Best of the Worst

I recall looking into ‘quirky museums’ on a whim years ago, and one I have been dying to go to is the Museum of Bad Art. Housed in the Dorchester Brewing Co. in Boston, Massachusetts, this satirical gallery inspires visitors to laugh and celebrate the worst the art world has to offer. I honestly love this idea, and I think we can engage critically with terrible artworks just as much as great ones. So, I thought I’d share some of the collections and pieces that made me laugh, and hopefully show the less serious side of the art world.

First, I’d like to share a palette cleanser of silly animal depictions. It’s not uncommon for pets to have a less than pleasant look about them even in pieces that are otherwise great, but some works from the “MOBA Zoo” collection really take it further. I found myself at a loss for words at “Un Poisson Mort”, a piece so delightfully nonsensical that I can’t help laughing. The funniest part for me was the short description that tells me the curator was similarly unable to describe this piece while remaining sincere. In fact all of the works on the MOBA website have such earnest descriptions that come across even funnier in how serious they are.

In fact, there are entire collections at this museum that are comical right down to the collection name. Collections such as “Oozing My Religion” and “Look Ma, No Hands!” have such niche attributes about them, making it an incredible achievement that the curators managed to find them. One particular collection I find uniquely funny as an Art History student in “In the Nood”, which of course is full of terrible nude works. I find that even in the art canon we tend to really critique the weirdness of nudes by great painters and sculptors, so to me it is even more enjoyable to really see them get ridiculous. Impossible poses, hilarious subject matter, and a complete inability to figure out women’s bodies leave this collection in a mess of shock and laughter.

Overall, joking about general “weirdness” is now an essential part of the artmaking and analyzing process. Despite the mocking atmosphere of the MOBA, there is dedication to formal analysis and attention drawn to paintings that would otherwise be forgotten. I think it’s great to have this sardonic and humorous side of art, and I’d love to see these pieces in person someday.

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