(Above) Life-size “leather” jacket, carved from wood, stained and painted.

(Above) Life-size “T-Shirt,” carved from wood, stained and painted.

(Above) Life-size “quilt,” carved from wood, stained and painted.

(Above) Detail of quilt.

(Above and below) Carved from wood and painted, these “hats” are a popular Fraser Smith series of carvings.

FRASER SMITH IS a wood sculptor who makes tromp l’oeil sculptures from carved wood of soft, malleable things—things like coats and shirts and quilts. His is an art of fooling our eye. “That is NOT made of wood!” you can hear a viewer say.

Highly skilled and proficient in his craft—Fraser’s art can please any level of artistic savvy, especially those who do not “think” too deeply about art. What I mean by this is that I contend that you could put five Mark Rothko masterpieces in a room with five Fraser Smith sculptures, open it to the general public and guess who would win the popularity contest? Yep—Fraser Smith.

I say this not as a slam to Fraser’s work, as I like to say “wow” as well when I see things. I enjoy art that makes me wonder. It is just that the general public has always been drawn to art when it shows what they believe to be artistic difficulty. Isn’t that what the general public thinks art should be? Art should make one say “wow,” and that is why Fraser Smith probably sells every piece he makes. His is definitely a populist art.

So, is there a difference, dear readers, between Fraser Smith’s work and that of Oleg Dou or Ron Mueck, two artists I have recently written about on this blog who deal in a world of hyped-up super realism? You tell me.

Does the
ability to make something fool our eye and question with our perceptions of reality— is that enough to constitute high art? After all, untold numbers of sign painters of yesterday painted super real paintings on billboards all the time. Why weren’t they recognized as artists?

As for Fraser Smith and his work, I say “Go Fraser!” and keep making people say “WOW!” See more of his marvelous work here.