If Kim Kardashian Takes Her Clothes Off—Is It Art?

W magazine calls its nude photo spread of Kardashian an artistic "meditation"

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"Oh my God, I'm more naked here than I was in my Playboy," cried Kim Kardashian in a weeping fit of rage. On the latest episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York on E!, viewers see Kardashian reacting to the nude pictures she took for W magazine last year. The reality TV star appears shocked that her "nipple" was shown in a shoot she describes as "full-on porn."

"The whole concept was sold to me that nothing would be seen. I feel so taken advantage of," she said, tears dripping down her face. "I've definitely learned my lesson. I'm never taking my clothes off again, even if it's for Vogue."

Even for Vogue? Inside the W issue, Kardashian appeared nude with a thin layer of silver paint, leaving little to the imagination. Yesterday, however, W magazine defended the photo spread explaining the "artistic" merit of its package by conceptual artist Barbara Kruger. It seems like a bit of a stretch:

In keeping in line with the theme of W Magazine’s November Art Issue, Kim Kardashian’s cover was conceived as an artistic collaboration with well-known artist Barbara Kruger, and was a meditation on the influence that reality TV has on contemporary culture.

The inside portfolio documented the career and power of Kim Kardashian as a work of art, using the language of artists like Jeff Koons (see Rabbit) and Gilbert & George (see The Singing Sculpture).

Unfortunately for W, the blogosphere doesn't quite share its "creative vision":

  • What Is 'W' Trying to Say? wonders Halle Kiefer at The Fab Life: "Hmm, did anyone else on the planet understand that by looking at the photographs? Or did most people just have steam shoot out of their ears and their tongues roll out onto the ground like a cartoon wolf? We thought so."
  • It's Not Art, argues Kyle Munzenrieder at the Miami New Times: "Some people will try to defend this as something meta... Unfortunately, it doesn't come off as 'meta' or even Warhol-ian as much as it does self-parody. I can't help but think this cover does sum up the current state of art or at least the commercialized excesses of it."
  • 'W' Should Be Honest About Its Cover Choice, writes Christopher John Farley at The Wall Street Journal:  "U.S. magazine newsstand sales dropped 5.6 % in the first half of 2010, and total circulation was down 2.3 %... which may be one reason why we’re seeing a rash of disrobed stars on the front covers of various periodicals. In other words, the celebrities are naked because the emperor has no clothes... There will no doubt be more nude covers in the near future."
  • It Was a Cynical Bid for Newsstand Sales, adds Munzenrieder: "It seeks attention more than it seeks to say anything, and it's not even particularly clever about it. It's designed not so much to provoke any thought or stand the test of time, as it it to sell, sell big, and sell now."
  • Low-Brow Is the New High-Brow, writes a dejected Amy Odell at New York Magazine: 
Maybe this is another sign that, in this age of Jersey Shore and the not-insignificant column space devoted to it in publications like The New Yorker, what was low-brow is now high-brow. Why should an 'Art' issue be limited to greats like Salvador Dali? The antics of Kardashian and Johnny Knoxville can appeal to the same analytical minds that appreciate surrealist art. Their insouciance can appeal to thinkers who think so hard that they desperately sometimes need to escape the act of really thinking to think about how people can go through life seemingly doing so little of it.
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