Most of us have heard it at one point, however, from a stern grandmother who wished we'd just go outside and play, or a snobby hipster roommate who read Baruch Spinoza instead of watching "Seinfeld."

For Jensen Karp, the co-owner and curator of Gallery1988, the grumbler was his third-grade teacher. "She'd yell at us if we didn't do our homework, accusing us of watching 'the idiot box' all night," he told The Huffington Post. "She was right."

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But the idiot box isn't looking so dumb these days, and Karp thinks it's about time artistic tastemakers took notice. "[TV] is clearly becoming one of the strongest forms of American art around," he said. By showcasing art that turns television into subject matter, he's hoping "we can show the connection between these two art forms and sort of break down any preconceived notion that one is more important than the other."

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The pieces, from different artists, show different takes on how TV shows infiltrate our culture and acquire outsize significance. Saul, from "Better Call Saul," takes the quotidian form of a real attorney, drumming up business through one of those omnipresent magazine ads. Rust Cohle, from "True Detective," looms imposingly, a bruised, be-antlered god. Abbi and Ilana of "Broad City," two apple-cheeked, pink-nosed cherubs, peer in opposite directions, but their transparent bodies and hair overlap like a Venn diagram.

"We want it to ... show that everyone could be watching the same exact TV and get something totally different out of it," explained Karp. "That's really the beauty of art, isn't it?"

"Idiot Box 2" is on view at Gallery1988 West until May 16, 2015.

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