I Know It When I See It

The perennial (and often rhetorical) question, “What is art?” has an unlikely parallel in the statement by US Supreme Court Justice describing the threshold of obscenity “I know it when I see it.”  For many, the debate about what constitutes art is veiled in the annoying monologues and diatribes of art critics or is told to us by our lackadaisical professors in Art History 101. Now, we all know we took this class because of the girl/boy we had a crush on. You know, the one that always feigned interest in us, who said the most interesting things in class, and the one who never invited us to coffee to talk about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Emergence of the Sexual Revolution in 19th c. England.

This situation must stop! And it must stop immediately! What we need is a learned man, a man for all seasons, to cut through the drooping vines of a Rousseau, to tidy up the apocalyptic wallpaper of a Jackson Pollock, and to explain to us what the hell was Vito Acconci really doing under that gallery floor.

Titus Whit is our man.

To quote Carlo Scarpa, he is “a man of Byzantium by way of Venice”, although he has done many side trips to Las Vegas, Bundaberg, Rangoon, Los Angeles and, most recently, Slough.

Titus is the quintessential post-modern, all-consumer Renaissance man who knows little but has an opinion about everything. He believes that all art is an everyman’s art. He recently tried to make his point by urinating in Duchamp’s urinal, but he stopped mid-stream when someone told him it was art to wit:

“Art, you say?” replied Titus, “Art is but the artifice of man over nature. And right now, nature calls.”

The talk show format is Titus’ favourite as it favours good looks over erudition and what better subject matter than the question of art itself. Each week, Titus will host a famous artist, dead or alive, and like Jerry Springer, delve deep into the artist’s work.

These bite-sized romps through the history of art are guaranteed to either make you smarter or more interesting at cocktail parties (but not both). Titus’ insights and wisdom won’t tell you exactly what art is, but it will give you the skills to “know it when you see it.”

 

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