Regarding Beauty
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© 1999 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

Yeah well, a beholder is a huge slimy orb with tendrils and sharp teeth... so who cares?



on December 7, 1999.

A special exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum (commonly known as the Donut) on display from October 7, 1999 to January 17, 2000.

Blake appears in red and Brian appears in blue.

The following images are stored on the Smithsonian computer. So if they don't load right, scream at them, not us.
Michelangelo Pistoletto. Venus of the Rags, 1967.
Janine Antoni. Lick and Lather, 1993-94.
Gerhard Richter. Waterfall, 1997.
First of all, if you're going to start a gallery with a huge pile of laundry and a statue facing the wrong way [Michaelangelo Pistoletto, "Venus of the Rags" 1967], you need to put up a huge sign saying THIS IS THE ART GALLERY.

Actually, it started with dismembered heads and Thing making a guest appearance... but okay.

They were both visible from the entrance. It was the laundry that threw me.

Well, there was something about the guard silently keeping vigil over the rags that threw me off. Personally, I think a good laundromat could have done wonders to this whole exhibit. But more on that later. I seem to recall after dealing with the pile of rags, we moved on to the image of the "Fonz" in drag [Yasumasa Morimura, "Portrait (Futago)" 1988]. Was that the self-portrait?

Personally I found there to be far too many unattractive men holding or displaying privates for an exhibit with the word "beauty" in it.

Where are the women who are taking these photos? And how can I date one?

Who says they are women...? Those first few pieces really set the tone for the whole exhibit: weird and disturbing.

Actually, as a whole, I think the effect of the exhibit was very impressive. After all, we walked out, and everything seemed to hold more beauty than many of the pieces that we saw. "My there, that's some pretty cool garbage... Sure beats the picture of the guy with the tape-on chest." But I digress.

I would have expected to see some album cover art. Maybe Molly Hatchet? Or certainly an Iron Maiden cover. But we did get to see some busts that were ready to be wrapped around a Rammstein album [Janine Antoni, "Lick & Lather" 1993-94]. And half of them were chocolate. Mmmmm. No wonder they had a sign forbidding pregnant women.

See? Not all bad. Though when looking at those busts, I couldn't help but to get an image of me using someone's face to wash my armpit.

They were busts, like you might expect, but with the details smeared and half made of chocolate, half soap. Brings new meaning to Head & Shoulders.

I thought the sign forbidding pregnant women was to prevent massive deformities when looking at the exhibit as a whole, prevent confusion with the upside down trees, and prevent violent behavior as was found in the film...

There certainly wasn't a lot there that you'd want to show an 8-year-old.

I'm sure that the artist had a bit of help with those... "C'mere Fido, wanna help me with some modern art?"

We know Andy Warhol peed on his own fire hydrant.

People with half-melted faces, fat ugly men, etc.? I rate this exhibit R for explicit content.

Andy Warhol fans, rejoice. Half this exhibit is Warhol's crap -- er, work.

No no, not crap.... I'd say that it was piss-poor, but all things considered, I think that's been taken into account.

And the video of the woman bashing car windows [Pipliotti Rist, "Ever Is Over All" 1997]. Interesting concept, the whole empowerment thing. Smashing other people's property is only empowering in Europe where they government doesn't let them have guns. I was with her, though, right up to the Jaguar. Had to walk out after that.

Since when have random acts of vandalism been regarded as empowerment? To me, it smells like too much medication, martinis, and maces. And the other half of the screen, just flowers, flying by. Interesting clash there, but still, everyone has the power to destroy. I didn't see where that was particularly empowering. Or maybe it was a reference to the electro-shock therapy the artist went through... very empowering.

The whole contrast thing is a bit overdone anyway. It's like sifting through the Antonyms section of the SAT. Ya know, come on.

You want contrast? Play Bach, White Zombie, Chant, and Shania Twain at the same time... that's contrast!

They also had a real, genuine Picasso [Pablo Picasso, "Reclining Woman Playing With a Cat" 1964]. I guess I'm just not suited to his work because I don't care for it. I think, in his case, someone mistook insanity for genius.

Again, in the "beauty in ugliness" section. Well-fitted, I think. Well, honestly, I think this particular work is just underveloped. Looking at it, there is no planning, no thought behind it. It's just a quick smattering of one's perceptions. Not very enlightening to me. I could probably be just as effective with finger paints and a Joan Osborne album. "NO! NO! I will paint your god! SEE?! Here! His name is Yaweh! See?"

We've been pretty hard on a lot of art and haven't even touched on things like the Big League Chewing Gum picture [Agnes Martin, "Flowers In the Wind" 1963]. But there were a couple of cool things. I really liked the velvet wormhole [Anish Kapoor, "My Body Your Body II" 1993/99] myself. That really has a way of drawing you in. We both set off the alarm as I recall.

The velvet wormhole was pretty neat. I also liked the blurry art [Gerhard Richter, various works], even if it was blurry. And the structure stuff [Richter, "Structure" series] was kind of cool, just because the way it was made was original. I think the whole light show [James Turrell, "Milk Run" 1996] goes down as "most pointless of the exhibit."

Well I was looking at the brochure and I think we missed the point of the light show. It looks much better in their picture. I think we accidentally walked into the exhibit. It's not too often you can walk into a piece of art and not realize it. The guard really sent us the wrong way. He was very chipper, though.

Thank you, Mr. Guard.

So what was your favorite?

Favorite, cool is the wormhole. Hands down. But I may have nightmares about the Fonz for a while...

I really liked the gold foil rectangle with the dents [Yvez Klein, "Untitled (Monogold)" 1960]. At first I thought it was stupid, but then I realized it was merely misnamed. Had it been called "Large Frogs Fail to Escape" it would have been much better. Now it's not a rectangle with dents. You can practically see the huge frogs boinking off the foil. And who knows what they were fleeing from? Titles are very important. "Untitled (Monogold)" doesn't cut it.

Hmmm... I don't have much to say about "Golden Metallica". The headless dog [Louis Bourgeouis, "The She-Fox" 1985] was chasing the frogs, probably.

Where does the headless dog fit into the rest of the exhibit?

"We have no heads, yes we have no heads!" [Denis Leary, "Traditional Irish Folk Song" 1994]

It is classically styled, except for the lack of a head. And where the bulk of the exhibit focuses on the human condition and perceptions, this one is... a dog without a head.

I can explain this. Notice the enlarged mammary glands on the many-boobed headless dog...

Dogs have many boobs.

Okay, so, at some point, one of the artists had succesfully rendered some sculpture. However, due to lack of other ingredients, they used chocolate. The dog was impregnated by the Fonz. That's why he was embarrassed. This pregnant dog, not reading the signs (being a dog), licked the faces off the sculpture. The artist, enraged, chopped the head off the dog and then had to use the soap-busts to wash her hands clean as there was no other soap in the house. The Smithsonian accientally happened across this horrible scene and got ahold of it to avoid liability. An official investigation is currently being carried out by the staff; thus the pile of rags. Those are evidence. This also explains the pee-marks on some of the art. My condolences to Andy, since his scam has been exposed and he has been listed as the mastermind behind this plot. Andy, however, escaped in the red dress with the train, and went through the velvet wormhole. To Australia. See? The whole exhibit is just a crime scene! Who knew?! The crime? Inappropriate use of chocolate and the slaughter of a pregnant animal who was intimately involved with the Fonz.

That is the most bizarre thing I have ever read., the best part of the exhibit was the graft. More museums should try giving away free art. It's very persuasive. You could walk out with a four-foot poster of a cloud [Felix Gonzales-Torres, "Untitled (Aparición)" 1991] and nobody would pin you to the floor.

Yeah, definitely a tactic that should be used more widely.

Imagine if we could all walk out of the Portrait Gallery with a little portrait of Ben Franklin. I could go for that. A little green portrait. Yeah.


I am a little curious as to who is paying for these posters. It's an endless stack, supposedly. It's been on display around the world since 1991. Someone's racking up quite the printing bill.

I think you'd have better luck getting little shiny portraits of Washington from the Washington memorial. Just dress up in some art and bring a cup.