(Untitled), 2009 film

directed by Jonathan Parker

One of the boons from my recent visit to the Glendale Library was borrowing a DVD of (Untitled), a 2009 film about the New York City art world directed by Jonathan Parker and starring Adam Goldberg.

I used to work part-time at an art gallery in Chicago’s trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, so I have greater than average experience with art patrons, art buyers, and artists. (I could tell you some stories! My favorites involve fights that broke out while mounting group shows – artists arguing because they didn’t want their artwork next to another artist’s work, either because it was too bad or too good. But I digress…)

(Untitled) had me laughing out loud – a lot – and I don’t think you need art gallery experience to appreciate the humor in this send-up of the avant garde. Adam Goldberg – whose performances I always enjoy for his weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders charm – plays an “atonal/experimental” composer (think John Cage meets Nicholas Cage) whose bucket-kicking, piano-pounding act attracts the attention of an art gallery owner (well played by Marley Shelton) who hires Goldberg to perform at her gallery during art openings. Romance blossoms when Goldberg asks Shelton if he can borrow her crackly plastic skirt to “sample” (not to wear, just to record for his act).

Along the way, the movie manages to skewer rich (but clueless) art collectors, pretentious  art critics, phony art aficionados, and arrogant (even deranged) artists. In short, a good time was had by all – at least by this viewer. (Untitled) is more than a hatchet job of the art scene, it’s a hatched job with heart.

And (Untitled) does have some interesting things to say about art and artists.

When a collector asks the gallery owner the difference between art and entertainment. She replies (in effect): “Entertainment asks questions and answers them. Art just asks questions.” Here, here.