January 27, 2023

Enter the Flaneur Art-Speak Nonsense competition–can you spout arty nonsense like a pro?

We’ve all been in art galleries where the blurb on the wall makes absolutely no sense, refers not one whit to the work in the gallery, and yet is read in hushed awe by everyone who visits. The impression is always given that art speak is rarefied and intellectual, not for the likes of you and me. But actually, when you analyse most of it, it makes no sense whatsoever. At its best it makes no sense whatsoever elegantly, but still it is making no sense whatsoever.

The Flaneur is running a competition to see who can write the best Art Speak Nonsense. Look at the picture below and give it your best shot. Send your entries to editor@flaneur.me.uk . Currently there is no prize but bragging rights, but if you want to sponsor the next round with some exciting prizes then get in touch.


General Art Speak guidelines:

If you know a shorter word that means the same thing, don’t use it.

The more you can use well-known words in entirely new contexts the better.

Whenever possible use obscure words .

If you can use obscure words in entirely new contexts you are on the road to art speak success.

Always reread your work. If you understand what you have written, start again

Make bold, outrageous claims. The bolder, the outrageous-er, the better.

Don’t feel you have to explain anything that you write. In fact its almost always best not to.

Remember, an important aim of art speak is to say as little as possible in as many words as possible whilst looking as intelligent as possible


This round’s image:



To start you off…

Anticipating Munch and the new genres of the 20th century this picture explores gender disparities whilst adding a transparently vague dialectic, typical of the mid-19th century understanding of the diverse yet traditional roles of women in society. Rose leaves representing the very essence of bliss sing a fascinating hymn of marital woe (the glance of the tenth man from the right speaks volumes and would be a worthy subject for a PHD thesis). Of course the red cloaks symbolise class warfare, whilst the way the men stand, gloved yet not hatted is a cunning reference to Aeneas’ travels – echoed by the ship in the background. Beautifully finessed on canvas, here we have nothing less than a tragedy – the calm sense of welcome is belied by the raised right hand of the woman in white. Assassination is clearly about to occur. One of the saddest paintings I have ever seen, yet leavened I feel with hope. Good will, the artist assures us, eventually prevail.


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