Bad Painting Revisited

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Taking Michael H. Miller's post of images from the 1978 New Museum exhibition Bad Painting as a catalyst, Sharon Butler asks if the label should be revisited in a contemporary context with "some specific examples, because the changing nature of what we consider bad painting is a fascinating subject for a good discussion. If these paintings, which generally tend to mash-up surrealism and humorous fantasy imagery, were considered 'bad' in the 1970s, what would be considered 'bad' today?"

In 1978 Bad Painting curator Marcia Tucker introduced the show by writing: "The freedom with which these artists mix classical and popular art-historical sources, kitsch and traditional images, archetypal and personal fantasies, constitutes a rejection of the concept of progress per se. . . . It would seem that, without a specific idea of progress toward a goal, the traditional means of valuing and validating works of art are useless. Bypassing the idea of progress implies an extraordinary freedom to do and to be whatever you want. In part, this is one of the most appealing aspects of 'bad' painting – that the ideas of good and bad are flexible and subject to both the immediate and the larger context in which the work is seen."

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