For every great master painter of genres throughout history, including the Abstract Painting Art, you will find hundreds, perhaps thousands, of artists whose work will never see the outside of their home or studio, or the home of their family members. These artists are just like the “American Idol” contestants who insist that they sing well, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. They make art not because they’re any good at it, but simply because they love carrying it out.
There exists nothing as contemporary and abstract as bad art. Bad art has occurred throughout history, though with the arrival of contemporary art, modern art, and abstract art, which question popular and standard conceptions of beauty, bad art has flourished. The very essence of all modern art is doing away with convention, and this includes what we should consider good (or beautiful) art and bad art.
There’s actually a location in the world where these complaints aren’t just observed, but celebrated: The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), in Dedham, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. (Their second branch is in nearby Somerville.) MOBA has a permanent assortment of 500 items of, his or her motto states, “art too bad to be ignored.” Their stated goal is, as his or her founders assert, “to celebrate the labor of artists whose works could be displayed and appreciated in no other forum.”
MOBA was founded in 1994, after antique dealer Scott Wilson found a painting, “Lucy inside the Field with Flowers” (which became the museum’s signature piece), in the trash. He showed it to a few friends, who suggested he start an accumulation of similar items of Modern Abstract Art Oil Painting. In the beginning, the initial collection was shown in Wilson’s friends’ home, however it soon became so popular and enormous that they had to move it to a more permanent place.
MOBA doesn’t just exhibit any bad art, so my attempts at portraiture (that are really just stick figures) wouldn’t allow it to be in to the museum. Works accepted into MOBA has to be original and have serious intent, however they must have significant but interesting flaws. The curators of MOBA refuse to display art that’s deliberately kitsch, or harmful to bad’s sake. At any rate, MOBA is the only museum on earth committed to collecting and exhibiting the worst. Its collection is really a tribute towards the sincerity of the artists who preserved their works even if something has gone horribly wrong in the process. Put simply, MOBA celebrates an artist’s straight to fail, and also to fail gloriously.
The presence of MOBA, some say, is a response to the advent of Contemporary Art Abstract Paintings in the early twentieth century, which made art more esoteric and fewer accessible for the public. To most Americans, museums are intimidating places ruled by experts whose tastes are mysterious and impossible for most people to comprehend. MOBA is within direct vhhhlg for this trend. Its curators insist that they’re not parodying art; instead, they’re parodying the art world.
The reaction of most of the museum’s visitors is very interesting. Some of the exhibits get them to laugh out loud, as well as in some ways, frees them as much as have opinions and discuss whatever they see. Teachers within the Boston area have taken their students to MOBA, then to more prestigious museums like Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Their MOBA experiences free them from feeling intimidated and to be more expressive about the art there.