Work of Art ends its excellent but too-short first season with Abdi’s inevitable win

My new favorite Bravo competition series, Work of Art, ended its first season last night as Abdi Farah won the $100,000 prize and a show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art thanks to his exhibition, which included an image of his own naked body and prominent testicles. David La Chapelle guest judged the episode, which featured executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker’s second appearance, which mostly consisted of her putting her hands on her face and exclaiming how amazed she was.

Abdi’s win seemed inevitable to me since early on, as he grew and Miles Mendenhall peaked, but at least Miles and his decent if overly conceptual art and fantastic reality TV personality stuck around. Making their decision, the judges were a little clearer this time, as they were last week, and it seemed that third-place Miles’ exhibition was a bit too abstract and didn’t make sense until it was explained, while Peregrine Honig had great pieces that as an exhibition weren’t focused or edited enough. (At least Peregrine’s work didn’t seem like arts and crafts this time, with shit glued to more shit.) Abdi’s work, including two larger-than-life sculptures of human forms on the floor, made the judges think and was also technically proficient, and the win seemed easily his.

Besides the small problems I outlined earlier, my one major complaint about this season is that it was too short. The two double-eliminations basically robbed us of two additional episodes. There were also 10 episodes on the first season of Project Runway but 12 on Top Chef‘s first season, and the latter was up to 14 episodes last season, although of course with more contestants. Anyway, I basically want more because I am greedy and selfish and the show is that good.

Speaking of those other shows, watching Work of Art‘s finale, I felt like I did watching the finale of the first season of Project Runway. Of course, it followed the same format, including the home visit by mentor and “great admirer of Prince” Simon de Pury, but felt new again, not old. I particularly loved watching them install their pieces in the gallery with the help of gallery workers and/or crew members. It’s clear that they spent considerable time doing that for the regular episodes, too, and too bad we didn’t get to see it. But as long as there’s more Work of Art ahead, I won’t complain.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.