Bravo is looking for the next next great artist: Vulture has learned that the network has officially given the green light to a second season of Work of Art, the Magical Elves–Sarah Jessica Parker produced reality series which premiered last summer (and featured New York Magazine’s own art critic Jerry Saltz as a judge). Given solid ratings and the casting notice that popped up online immediately after the show’s August finale, the renewal is not a stunner. Still, Bravo likes to take its time deciding the fates of its newer shows, and network president Frances Berwick said that was the case with Work of Art. “We wanted to bring the show back, but … it was just about going through our process,” she says, explaining that the network likes to go beyond the Nielsen ratings to figure out what viewers liked and loathed before issuing a final thumbs-up on a renewal. “We always loved the show and we thought it was a keeper. [It] did very well for us.”
While Bravo has ordered season two with the same production team onboard, the network is still finalizing most details. That includes when it will air (sometime in 2011 is about as specific as the network will get), exactly how many episodes will be produced (at least ten are likely) — and, perhaps most important for fans, whether show host China Chow, mentor Simon de Pury, and all of the judges will be back. “We literally just picked up the show,” Berwick says. “We’re trying to figure out the logistics.” Don’t read Berwick’s hesitancy to confirm names as a sign the show is headed for a massive overhaul; she’s pretty effusive, for example, when talking about how Saltz fit into the show’s first season. “We love him,” Berwick says. “He called things out and he took no prisoners. But more than anything he made me understand those paintings and those sculptures. That is not the easiest thing to do.” (We did not make her say that.)
Ratings-wise, the key figures for Work of Art were its ten-episode average (1.1 million total viewers) and its finale score (1.5 million viewers). The one million viewer mark is a sort of unwritten benchmark by which Bravo seems to judge the success of its programs, with Berwick and other Bravo execs often citing how many of the network’s shows break that barrier. What’s more, Work of Art finished stronger than it started, adding viewers as it went on. Berwick also notes the series had “a good demo mix — and not just the younger viewers so often chased by networks. “It’s a classic Bravo show profile: highly upscale, targeted to educated, affluent viewers,” she says. Plus, there’s evidence that — despite some early sniping — the art world may be starting to embrace Work of Art: Season-one winner Abdi Farah just sold his winning charcoal drawing, “Baptism,” at auction for $20,000, more than double its reserve price (despite some vocal naysayers).