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June 28, 2010  | by: Laura Rosenfeld

The cast of Bravo's newest reality competition, 'Work of Art.'

Fall is no longer the only season for must see TV. Summer has become an important time for networks to experiment with new shows.

The summer season has been particularly important for new reality shows. Although they are now fall and winter staples, classic reality shows like Survivor, American Idol and America’s Next Top Model first premiered in the summer months.

This season is no different. Bravo’s new reality competition Work of Art premiered June 9, and it is one of the network’s best reality competitions since Bravo favorite Top Chef began in 2006. Produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, Work of Art is the search for America’s “next great artist.” Fourteen artists compete for a cash prize and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. Each week, contestants show off their skills in challenges that test their abilities to work with different media and genres of art. The artists are eccentric, the art is amazing and the competition is fierce.

From the first episode of the series, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite new reality shows. In the premiere, each contestant previously created a self-portrait in the medium they thought would best express who they are as artists and as people. The drama began early as we met each contestant and they all sized up the others’ work, sometimes in confidence to the camera, sometimes to the others.

Their first challenge was to create a portrait of another contestant. As they dived into the assignment, you immediately got a taste of the contestants’ strange personalities and even stranger habits. Nao is an outspoken performance artist who thinks anything she produces is beautiful and who’s not afraid to tell others their work is not. Miles is a recent college graduate whose work is better than most artists’ twice his age. He usually goes in a different direction than the other contestants, but his art is superb. Judith is the oldest contestant in the competition, but she is one of the feistiest. Her age sometimes handicaps her, though, and she is stubborn and resistant to change in the ever-changing art world.

It’s fascinating to see the creative process that goes into making something out of virtually nothing. And with the limited amount of time the artists have to create each work, the pressure is high and so is the excitement for the audience. Each episode, I find myself on the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting to see what the artists create, whose work is phenomenal and whose work just doesn’t make the cut. The show may last an hour, but it never feels that long.

Art is such an unpredictable and subjective field. It’s so open-ended, and that’s what makes Work of Art work. The show has so many directions it can go in each week, you don’t know what to expect. It will be a long time before this show gets stale, like some other reality competitions that struggle to keep the same formula fresh season after season. Work of Art is definitely the standout new reality show of the season, and one that I see standing the test of time as true masterpieces do.

Work of Art airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

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  • bluboy

    The show sounds exciting! But also totally ridiculous. Art can NOT be judged! Which of course I’m sure the producers know. They also know that zany artists competing in some bogus competition will create plenty of drama.