by Nathan French
File under: Fake Culture02 Apr 2013 22:52 EDT

Contemporary art is an exploration in impermanence. With high art leveled by an egalitarianism of taste that recognizes no hierarchy of meaning by which to distinguish genius from trash, the ephemeral fads in pop culture are the final beacons for a society without lasting vision. Gangnam style gives way to the Harlem shake without notice or incident, and every new advance in total digital media saturation only shortens the horizon of the historical past.

So what's an affluent yuppie to do when they want to seem cultured by hanging art on their walls? They have no clue of what they actually want, and cannot take the old route of relying on social opinion because it too has lost any guiding standard. 

The answer is surprisingly intuitive for a culture that can only fake prosperity by borrowing on credit. If you don't have any culture, just rent one. If nothing in art speaks to your soul, just borrow some art so the walls aren't bare. After all, who knows what will be popular next week? And can we really continue to pretend we can afford this expensive new stuff? This is a problem that needs solving.

The Wall Street Journal has found a solution. Apparently there is a bizarre new online business model that pretends it can match you to the art you really want by giving you something like a Cosmo "Who's Your Dream Guy?" quiz:

A great piece of art can liven up a blank wall, but finding a work you can live with can be difficult. Now some online ventures will let you try out artwork for a rental fee.


With New York City-based, we took a visual quiz to determine our style. One question asked which represented us better: a glass of red wine, a beer, or one of three different cocktails? Seven questions later, we discovered we have an "eclectic" style.

The next step was the "Discovery Game," in which we chose between two pieces of artwork at a time by clicking a heart icon. Once we "hearted" five pieces, the site created a "collection" for us based on our choices. We could choose from those pieces or any of the roughly 4,000 others on the site.


Boston-based rents limited-edition, framed prints of original art by contemporary artists. You get a basic black frame to keep and just slip the print in and out. We could either start with a two-minute quiz or browse on our own. The quiz included sections on: our style (from literal/traditional to abstract/quirky); "getting to know you" (Mac vs. PC, antique vs. modern); and one called "Art that…", where possible answers include "breaks your heart," "makes the room" and "blows their mind."

You can try one of these quizzes here. Apparently your choices between a few clique scenes and brand icons are sufficient to determine your most unique, private aesthetic inclinations. Sure, the quiz may not find you your personal Picasso, but whatever. You're only renting anyway.

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Henry Krinkle says:19 Dec 2013 1:12 EST
Art is a guy's name.
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