Modern Art

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<P>But is it art? Is a question that has bothered scholars and art critics since Jackson Pollock first cut himself rather badly with a small fruit knife and sold the result, and then started a collection by flying a pigeon against a window and mopping up the results with canvas. It is a question that has bothered galleries and auction houses since the day Andy Warhol got bored with doing pictures of tins of Campbells, and decided to have a bit of fun with a photocopier, copious amounts of LSD, a photographic memory and paint set. </P>
<P>Let's face it, anyone can make something into art these days. I mean, if a dead sheep in formaldehyde counts as art, then anything goes. As long as you can find a gullible enough customer, things are very easy. </P>
<P>And here, now, is my guide to making a mint (this is a metaphorical mint, which, although not particularly minty, means 'lots of money'. Just in case you didn't know) out of anything you can find in your own home: </P>
<OL><LI>Go to the Royal Academy, and spend several years there, dossing about and avoiding lectures. </LI>
<LI>Return to your house and clear the place up a bit, as it'll probably be quite dusty and horrible after all that time you've spent at the Royal Academy. Then, enter the room of your house with the most stuff that is exactly the same (i.e. the room that has the most washing up liquid bottles / Peruvian llamas / sheep in formaldehyde / scale models of single-celled protozoa / whatever). </LI>
<LI>Gather together all the washing up liquid bottles / Peruvian llamas / sheep in formaldehyde / scale models of single-celled protozoa / whatevers, and pile them into an aesthetically pleasing but very confusing shape. Then attach all the things in the pile together, using sticky-backed plastic or oxyacetylene welding equipment. </LI>
<LI>Mount your new 'sculpture' on a base, and add a plaque with the title of the piece on it. This is the most important piece of the whole exercise. You need to think of a title that has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter (the washing up liquid bottles / Peruvian llamas / sheep in formaldehyde / scale models of single-celled protozoa / whatevers) but that is cryptic enough to keep the attention of the seasoned art buff. Suggestions are 'Is God dead?' or 'When is the purpose of blue?' or maybe even 'This may not be a sheep floating in formaldehyde, but it is art, and art that should nevertheless be sold for an exorbitant sum to a gullible Texan tourist'. Essentially, you want something either completely obscure, or a question word followed by a string of adjectives and a noun somewhere. </LI>
<LI>Sell your not-sheep-in-formaldehyde to a gullible Texan tourist (for an exorbitant sum, of course). The tourist doesn't have to be Texan, but it's better if he is, as it fits the stereotype slightly better.</LI></OL>
<P>This formula doesn't always work, but then Who is more certain than cheese? as my latest sculpture in the Tate is entitled.</P>
<P>Now, when you want to do the same sort of thing, but paint a nice painting instead, then you should follow these procedures:</P>
<OL><LI>Get a decent-sized piece of canvas. A nice, big, white piece. </LI><LI>Get a large number of oil paints, lots of different colours are best, and also a stick. Any sort of stick will do, but a sticky sort of stick is much preferred. The stick needs to be at least six inches long, although many women may need to get one that they think is about a foot in length, as being lied to by husbands and boyfriends about exactly how long twelve inches really is can be disorienting (humour). </LI>
<LI>Stick the stick into one of the pots of paint, and withdraw it. You should have a blob of paint on the end of your stick (see previous joke). If you don't, dip again, but if you do, lob the blob at the canvas that you have erected (see previous joke also). </LI>
<LI>Repeat step 3 until you have run out of paint, and have a pleasingly messy sort of mess, that is expressive in an expressive sort of way. </LI>
<LI>Take down the canvas, which should now look as though a troupe of drunken Shakespearean actors have been violently sick all over it (although in a highly artistic and expressive way, of course), frame it, and take it to a gallery / auction house, where you can sell it for an exorbitant sum to a gullible Texan tourist.</LI></OL>
<P>If neither of these two methods work, and you can't make any money, then I can only suggest a career in street theatre. Or politics.</P>

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