I always emphasize that everyone can enjoy art. You don't need a fancy degree or some stuffy museum curator to tell you what is and what isn't good art. All you have to do is look around you and art is everywhere. Go for a hike and you're thrilled by the beauty in nature. That's art! Perhaps you have a piece of furniture you love. Its functionability has little to do with whether or not it is beautiful, and I say the same thing about every Halloween costume I've ever designed. I call it art.
I recently visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and wandered into a room with a GORGEOUS piece of furniture. It was a dresser ornamented with gold and the beautiful wood glossed to a perfect shine. It was pretty, over-the-top ridiculous, but sometime long ago, it belonged to someone and was USED for its intended purpose. Now it sits in a museum because it was so painstakingly crafted and worth showing to the whole world. So I got an idea about correlating functional things we might call beautiful and other types of 3-D art to help me explain a style of artwork called Installation Art.
Installation Art is often interactive and sometimes functional, like your furniture. I found Carsten Holler, a Belgian artist who creates wonderful spaces like the room full of giant mushrooms pictured here. And if you've ever wanted to sleep over in a museum, Holler has created Revolving Hotel Room which is currently in the Berlin Museum for Contemporary Art and is open to the public for staying the night. Another exciting and current installation exhibit is called Sunflower Seed.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei filled the floor of a room in the Tate Modern (New York) with 100 million hand-painted, ceramic sunflower seeds. Guests were encouraged to walk through them and on them until the dust created too much of a health hazard for the gallery employees.
Yes, art can have the thrill of danger! How It Is by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka, injured a few guests as the whole exhibit is a pitch black room. On a more gentle side, Silver Clouds by Andy Warhol (Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA) allows museum guests to play with pillow-sized, helium-filled mylar balloons inside one of the gallery's rooms. If you're ever in Hamilton, New Jersey, be sure to visit the Grounds for Sculpture where you can see some fabulous 3-D renditions of famous 2-D paintings. I think that is the greatest thing about installation art. You don't even have to go inside a museum to see it, and therefore it's much more dynamic and accessible than flat paintings and drawings. It's literally thinking "outside the box."
One of my favorite installation pieces sits right in the middle of busy commerce in center city Philadelphia. What is it? It's a giant clothespin made by famous installationist Claes Oldenburg. Check him out. He's made some really neat objects from unusual materials. Upon researching ClothespinI stumbled on another Oldenburg/Philadelphia 2010 collaboration for a plaza currently being developed around another part of the city. I found a mock-up image of Paintbrush, and I am wondering if this has been completed in real life yet. It's exciting because Claes Oldenburg is nearly 82 years old. His work is really fun.
All of this installation work is really fun, don't you agree?
So in honor of this interesting kind of artwork, and for you, the installation enthusiast I've just made you, I designed Wonton Soup from mostly garbage and some other painted garbage.
~ Gia O