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Old May 13th, 2006 #13
lawrence dennis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Euronationalist


The $1.8 million "painting". There are painters and there are decorators.
Artists' works Fire up debate
Quote:
Tue, June 28, 2005 -- Stripes of paint on canvas for $1.8 million, a dress made of rotting meat and a turd-like fibreglass sculpture are among the art pieces in Ottawa that have sparked controversy over the years.

Before the 1960s, most public sculptures in North America were life-like memorials to history, especially war, influenced by classic pieces seen in Europe, writes Calvin McKnight in his 1996 thesis The Urban Landscape: The Place of Art in the Public Interest in the National Capital Region.

But then artists started seeking more meaning, and became concerned with challenging expectations about what public art means and what feelings it should provoke, he writes.

There was lots of animosity towards Edward Zelenak's 1968 piece Traffic, a 32-ft. piece of brown fibreglass and plastic people called "dinosaur dung" or an "intestine" that was acquired by the National Gallery. Zelenak, on the other hand, said it represented the "pent-up energy and inner tension in a traffic jam or a geological fault."

In the 1970s and '80s, the Committee for the Removal of Art Pollution (CRAP) targeted a number of works, and succeeded in relocating Chung Hung's Twelve Points in a Classical Balance from Dow's Lake.

Controversy seems to be almost inevitable here, with the National Gallery of Canada spending large amounts of cash on contemporary or modern artworks not all people understand.

"People can see that their tax dollars purchased that work," says Penny Cousineau-Levine, art professor and chair of the University of Ottawa's visual art department. "Ottawa becomes a target in that way."

That's what happened in 1990 when the National Gallery bought Voice of Fire, a blue-and-red- striped painting, for $1.8 million. The purchase sparked a small cottage industry of striped ties, T-shirts and even a "Donut of Fire."

In 1991, there was more controversy when the gallery displayed Montreal artist Jana Sterbak's Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic. The "meat dress" was made of 50 pounds of rotting flank steak to emphasize the contrast between vanity and bodily decay. Hundreds of people protested it by mailing food scraps to the gallery.

Two years ago, the SAW Gallery sought out controversy with its exhibit "Scatalogue: 30 Years of Crap in Contemporary Art." The idea that taxpayers were footing the bill for a display including soiled shorts and shrink-wrapped feces sparked then-Alliance MP Chuck Strahl to call for a review of arts funding in Parliament.
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