Modern Art Museum Displayed Garage Sale That was an Actual Garage Sale


It’s art! A better question is who is that Art fellow anyway. Forget Banksy. Even without him, the modern art establishment keeps finding new depths of ridiculousness. And how better to capture that ridiculous than a garage sale.

Unlike the dismembered horses, sugar packet piles and random smears of paint, you expect to see at a modern art museum, this was an actual garage sale at which you could buy things.

What distinguishes an art exhibit that is a garage sale from an actual garage sale? Because it’s also a metaphor. Obviously.

For her first solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York–based artist Martha Rosler presents her work Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, a large-scale version of the classic American garage sale, in which Museum visitors can browse and buy second-hand goods organized, displayed, and sold by the artist. The installation fills MoMA’s Marron Atrium with strange and everyday objects donated by the artist, MoMA staff, and the general public, creating a lively space for exchange between Rosler and her customers as they haggle over prices. If customers agree, they may be photographed with their purchases. The project also includes a newspaper and an active website.

Martha Rosler is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of her generation, one whose artistic practice, teaching, and writing continue to influence succeeding generations. Rosler makes “art about the commonplace, art that illuminates social life,” examining the everyday by means of photography, performance, video, and installation.

And nothing illuminates social life better than inviting bored wealthy idiots over to a parody of a garage sale as a metaphor for America.

Rosler’s Garage Sale implicates visitors in face-to-face transactions within a secondary, informal cash economy—exactly like garage sales held outside the museum setting.

To the left, buying something at a garage sale, “implicates” you. What’s next? How about a Museum of Modern Art installation that is also a gift shop as a meta-metaphor for gift shops.

In New York, people who wish to rid themselves of castoffs simply put them on the street for other, perhaps less fortunate, people to take home and use. There was no thought of that in any garage sale, of course; these sales were apparently about maximizing one’s, or one’s family’s, cash on hand, often put together and run by the woman of the house, and perhaps her children. At the time, the US was suffering the famous oil shock, and the economy was in bad shape. No wonder people were trying to make ends meet by selling their goods! But the motive of charity and sharing seemed absent.

This is a year old, but this is why I thought this garbage was worth posting. This is how detached the art world is from real life that it has to stage a mockery of real life.

 Nor did people seem to think it was dirty or beneath them to be seen sitting on their lawn chairs all day, waiting for customers to drop by and haggle

Unlike “artists” who don’t think it’s beneath them to mock the people who end up paying for their ridiculous antics.

  • Veracious_one

    What’s better than a garage sale?….a Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, bwahahahaha…..

  • Biff Henderson

    A loosely defined esthetic is employed to push an agenda. The manipulation is masterful in that your audience can be suckered in by their emotional attachment to an object that is esthetically pleasing. Having been introduced to the “arts” via film school the measure of success if based on how well you can combine all the tools in the trade to push your agenda. In the arts you are celebrated if you can cleverly layer your deceptions to an audience that is open to suspending their disbelief. Every artist is by default a con artist and how they frame their intent, i.e. the back story is just one more layer of “art.”

  • pupsncats

    Art reflects the culture. Our culture is sick.

  • retired

    There have always been these over educated nit wits.Over 100 years ago Ambrose Bierce mocked them & said “Learning is the kind of ignorance that distinguishes the educated” .In the 1930’s H.L.Mencken stated that “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public”. Eric Hoffer stated that “Nothing so offends the doctrinaire intellectual as our ability to achieve the momentous in a matter- of- fact way, unblessed by words”. George Orwell said “Some ideas are so bad that only an intellectual could believe in them”. Retired (Me!) said “An intellectual can explain in 3 pages what a very smart cab driver could tell you in 3 sentences”.
    P.S.Getting back to the Artsy-Fartsy element of this article just remember the fools who paid big money to Jackson Pollack for throwing balloons full of paint against a canvas.This was considered art 60 years ago! And to conclude,we must not forget Andy Warhol’s soup cans on display at the MoMA back in 1962.Truly,the world is populated by many highly educated ignoramus’s.
    P.S.S If we really wanted to gain wisdom we would read the quotes of these great men of letters……. Also Mark Twain & DANIEL GREENFIELD!

  • poetcomic1

    But what if the Fonz lunch box turns out to be a fake? Can I sue the Museum?

  • alericKong

    Nothing out of something. Leaving the canvas for the realm of the banal.

    If they want a realistic portrayal of modern life, it would be flash mobbed by Chicago black youths.

  • blahblahblah

    This is hysterical. Middle class people are mocked for being unaware that “haggling” over used goods is shameful. Is the “artist” unaware that our government czars, pashas and commisars haggle endlessly over how to carve up the income of the middle class?

  • A Z

    Are there actual garage sales, yard sales or whatever in the tonier parts of deep blue Manhattan?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      There are no garages.

      • A Z

        I kind of know that. I know some people in Manhattan and they do not own a car. If they need one for vacation they rent one. which is why I broadened the sales to yard sale or whatever.

        Perhaps in some common area (a lobby, park?) people can put up table put their used stuff they do not need and sell it alongside their neighbors.

        But yard sales or so fly over country-ish.


        Why not have a yard sale in a park. I have seen art fairs/sales in public parks in other countries. It would fit with the green agenda of reuse, reduce and recycle.