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RAW Preview > Inside Out: Why a Mangled Sofa is Art

March 17, 2012

Jill Foltz will be presenting her paper entitled “Gesamtkunstwerk: Contemporary Art, Design, and Inversion” during the Spaces and Interiority panel at 11:40 a.m. See the complete RAW schedule here.

Is Snooki to blame for this 2010 exhibition of furniture-based fine art?

Well, not exactly. But there seems to be a connection between changes in Western culture and changes in the art we produce.

In the past decade or so, a significant portion of contemporary art – both in the New Décor show linked above, and elsewhere – has adopted the visual vocabulary of interior design. These artists create tableaux using distorted or handmade versions of everyday items that hint at furnishings, yet defy usefulness.

When they speak of their work, the artists refer to ideas of safety, retreat, intimacy, and coping mechanisms. This surge in design-based fine art seems to be a response to an inversion in Western culture, in which the private has become public. From reality shows to telecommuting, the home is no longer a respite from the outside world. The interconnectedness of social networking and the voyeuristic thrills of the Real Housewives and Jersey Shore satisfy our curiosity about how others live, yet they can create more anxieties and pressures as well. We feel compelled to reciprocate, perhaps more than our temperaments can handle.

This constant connection, as you have probably already realized, is both a blessing and a curse. The artists of The New Décor and similar shows create symbolic scenes to respond to and cope with this brave new world.

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