Wednesday, February 06, 2008

an ape could do that

I found this little art quiz over at Mother of Shrek and loved it so much I asked if I could repeat it here. I will make the first comment and reveal both the answers and some of my favourite feedback from the original post. Here goes:

Some of the images displayed below are masterpieces of abstract art, created by great artists. The rest were painted by an ape. Can you tell which is which?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

How do you think you did?


Blogger andrea said...



So how did you do?
I got 5/6 because I missed #4. I’d guess that #3 is a Pollock and #6 a Kandinsky. The comments over at Mother of Shrek were great as I always get a laugh out of people who feel compelled to weigh in on a subject they have no clue about. I’m the same way! But I at least know where to draw the line. I have trouble appreciating opera and nuclear physics so wouldn’t dare risk making myself look stupid by offering anything more than a grunt (how ape-like). Apparently others are braver than me. Here are some from Casdok’s comments box:

Hmmm... still don't understand how those slabs of paint can be considered art though... I kinda wish I had been 100% wrong - just to prove my point ;)

My brother and a close childhood friend of mine are both painters, and both hate, hate, hate abstract art. You can get them onto a rant about how today's art scene makes it impossible for someone who wants to say something real and make it look attractive to make money, if you have a couple weeks to listen. I sympathize with them.

I should have been an artist, I'd be famous!

Oh, I got the first one wrong! And I wouldn't hang ANY of them in my house!

I can just imagine all the art snobs looking at the ape pics and saying "Yes...yes, I see what the artist is trying to say here!" You def cant judge a book by its cover!

#1 looks like something my son painted at school when he was 4. It was chosen for an exhibition of art by people with autism and his teacher at the time did a very convincing blurb about its artistic merits!!

6/2/08 11:57 a.m.  
Blogger Casdok said...

Just goes to show dosnt it! All our kids have done master pieces like this too!
And dont get me started what ends up in the Tate!!

6/2/08 12:13 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Casdok: I love the Tate! BTW it may not be obvious by the way I put it -- but I think the comments I added were made by people who would be well advised to *never* comment on art.

6/2/08 12:18 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

A load of old Pollocks? Simian swill? Actually, I like #6. That was a fun post!
(You and other readers might like to read Burton Silver's "Why Cats Paint." )

6/2/08 12:42 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Dinah: I love #6! I'd love to see all these "I could do that" types actually do something like that. Not in a million years.

6/2/08 12:52 p.m.  
Blogger Mim said...

I surprised myself and got 100%. I use to work at a museum and would hear comments like that all the time, being a fan of abstract art, I always had a nice polite spiel ready. ( I actaully ranted about it a while ago at my blog.
Hey, it is what it is and all you can control is how you react to it. That's it.

6/2/08 1:44 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

I decided it was a trick question and that they'd all been done by an ape!

6/2/08 2:20 p.m.  
Blogger Alda said...

I'm completely clueless when it comes to the appreciation of abstract art so I didn't even try to guess. And for what it's worth, I'm married to an artist who ONLY paints abstracts. It's a wonder we get along so well when I don't understand his paintings AT ALL.

6/2/08 2:43 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

maybe the argument in this case for the anti-abstract art commentators is not that the famous artists works are bad, but perhaps that is ONE exceptionally talented ape:)

6/2/08 2:43 p.m.  
Blogger Kelly said...

I guessed 1,2,3,5 = ape. Six is a dead giveaway because it takes the opposable thumb to get small turns of a thin line like those.

6/2/08 6:21 p.m.  
Blogger leonie.wise said...

i -surprisingly- got all of them. can't say i understand that kind of art tho.

thanks for the light relief, i needed to take a break


7/2/08 4:27 a.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

I got 100% too... But I studied art history for five years so...hehheheh. There are certain sings (as grafitti) in the human paintings that can be done only by HUMÂNS... :) Love this post, Andrea! :)

7/2/08 6:47 a.m.  
Blogger Leah said...

Well, I'm got them all right, but I studied art history about 10 years ago, so that probably helped me. I actually like what the ape did in the first painting (i like the colors), but that may have been the zookeeper's doing, choosing cool colors.

that would actually be a super fun exhibit!!

7/2/08 8:19 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

OK all you "nyah-nyah I got 100% because I studied art history until the cows came home" people: *who* painted #4? I know it was my FABULOUS intellect and EXTENSIVE knowledge of modern art history that helped me identify the other two (after all, I have taken a course or two), but I have no clue whatsoever who #4 is. Who is it?

7/2/08 8:23 a.m.  
Blogger Barbara said...

I got 100% without putting names to 4 or 6 (#3 could only be a Pollock or a pretender). With no thought of opposable thumbs, although, now that I think about it, don't apes have opposable thumbs? - I chose 4 and 6 because, to my eye, the compositions and strokes were created with intention. To me, intention is one of the key elements in good artwork, whether it's tight and deliberate or loose and intuitive (or even tight and intuitive and loose and deliberate). My abstract art-related pet peeve is with student artists who create their abstract and then turn the canvas sideways or upside down to decide if the work looks better that way - GEEEEESH!!

7/2/08 9:16 a.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

me again. I did not study art history. But for what it's worth - Leah is close to the mark in suggesting the keeper may have influenced the animal. Go back, people, and look closely at each picture.Do you think the keeper also passed fresh brushes? Makes you wonder if Pollock's assistant did the same for him!
(And I still like Kandinsky!)

7/2/08 2:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have even hazarded a guess. Is it horrible to say I kind of like them all?

7/2/08 4:52 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Citizen: Horrible? Yours is one of my favourite answers!

7/2/08 5:27 p.m.  
Blogger Catalina said...

I like abstract art but not ALL of it. I guess the point is composition and colour. As figurative art, some is just awful to me...and some I love. I guess figurative art looks "more difficult" and sometimes people may have the tendency to say: "I could do that" talking about abstract art but actually no, they couldn't have the idea and express it is an important part of the art I think

8/2/08 2:40 a.m.  
Blogger Catalina said...

what this probe is that you don't need to have a very high IQ to make art....:) and this we knew already isn't it? Art is a different kind of intelligence to me and you don't need always to know the technique

I would have guess that only 4 was made by an ape...

8/2/08 2:43 a.m.  
Blogger Catalina said...


8/2/08 2:45 a.m.  
Blogger Leah said...

sorry, didn't mean to sound nyah-nyah! two were familiar and #4, just seemed human to me. without having an art background, i think you can tell which are done with intention and purpose and which are more random.

8/2/08 10:32 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

But Caty -- you know what you're talking about! :)

Leah: I was being tongue-in-cheek, actually. You haven't read my blog much so it's easy to not recognize it.

8/2/08 10:44 a.m.  
Blogger Undaunted said...

Andrea said: "Dinah: I love #6! I'd love to see all these "I could do that" types actually do something like that. Not in a million years."

I totally agree - I fancied doing an abstract piece myself and it was the hardest thing I've ever tried to paint, and it was a disaster! Mind you, some people might think these paintings are all disasters as well! :)

I wasn't sure about 1 and 5. I love 3.

8/2/08 5:02 p.m.  
Blogger Unknown said...

I thought the ape did 2,5 and 6. I didn't do art history but I know what I like!! #3 is the only one that excites, rotten bananas the rest of them.

9/2/08 10:00 p.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Nyah-nyah? Hhehehe! ANDREA!!! Those 5 years at university HAVE to be used..Hhehehe.... OK OK... I don't know who did number 4. :) It could be a kiddo... Or a cat! Did you know that cats can paint? And they are a wee better than the monkeys..... :))) But NOT all cats. Hhehehe! Anc certainly not Merlin or Mademoiselle Princesse...

10/2/08 12:58 p.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

OH! And unlike Mr Detlef, I like only number 6... :)

10/2/08 1:00 p.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

Then again, ponder the techniques of Jackson Pollock. Was a dead drunk JP more or less creative than an ape? Of course, the ape can't sell his products at overinflated prices due to the name connected with it.
A really interesting post.

10/2/08 3:39 p.m.  
Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

I find this apesolutely intriquing.

I actually preferred #1,4&5 more than the others and actually, 4 is my favorite. Hmm. It speaks volumes about the perception of value and marketing.

I love to wax boldly about things that I know nothing this...

So, you want to be a famous artist? OK. You must be eccentric, have a massive, unbridled ego that you unleash before you go completely mad and most importantly, die young, preferably by your own hand!

How did I do?

12/2/08 7:45 a.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I got 4 out of 6 right. I recognized 3 and 6. I'll have to go check out the comments...

12/2/08 10:10 a.m.  
Blogger bonnie-ann black said...

i went to this site from Andrew Sullivan's site of all places! and i got 100% -- it seemed to me (as an artist) that straight up and down lines, no matter how much variation in color or pressure, showed a limited reality. while i've never been a big fan of abstract art, this little test did give me an appreciation of what goes into it.

13/2/08 8:24 a.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home