The Museum of Bad Art

The Museum of Bad Art was established in 1994 in Massachusetts as a dedication to terrible art, and features an ever-changing display of pieces. With a collection of around 800 works, it boasts an impressive range. Each collection is categorised by a witty label, such as ‘Oozing My Religion’, ‘Look Ma, No Hands!’, and ‘In The Nood’.

MOBA’s mission statement details their desire to occupy a “niche previously ignored in the international community of art collection, preservation, and interpretation” while also celebrating the “labor of artists” whose works would otherwise not be displayed. While the definition of ‘bad’ is incredibly loose, each piece must have been “seriously attempted by someone making an artistic statement” and “must not be boring”.

A standout work for me is ‘Two Terrapin Pyramid’ (Michael Frank, 2006). The photograph features two terrapins stacked on top of each other in a dynamic, sensational act of gymnastics. Fluffy, the terrapin on top, leads the viewer’s eye horizontally across the paper with its gracefully extended back legs while it lifts its head to the sky with cool purpose. Tiny, the bottom performer, sits facing away from us, establishing an air of mystery. It embodies the complex commentary of extroversion vs introversion, and the public vs private self. Truly magnificent.

Art, as a subjective medium, is as good or as bad as the viewer perceives it to be. While the human eye is visually attuned to the technicalities of proportion, colour, and perspective, the most interesting art makes the viewer feel something. People will scoff at Jackson Pollock or Tracey Emin, adding on a contemptuous, “I could do that.” Maybe they could, but until they’ve produced a magnum opus like ‘Deer-Turtle-Coon-Adillo’ (a work identified by a veterinarian as four pieces of roadkill glued together), they have no room to talk. 


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Ally Fowler

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September 2021
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