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April 30, 2016
"Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" Season 1: Episode 1 In Retrospect

Cast of "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist"

Since reality television has virtually taken over most cable programming, I think it is about time the visual artists got their shot at it.  Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" premiered this past Wednesday at 11 p.m. (EST) with the requisite cast of hopeful, starry-eyed emerging artists, overly confident professionals and a sprinkling of mid-career folks.  The show hit the ground running and challenges didn't take long to get underway.

In the first episode, we're introduced to each artist (14 total) with just a short bio and clips from their application videos.  We meet an assistant of Jeff Koons (Jaclyn), a guy who has never shown his work outside of his parents' home (Erik) and a woman who already has had her work accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art (Peregrine). 

Right at the outset, performance artist Nao announces that she is too established for the competition and its promise of a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum with prize money purse of $100,000, Miles labels himself an OCD sufferer, and the rest actually seem pretty affable.  For reality TV artists, anyway.

I'm going to put my neck on the line and choose my winner right now.  Trong has a diverse background as a curator, visual artist, writer, lecturer and editor (ArtSlant).  To top it all off, he doesn't seem to have a huge ego to work around (ahem Nao).  I think his experience in multiple areas of the art world will help him to navigate the purposely rocky terrain of a competitive reality TV show.  As we have seen in other, talent-based shows (American Idol, Top Chef, Last Comic Standing) the judges tend to have a high regard for inherent technical ability but always expect someone to be flexible.  

Check out Bravo's information page for "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist."  

 The highlight of the show for me will be getting to see Jerry Saltz in action.  As you may remember, I wrote a blog, "Where are all the women artists?" about Jerry Saltz and his Facebook campaign against the Museum of Modern Art.  I would hazard a guess to say that he may be the best-known face on the judges panel because of his Facebook exposť.   

 Read the original story about Saltz's investigation and public condemnation of the MOMA's lack of women artists on display.

 I truly respect Mr. Saltz's opinion and expect him to lend some curatorial and critical credence to the show.  Not that Simon de Pury, Bill Powers and Jeane Greenberg Rohatyn are just some bums off the street. 

 Read their bios on Bravo.

 In Work of Art, my bet is that Saltz will be the Tom Colicchio, or Simon Cowell, of the judging team. Basically, the mean one. But I expect more constructive critique instead of acerbic one-liners. 

 So, what shall the upcoming season of "Work of Art" bring? The level of cattiness is approaching mid-to-high levels already, so I'll vote for some epic verbal battles. In the clips shown from the upcoming season, we see Jaclyn inform Erik that he "doesn't belong here" which suggests there will be some entitlement issues between the established artists and the newbies. I personally do not like to watch violence so I will hope for no fisticuffs.  Probably a love interest will develop. As long as they don't take a trip to the Jersey Shore, however, I'll be happy.

Posted by: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assistant @ Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:14:28 pm 
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