A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality competition -- which features artists competing for money and a chance to show their work in a solo museum exhibit -- offers a glitzy glimpse into the art world, which includes some strong language (words like "hell" are audible while curses like "f--k" are fully bleeped), as well as some sexual innuendo. Nudity and sexualized images are visible in paintings and other artistic renderings, but is blurred when live nude models are used. Occasionally artists use violent imagery and other disturbing visual symbols to create their art. Cigarette smoking and drinking often pops up at receptions. Logos for some of the show’s sponsors, like Prismacolor and HP Media Smart, are clearly visible.
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What's the story?
WORK OF ART: THE NEXT GREAT ARTIST is a reality competition that features up-and-coming artists competing for the chance to become the next great contemporary artist. Fourteen artists from various backgrounds, training, and mediums must compete in 10 challenges that will require them to create a piece of art of some kind. As they work, they receive support and constructive criticism from legendary auction house owner Simon De Pury. The finished pieces are put on display in a gallery show to be viewed and critiqued by the public, as well as a panel of judges that includes art critic Jerry Saltz and gallery owner Bill Powers. Rounding out the panel is the show’s host, China Chow. The winner of each challenge gets immunity for the next challenge, while the loser of each challenge goes home. The artist that remains at the end of the overall competition wins $100,000, a cover story in Blue Canvas magazine, and their own solo show at the Brooklyn Museum.
Is it any good?
The series, which is produced by actress and art enthusiast Sarah Jessica Parker, follows the same familiar format that popular shows like Project Runway and Top Chef are known for. As a result, it highlights the contestants who have unique personalities, and underscores some of the friendships and conflicts that emerge between them while playing up the elimination drama.
The show offers some interesting insight into what makes people’s creations art, as well as what goes into critiquing it. But asking people to create good art within a very specific and limited time frame for the sake of a competition seems to undermine the very creative process the show is supposed to be celebrating. It may appeal to reality fans, but die hard art lovers might have a hard time appreciating the picture it is painting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be an artist. What exactly is art? What is its purpose? Who decides what is art and what isn’t? Why do some artists use images that are viewed as strange, uncomfortable, and/or otherwise inappropriate in real life as part of their work? What are some of the challenges of working in a creative field?
Do you think this kind of reality show is an effective way to educate people about the artistic process and the life of an artist? Why or why not? How real is the show and what is emphasized and hidden from viewers?
What are some of the benefits of participating in the arts? Who should fund art education? How has kids' exposure to art changed over the years?