l’bizarre pour l’bizarre - Art for Quirks Sake

Cedric Chambers
July 5, 2015
Origami Birds Oil Painting 2015

Modernism arrived when Manet painted “Olympia.” He critiqued representational art and the aristocracy's way of life. He used the very same nudes that he was critiquing to present his case.[1] Postmodernism arrived with Duchamp’s Urinal, he playfully challenged the significance of art at its core. If one were to simply put a urinal into an art gallery, does it become art?[2] Postmodernism arrived through the scope of humorless parody. Postmodernism exists between novelty and nostalgia, past and present. The artist aims to create something which simply hasn’t existed before.[3] 

When I watch TV shows like The Bates Motel, a TV show based on the famous thriller Psycho, by Alfred Hitchcock. I see a Hitchcock film without Hitchcock. It’s almost as if all authenticity from the original Psycho was removed and replaced by an eerie sense of fandom that both critiques the original, with its exclusion of nearly everything from the original, and simultaneously pays homage to the original by its inclusion of fan lore scattered throughout the series.[4] The Bates Motel is a simulacrum that includes both novelty and nostalgia.

It appears that Postmodernism exists for l’bizarre pour l’bizarre, or “Quirk for Quirk’s sake.”  Postmodernism usually includes a niche, such as being made entirely out recycled materials, or a specific type of food, or having some odd out of this world application, like performance art where one sits in a chair and stares at strangers. There are artists for every medium, some whom make aquatic sculptures out of plastic cups, and others whom make portraits out of Cheetos. Postmodernism also pays homage to the previous era of thinking. Imitators of Abstract Expressionism create an eerie type of fandom where every scribble one creates becomes a work of significance. Sometimes the nostalgia is a bit more obvious; often characters from pop-culture and famous historical figures make their appearances in Contemporary art. Banksy’s artwork often includes pop culture icons, which exist as both novelty and nostalgia. I’m not sure where my art fits in this spectrum.

Why is this relevant? What has happened to our culture today? Where are we going? We've entered the realm of endless imitations. It's no longer about creating something new it's about creating something old and adding some novelty to it. But, I am not one to claim that all art has been painted(therefore postmodernism?), as this would be the equivalent of saying that every song has been written.


[1]Édouard Manet's Olympia by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker". Smarthistory. Khan Academy. Retrieved 11 February 2013.

[2]"An Overview of the Seventeen Known Versions of Fountain". 2007. Retrieved 2014-06-09.

[3]Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra,” (New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984). (Blackboard). 9. Frederic Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” In The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Ed. Hal Foster, (Port Townsend, WA: Bay Area Press. 1983). 111-125.

[4]The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. New York: Entertainment Weekly Books, 1999. McNamara, Mary (March 18, 2013). "Review: 'Bates Motel' a twisty, moody modern prequel to Psycho'.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 19, 2012.

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