The Best-Worst Art Ever Made

Scene from Ken Russell’s WOMEN IN LOVE by Nancy Fergus Story. I’ve put this in my lounge so everyone can enjoy it.

I’ve been collecting bad art for around 18 months now. It’s really helped me through some stressful life situations.

If I think back though, I’ve been interested in bad art all my life. Bad art, bad movies, bad recipes, bad fashion. All of it contains this delicious, wild sense of abandonment of taste. For once, we get to relax, finally, and drop our aesthetic standards to subterranean levels.

The category of Bad Art itself is problematic, because it implies a subjective, canonical approach, and even a sense of elitism and snobbery, all of which I hate. As a holder of an art history degree, I guess I should know better, but bad art makes you feel something.

The best definition of it I can find is that in each piece of bad art there is a deep, earnest sense of accomplishment. The artist is pleased that they even finished something, let alone that someone out there would actually consider parting with good money for it. Secondary to that, stylistically there is often a very unusual surreal element or theme, that is made much worse by the artist’s description of what the artwork is about:

A very large Minotaur is dreaming about breaking free from its labyrinth, while in the background, my neighbour tends to her box hedge in the suburb of Papamoa. Big statement about feeling trapped in life in general and unable to be free. The Mount is in the background as those of you who know the area will recognise. – Marg B, Papamoa Art Group.

Finally, there’s a wonderful naiveté around Bad Art; there’s a hesitancy but also an amazing sense of over self-confidence where there really shouldn’t be.

Sometimes, even when the painting is very skilled, it can still be “bad”, but in an excellent way. The below example is quite an incredible rendering of Jacinda Ardern, there is no doubt about that. But who would want this in their home? Turns out I do.

That’s Bad Art in a nutshell. It’s like love, it makes no sense at all. It’s a vinyl jacket that has been laid down next to the thousand island dressing tureen at Valentine’s Restaurant, by mistake.

I just don’t even know what to say


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