Art of satire — send us your submissions!

Example Image

Example Image

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

In the depths of World War I France, then-Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, the “Tiger of France,” famously argued that, “War is too important to be left to the generals.” That’s true of art, as well, so the Redoubt Reporter and ARTSpace are sponsoring a satiric art writing contest open to everyone, with suitably satiric prizes. Parody pomposity! Release your inner philistine!

Good visual art either works or it doesn’t. Attaching pretentious, pompous writing that “explains” the image adds little value.

Too often, though, boring, ordinary images are subject to art “criticism” that seems to bear more resemblance to the writer’s inner projections than to the image itself or the artist’s intent. That’s not a new development. In his book, “The Painted Word,” writer Tom Wolfe (of “The Right Stuff” fame) parodied the New York art establishment’s written puffery of lousy art more than 40 years ago. Here’s your opportunity to strike back.

We’ve published several unmanipulated photos of real objects and scenes that appear abstract. Write some satiric

commentary about one or more images, identifying which photo(s) you are satiring. Your parody should be plausible, pretentious-sounding and humorous. I’m unwilling to hold anyone else’s images up to ridicule, so these are my own photos. Fire away! When the Redoubt Reporter publishes our favorite submitted satires, we’ll tell you what these photos really are.

Here’s an example: Our Example Illustration is of a famous 1975 Louise Nevelson sculpture, “Transparent Horizons,” a series of tall, black, steel figures of something allegedly biological, but severely toilet-papered in the photo. It’s located next to an MIT dorm, East Campus, famous for its practical jokes. Here’s what some anonymous MIT undergraduate wrote and pasted on the sculpture’s descriptive plaque:

“Transparent Papyrus: In his Magnum Opus, Fred D. Dorm creates a piece of transcendent found art. The white lines streak across the black frame of the pile of junk illuminating discovered meaning in an inherently nihilistic landscape of dark emotion. The lines refuse to stay straight in a stark upheaval of a traditional Euclidian universe.”

By the way, if you want to read some really excellent, straightforward art criticism and history, written in clear, simple English by a real expert, get Kenneth Clark’s “Civilization,” available on DVD as a BBC series and also in print.

Email entries to Be sure to mention which photo(s) you are referencing. Entries on each photo should be no more than 150 words. Tell us your name and a little about yourself — profession (or school you attend if you’re a student), where you live and any art background you might have. Entries due Dec. 16.


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