Tag Archives: Museum

Kings, Activist’s and Dogs: Spanish Statue Controversy Exposed

There is no denying that art is often full of controversy. Artists, curators and yes, even critics are all people and as such each have their own view of politics, religion, and so on. Often times these artistic views are not  what the current powers that be would always consider acceptable.

2015 has shown all of us a dramatic and disappointing on going amount of what amounts to censorship and saber-rattling  to repress and even destroy art simply because somebody doesn’t like it. The recent destruction of the ancient city of Nineveh and museum relics are perfect examples of the barbarous inability of some people to leave the mental stone age.

I’ve long taken the stance that art should never be censored. This should become the standing rule in societies around the world. The ending of excluding thought provocative art and satire for the simple reason of not agreeing with the message behind it is paramount in our species departure from a cultural stone age.

But all rules have exceptions and there is one form of censorship that should exist.   Self-censorship. As an artist, this is the act of realizing when your art is dangerously close to losing it’s message because the audience is so shocked that it offends their reason to sympathize with the sensibilities of the statement.

When that happens, the public starts to believe that the artist is more interested in a shock and awe moneymaking campaign than making art with a genuine statement. Case in point, I’m pretty sure that there were some hidden political agendas behind the recent row at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. But that’s been lost in the moment.

There is a work on display that has already cost two curators and the museum’s director their job by allowing it to be displayed. The work in question is Doujak’s Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010. It displays the former King of Spain having sexual interaction with both the Bolivian activist Domitila Barrios de Chúngara and a dog on a bed of Nazi SS helmets. (The Art Newspaper)

Ines Doujak's Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010
Ines Doujak’s Not Dressed for Conquering, 2010

Is this art? Yes, unfortunately it is. Does it have the right to be included in a museum? Yes, yes it does. Is it something I want to see displayed? Personally, no. I find it too drastic for my taste. Why do I want to go to a museum to see a copulation exercise between 2 men and a dog? Truthfully, as a tourist in Spain, I would not go see it.

Indeed, I often wonder about the exercising of the mental judgements used in creating such works.  Did Doujak sit there for days on end wondering how he could get his political message across?   Does he finally, in a flash of inspiration, think, “I’ve got it, I’ll have him copulate with a dog!” and upset that bestiality is not shocking enough,  he includes the SS headgear?

Or the curators who saw the work and decided that it’d be just great to show something scandalous like the dead king committing bestiality in a museum where it so happens the widowed Queen is on the board of trustees.   I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?  Though, I do have to admit that it makes one powerful resignation letter.

No, The real question is where does the artistry stop and lewdness for simply lewdness sake take over?  As for me,  I think I’ll spend my time finding a nice Rioja and paella and not visit that.

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Museums Get Tough on the Selfie Stick

Walking through museums behind young children scares me. Weird huh? Well, young children have young minds. Those minds have not quite matured enough to figure out that running into the 3000 year old vase swinging your toy is not a good idea.

Children usually lack that bit of common sense and need an adult to guide them through this experimental period of their lives. My years as an educator have taught me that sometimes this common sense passes on to the next generation and sometimes it doesn’t.

In the prehistoric world very few people lived to see 30 years old. Why? Because back then, without medicine and technology, one grand act of stupidity took them out of the human breeding population for good.

But, we’ve moved on. We invented. We, as a species, overcame the chance that doing a stupid thing results in your untimely death. There are no more Wooly Rhinoceroses to play cow tipping with.

Likewise, we now have rules of no running in the museum. Museums hired guards to patrol the art galleries to enforce this rule. Calmness and serenity should descend in the art museum. Unfortunately, human ingenuity is known for creating both chaos and order.

Enter the latest act of social silliness, the selfie stick. According to Molly Shilo of the Observer the MoMA is the latest in a long string of museums including the Frick and the Guggenheim that have seen the potential danger in our latest social craze. In response, they have all outlawed the use of selfie sticks in the museum.

No more can the young carefree mind swing a selfie stick around and carelessly carve up a Caravaggio. No one will accidentally poke a Pollock. That 3,000-year-old vase of the sheer genius and artistic style of a civilization long dead is still viewable to everyone.

In the end, this is a good thing. It’s a sign that the museums are responding to popular outside trends and are trying to save both the world of art history and the youth of today.  It saves the art world from unmitigated disaster and any youths from making a stupid life-changing mistake in the name of a selfie.

The young student of the arts may not understand what the big deal is. They may even rebel at the idea of not being allowed to have this fun. I wish to encourage a sense of patience to these future protectors of human ingenuity. Your selfie is not worth it.

In order to explain this concept, one must understand  that while we have a better chance of surviving the consequences of our actions. If you mutilate a $41.1 million Matisse with your selfie stick you may wish you didn’t survive.   Your allowance sure won’t.

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How Will You Benefit From The Dallas Museum of Art’s No Admission Fee?

Great news!   The Dallas Museum of Art has announced on 11/27/12 that they are doing away with admission and membership fees on January 27th 2013. More here.  This is a fabulous development.  Why?


1. Convenience – Money is a serious consideration in doing anything and admission fees play a huge role in what people want to do and what they actually do.  There are now 2 museums in downtown Dallas, The DMA and The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Both are within easy walking distance of each other and both will be free.   They are top quality museums that allow you to spend hours in admiring both ancient and modern art.


2.  Opportunity – For many people, no fees mean a chance to go see forms of culture and history that they would not ordinarily get a chance to see.   More people walking through an exhibit mean a greater chance for donations and volunteers to the museum.  It also provides an opportunity for people to give donations according to what they can afford and get a feeling that they belong to a special organization.  This will stimulate the need for more exhibitions and even more art.  When that art exhibition is photography, it means more demand for photographs.


3.  Exposure–  What photographer doesn’t like excellent exposure? The lack of admission and membership fees is good for new converts to the modern art world.  This includes people seeing photography as an art.  I find it likely, as photography becomes more and more accepted as an art form, free admission will result in more viewers seeing more photos in a form recognized as fine art. Over time, more viewers lead to more patrons and patrons mean more business.  This encourages a greater understanding and acceptance of photography as a fine art.


This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Museums get more members and donations, more people see and get education in the arts, and more people get to see photography as a fine art form that leads to business opportunities for all photographers. It’s a good day for photographic art.

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