I'm a judge on the Bravo TV show Work of Art, or as my wife likes to joke, "Work o f-Art." The second season begins airing October 12th, so I thought I'd offer some reflections.
First off, I'm still in denial about being on reality TV and often force my friends to refer to the program as a "competition series." It's sad, I know. But I am proud of the show and the first season averaged roughly 1 million viewers an episode.
The proverbial icing on the cake is that so many contemporary artists I respect (Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Koons, Cecily Brown) watch Work of Art or else appear on it (Richard Phillips, Rob Pruitt, Adam McEwen).
Of course, I have drank the Kool Aid, but I genuinely see a public service component in what we are attempting by bringing art to a larger audience. Tons of people have talked about making art accessible for a wider audience, except that sounds too much like watering or dumbing it down to me.
I prefer to view our endeavor as an effort to make everyone an elitist. I might be splitting hairs here, but the distinction feels relevant. Or maybe I just want Work of Art to be the smartest trash on television. There's an achievable goal for you.
A funny thing happened last week when I visited an Ivy League MFA class with a friend of mine who was guest lecturing... I felt like I was back on set. I swear to you that the conversations between faculty and students were nearly identical to the talks Jerry Saltz, China Chow and I had with the artist contestants on our show during crits.
Sometimes the subtitle for Work of Art can be misleading. I'm not sure we are looking to discover "the next great artist," rather we are participating in an exercise to bring out people's creative talent in one hell of a pressure cooker as best we can.
It's really like televised grad school. Whomever wins gets 100k, a show at The Brooklyn Museum and a giant Jasper Johns target painted on their back.