What is bad art? I’ve seen some shit I think is fucking talentless, and watched bobbleheads put it in the Whitney and pay thousands for it. And then I find someone who makes nothing for their craft but is clearly gifted. So I think it’s pretty hard to define, unless you are a part of that counsel of art elite who decide what’s good and what’s bad. But the Museum of Bad Art in Boston has put it out there since they opened in someone’s basement in 1993 that what they exhibit is indeed bad art. Since their first show in 1994, they have grown and now occupy three spaces in Boston – the basement of the Somerville Theatre, the lobby of Brookline Access Television and a gallery in the Dedham Community Theatre. They accept donations of original artworks, found or otherwise, that meet the “low standards” (their words) of the museum. They won’t accept: “Works painted on velvet; Paint-by-number; Any of the well known kitschy motifs (dogs playing cards, big eyed kids and all that) unless they break new ground in a startling way.” They also display their collection online, from which I’ve pulled some gems and their descriptions to summarize the eyesores you’ll find on their walls. Enjoy!
Photos and captions via MOBA
MAMA & BABE
The flesh tones bring to mind the top shelf liqueurs of a border bistro. With an astonishing emphasis on facial bone structure, the artist flirts with caricature and captures features of Mama’s face which remind us of a Presidential candidate. The upright marionettish pose of the babe hints that the early bond between mother and child is as formal as it is familiar. Good old fashioned parental respect is at the center of this celebration of color and contour.
The cares of the day slip away and the first flush of sleep brings color to Pauline’s innocent cheek.
The reverse side of this painting is also interesting. The canvas has been stretched on a basement window frame. When viewed from the obverse, the canvas itself serves as a blind, shielding Pauline from prurient peepers.
EXCERPT FROM THE MOBA NEWS, ISSUE #32
Garen Daly, the proprietor of the Dedham Community Theater and the home of MOBA’s permanent gallery called MOBA’s offices. A school group of 4th graders had been at the theater that afternoon to watch a film. Midway through the movie, a teacher began to suspect an epidemic of bladder problems had broken out among the boys in the group. The longer the movie went on, the more young boys disappeared on repeated visits to the men’s room. Upon further investigation, it appears that the cause of their symptoms was not the diuretic affect of Pepsi, but the attraction of Pauline Resting in the basement gallery outside the men’s room.
PETER THE KITTY
Stirring in its portayal of feline angst. Is Peter hungry or contemplating his place in a hungry world? The artist has evoked both hopelessness and glee with his irrational use of negative space.
Looking somewhat uncomfortable, the lithe female subject is confined to the shape of the canvas in this revealing portrait.
Frightening non-kosher demons haunt this blonde, blue-eyed beauty in a see-through blouse. Her world is cracking apart at the edges, but her careful hairdo and makeup show us that she knows it’s important to keep up appearances.
THE CUPBOARD WAS BARE
In this complex narrative, the artist addresses how we perceive and the fear of how we are perceived. The faceless female form hesitates. Terror grips the little dog. His left paw pushes, as if to say “you go first.” The largest figure lurks behind, holding his pet, but not his mate. The choice of spectacles is confirmation that the artist is conflicted at the prospect of emerging. Yet when the hinged door is opened, we find he has nothing to hide.
This disturbing work “makes an offer you can’t refuse”. The chilling, matter-of-fact manner in which the subject presents the severed head to us is a poignant reminder of just how numb we have become. The understated violence implicit in the scene speaks volumes on our own desensitization, our society’s reflexive use of force, and the artist’s inability to deal with the hindquarters of the animal.
A young woman is portrayed lying on her stomach with her hands on her chin and her legs kicking in the air in this portrait of “teenage ennui”. She seems to have no joie de vivre. She also has no pants.
The viewer is struck immediately by the youthful female subject’s oversized arm.
DOG BITES MAN
The artist employs a no-holds-barred approach to graphically depict the archetypal news non-event. Painting on the inside cover of a KunstnEren Magazine (“Artists”), the artist allows the underlying red graphic to bleed through his paint, helping express the psychic pain driving the animal to resort to such violent behavior.
DISSENT FROM THE PEDESTAL
Infuriated and distraught about the state of the world, the iconic Lady of the Harbor has come down from her traditional perch, bemoaning the fact that, despite global warming, her day in the sun seems to have passed.
…TILL I WAS BLUE IN THE FACE
And you thought you were having a bad day!
We don’t need binoculars to predict which dreadnaught will be victorious in this nautical fray. Some viewers assume that the small object just beneath the ship on the right is a lifeboat carrying sailors lucky enough to escape the inferno. The MOBA curatorial staff has determined that it is, in fact, a ladybug on the window just in front of the binoculars.
ANNIE’S DOWNSTAIRS SECRET
Impressed by how well they worked on her pets’ and her own teeth, Annie used Crest Whitestrips to brighten her toenails.
CHARLIE AND SHEBA
No longer able to tolerate the incessant barking, Charlie the Chipmunk used a band-aid to tape Sheba the Sheepdog’s mouth shut before posing with her on the picnic table.
In Hollywood, even the palm trees have had work done.