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Arts & Culture

Art Amnesty

December 9, 2014 | by


Why are some people artists while others are not? Was Joseph Beuys an idiot when he said everyone is an artist? Do artists think they are a cut above the rest of us? Are the arts a good in themselves, or is it much, much, more complicated than that?

Many artists delude themselves into believing that they are promising, productive artists when they would live much more fulfilled and useful lives engaged in proper employment. I PROMISE NEVER TO MAKE ART AGAIN provides a baptism of necessary real life and allows artists to “Get Real.” Ditch a life of poverty and precarious self-employment! Don't miss a life-changing opportunity.

Art: It’s had a good run.

You know, there was the Venus of Willendorf. And the Dutch Masters—remember them?—and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, all with some very nice work. And Picasso! Who could forget Picasso?

But we’ve come to the end of the line, more or less. The art world may continue apace, with its Jeff Koonses and its Damien Hirsts, but most artists know only suffering. And to these artists, Bob and Roberta Smith have issued a clear message: go home, clean off your paintbrushes, and do something meaningful with your lives.

“The personal journey for most artists starts with enthusiasm and joy,” Bob and Roberta have said, “and ends, if the artist does not have huge success, in embarrassed children taking their dead parents’ work to the dump.”

It would be better just to quit, no? Bob and Roberta—who are, in fact, one person, named Patrick Brill—aim to ease your transition into the world of utility. If, in surrendering your artistic impulses, you have any leftover artworks in need of prompt disposal, take them to MoMA PS1, where, through next March, Bob and Roberta are hosting the Art Amnesty project. It’s an almost unconscionable bargain: you bring them art, they throw it away. Hell, they’ve got dumpsters right there in the courtyard! And if you’re the sentimental type, they’ll let you exhibit your work one last time in the gallery. You know, before it’s unceremoniously destroyed.

All you have to do is promise never to make art again.

You’ll even get a complimentary badge that says I AM NO LONGER AN ARTIST. (No word on whether this offer applies to writers yet—I’m hoping the answer is yes.)

Got a work of art that isn’t yours, but that still demands immediate eradication? No problem! Bob and Roberta Smith will take it off your hands and ensure that it rots in some landfill somewhere, and you’ll sign a pledge that says I NEVER WANT TO SEE THIS WORK OF ART AGAIN.

All the details are here. With the New Year around the corner, it’s high time you asked yourself: Isn’t it time you gave up?



  1. Nina Eaton | December 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

    No one will do this. At least, not the people you think should.

  2. Giovanni Garcia-Fenech | December 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I get it, and I get that it wouldn’t be as provocative, but wouldn’t it have been nice to give all that art away instead of destroying it?

  3. ginevra de bendi | January 13, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    being as successful artist has much more to do with salesmanship and making the right connections than it has to do with making great art

  4. 巫女 …miko. | June 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

    art without meaning & purpose is like, a two-second thrill.

    it’s the same with a pretty picture blog post. someone may work their butt off for several days to get it done, but everyone else take one, single, look, if at all, then move on.

    like, move on. reblog, move on. forget, move on. ignore, move on. not exactly nothing, but almost nothing.

    at any rate, too little. not enough.

    without context, without meaning, without connection, things you see, as well as things you show, are like bits of paper you throw into the flood. they die in a void of temporariness. if you can’t manage to do better than that, then ya, absolutely: give it up. you never got the core idea in the 1st place.

    go back to something meaningful <= mind the word. here it comes again.

    when it comes to these things it is not quantity that matters. it never was to begin with. it's quality. & quality means, the ability to reach, to connect, & mean something

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