Exhibition of rejects

While writing the newsletter on Monday, I made a reference to impressionist art—which I didn't know that much about other than what was in a few faded images in a drawer in a spare room in my mind, so I had to go digging for some clever-sounding words to back myself up. As it happened—as it always happens—the search for one specific thing turned into a meander among many things, no end goal in mind after the initial goal was reached. Link upon link upon link. That's the way the minutes go.

I did land on something interesting: Salon des Refusés. (Wikipedia, etc.) The very short version is: in 1863, a number of artists had their work rejected for an annual art competition held by the French government and managed by conservative judges with an interest in maintaining the Right Kind of Art. So they protested, and the emperor organized a second show to mollify them: Salon des Refusés—the exhibition of rejects.

Here's a paper (that I haven't read yet but have queued up) that explains the exhibition's affect on the trajectory of art: Boime, Albert. "The salon des refusés and the evolution of modern art". Art quarterly 32 (1969): 411-426.

I don't know much about painting. I'm not terribly interested in it, though I'll give it a go in a gallery if I've got time and space to blank my mind and stare. I don't like to cruise by walls and walls of paintings. Let me have a few minutes with one. Thank you for coming to my TED talk about art.

What I do know is that the idea of displaying rejected work in its own show—a well done, unironic show—sounds like a fine idea for (a) finding work that shouldn't have been rejected in the first place, (b) laughing at the bad, and (c) sifting interesting ideas and approaches from the semi-bad. A terrible drawing might have the germ of an idea that didn't develop, but in the right environment or care transforms into something amazing.

Strip out the things you want, and bury the rest. Test your luck, test your skill, and if it doesn't work out, exhibit the rejects. ("I guess that's the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself down through the generations. Westward the wagons, across the sands of time until we - ah, look at me. I'm ramblin' again.")

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