Welcome to WRKO Radio, live from the Grand Ballroom of the St. Regis Hotel. I'm your host, Orson Welles, and this is "Work of Art 1946," the show in which our panel of judges watches a group of unknown and unsuccessful artists make new paintings in front of our studio audience, while you listen, live, at home. As always, we are brought to you tonight by Dutch Boy Paint, "a Rembrandt in every can." I'll ask our announcer, Beaumont Newhall, to introduce our panel.
"Good evening, Orson! As always, we have that crazy collector from out of this century, Peggy Guggenheim, star of stage and screen, Impressionist painting collector Edward G. Robinson, and burlesque performance artist and intimate of artists everywhere Gypsy Rose Lee." "Thank you, Beaumont, on what is tonight's grand prize for the best Work of Art?" "Well, Orson, our grand prize winner will receive $1,000 in gas rationing coupons from the United States Department of Commerce, a year's supply of Dutch Boy Paint and a solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's avant-garde showroom."
"Thank you, Beaumont, now let's meet tonight's contestants. From Coyote Junction, Wyoming, he enjoys fixing up pre-war shacks, shooting beer cans off large boulders and driving convertible automobiles. Say hello to Jackson Pollock! (Applause.)
From the Lower East Side, he has stylish collection of designer hats and once ran for Mayor of New York City, let's have a round of applause for Barnett Newman!
Our next guest arrived on the docks of our metropolis without a dime in his pocket and still has yet to make any money selling his paintings. Perhaps his luck will change tonight! Let's give a warm welcome to Bill de Kooning! (Applause.)
Now, Beaumont, what is tonight's challenge for our Work of Art?"
"Orson, it may sound simple, especially to our audience listening at home, but it has been the ultimate challenge for masters such as Leonardo and Rubens. Our artists will now have 15 minutes to draw a woman!" (Applause) "Well, I'd better take something off for Mr. Pollock!!" "Now, now, Gypsy, this is a family program, and besides our audience can't see you at home. Peggy, what exactly is Mr. Newman doing?" "Well, Orson, he seems to be drawing a straight line." "I could put a few bullets through that straight line." "Now, now, Mr. Robinson, you're not playing Little Caesar tonight, let's have a look at what Mr. Pollock is doing."
"Well, Orson, he seems to have gotten into the cans of Dutch Boy Paint and is spreading the stuff around the studio." "That's grounds for disqualification, Beaumont, Mr. Pollock, if you don't zip up your fly, our guards will escort you from the studio." "But, he's so cute, Orson!" "I'm sorry, Peggy, Mr. de Kooning your piece looks familiar." "Well, Mr. Welles, it looks a little like Gypsy and a little like Peggy. I hate them both equally." "That's no way to get their vote, Bill!"
"It looks as if our time is up. Our panel has examined the finished works of art and it's time to pick a winner. Miss Guggenheim?" "I can't believe they dragged that cute Mr. Pollock out of the studio. I vote for the man with the line." "Mr. Robinson?" "Well, ya see, ya see, ya see, I don't know what I see. I vote for the man with the line." "Gypsy?" "I wish that fellow de Kooning would stop ogling me. I like that little fella with the moustache and the twinkle in his eye. I vote for the man with the line."
"Congratulations, Barnett Newman, you have accomplished what every art student across America tries to do: draw a straight line, and you are the winner of Work of Art. This is Orson Welles speaking, now where's that lady from Shanghai?"
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).