The Art of Mark Fray

The recent acquisition of Mark Fray's painting "Desire" by Museum of Modern Art in New York has once again raised the controversy among critics about the validity of Fray's work. Kenner, Fray's harshest critic has been reported to say, "If it is art, it is certainly very bad art." Kenner in fact represents the prevalent opinion of Fray among the critic community. However, Fray's work with a significant cult following, refuses to die like a stubborn ghost, and continues to haunt all attempts to define art. Fray was unknown before his suicide in 2004, but just before his death, he sent an email to Steadon, the editor of the magazine Anti-Art, which was in fact his suicide note. The email simply read "Today I am going to die. But I have something you might find valuable" and gave his home address. Steadon read that email the next day and decided to visit him out of curiosity. He was certainly shocked by what he discovered: the dead body of Mark Fray lying on a huge white canvas; both his wrists had been slashed and had spilled on the white canvas beneath. Fray had converted his suicide into a work of art. The things of value were the paintings, if they may be called so, which Fray had left for Steadon. These paintings were later shown in an exhibit, which raised the unsettling controversy amidst the art community, with reviews lying on the extreme ends of spectrum. Since then, many of his supposedly "senseless" paintings have been given sense by the discovery of his journals, which contains thoughts that potentially explain what he drew. Here are four of Fray's paintings:


The drawing is thought to be a distortion of "plus sign" which is seen on First Aid kits. If looked closely, some reviewers believe that object in the white box also resembles a man jumping or falling. Is that what Fray intended? Who knows.


Critics believe that a statement in Fray's journals "Desire lingers like a dust storm on the landscape of her curve" refers to this painting, which perhaps shows the curve of a woman's back, waist and hips.

The Kiss

A minimalist painting.


Analysis has revealed that the repeated image in this drawing is actually a replica of the woman's cleavage from Francisco Goya's famous painting The Nude Maja. The painting is associated with the line from his journals "I have known depression from the space between her breasts."


P.S. All of what is written above is a work of fiction. Mark Fray doesn't exist. I made him up. All the paintings posted above were drawn by me on M.S. Paint; the repeated image in Depression was cut from Goya's The Nude Maja.


Butters said…
Yes, I thought it might have been made on Paint. In fact, when I thought this was a real story, my first response was: well then all the pictures I drew for my terrible animation is art too! :P

But this does raise a philosophical question, which is too obvious to state. I'll take the usual easy way out, and say anything intended to be art is art (yes, even a pile of doodoo :P).
Awais said…
Some examples of famous, critically acclaimed modern art that could have been made on MSPaint or a simple software like it.

Black Circle by Kasimir Malevich

Arachidic Acid by Damien Hirst

Composition with Yellow Blue and Red by Piet Mondrian

Pad no.4 by Stuart Davis

Number 1, 1950 by Jackson Pollock

Vir Heroicus Sublimis by Barnett Newman

All of the above are included in the book "1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die".
karachi khatmal said…

i swallowed that one hook line and the works.

i mean the art was terrible, but your descriptions were so vivid, especially the dust storm one. i kept thinking "how do those MOMA people see art where i can't? i guess i am just not learned enough"

sooper awais, sooper :)
gaya said…
~rolling my eyes~
Its innovative, honestly;)
Anonymous said…
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The Old Violin: Executed in the style known as trompe l'oeil ("fool the eye"),the painting fascinates not only with a representation of objects which is realistic to the point of a "virtual fetishisation of the mundane", but also with its perfectly balanced composition whose every element is in the right place.

This page offers an absorbing online tour exploring the marvellous work of art.

I would like to know your views.