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Friday, January 21, 2011

Art & Books: Monet, Warhol, Pooh, and Walter the Farting Dog

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Claude Monet and Andy Warhol represent two different visions when it comes to the art world, as do A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh) and William Kotzwinkle (author of Walter the Farting Dog) when it comes to children’s literature.

I was in an art museum in a certain city a few months ago, and my friend and I had a blast perusing the modern art floor. Stunned by its beauty, confused by a few exhibits’ media enhancements, and disturbed by a display or two, it made for a well-rounded afternoon.
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The image that’s still burned into my mind is a contemporary piece with a very scary baby doll in a crib surrounded by items that she’d thrown on the floor in a fit of rage. It took up an entire corner and I believe it had an audiovisual accompaniment that I’d rather forget. There was also a unique photography series highlighting toast. It was the crazy-haired, red-eyed baby that left me considering the similarities between art and books.
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Once you put a book out there for public scrutiny, it’ll get every opinion imaginable: this stinks, this is gorgeous, I can’t read this, I can’t put this down, I don’t get it, this changed my life, this is the strangest example of literature I’ve ever come across, this is the best thing I’ve ever read, this is a potty book (as in, a book that’s only fit for reading on the toilet and then flushing with the other excrement), this is incredible and anyone who doesn’t get it is a moron, etc.
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There are so many styles that you can’t help but find books that you love and books that you just don't connect with. I think it’s fabulous that all these different types of written expression, like multiple types of art, can exist under one enormous roof~The Publishing World Library (or amazon.com). Some agents prefer big books with big hooks, some prefer quirky topics, and some go for a more classical style that might have more longevity.
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Though I don’t write in numerous genres, I can appreciate the work that goes into all of them. I truly appreciate modern trends and new formats that are gaining popularity (graphic novels, novels in verse). But inside that art museum, I just didn’t get it in some cases. I couldn’t help thinking that I’m probably just old-fashioned and ignorant when it comes to the art world.
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I suspect that if I were artistically inclined, I would be more open to admiring certain exhibits. As it was, I was left thinking that my preferences are probably due to my lack of art education. It was an eye-opener and an excellent opportunity to learn more about different types of creative expression. I can appreciate the work that goes into something without understanding it…just don’t ask me to drop $20,000 on a photograph of toast quite yet.
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Has anyone else had an experience with unique forms of expression lately?



*NOTE: I happen to think the Walter the Farting Dog books are hilarious, and have bought two for my nephew. I also like Winnie the Pooh.

14 comments:

  1. No run-ins, but I'm always amazed at how people can have such different reactions to the same book. That's one of the reasons I love being in a book group. Sometimes I'm astonished at how differently another person interprets the same book. I chose the book for our next meeting -- Wintergirls, which I adored. I hope everyone else does too!

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  2. I haven't had any run-ins, but I agree with what you said wholeheartedly. Everyone brings their own experience, education, likes and dislikes to every book or art piece.

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  3. Great post, Jess! Books, like art, open you up to soo many fascinating points of view. Last year I watched a show on Bravo called "Work of Art". I found that many of the things I liked, the judges thought were "too literal" or boring or this or that. Oops. What they did love, I just didn't get it. But, it was a lot of fun to watch the creative process - regardless of the result. :)

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  4. Awesome post! I love the subjective nature of art!

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  5. It's amazing how different people like different works of art (and books)!

    "There are so many styles that you can’t help but find books that you love and books that you just don't connect with" - you're so right. I think that's one of the things I love about the industry :)

    Rach

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  6. I love the way different people can react completely differently to any creative endeavour. Whether it's my husband and I debating whether to hit modern or impressionist art galleries or my friends and I taking polar opposite views on Project Runway designs, it's always so interesting to hear the other side of the story!

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  7. What a great post. I haven't seen any unique forms of expression lately, that I recall at the moment but I have seen interesting things before that make me wonder what inspired it.

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  8. Writing is art. Art is subjective. And yet there is that general idea of beauty. Great! Now you've got me being all philosophical. I need coffee. :D

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