conceptual art

Art Speak: Arty Nonsense Exposed

Scott Naismithblog, conceptual art 11 Comments

Over Flowery Artists’ Statements

I despair when I see pretentious, meaningless, tongue twisting nonsense spoken in some artists’ statements. The culprits are mainly the conceptual artists who need to bamboozle you with an attempt at philosophical genius in order to camouflage the insignificance of the poorly executed end product.

Glasgow's gallery of modern art.

Glasgow’s gallery of modern art.

Glasgow’s current trend for the conceptual has risen it’s profile within the notorious Turner Prize with a glaswegian shortlisted artist all but a certainty each year. This means that arty nonsense is rife in my hometown!

However I’ve now had a word with myself and decided to have a good laugh about it.

Torrent of Crap

Torrent of Crap

After all, I’ve not ever seen such a torrent of crap since my son’s nappy bin burst under it’s substantial weight at the top of the stairs!

You’ve got to see the funny side I suppose, so here’s a compilation of some true corkers I’ve seen out there (no links or names or pics I’m afraid as It’s not the intention to damage anyone’s reputation!)….


“…a group of sculptural works that aims at a void that signifies precisely the non-being of what it represents…”


“…this suggestion of performance psychologically involves the viewer with the making process, provoking instinctive responses to her precarious assemblages”

-Just think, that last statement could be applied to my staircase incident!’


“My work centers on an interest in the universality of our biological make-up and landscape; combined with the collective sense of the sublime…”


“My practice examines hesitation as part of the process of decision-making, where the object is neither the object of objecthood nor the art-object. It is rather the oblique object of my intentions. …”


More nonsense talk to be pasted here in future I’m sure. I’d be interested to see anyone else’s findings in the comments below.

Until then you can make up your very own Arty Bollocks Here:


Comments 11

  1. I wholeheartedly agree! Too much pretentious crap out there. Either I like the work or I don’t; I don’t need double-speak to convince me. Thank you. And, btw, your work – I like!

  2. SO funny! Exactly ! The last one was particularly ridiculous! Whatever happened to letting the viewer have their own experience of works!? instead of filling in the blanks with psychophilosophobabble!?

  3. I so, so, so, agree.
    Every year we reach deeper and deeper into semantically confounding confusion,and further away from the joy or angst to the soul Painting provides.

    Please read the teeny tiny book Winston Churchill wrote in 1938, about oil painting.

    Painting is Art of the senses , not to be Explained in Silly Nonsense Words, but to be Enjoyed, in All the Senses.

    I cannot describe to You what You cannot see
    But I can help you see what I cannot describe.
    Thru Paint.

  4. Love it Scott,
    Glaswegian exiled in Australia about to embark on project that will use pretentious art critic bullshit to reveal what utter crap has been written over the years by the so called experts…
    Keep it coming my friend…. Best wishes, from the artist formerly known as Niloc Nostrebor, Russian dissident and Glaswegian born again industrial, heretic…. CR x

  5. It’s really bad around here too.
    It’s funny, when I was in school, I don’t remember any programs or classes entitled ” pretentious, artsy-fartsy B.S. for writing artists statements that no one understands”.
    And yet, I’ve found that so many graduates from similar programs that I went through, here in the Toronto area especially, seem to be very fluent in it.
    They need to just shut-up and paint something.

    And that ” nappy incident” would probably qualify for some arts installation grant, if you put a pretentious enough proposal together.

    Keep painting brother.

  6. It is kinda funny that an artist would create this complicated verse to explain either their work or their process. I used to hold them in contempt and found it hard to believe they actually took themselves that seriously. i wondered if they know they are that pretentious and are simply trying to fool people into accepting them, or are they are desperate to find an answer and that this flowery-ness is the best they can do. I find the planet is full of suffering people,some of whom make it to the world of art. Creating art fills a need and explaining their art also fill a need, pretentious as it can occasionally be. I empathize with them rather than ridicule them. Of course, some of them are simply pretentious, flowery a__holes who should be put on a barge and pushed out to sea…but I digress.

  7. we would miss this nonsense if it stopped. I used to collect comments but lost the book one I remember was ‘art’s mutable ontologies’ whihc I thought might make a good name for a pop group.

  8. When I see this kind of thing I know something about the artist.

    1. They have failed to understand why they are making art in the first place. If you can’t say it in a simple sentence you are in the dark about your real motives. Somewhere inside of them is this urge to create but they haven’t taken the time necessary to understand what they are creating or why.

    2. They are covering up their own lack of self discovery with important sounding language so they aren’t realised as an artist yet. If you make art and know why you are making it and what you are expressing word salads are unnecessary. The art speaks for itself.

    If there is one thing I’ve realised in the modern art world, it’s the total devaluation of the necessary process of realising yourself, before you become the artist. That requires patience, introspection, skill development and insight. It’s too much for many would-be artists. They just want to make stuff, then give their stuff a word garnish.

    1. Also I did a subject at uni in an architectural program called Philosophy Of Design. It was literally 12 weeks of the fine art of this exact bullshit. Saying absolutely nothing with words like….interiority. I read a PhD paper that someone actually received a doctorate for. The thesis was this woman taking baths all around Japan, lying in the tub and musing about how the design of the environment made her feel. I mean it was kindergarten stuff. But they are breeding it and rewarding it in universities.

  9. This article brings to mind a quote attributed to several people,

    “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

    That’s the problem with describing art or your intentions with your art.

    If the viewer or listener doesn’t get it by experiencing the art itself, then there’s not much I can say to help you get it.

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