'Work of Art' recap: What a load of 'poop'

The second week of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist was a mess; assembling the hour must have driven the show’s editors crazy. The hour started out with a demonstration of parkour, the strenuous, French-derived, running-climbing-leaping exercise done by daredevils on city architecture. The idea was to give the contestants and viewers a kinetic image for the week’s task: create “a piece about motion.” The artists were divided into two teams, told to come up with a theme, and put together two competing group shows.

The artists immediately proceeded to over-think “motion” to the point of stasis. One group wanted to do something about digestion, how something eaten moves through the body. The idea came from Michelle, last week’s winner, who had immunity and said pretty airily that she wanted to do something about “poop.” It was as though she could have cared less. For some reason, her team went with it.

The second team’s idea of motion boiled down to “migration,” something about moving various cultures along… oh, it doesn’t matter, because mentor Simon de Pury arrived for his studio visit and pronounced both concepts the pretentious sillinesses they were. After scornfully asking, “So ‘poop’ was the key word?” he advised them all to start over.

Therefore Work of Art‘s competition didn’t really begin until after the first commercial break — Bravo might as well have cut that section out, except for the way it illustrated what an odd combination of stubborn individualists and sheepish sheep this bunch is. Even the ornery Sucklord was ready to create some intestine for the poop to travel through.

Suitably abashed, Team 1 decided to make art for a playground under the exhibit title “Play With Me,” while Team 2 became mass-hypnotized by circles and crafted stuff for a presentation called “Loop.”

Michelle dropped her poop and went with something dirtier: a semi-abstract wooden sculpture of a man getting an erection in a park. (The necessary “motion” to fulfill the original task was that any observer had to yank on a pair of splintery testicles to make the wood rise.) (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.)

Dusty made a life-size photo of himself and afixed it to one end of a teeter-totter he built. He called it “Playing With Myself.” These artists seem to have two modes: Pretentious, or infantile.

The “Loop” team came up with objets d’art such as a big ball of shredded paper (thanks, Lola); a garden hose wrapped around a bucket next to a circle with a rubber hand stapled to it (er, okay, Tewz); and Kathryn pursued her obsession, established last week, with representations of guts (which actually looped back to the digestion thing). It was also revealed that Kathryn has Crohn’s disease, which she said she was suffering from during the competition (again, not to make light of a disease, but this was more in keeping with the discarded digestion theme).

Let’s just cut to the chase with this sorry excuse for a competition, shall we? The winner was Bayete, who — get this – made a video of himself spinning around in a circle. I kid you not. Judge Jerry Saltz found it “strangely mesmerizing.” Judge Bill Powers was “impressed with the simplicity.” (Um, Bill, do you remember just last week? When Bayete made that bold statement about Old South racism by festooning a picture of a black Scarlett O’Hara with dollar bills, and you nearly evicted him for such a simplistic piece? Simplicity is this guy’s fall-back position.)

The loser: Kathryn, who immediately burst into hysterical tears which struck the judges as excessive even by the standards of reality-TV evictions, and that’s really sayin’ something. Clearly aware of her medical condition, host China Chow asked Kathryn whether she was upset or sick. “It’s a mixture,” sobbed Kathryn. I had pretty mixed feelings myself.

Let’s conclude with some mind-clearing parkour, shall we? Pay attention, Work of Art contestants: It’s called motion!!

What did you think of this week’s undulating Work of Art?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • Fatima

    Such a horrible episode with pretty much no good pieces and a truly truly laughable winner. Suddenly I’m worried.

    • LOL

      Ken doesn’t love crap.

    • Marti W

      I agree with you and with Ken except for one thing – I actually liked Bayette’s piece. Strangely compelling? Yeah, I can go with that. But for the rest of it, man… I hope it gets better. Oh, and I never expected The Sucklord to be the voice of reason.

  • Pat F

    Where did they dredge up this year’s hacks. I cannot seriously believe this group beat out anyone else inthe competition to be on this show,. Poop? And everyone else goes “Poop, OK!”

    • alexia

      I can’t believe they all went along with it, either. Parkour is one of the most visually beautiful forms of martial arts. I’m always inspired by the human body when I see it, and love the way it transforms urban environments through a human moving through it. I’m not an artist, but I just don’t know how you go from parkour to…poop.

      Also, I made a really horrible mistake in sitting down to dinner with this on in the background. All the talk of digestion and Kathryn’s piece made my appetite disappear REALLY quickly.


    i was so bored with last years show, I vowed not to watch it this year and based on the recap I am glad I made the correct decision.

    Bravo’s reality shows get worse with each new season, still watching the cooking shows but nothing else. What ever happened to the project Runway copycat they did?

    • Marie

      I tried watching an episode of their new show set in Dallas (can’t remember the whole title, but Dallas was part of it). It was dreadful.

      Just a bunch of privileged single people, probably about 30 years old, give or take a few years, dating in Dallas. They really reached on that one. None of these people were interesting, charismatic or really watchable. They just came across as whiney.

      • MiaS

        The show title you are looking
        Most Eligible Dallas

  • Marie

    What an awful episode. They all sounded like pretentious fools in coming up with the original themes. And I’m glad Kathryn is gone, not that I wish ill on anyone, but in an art competition, someone who is so clearly one note and so stuck just won’t be fun to watch. She’s stuck on her physical condition and if she’d stayed on board, that is all we’d have heard about for the rest of the show’s run.

    • darclyte

      Ken, Kathryn actually wasn’t on the team that originally was doing digestion, she was on the team that originally was doing migration. Her original idea for this week would have worked better with the digestion group, but she wasn’t in that group. I noted last week that Kathryn seemed “stuck” in that one concept, and that she seemed unbalanced from the preview for this season. Well, she sure is stuck as she said that she’s been doing this theme for the last few years. Her breakdown was ridiculous and says to me that she is unbalanced and needs help. Some of the pieces were decent, like the photo of the cartwheels, but mostly none of the artists seemed to grasp the idea. I think they were afraid of taking the idea too literally, but they went far off the deep end initially, and only a few of them really found their way back. BTW, Sucklord was against the digestion concept but had to go along because he was in that group and had to make something to fit his group’s theme. His end result was “cute,” and perhaps “fun,” but I wouldn’t call it Art. Lola should just do nudes of herself like the gal from last season. If she did that, she’d get my vote for the win. But seriously, all of the artists need to step outside what they usually do and try to come up with an idea that fits each week’s concept, as opposed to trying to force a preexisting idea into each concept. Have the idea AFTER the concept, not before. The cartwheel gal got it, even spinning camera dude got it (to a point.) Kathryn is a great example of an idea before the concept.

  • Best. Sentence. Ever.

    “The necessary “motion” to fulfill the original task was that any observer had to yank on a pair of splintery testicles to make the wood rise.”

  • Mark

    I thought perhaps this weeks episode of Work of Art was replaced with a “Punked” episode in which viewers were tricked into watching a show about creating art, but were given a load of “poop” – literally. My 2 year old nephew has spit up better “artworks” than what was demonstrated on this episode. And the winner? A video of a guy spinning around. I kid you not. I could randomly pick any video on youtube that showed more artistic vision than that mundane waste of celluloid. Michelle’s 2nd place showing a wooden sculpture of a man getting an erection in a park was no better.

    I must say I did get a lot of enjoyment watching Kathryn’s embarrassing meltdown when judge Jerry Saltz questioned her artistic ability at the end. When she started her laugh-crying fit, you could see the judges turning away in disgust. I was riveted! Bravo to the judges for keeping it real. Sometimes a pile of trash is just a pile of trash.

    • Lil

      Was really hoping I wasn’t the only one scratching my head last night. I mean really, I think the judges could have given them a challenge about anything, and they would have thought someone saying “poop” was somehow worthy.
      Are they all insecure? Paranoid? Not talented?
      I was so hyped for this year but after last nights win- “Look at me, I am spinning” I am not only questioning the talent of the contestants, but the quality of the judges abilities!
      The only “art” I even liked was the IDEA that Jazz? had for the flip-photo. But was that just a photo? Did she paint it? I was really disappointed.

    • Nelda M.

      I honestly liked the idea of Leon’s piece but all of the rest were absolutely horrid. This season is becoming almost unbearable. Also, I think that half of the judges’ reason for turning away was disgust, the other half was so they wouldn’t laugh in her face as I’m sure I would have.

  • Macy

    This is the worst excuse for “art” I’ve ever seen in my life and the contestants are a bunch of egomaniac fools creating garbage. This show is an embarrassment. Last year was bad enough; this year is just excruciating. Sucklord. Really?

  • W. J.

    Last season was boring and stupid (except for Abdi).

    This season is just stupid.

    As an artist, I hoped this show would get TV viewers excited about contemporary art. Instead, it’s solidifying the stereotype of the artist as overeducated, pretentious, delusional fool.

    Thanks for that, Bravo.

    • RCIAG


      At least Sucklord chose a suitable moniker.

  • Here & There

    So many bad “artists” & so little time to eliminate all of them. This show does a disservice to gifted artists with real talent.

  • wendy

    I wish next week wasn’t just a double elimination but a 10 person elimination. I seriously was thinking this whole episode, I can spin in a circle and make a flag and etc…. Ps I still draw stick people when drawing. LOL

  • ok

    I agree that last night’s episode was awful. The problem was that most of them were acting like the judges did last season- overthinking everything and spewing out pretentious nonsense. Sometimes an orange is just an orange. If Bayete didn’t deserve to win, then who did? Michelle with her erection? Teeter-totter man? I find it interesting that Mr. Tucker and some other posters who are criticizing Bayete don’t have the same criticism for the lady who did the cartwheels. That was just as simple. Bayete and cartwheel lady were the only ones who captured the fun and a real sense of motion like the kids at the skate park. Michelle, who is capable of doing beautiful work, shouldn’t have even been the runner up. It should have been cartwheel woman.

    • ok

      I forgot that cartwheel woman- I’ve got to pay better attention next time and get her name- was from another team so she couldn’t have been runner up. It wasn’t her fault that most of the rest of her team didn’t follow directions.

      • darclyte

        But her photo of the 2 people in the midst of doing cartwheels actually looked really good and captured motion.

      • ok

        His video certainly captured motion as well.

    • rookoor

      Cartwheel girl was on the losing team, that’s why she wasn’t the runner-up…

  • Cat

    I missed this episode but thank goodness! Bayete won with video where he spun in a circle? How awful.

  • dharma

    I simply could not comprehend how one team came up with the entire “digestion” theme – no idea how they connected this with parkour. I was so disgusted with that girl Michelle and her “poop” idea I just can’t take her seriously now and I thought her sculpture was hideous. Yes, art may be in the eye of the beholder, but I gotta say the talent seems lacking so far this season. Waiting to see something truly moving & inspirational…

  • AB

    As an art school graduate I avoided watching the 1st season but last night got curious and watched this show. Well… not really the whole show… I only saw about 6 minutes and I was bored. I wasn’t into installation pieces/mixed media but do know what its like to be critiqued day after day for four years. Its tough but I don’t think its so quick and simple to create something magnificent quickly. :\

    I didn’t watch the part about the “poop” everyone is referring to but did see that she went to SVA… which is where I went to school. Maybe the iconic Piss Christ is what inspired her. It was very controversial. I heard it mentioned in many different classes when I was in that school.

  • Millhouse

    So, a guy who spun around in a circle and filmed himself won? If I were the other contestants, I’d feel pretty stupid “working” on something for hours and some guy just picked up a camera and went WEEE…

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