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Great Art in Ugly Rooms

May 24, 2013

Well…every so often you see something and you think “That’s Great!” The more out of the blue it is, often the more you love it. “Cool!” Unexpected aesthetic arrest if you will. “Awesome!”

A couple of nights ago I happened on a site that gave me such pleasure I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Succinctly and accurately titled Great Art in Ugly Rooms, the site is is a tumbler image role of just that. Meticulously photoshoped pictures of banal rooms with artworks from the canon of art history. A Matisse hung over urinals in a public bathroom. Elsworth Kelly Prints on wood paneling of a cottage. Two Brâncuși displayed gingerly in a small bathroom. And Jeff Koons’ porcelain MJ and Bubbles on a booth table of a single wide trailer. “You had me at Hello.”


Robert Motherwell
from Great Art in Ugly Rooms

Technically they’re pitch perfect. Drop shadows, perspective, tone matching and exposure make the placement completely believable. Suspension of disbelief is thoroughly accomplished. They are completely dead pan and with their desert-like dry wit they work and resonate because ultimately they are sincere. There is no snark. There is no academic irony. There’s as much affection for these ugly rooms as there is for the art. The visual equivalent of a Stephen Wright stand up routine.


Marcel Duchamp
from Great Art in Ugly Rooms

Lastly, I found myself thinking that Great Art makes Ugly Rooms livable. Great Art does transform. So while I might not prefer rattan chairs with a floral print couch, if the sofa-sized art over said couch is a Robert Motherwell, well then, I would consider living there.


Jeff Koons
from Great Art in Ugly Rooms

Shooting from the hip, here are several other reasons that this visual flight of fancy transcends the disposable trappings of a one liner.

  • The blog, as it stands right now, is anonymous. The prodigious talent behind this effort is offering these surreal meditations of high culture in base environments generously. The difference is not to be trifled with. It says look at the work rather than look at me. The generosity doesn’t stop there because each of the artist’s names is hotlinked to a google image search.
  • The work also contains commentary of the haves and the have nots of our economic climate. The art is the asset class of the one percent while the homes are the residences of the 99 percent.
  • Humor can be a powerful tool of parody but only when the knife is sharpened on both sides. The title of the project may be Great Art in Ugly Rooms but to the uninitiated the adjectives could just as easily be inverted. If I love an Agnes Martin, does that make me immediately an aesthetic enemy of a painted brick wall in a basement family room?
  • The artist is taking requests of art and rooms from the audience thereby creating a collaborative environment. Crowdsourcing the ideas creates an ownership in the artist’s audience while making the project nearly infinite.
  • The artist tackles the medium of digital deception in a fresh way. We know it’s fake but it’s fakeness is merely the conduit for a narrative. I never thought for an instant that Robert Downey Jr actually flew in Iron Man but allowing myself to buy into it delivered a rather entertaining two hours at the multiplex.

What can I say, I’m a fan. The artist is posting more daily.

Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, May 24th


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  1. That Basquiat in a Taco Bell! And the Irving Penn stairway photo collage! They are all perfectly cringe worthy … Quelle horreur!

    • You right about that. But here’s the funny thing, as out there as these are, I saw digital prints of Howard Hodgkin paintings in a McDonalds a year or so ago. so truth is often stranger than fiction. I’ll try to scare up pictures of that that I took.

  2. Amorypaz permalink

    The artist does take requests. I’m sure if you posted them here he would oblige.

    • Thanks, by accident, that fact got left out of the final edit of the piece last night. Cut and paste ommission. Thanks for calling my attention to it.

  3. permalink

    Scary good!!

    Sent from my iPad

  4. BossMoss permalink

    Somehow, the Basquiat is sooo perfect!

  5. Ruth Greene permalink

    Mario! Thank you!  That is amazing!  Great blog, great proof of transformative power, great piece!  Thank you! Ruth Greene


  6. THis is so amazing it’s gone viral. Hyperallergic’s Editor In Chief wrote about it without giving Mario credit! Hmmph.

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