How to Look Like An Art Woman




The holiday season is the height of the art season: Benefit galas at your local museum, gallery openings where you may wonder why that candy wrapper on the floor is called an "installation," eggnog at your best friend's house where she's selling all her paintings of strange black sunsets over the local woods at a special Christmas discount.


But how do you, the non-Art Woman, enter this world of visually confident fashionistas? Because the true Art Woman is always making a visual statement of her artistic creed, a manifesto about how we all should look. And you don't want the other Art Women radiating "How'd she get in?" when you make your entrance.

Don't worry: With the right jewelry, you, too, can pass for an Art Woman!




*Befriend the manager, and score that Demoiselles d'Avignon compact even if you don't know which of Picasso's periods it comes from. But whatever you do, don't take it out when you're wearing Paloma perfume. No, no!

*Don't mix eras! Never combine such clashing art movements as Ancient Etruscan and Analytical Cubism.

*Make sure your jewelry is in the style of easily identifiable artists -- Matisse, for example. But if you don't have time, just wear some of your old jewelry and make up a name. Haughtily proclaim "This watch references Zeimo Borell." Then pause as though the Art Women around you should recognize that name. You'll score lots of points!





     *Turquoise: "My owner collects Native American lithographs."

     *Enormous silver pendant: "My owner can't stand it when a friend has an art opening."

     *Black and white tessellation: "My owner thinks she's an Escher woodcut."




It isn't Art Woman jewelry if it doesn't make some serious noise. Hollow plastics and brass are to be valued for their decibel-producing qualities. And remember: If the arm you wave around is clanging with bracelets, no one will notice that you're blathering nonsense about "Jasper Jones."




Want to look as though you just flew in from an international art capital? Choose from these:


*L. A.: Tiny replicas of Frank Gehry buildings

*Sydney: Found objects such as discarded sunblock caps

*San Francisco: Dangling spanking paddles





Put diamond studs in your pierced ears if you want to look like you're on the Museum Board. Hang four from your sinuses to pass for an art student. And if you don't have time to get pierced, just hint at unseen ones, and you can pretend to be a hot and controversial painter of male nudes. Enjoy the jealousy of Art Women!




Strike effective poses when being photographed: in profile with a bronze and ruby headband next to a white wall; lying on a chaise wearing nothing but your fifteen favorite rings  -- excluding the nipple ones;  or from behind, showing off your Edie Sedgwick coif and sixties hula-hoop earrings. You are a Stieglitz portrait of Georgia O'Keefe! You are an Odalisque! A Warhol! A Rohrshach!

And when you upload photos of yourself onto Facebook, remember: the true Art Woman always makes a jewelry statement, even in her profile pic.  Wear a bejewelled nose flute, perhaps.


Polly Frost is a playwright whose humor has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker.She can be found on the web at 


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