Tag Archives: art

Context Matters


You shouldn’t be surprised at the results of these two similar experiences:

Scenario A

A flickr user seeking critique, uploads a photograph (above) by Henri Cartier-Bresson, “father of modern photojournalism”. The criticism received was harsh and the photo got deleted from the DeleteMe! photo pool.

Scenario B

A world class violinist, Joshua Bell, plays music on his Stradivarius in the Metro system. After 43 minutes of playing, few notice and he has made $32.17.

A senior curator, Mark Leithauser, at the National Gallery, explains how this happens:

“Let’s say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It’s a $5 million painting. And it’s one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: ‘Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.'”

Leithauser’s point is that we shouldn’t be too ready to label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs. Context matters.

People rely on signalling to provide context. If it’s at the Met or Lincoln Center, it must be good. Similarly, if they have a Stanford or Harvard MBA, they must be qualified. Signalling makes sense in a complex world where nobody can be the master of everything. With specialization, we may be good at what our job requires, but we outsource reputation/credibility to 3rd party indicators (such as prestigious museums, universities, award shows, etc.).

The Nutropolitan Museum of Art

Billed as the World’s First PB&J Art Exhibit, The Nutropolitan Museum of Art is a worthwhile, fun event to check out while it lasts. It’s free to attend and the last day is Sunday, March 6th.

Note: The gallery exhibits below were conceived by Lee Zalben, photographed (so well) by Theresa Raffetto, and styled by Patty White.

201 Mulberry St

Exhibit Space

The only line is for the DIY peanut butter art room. They let you make a PB slice however you want and give you a free photo print afterwards.

DIY Sandwich Art Station

White on White

My non-contribution to society. White marshmallow creme with candy corn on white chocolate peanut butter spread onto white bread. And an Iron Man toothpick to top it off. Just keeping it classy.

Pizzelle Perfect exhibit

A pizzelle cookie based setup.

Starry Sandwich exhibit

Money Honey exhibit

Sandwich Artist exhibit

And we’re not talking about Subway here.

Peanut Buzzer Sandwich exhibit

Neat application of honeycomb. Honeycomb is photogenic.

All Hail the King exhibit

Shown above are just some of the great photographs at the peanut butter art open house. There are other great works, and while it’s not a huge exhibit, a free jar of peanut butter goes to both yourself and charity for attending.