Whenever I write about art, I get mail from the Serious Art Community informing me that I am a clueless idiot. So let me begin by stipulating that I am a clueless idiot. This is probably why I was unable to appreciate a work of art I viewed recently, titled: “Chair.” I saw “Chair” at Art Basel, a big show on Miami Beach. It attracted thousands of Serious Art People, who wear mostly black outfits and can maintain serious expressions no matter what work of art they are viewing.
This is hard, because a lot of Serious Art consists of bizarre or startlingly unattractive objects, or “performances” wherein artists do something Conceptual, such as squirt Cheez Whiz into an orifice that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for snack toppings….
[I]n the corner of one container there was a ratty old collapsed armchair – worn, dirty, leaking stuffing, possibly housing active vermin colonies. I asked the gallery person if the chair was art, and she said yes, it was a work titled, “Chair.” I asked her what role the artist had played in creating “Chair.” She said: “He found it.” She noted that “Chair” had been professionally crated and shipped to the art show.
“Chair” is for sale. The price is $2,800. Really. I looked up “Chair” on a Serious Art Internet site, artcritical.com, which said: “The chair offers not a weedy patina of desuetude but an apotheosis of its former occupant” (www.artcritical.com/blurbs/JSMcMillian.htm). See, I missed that altogether, about the desuetude and the apotheosis. I thought it was just a crappy old junk chair some guy took off a trash pile and was now trying to sell for 2,800 clams….