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Beyond the Lone Islands

Friday, 28 May 2010

Can You Tell The Difference?


Faithful followers of this blog know that I’ve been in art-inspired mood lately, because of an ongoing sculpture festival.

GB the other day picked up the thread in his blog with the post When Is Art A Con.

His story in turn reminded me of a classic Swedish art con:

In 1964 an art exhibition was held in the Swedish city of Göteborg. The work of a previously unknown French painter, Pierre Brassau, attracted much attention.

One art critic wrote: "Pierre Brassau paints with powerful strokes but also with clean determination. His brush strokes twist with a furious fastidiousness on the canvas ... Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer."

A private collector bought one of Brassau’s works for $90 (remember that was 1964, so meant a lot more money than today).

Not everyone was quite of the same opinion, though. Another art critic wrote: "Only an ape could have done this."

And yes - Pierre Brassau did turn out to be an ape. He was in fact a chimpanzee named Peter, living at a Swedish zoo.

Behind the prank was a journalist who had persuaded a zoo keeper to give brush and paints to the chimp. The purpose was to test whether critics could tell the difference between true avant-garde modern art and the work of a monkey.

What about you? Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Here is your chance – a fun link I came across while checking up on my facts…   

An artist, or an ape?

I’m proud to say, I actually scored 100%. But I also have to admit that with one of them, I was initially in doubt…!

Wikipedia article
Time Magazine article


GB said...

Now that was fun. I didn't manage 100% although when I analysed it afterwards getting the Jackson Pollock wrong was silly. There was, in fact, a structure there but I didn't look carefully enough. I actually rather liked the Ernst Nay.

Ginny said...

I got two wrong on the quiz. They said that gives me 67%. But it was great fun taking the quiz! You have a very keen eye for art! Must be from being around so much of it where you live. This is an extremly cool post.

Sandra said...

83% i missed the first one. what fun. I actually LIKED the first one and not any of the others. they all look about the same to me, i just guessed good, congrats, you guessed my mystery yesterday

DawnTreader said...

The one I was most hesitant about was the first monkey picture. If I had to choose between that one and the Pollock to hang on my wall, I would still prefer the monkey's ;)

But in guessing which ones were made by human artists I did go by signs of structure rather than my own taste in colour schemes.

The human one I liked best was the Kandinsky.

I took part in some water colour painting courses back in the 90s and I guess I did pick up some basics. After the accident at work which gave me lasting problems with neck and the right arm I've not been painting much because holding on to brush or pen gave me cramp and pain up my arm. Now I use the camera more instead...


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