A Sucker Born Every Minute

It’s a sales job that would make P.T. Barnum proud: convince the world that something every American family has done to their ceilings for decades is actually a visionary artistic accomplishment.

In all fairness, we did find the Robert Ryman exhibit to be one of the most entertaining in Pittsburgh’s outstanding Carnegie Museum of Art; although probably not in the way the artist or the museum intended. If it were an example of performance art, or a psychological experiment, or even the result of a bar room bet, it would have been brilliant.

To be sure, watching a docent led tour gather closely around a blank wall, stare at it intently, and discuss it in hushed voices was a surreal experience worth the price of admission. It reminded me of an experiment where researchers stood on a busy street corner looking up at nothing in the sky to see how many people they could get to stop and watch the nothingness with them. The power of suggestion is an amazing thing . . . Yawn.

But what is obviously funny, is obviously not art, because watching people staring at white walls is not what the exhibit is about. We’re told, instead, that different white paint, applied to different materials,

Trust us, it's art

with different brush strokes creates different textures. It is in those textures where artistic vision is found.

It’s true. If you look very closely at the corners and the edges of the ceiling where I painted with a brush, they look different than the sections I hit with a roller. The Sistne Chapel has nothing on my living room. You have to see it for yourself. And you can, too, for the low, low price of just $15. Space is limited, so buy your tickets today.

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5 Comments on “A Sucker Born Every Minute”

  1. travelingmad August 5, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Wow. $15 to look at white walls?? That seems a little steep to see small differences by going up close and squinting.
    … Interesting.


    • Brian August 5, 2011 at 10:14 am #

      There really is a lot more to the Carnegie Museum of Art than Robert Ryman. We’ll have a bit more to say on that soon. But yes, if you want to see my ceiling it will run you $15. 😉



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