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Here are my mutterings and musings mainly on art.

Art "isms": No 1. EXCREMENTALISM

By themaclean, Mar 24 2016 01:50PM

Old “isms”, such as Impressionism, Abstract Impressionism and Expressionism don’t die, or fade away, they’re perpetuated by history and investment.

Are there any new ones? Perhaps.

This is the first in a series on art-isms.


With all the subtle wit and intellectual rigour of the average 5-year old, the Excrementalists poo poo people’s lack of interest in, and aversion to excrement.

It all started in 1961, when Piero Manzoni "produced" a limited-edition of 90 cans containing his own excrement that was dried naturally and canned 'with no added preservatives'. Called "Artist's Shit" these works of art were supposed to sell for their weight in gold. They've done slightly better..

In 2007 a tin was sold for €124,000. In 2008 tin No. 83 sold for £97,250. In 2015, tin No 54 sold for an unbelievable £182,500 at Christies.

The Tate Modern have one. Why? What possible curatorial or scholarly justification can there be for buying such...crap?

Since then, there has been a steady stream of artists desperately trying to shock and/or stand out, not by baring their faces, but their faeces.

In 2004, Noritoshi Hirakawa, in an installation entitled, "The Home-Coming of Navel Strings", at Frieze, London, defecated next to her chair every morning. Mmm enervating.

Then there is Chris Ofili, who uses elephant dung in his work. One of his paintings, The Holy Virgin Mary, featuring close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines, and elephant dung, caused an outcry in New York.

He was also involved in the Ofili/Tate Modern scandal when "The Upper Room", an installation of 13 paintings depicting the Apostles as monkeys (and using dung), was bought by the Tate Gallery in 2005. Ofili was on the board of the Tate Trustees at at the time, which contravened charity laws. In 2006 the Charity Commission censured the Tate for this purchase.

In 2009 - 2010, leading Cinese artist, Zhu Cheng and nine of his art students created a replica of Venus de Milo in excrement. and mercifully encased it in a transparent box.

A Swiss art collector bought it for 300,000 Yuan ($45,113).

In 2013, Paul , McCarthy (no, not McCartney), exhibited a 30 foot high, inflatable dog turd in Hong Kong, to the bemusement, not amusement, of the local populace.

In 2014, Martin Creede's exhibition at The Hayward Gallery featured the nowdays obligatory, aimless art video which showed a woman defecating on a white floor.

No doubt we haven't seen the end of excrementalism as occasionally, artists with both nothing to say and little talent, feverishly try to shock, or revulse in order to get attention.

Just like five year olds often do.

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