Work of Art: TNGA

Until a few days ago, I considered myself a digital artist. After seeing a few episodes of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist on Bravo, I reconsidered. The folks on Work of Art are fucking artists. Me, I’m just a dude with Photoshop.

I’m only 3 episodes in, but I’m hooked. The premise of the show, of course, is art. Each week contestants are given a challenge/basis for a work of art. The artists have to create these pieces under pressure, as they are given limited time to finish. The artists’ work is then judged by a panel.

Hosting this colorful new series is art enthusiast China Chow. She will serve on the judging panel alongside art luminaries Bill Powers, a New York Gallery owner and literary art contributor, Jerry Saltz, current art critic for New York Magazine, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, esteemed curator and owner of Salon94 gallery. World-renowned art auctioneer Simon de Pury adds his voice of experience as a mentor to the contestants.

Week one the artists created a portrait of another contestant, week two they were taken to an electronics graveyard and the challenge was to create a 3-d sculpture, week three, the contestants had to create cover art for a classic book, etc. There is a weekly winner and loser. The weekly winner is safe from elimination the following week, and the weekly loser goes home. The overall winner receives $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

The artists are all interesting, quirky personalities, with eccentric work habits. What you’d expect from artists. It is absolutely fascinating watching the process these artists go through when ruminating over a piece, starting a piece, and working on a piece. It is especially exciting to watch them under pressure. From an idea to a finished work in a day. One would think that deadlines would tend to inhibit free thinking, and designing on a time-table would make the work that much harder. Some of the artists have struggled with the time element, but most appear more affected by the ‘design-on-demand’/commercial aspect of making art.

Like I said, I’m only 3 episodes in, but I’m hooked. The show would probably be better were it on a network that didn’t have to “fashion” everything up. The Bravo-ization of the show aside, though, it is, for someone into art, and the process of creating, great entertainment.

Also, I’m going to make a prediction, and call Miles the winner. He is, IMO, the most talented of the bunch. While the other contestants are self-limited to a particular form of art, Miles embraces them all, and in the process creates new forms.

Here Miles “discusses how being on the show “Work of Art” has caused him to explore new avenues in his art”:

To borrow from China Chow’s line when sending someone home, this Work of Art does work for me.


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