Progress in postmodern art, Millie Brown edition

Some time ago, I wrote (despairingly) about human waste and the twentieth-century art world:

“The world is ready for the bold new artistic move. That can come only from those not content with spotting the latest trivial variation on current themes. It can come only from those whose idea of boldness is not — waiting to see what can be done with waste products that has never been done before.”

I was wrong to despair. For as this loving spread in Britain’s Daily Mail shows, Millie Brown has spewed new life into a played-out line of development:millie-brown

“Vomit Painter artist throws up on canvas to create Jackson Pollock-style splatter.”

Ms. Brown drinks colored milk and then throat-gags herself to induce regurgitation onto the prepared surface. The resulting multi-colored spreads do not quite speak for themselves, but they do speak volumes about just how far the art world has progressed in the sixty-plus years since Pollock’s first drips.

I feared that the pomo gross-outs were no longer grossing us out, but this is really gross! And that, by postmodern standards, is true progress.

Yet I suggest, gently, that perhaps Ms. Brown has only set the door ajar — and that the rest of us in the art world should boldly shove it open and stride through.

I bring up three possibilities: millie-brown-2

1. Authenticity — What Ms. Brown disgorges is not authentic vomit, like one would get from food poisoning or a night’s heavy drinking. It is only milk with food coloring. This suggests that her engagement with the theme of vomitus is less than fully sincere. So bring on the true spew.

(b) The Sickness-Health tension. Vomiting is symbol of sickness — yet the Daily Mail piece injects concern with health: “cleanse,” “healthy vegan lifestyle,” “recover properly,” and Brown herself works in a sterile studio of clean white walls and canvas. This tension all very pomo-dialectic, yet the contradiction is merely suggested in Ms. Brown’s ouevre and not sufficiently developed.

(iii) Feminism: Ms. Brown’s vomiting is a nod to J. Pollock, noted womanizer. But it could be an edgy, coded reference to bulimia, which is a plague among women victimized by society’s unrealistic beauty standards. Brown’s work indicates feminist mileage not yet traveled.

Related topics: Ear wax’s untapped potential. Menstrual blood. That greenish-yellow snot that may or may not mean one is getting a cold. Drool.

7 thoughts on “Progress in postmodern art, Millie Brown edition

  • February 2, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Ms. Brown is merely reacting to her “art” the same way viewers do after it is exhibited.

  • February 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    C’est Magnifique! Bravo!

    No, not really. I would be interested to see her reactions if her doctor, stockbroker or automechanic adopted her techniques in lieu of rendering their traditional services to her.

  • February 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Oh no. Not this sh** again. When will this end? There is nothing left. It’s a dead end.

  • February 2, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Here’s another sublime send-up by The Onion.,11397/


    “These days, my schedule is pretty packed. Take this week, for example. Monday: Abu Ghraib flip books. Tuesday: a blackface reenactment of the Reagan assassination attempt. Wednesday: drive upstate to watch an amputee roast and eat his own golden retriever. You get the picture. I swear, if my wife didn’t spend her weekends making plaster sculptures of Catholic saints being fisted by famous serial killers, I’d never see her.

    “Bottom line: If people aren’t protesting, becoming nauseated by, or threatening lawsuits against an artist’s work, you can look around for me, but I’m not going to be there. Using light and shadow to mythologize the pastoral and create a setting where human beings and the natural world can coexist peacefully? Best of luck to you. If you need me, I’ll be watching a heroin addict use his own HIV-positive blood to paint Hiroshima victims on the side of a school bus. You know, with all the other real art buffs.”

    Yet how much of an exaggeration is this?

  • February 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    It all makes me puke.

  • February 3, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Move over Michaelangelo! Make way for Millie Brown!


  • February 6, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Re: “Related topics: Ear wax’s untapped potential. Menstrual blood. That greenish-yellow snot that may or may not mean one is getting a cold. Drool.”

    And what of the noble turd?

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