Before reading, please see earlier publication, The “Mene” As Post-Art.
In an attempt to preserve the original context and history of our precious menes, and to further academic mene scholarship, especially in the realm of Art History, I’ve decided to create the first “Online Gallery” of memes and menes.
As memes, menes, and internet art is often anonymous and undated, I will use educated guesses from my own research to determine such things. However, artist name will almost always be Anonymous and I will not seek out the artists of the pieces, as this goes against the spirit of the anonymous nature of menes.
In addition to artist and date, I will include the model meme of the mene presented, as well as a short blurb about my own interpretation of the piece. The title of the piece will be the filename in my possession or the most common filename I see used. If I don’t possess a filename, and no filename is preferred by the general populace, I will make up my own title.
In order to decide which works of art to display, I’ve created the following criteria in order of importance:
1. Trueness to the original model.
I believe trueness to the original meme to be the most important part of any given mene, though I’m sure others might disagree. Innovation keeps our menes from stagnating and has always been one of the most used metrics in determining an artist’s value.
Aesthetics are obviously relevant in the context of the art of the mene. While this part comes down to tastes, I believe menes at their core evoke certain emotions, and these emotions can be enhanced by the artistic rendering. However, this art is not necessarily “good” by popular standards. Instead, menes possess a certain wabi-sabi aspect, where the feeling is enhanced by the sense of imperfection and crassness.
That wraps both the purpose of this gallery and the methodology used to choose the images.
Title: Painted Frog
Artist: Polish Bernd
Date: ca. 2014
Model: Smug Frog
A groundbreaking piece both historically and conceptually, Painted Frog represents the marriage of traditional art and memetic art. Part of a larger series wherein many menes were redrawn as watercolor paintings, Painted Frog is likely one of the first serious attempts at understanding menes and memes as part of the contemporary art narrative; Polish Bernd is Prometheus, and Painted Frog is the divine spark. Polish Bernd captures the the essence of the original Smug Frog quite well, all while retaining the rather soft features of the original Pepe.
Title: Mentos Frog
Date: ca. 2013
Model: Smug Frog
A favorite of drug users, Mentos Frog is frequently used to represent drug use, particularly prescription pills. The exact reason for this is unknown to the author, though at first glance the piece does obviously resemble drug usage and “popping pills”. The piece is philosophically interesting as it combines advertisement with art. Much like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, the viewer is just given a product and forced to consider the artistic notions of even the most banal trivialities. This mirrors the production of menes themselves, which are essentially just mass-produced products made for mass consumption.
Title: that Navy feel
Date: ca. 2013
Model: That feel
Nothing is more ingrained in the consciousness of Krautchan, and indeed, increasingly outside of Krautchan, as “That feel”. The feeling that “That feel” evokes is still both personal and ill-defined, though I believe it can be boiled down to a sort of melancholic, self-aware sadness. That Navy Feel is part of a tradition of superimposing “That feel” into various historical, cultural, religious, socioeconomic, and even fantastical settings. On the piece itself, it harkens back to the famous *chan adage of, “You were born too late to explore the earth, you were born too early to explore the galaxy”. Sea and naval life is understood to be a lonely existence, and the Feel emotion captures this with great accuracy. Aesthetically, the piece is superbly done. Heavy sees parallel the inner emotional turmoil of the Feel figure, while the red tinted skies bring to mind an oft-quoted bit of folk wisdom: “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”.
Title: sad freug
Date: ca. 2012
Model: Sad Frog
Though just a purposely corrupted image of the original Sad Frog, sad freug is one of the most profound works in the bastardization-of-memes genre. The drawing itself is beyond ugly. The frog is contorted beyond belief; his left eye dangles precariously above his impossibly sloped belly. One almost feels bad for the character, who’s pitiful existence can only be one of intense pain and self-loathing. And yet, there is what appears to be slight smile on his face. This conveys to the viewer a sense of acceptance. The frog in sad freug accepts his inferior existence and finds solace in self-awareness. One thus considers the artist: likely alone in his room, drawing intentionally hideous frogs. A loser. But he is having fun, he is content. The artist may be an “ugly” human-being, but the message in sad freug is a positive one. No matter our appearance or lot in life, happiness is a state of mind.
Title: Interested Chinese Philosopher Frog (I know for a fact this isn’t the original filename, if you know the original name, please tell me so I can change it).
Artist: Canada Bernd
Model: Smug Frog
Relative to other menes, Interested Chinese Philosopher Frog contains an immense eye for detail. A Confucian Frog stands smugly in the foreground of a large building, perhaps listening in on and silently judging the conversation between his fellow scholars. This piece is most notable not only for its attention to detail, but for its attempt at ending the Euro-Anglo-centrism that dominates mene art like this (For example, that Navy feel). Though one should note Interested Chinese Philosopher Frog has a companion piece that depicts Greek philosophers in a similar setting. In any case, it depicts the universal quality of Smug Frog. One is transported to the past and made to consider the emotions of ancient social outcasts. Were they happy in their time, secure in their perceived superior intelligence? While Ancient China was accommodating to the scholar-hermit lifestyle, one still can feel a bit of lingering social anxiety in the piece.
Title: achilles spurdo
Date: ca. 2012-2014 (Really not sure on this one)
Model: Spurdo Spärde
Spurdo Spärde is the quintessential Finnish meme, and its offshoots were essentially the first true menes. Almost all Spurdo works include some sort of text, but the minimalistic use of text in this piece is particularly clever. The piece brings to mind the oversimplification of history, particularly Greek and Roman myths that has been so prevalent in our post-Classical studies culture. Classics are being modernized, rather than examined critically in context. Latin and Greek are dying in schools. Thus, to mimic this, the story of Achilles has been shortened to a single phrase: “FUUUG!”. What’s even more interesting is Achilles’ reaction to being shot in his weak point, a mere single tear. This goes back to the misrepresentation of Greek and Roman myths, with the artist depicting the utter trivialization of their rich history.
This gallery is a work in progress, and I will update it as I examine more works in-depth. I hope to include more variety of models. If you have pieces to nominate for inclusion, corrections to make to my research, or other comments, please feel free to write them. I never don’t print a comment unless it’s a spambot.
Fine text: All of this is done with the correct amount of self-awareness. It’s for fun, so don’t be needlessly mean :^)