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From the ‘Art Breaker$’ trailer (screenshot via YouTube)

Just when you thought art-related reality TV programming couldn’t get any worse … it has! In October, Ovation TV will debut Art Breaker$ (yes, that dollar sign is real), a series devoted to the adventures of one Miller Gaffney and Carol Lee Brosseau — BFFs since they were 18, graduates of Sotheby’s Institute, and “powerhouse dealers.” Or, as they identify themselves in the trailer, “the top art advisors in the country!” Who knew?

The show promises to follow Gaffney and Brosseau — blondes with slight southern accents who can take a sidewalk in stilettos — as they tackle “some of their most challenging assignments.” Assignments like finding an artist to make an original work inspired by Mario Lopez’s (aka AC Slater from Saved by the Bell’s) tequila brand … for Mario Lopez. Yes, that plot line is real.

Poor Lopez gets sound-bited into oblivion in the trailer, where he says, “Basically, I want art … I want it to represent culture.” Then again, everything in the trailer sounds like gallerina nails scraping an appropriated chalkboard, not least a montage of these phrases, which come swiftly one after the other: “I’ve been thinking outside the box” / “That’s coooool” / “Getting testy” / “I love it” / “I love that” / “Perfection, superb, magnifique.” Illogical clips also abound, like the gratuitous shot of the Guggenheim (art!) or the man who stands in a studio full of truly terrible, truly too large paintings and says, “All the drawings you see is Andy Warhol.”

There’s also the issue of the “MFAs” the women supposedly hold from Sotheby’s Institute; as Brian Boucher points out, the institute does not appear to have any MFA-granting programs. And of course I have no idea what Art Breaker$ means, or what, for that matter, plain old “art breakers” might mean, besides … people who break art? (Does the show feature guest advisors?)

But lest I get too catty, it’s good to remember: we all need a solid hatewatch once in a while. And let’s be honest: judging Gaffney and Brosseau for the absurdly tacky, monied art world they inhabit will let us feel better about the only slightly less absurd one that we do.

Update, 9/3, 7:25pm ET: A representative of Ovation TV wrote to tell me that the version of the trailer I watched, above, is “outdated” — they’ve changed the MFAs from Sotheby’s to “Masters,” and the proclamation about being “the top art advisors in the country” appears to have been cut. I’m also told that the title of the show is simply Art Breakers. “There’s no $ in the official title, that’s just the show logo,” the rep writes. The updated trailer is below:

Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and...

23 replies on “There’s a New Art Reality TV Show for Us to Hatewatch [UPDATED]”

  1. could someone give me more examples of art-related reality TV programming besides work of art? i cant think of any current ones and um.. its for research.

      1. haha no it was not! street art throwdown was a fairly successful series. the challenges made sense and there were some talented artists. there arent nearly enough art reality shows!

    1. Fake or Fortune is comparatively decent. Not sure that it fits into the bucket of “reality TV” though.

      1. In the puke category, there was also something “Art Stars,” but I can’t remember if it made it past the pilot.

      2. art 21 always struck me as sort of a documentary series though. i wouldnt put it in the same category as reality tv art shows that feature challenges and “winners”.

      1. i think there is a difference between documentary style “reality shows” like gallery girls/art21/art breakers, and contest shows featuring artists like work of art. gallery girls was mtv-level reality, what im guessing this new show might be like? im hoping for more competition shows… seeing what artists create with limited time is fun. less of the former and more of the latter =] (and yes, i love reality tv).

  2. That guy in the studio is clever, trying to unload those hopeless paintings on these girls as Warhol drawings.

  3. It is pretty surprising, given the amounts of money flowing through the Art World, the lack of any intellect or feeling among its major players, and the general decline and fall of practically everything, that reality television hasn’t made a bigger deal of ‘Art’ before now. I mean, take a walk through the more tourist-frequented areas of New York City and see what passes for ‘Art’ these days. That kind of trashiness isn’t built in a day.

    1. Other than Sotheby’s licensing its name and the stage set being NYC, the show isn’t meaningfully related to the art world. It’s entertainment and mirrors what people probably imagine the art world to be like. Art consultants don’t install works of art or recruit graphic designers for liquor labels. They also don’t do artist studio visits to find Warhol drawings.

        1. That depends on what you think ‘art’ is. Consult Monsieur Duchamp on that one.

          If the show is totally phony, well, isn’t that ‘art’, kind of? Especially if large sums of money are worshiped and passed around for meaningless stuff that looks like something someone once saw in a magazine.

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