Its America’s new favorite pastime: gazing at senior women in the nude.
About a year ago, New Jersey-based New York City-born artist Grace Graupe-Pillard started romping around the museums of world looking at art in the nude. Or, not really. It’s true, Graupe-Pillard’s series Grace Delving into Art pictures Graupe-Pillard in the nude, and she is delving into famous works of art, but it’s all for Facebook. It may be the first example of Facebook art, made specifically for the tone and temper of Facebook.
Grace-Graupe Pillard doesn’t like to tell her age, but let’s just say that when she goes to the movies or rides the bus or train, it’s half price. She the world’s first senior nude, unafraid of her body, long after society gave up on it.
In Grace Delving into Art Graupe-Pillard actually appears naked, prancing around the art museums of the world. By her posture, her pose and her joke, she makes a statement about the work of art. It’s an art review by an artist using her body and not her voice. And then every piece gets posted on her timeline, and commented on.
For What’s Inside This Greek Vase at the Met Museum? (2013), a riotously weird photo of Graupe-Pillard acrobating in the nude on the rim of a very large Greek vase, received 116 hits and 74 comments. Responses? Some are funny,”if you fell in and couldn’t get out you’d end up being a part of their permanent collection,” “Oohs and aahs as you balance on the vahs,” and “Genie in the bottle.” Some are deep, “It’s like peering into the void, “Centrum mundi,” and Ein Sehre ernster Scherz (A very serious joke, Thomas Mann).” Others are, of course, about her nudity, which she gets a lot of, “Don’t hold the flashlight in your teeth-use a headlamp,” others about her, “Your flexibility is becoming legendary.” Either way, Graupe-Pillard hears how people respond to her art, immediately, she knows how it went over.
Grace Graupe-Pillard loves Facebook, and has one of the most robust Facebook pages in the art world. She currently has 3,360 friends (and 80 followers), and actively keeps them all interested in what she is doing. Like any other artist, she posts her paintings, news of any upcoming shows, links to articles or reviews of her work and just keeps everyone informed about her life. Visual artists like Facebook because it gives them an easy way to show their works in progress. Graupe-Pillard spends up to three hours a day on Facebook, commenting and responding to comments on her page, or just looking around.
Graupe-Pillard is keenly aware that people communicate differently on Facebook. They like and dislike, they comment, it is all light and easy. Her paintings take months to complete, they don’t read that well online. What to do? Graupe-Pillard had developed a robust practice of video art online, but wanted something that would fit nicely in the Facebook timeline, that would be tailored to the pace of life in the special world of Facebook.
Most people trade personal photos, pictures of works they admire, links to articles they liked and other posts all designed to give your friend a sense of “what is on your mind.” But Graupe-Pillard wanted something more, she didn’t just want to show her art, she wanted to make art on Facebook. What she wanted is what is now being called meme art, a new term that has emerged in the art world to talk about a new kind of art developed online for online consumption and tailored to the peculiar dynamics of online life. Anyone who has traded jokes online knows what meme art is. Its visual humor submitted to photoshop. Users are developing an ever-widening vocabulary of devices, making posters of images, recaptioning preexisting images, inserting heads in other photos or works of art, comparing people to popular culture references and placing a photo of themselves in other circumstances.
She changes her mood, from picture to picture, to elicit different responses. Sometimes she is thoughtful, at other times she, more controversially, situates herself next to works of fellow contemporary artists, at other times Graupe-Pillard veers toward slapstick, as if to remind the viewer it is all carnivaleque. And part of the fun is seeing what people say.
Graupe-Pillard has painted nudes over the course of her entire career. She’s a first generation feminist for whom display of the female body was a statement of self-possession, resisting objectification. In posing, she situates herself at the intersection of many issues: sexism, agism, museum policy, the way we react to art, the nude, photoshop, and, even, what is art? But she plays it so many ways, often for fun, that the issues fade away before the art.
A number of her respondents apparently think that Graupe-Pillard travels live to the world’s museums then tests the limits of do not touch policy and the security guards by stripping down and then acting out her delving into art with actual works of art. But that would not be Facebook art. No, Graupe-Pillard makes use of photoshop for all her work. But it’s still a lot more work than everyday meme art. She makes videos of herself sans clothing in her studio, then uses the best shots from the video for her poses. She tries out different poses, carefully weighing placement, composition and levels of meaning. It usually takes about a week to create a publishable work of art. And then she uploads it–and waits for the comments.
A full exhibition of Grace Delves into Art is available on the artist’s website, http://bit.ly/ZfJnxA