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20 Most Shockingly Bad Paintings Ever Created

Most Shocking
20 Most Shockingly Bad Paintings Ever Created

Some say imperfection is what makes good art. But sometimes art can be so imperfect that it’s just… Totally perfect. Hence MOBA, a Massachusetts-based museum which is properly known as the Museum of Bad Art. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated to curating all mediums of bad artworks. Their 600-piece collection depicts tales of unrequited tree love, paranormal flower arrangements, apocalypses marked by roaming Canada geese and much, much more. All of them tragedies in their own way. If you’re ever in the Boston, MA area, it’d be well worth your time to drop by one of their three galleries.

If art speaks to the human condition then perhaps awful art speaks to awful parts of the human condition. It takes a discerning eye to appreciate this, all the same. Here are 20 remarkably bad paintings, a series of highlights from the MOBA archives that proves that there really is such a thing as bad art.

20. Peter the Kitty

Terrible Art Bad Kitty

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Unknown
Acquired from: Thrift store

Kitty does not look himself. So confused, so brooding and so emotionless at the same time, with a five o’clock shadow and an angry-looking right eye fit for a human face. What could be on Kitty’s mind? His ambiguous torso suggests he longs for something more than paws and claws. Just what, though? Neither the critic nor, apparently, the artist could ever decide for certain.

19. Queen of the Chocolate Chip

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Christian
Acquired from: Yard sale

Victorian royals experienced immense pressure to uphold the sovereign’s splendorous orthodoxy, and lower class indulgences were deplored. The chocolate chip cookie enjoyed by this portrait’s subject is a powerful statement.

The queen is prepared to abdicate her royal title for her right to delicious baked goods. She has cast aside her crown to reveal what looks to be a quaint beret, or perhaps a rib eye steak. She is only human after all.

18. Two Trees in Love 

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Julie Seelig
Acquired from: Donation by artist’s mother

Saplings will sprout near each other, grow old and die in each other’s presence — is that not love? Well, as long as we can pretend trees don’t compete for access to nutrients and aren’t worst enemies with their closest neighbours then yes, yes it is.

How nice to see a mother trying to build her daughter’s profile. Thanks to the MOBA, this hangs in an art gallery and not above a kindergarten’s coat rack.

17. Charlie and Sheba

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Anonymous
Acquired from: Thrift store

Another student of ambiguous animal limbs, this artist makes us question Sheba’s very dogness. Do we not sense an air of meerkat, or baby owl about her? With a gaze that smacks of feigned ignorance, we know little Sheba is all shenanigans in this portrait. Charlie’s imposed silence will not help us discern exactly how so, though his bondage by band-aid assures us the mystery is all in good fun.

16. Suicide

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Unknown
Acquired from: Trash

Dark clouds on the horizon lead white rabbit to leap to his death. The artist chose to show only white rabbit’s underside, because the timid creature is only now laid bare and exposed unto the world. The underside conceals the long ears that averted danger for so long; the long ears that the rabbit needs no longer. But most tragic of all, the darkness looming is the darkness the rabbit has chosen—hark! it spreads to the ground. Tragedy spares nothing and no one. That might be a cow.

15. Tables Have Turned

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Unknown
Acquired from: Trash

Dad manically leaps from his chair, mom can hardly watch. What indefinable turbulence has swept through this living room? The poor child is reduced to a spectator as guardians “turn tables” as it were. Is this not our own family we see? Indeed, the artist’s greatest stroke was literalizing this common expression to render the tumultuous family portrait.

14. The Horror, The Glory

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Tom McKinley
Acquired from: Donation by the artist

Man is reduced to figurine in this visceral account of battle. The artist, embodying the very violence itself, casts humanity’s inumerable features aside and blends soldiers into shapeless currents that stretch infinitely into the horizon. Man’s capacity for savagery is truly endless. Thanks to the MOBA, so too is the artist’s glory.

13. On the Shore at Sunset

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Anonymous
Acquired from: Thrift store

A crab and a cat frolic in the sand, while what appears to be a giant flounder ventures near the shores. The artist’s playful etchings suggest the sea dweller means no harm. But will harm come to him? As the shore nears and the tides swell, does he risk beaching? Will death come by night fall? The bafflingly bright sunset suggests there is hope still. Let’s be real, in an alternate universe this sits in the MOMA.

12. Drilling for Eggs

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: William F. Murphy
Acquired from: Thrift store

This cunning surrealist wonders if the egg, symbol of lifebirth, is man’s true economic obsession. Like any cunning surrealist he is essentially asking “What if?”, as fires of greed flick higher and higher into his vision. “What if” economies really deal in ova, he says, yolk, shell and all? Yes, one sees what he is saying, and one could certainly agree.

11. He was a Friend of Mine

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Jack Owen
Acquired from: Thrift store

This cat is very high. You might say he’s on a vision quest. This vision quest has culminated in the apparition of dog. You might say cat’s memory of dog is a painful one, marked by chases through the backyard and confrontations by the food bowl. When dog died, cat learned to smother these memories. But then something went missing that cat just couldn’t put his paw on. After years of navigating this void, a clear, poignant realization now emerges, “He was a friend of mine.” Yes he was Mr. Fuggles, yes he was.

10. Trees, Wheelbarrow and Birds

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Anonymous
Acquired from: Thrift store

The artist has depicted what one might call a task unfinished. No gardener attends this full barrow and the lawn remains sparse. But could it be that any perceived inactivity is only our own? The blue birds are in flight, the grass is in sway and the seeds have already begun growing. This homage to van Gogh apprehends the ceaseless motions of the natural world.

9. Mama and Babe

moba-17

Artist: Sarah Irani
Acquired from: Donation by the artist

A bold comment on the pains of mother- and daughter-hood. Mama and babe pose unaware that their relationship can, perhaps must, traumatize the other. Mama’s tiresome care for Babe will drain her vitality, represented by the blue swollen face. Babe’s tireless rejection of this care will only fuel her angst, portrayed in warm purple hues. A ghastly disfigurement betrays any surface joviality in this dead space between mother and daughter. Indeed, to the artist there is no resemblance.

8. Dog Bites Man

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Vlademar Cher
Acquired from: Donation by the artist

Yes, dog occasionally sins against man. Why is this so significant? Note the unmistakable ant-form dog embodies here—perhaps the artist believes man first sinned against dog? Yes, contrary to what may appear the artist is emphasizing man’s bite. It was man who first arrested dog in conceptual prisons like “member of the family”, “house pet” and “cute puppy”. Within these paradigms dog was manipulated; like an insect, man did with dog as he pleased. His totalizing dominance came to know only the cute doggy—and perhaps the greatest indignity, “man’s best friend”—and never the absolute creature behind it. Here the artist attempts to capture dog’s lost sovereignty. Animal takes a stand with its savage bite, and what appears to be bloody urine.

7. See Battle

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Viv Joynt
Acquired from: Donation by the artist

We see the battle, but with such little detail, do we really? This understated disaster evokes a universal indifference to immense suffering. The artist allows smoke and flame to decimate the right vessel while lowering his binoculars. Why? Man holds the power of sight and yet will scarcely see. Notice what appears to be an unassuming beetle in the water below the wreckage. An astute choice by the artist. The insect will seize the remainder of our attention and expose the troubling lengths of our ennui.

6. No Visible Means of Support

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Elizabeth Angelozzi
Acquired from: Thrift store

Why does the artist banish the vase? Because the vase obstructs both our view of the flower stem and our appreciation of the pink carnation in its totality. The vase would render any flower so ordinary with its mundane, human function. But the flowers could not be more vibrant. Is man unable to cope with the boundless individuality that nature bequeaths them? Our incessant need to order them suggests so much. Now we are left to wonder: does the vase support the flowers, or ourselves?

5. In the Cat’s Mouth

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Pangorda
Acquired from: Thrift store

Art will tirelessly attempt to capture the delicate relationship between human and animal, but few works will venture into the belly of the beast. This study of hominidae and long-nosed feline transforms the very stage where the drama unfolds. Though it is unclear what exactly the artist discerned, creative tension has stripped the planet bear save for two baobab trees—ostensibly from Africa, where it is said man will someday return to his origins with the lion. Bravo.

4. Reef Garden

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Hassmer
Acquired from: Thrift store

Some truly startling imagery forms this nautical fantasy. A collage of coral and algae blossoms encircle the painted performer, who poses on an arbitrarily winding red pattern. To the left we see a merdancer trying for the ocean surface. “Get me out of here,” he seems to say. Unfortunately the artist has tethered him to the shrubbery, because nobody leaves the reef garden.

3. Gina’s Demons

1021427_886_

Artist: Gina
Acquired from: Donation

What demons snarl at Gina? Why do they make her avert from her reflection in the pond so? Why do they lead Gina into the rural twilight alone in full makeup? Why can’t they distinguish between her body and her blouse? This cryptic portrayal of vanity feeds, but never satiates, our sense of mystery.

2. Post Apocalypse

via museumofbadart.org

via museumofbadart.org

Artist: Unknown
Acquired from: Trash

The artist foretells: The sky will be cast in blue as flocks of geese journey through it in formation. Forests will be bear. Landscapes, stripped of flora and foliage, will be stark, smokey grey. Unknown gives us plenty of space to contemplate the Great Reversal for ourselves, though one thing is certain: it will be as calamitous as an autumn day.

1. Dog

art2-thumb-large

Artist: Unknown
Acquired from: Donation

The artist has concealed where “man’s best friend” ends and frozen geology begins, and dog’s expression could not be more troubling. Once again dog is truly lost in his objectification by man. This objectification is tectonic, says the artist. It is lithospheric, wont to fold and protrude into the space we have claimed in time. Yes, perhaps our dominion over life is a slippery slope.

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