How to Succeed in Contemporary Art Without Really Trying

The art world has just vacated Miami after that city’s warm weather version of the Art Basel fair. Vocativ explains how it truly seems as though anyone can create a modern art sensation at an art fair:

Own a trash can? Have a basement, garage or closet? Are you physically able to wrap pears in tinfoil or drop stuff on a floor? Well, you might as well buy a villa in France, friend, because you are a successful contemporary artist. That’s right: Now you, too, can earn $100,000 to $1 million at Art Basel without even leaving the house! It’s that easy.

Wait a second, you’re asking, do I need to buy all kinds of fancy equipment or expensive professional art supplies? No and no! Just follow these 14 simple DIY steps using everyday household items and a little imagination. We’re not even going to make you buy the infomercial DVDs or pay shipping and handling, we’re just going to give away this life-changing information free of charge.

If you’re also asking yourself, “Didn’t the original gangster Marcel Duchamp figure this shit out almost a hundred years ago with his famous found-object urinal?” The answer is yes, and congratulations for taking art history 101 in college. “But how is it then that an entire generation of RISD grads can keep ripping off the same idea year after year and still convince these corpulent billionaires to line up at the trough?” It’s art, you philistine; didn’t you go to college? Now let’s get down to business. All prices quoted below are real.

(Rosa by Adriano Costa, Sadie Coles Gallery)

(Rosa by Adriano Costa, Sadie Coles Gallery)

1. Wad up a pile of your soiled underpants and drop them on the floor. Done. Congratulations! You are a fucking genius. Seriously. This piece sold for $3,500. We told you this would be easy! Now you can barely afford to keep your underwear on—it’s like printing money. (Rosa by Adriano Costa, Sadie Coles Gallery)

(Untitled by Wade Guyton, Kelley Walker, Greene Naftali Gallery)

(Untitled by Wade Guyton, Kelley Walker, Greene Naftali Gallery)

2. Splash some paint on a couple of used mattresses. Demand $65,000. EACH. You’re getting the hang of it. (Untitled by Wade Guyton, Kelley Walker, Greene Naftali Gallery)…

[check out the rest at Vocativ]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

11 Comments on "How to Succeed in Contemporary Art Without Really Trying"

  1. Duchamp’s “Fountain” is unfairly attributed to this ‘post-modern’ garbage. The fountain was progressive and controversial because a Urinal was not to be shown outside of a washroom. Duchamp was making a remark and breaking down social barriers at the height of “Modernity.” Art in the 21st Century has always been about the “meaning behind the piece” not whether or not the piece requires any talent, and as such, the art ‘world’ of pretentious loblaw died a long time ago. A woman in art school put a condom over a statue of the virgin mary and received the highest honors. I think “Exit Through the Gift Shop” illustrates the art world perfectly.

  2. Ted Heistman | Dec 9, 2013 at 11:06 am |

    You need some type of extreme haughtiness and a network of equally haughty friends. That’s why everybody can’t do it.

  3. Ted Heistman | Dec 9, 2013 at 11:11 am |

    I gotta hand it to Banksy, though.

  4. tibby trillz | Dec 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm |

    i always thought the whole point to all contemporary art post warhol was to make rich morons pay you for garbage.

  5. InfvoCuernos | Dec 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

    I see the contemporary art world and the performing arts suffering from exposure to the rich who seem to take great enjoyment from utterly wrecking the minds of the artists. In all seriousness, if you were an “Artist”, what possible reason would you have to gather with people who shower praise on every little turd someone smears on a wall? The rich and untalented love getting artists hooked on dope, fucking with their heads, ruining their lives, and derailing any talent that the artist may have. They do it to new movie and music stars( just how do you think Miley Cyrus became the train wreck she is today? You can bet there is some rich shithead somewhere laughing his/her ass off watching a loop of Miley twerking.), and they do it to painters and sculptors. I thought that Robert Williams and his “lowbrow art movement” would have changed that, but the LA rich can’t stand for anyone to have anything related to Art, even remotely, without shitting on it.

    • VaudeVillain | Dec 10, 2013 at 4:40 am |

      “You can bet there is some rich shithead somewhere laughing his/her ass off watching a loop of Miley twerking”

      Judging by the snippets of interviews I’ve inadvertently caught (no, really, I don’t go looking for this shit, the Internet just dumps it in my lap sometimes), the rich twat in question is… Miley Cyrus. Well, one of several, I’m sure, but she seems to be of the opinion that however stupid, immature, ridiculous or straight up awful anyone thinks she is, she gets paid. I certainly think her work is all of those things, but I’m poor and have no prospect of being otherwise, so who am I to knock her for it?

  6. How to Succeed in Reactionary Art Criticism Without Really Trying

    1) To get in the proper mood, read Soviet denunciations of “decadent bourgeois art” and Nazi denunciations of “entartete Kunst.”

    2) Google “modern art” and “contemporary art” and find as many you don’t immediately like as you can in fifteen to twenty minutes. Now pick the ten to twenty that have been paid the most for.

    3) Don’t overthink it. In fact, don’t think about what the pieces might mean at all. Only think about the simplest put-downs you can come up with that both the average 70 year old and average high school drop out will laugh at.

    4) Assume the artists are only in it for the money, and call them out for it.

    5) Fill as many inches as possible with pictures of the art, and presto! Another deadline met! Email to your editor and wait for your paycheck!

  7. oneironauticus | Dec 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

    I’m not trying brag or anything, but I’ve known some semi-successful art types in my short life…practically everyone worth a damn is decidedly NOT making the big bucks…and everyone who IS had initial help in the form of parentally-supplied credit lines and parental networking…coupled with cocaine-egos and nearly zero talent.

    It’s almost like…some kind of Suckiness Conspiracy!

  8. Chrono643 | Dec 11, 2013 at 12:14 am |

    There is an art to this, you cannot try to do it and you cannot try not to do this

  9. gustave courbet | Dec 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm |

    As a survivor of art school, I agree completely. We live in the area of the institutionalized avant-garde. There is plenty of amazing art being created right now, but beyond the blue-chip proving grounds where the tasteless rich shop for nihilistic nonsense.

Comments are closed.