Flash Points

The Simpsons Family (Art) Values

"Mom and Pop Art" The Simpsons Season 10 Episode 19

"Mom and Pop Art," The Simpsons, Season 10 Episode 19

It seems The Simpsons has something to say about everything, including the value of art. In “Mom and Pop Art,” a treasure of an episode from 1999, Homer is discovered as an “outsider artist” after a home improvement mishap. As the value of Homer’s work on rises and falls on Springfield’s art market, Marge becomes increasingly disappointed that no one seems to appreciate the worth of her representational paintings. The whole family takes an outing to the Springsonian museum, and Marge explains the art historical significance of her favorite works to Homer and the kids. Homer is then besieged by nightmares of being attacked by Andy Warhol throwing giant soup cans. Lisa tells Homer about Christo, and he finally gets some inspiration for a new work. Homer’s final artwork is vastly public; he snorkels all the zoo animals and floods the streets to turn Springfield into a nouveau Venice. If it weren’t a cartoon, the destruction that would ensue after this rogue act wouldn’t be at all light or funny (images of New Orleans post-Katrina can’t help but come to mind) but as a fiction Homer shows us some of art’s worldmaking potential, the ways in which it helps us imagine fantastical possibilities.

A cameo by Jasper Johns makes this all the more delightful.

Thanks to Marc Mayer for leading me on a dig for this little gem. Watch the full episode here.

  1. Zeke says:


    Even weirder is that it was the inspiration for this:

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  4. Kara Naugle says:

    In the modern world, many people of different cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and backgrounds question the true value of art. Art gives the artists the ability to reflect on themselves for who they are. Even if the piece of art has little value to the viewer, it could mean the world to the artist. In this episode of The Simpsons, the family questions the value of art in the modern world and also the art that they create is being judged as well which causes them to feel bad about their work. Homer makes something that he is very proud of; however, others around him do not think it is that special. The value in art really comes from the artist and their ability to express themselves and to show others what their beliefs are. Art has changed throughout time and many people would agree that the paintings that were made thousands of years ago have greatly influenced the paintings that are made today. Some people could even say that the value of art has decreased over the years, but I believe that a painting’s value an never be defined or limited because the artwork reflects the artist’s soul and morals. When people judge someone’s art without fully understanding and knowing the artist, they will never truly comprehend why the artist chose those specific style, techniques, colors, shapes, etc., which means that they will misjudge and misinterpret the artists and their artwork.

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