So Damien Hirst is hosting a show for Jeff Koons at his narcissistic London gallery this summer. This culminates the incestuousness that comes from two appropriation sellouts promoting each other and now apparently attempting to exclude as many middle men as possible from their business of art. In other words, maximize profits and the bottom line – the 1% ‘Corporate America’ ideal that has brought this country to record inequality and near economic ruin. So appropriate from these CEOs of Art who’s talent is really only for business. Incredible move from two artists who have enough money to burn but refuse to spread the wealth. Oh sorry, I recently read that Koons “sometimes takes a helicopter to his farm” in Pennsylvania from NYC but thinks he’s not rich LOL. These guys need to actually try to draw something on their own that isn’t primitive genitalia. Hirst has his serfs paint grids of polka dots in paint store swatch colors and Koons has his peons paint internet images of digital collages. This passes for great art from these two great executives who never get their hands dirty and promulgate the Warholian idea that an artist’s hand should disappear from their art. Of course they do – their one hand can’t even trace their other haha! These CEOs show talent in stealing images from real artists, never mind that their factories also produce the objects – and on the few ocassions when they don’t appropriate, they manage to produce bad porn or prudish science projects. The great mystery is why no-talent artists who sellout by embracing consumer society and kitch have such success in the contemporary art world.
It used to be understood that Art Fairs were quaint affairs featuring mostly pedestrian artists and craftspeople showing poorly in cramped and blow-away booths set up in the open air for a day or two. But starting a few years ago, the ‘elite’ art establishment hijacked this provincial concept and perverted its meaning to include exclusive blockbuster affairs with major artists, publicity, and chic venues. Now there are hundreds of international art ‘fairs’ mostly serving the largest and most established galleries to regurgitate the same top artists to lazy local collectors unwilling to travel in order to increase the value of their stables. How did this come to pass and why have the ‘aristocratic’ artists elbowed their way into an art sales vehicle meant for the masses? Is this simply a natural extension of the relatively modern acceptance and appreciation of ‘Pop’ culture in Fine Art? These mega-fairs seem to only increase the ‘income gap’ among artists so that emerging and unknown artists are left behind at the expense of those who don’t need additional exposure. Indeed even dead artist estates are brought into these new exclusive events. Shouldn’t these mega art fairs instead concentrate on increasing the profiles and sales of lesser known artists and galleries? It seems cultural capitalism reflects all economic sectors by mainly serving to consolidate power to those who already hold it – and galleries are only too willing to conform. Why does it seem a sad statement on our culture that the new and relevant slogan in the art world is ‘Viva the bottom line’?
I disabled my Facebook account years ago when the site was still popular but it still irks me that they remain so stupidly prudish and out of synch with modern society in spite of being a ‘social’ media. Exactly what society they are reflecting? Last month it was not reproducing Courbet’s ‘The Origin of the World’ from 1866, last week it was censoring Denmark’s iconic ‘The Little Mermaid’ sculpture – a national symbol and major tourist attraction since 1913 , today it’s blocking gallery accounts because they advertise an artist performance barely showing breasts in a promo (pun intended). MEMO TO FACEBOOK… go to most European beaches in summer and see how many visible mammary glands you can count before you go mad trying. Or tune in to just about any cable channel to catch some exposed bosoms. Facebook resembles the morals of Iran more than the West – in another ‘revealing’ event this week Italy felt it had to cover their nude, classic, Roman statues during the Iranian president’s recent visit. What stringent morality is overwhelming the planet and exactly what can’t Facebook understand about nudity and Western art? Is their awkwardness with nudity simply an extension of Zuckerberg’s nerdiness? Or are all Western social media going to succumb to the moral code of ISIS? Soon, I hope, Facebook will only attract prudes and seniors before suffering the same demise as MySpace because their 21st century version of American Puritanism is just laughable for modern social media.
Here’s my New Year’s Resolution… I’m calling for all the exploited artists working in art factories to abandon their posts. Stop lending your talent to artists without skills to claim as their own. Stop supporting the myth of the artist factories. Get a real job and work on your own creativity. Don’t continue to give your time and effort to someone else’s art so some talent-lacking cretin can take the credit. Art factories need to be completely discredited and their masters exposed for the art fakes that they are. There can be no exception left in contemporary art for the outsourcing of talent and “manager” artists need to be shamed back into the shadows. To begin this process, those pretend, spoiled artists need to lose their support mechanisms and subservient personnel. Stop assisting the lies and products of CEO art. To all those doing some other artist’s work I say find the dignity and courage to fail on your own account – you are doing a disservice to modern art and the perception of artists by encouraging substitute art. Painting is not a group activity like film. Inspiration is a solitary experience that becomes manifest through personal talent and skill. Free yourself from the chains of another artist’s visual concepts and end your slavery to its execution. Artists everywhere – abandon your art factory masters and welcome a truly wonderful 2016.
There’s a lot of unmerited anti-Muslim sentiment floating around the media these days due to Islamic extremist violence after the recent attacks in Paris but few talk about the one big source of this extremism, namely Saudi Arabia. Our largest Arab and 12th largest trading partner recently sentenced to death the Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh for abandoning the Muslim faith. In addition to repressing women and dissent, beheading more people than ISIS, and funding and spreading Wahhabism (the extremist form of orthodox Sunni Islam linked to groups like ISIS and Al-Queda), do we need any more proof how despicable the government of Saudi Arabia is? We won’t even mention that 15 of 19 hijackers of the September 11th attack were Saudi – oops just did. However, in spite of all these factors our leaders continue to literally hold hands with these Royal Assholes. Why? How can spreading a radical religion and executing an artist for failing such rigors be a standard we support? Fayadh was first arrested January 1, 2014 when he was accused of promoting atheism in his 2008 book of poems ‘Instruction Within’, then sentenced this past Tuesday, November 17 after spending two years in prison. According to The Guardian, he curated art shows during 2013 in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennial. Saudi Arabia needs to modernize quickly and join the 21st century – and our leaders need to distance our country and culture from them until there is visible progress and they abolish barbaric acts like this. Writing poetry cannot be tolerated as a reason for the death sentence of any human being anywhere on earth – and our country cannot continue to support regimes that do.
Some hyperactive aesthetes are bent on tossing Renoir out of museums… https://news.artnet.com/art-world/art-world-protests-renoir-israel-paul-mccarthy-anything-else-wrong-bad-politics-340460 and http://hyperallergic.com/246297/protesters-demand-metropolitan-museum-remove-19-renoir-paintings/?ref=featured. For realz? C’mon the Intercept just published the ‘Drone Papers’, Dubya and his gang are still free after institutional torture, and Obama continues to defy his campaign promises with perpetual wars – but these people find nothing better to protest about than their particular taste in artists? What a sad comment on our democracy when the art of a dead French impressionist is the priority of activists in Boston and New York! I suppose we should be somewhat happy that some individuals feel so strongly about Art to feel compelled to carry it to this level, but I agree that it is more likely just a stunt to bring attention to themselves through media and the public. Why Renoir? There are so many other much more worthless artists to protest – but there is no accounting for taste. I personally don’t want anyone limiting my experience of art or censoring any artists so I sincerely hope these misguided demonstrators just fade away after a big fail. As to my personal tastes, I went to see the Renoir show at the Philadelphia museum in 2010 and although not impressed with Pierre Auguste as an artist, I was not disgusted either. There is still something bold in Renoir’s use of saccharine colors though I can see how someone could condemn this as superficial. But reason to ban him from museums?… no. I still want to enjoy ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ at the Phillips. Renoir is a curious artist story – one of being unfulfilled and poor after joining a modern movement then retreating to a variation of classicism and gaining artistic success. In other words, he seems to have sold out to survive as an artist although I’m sure he wouldn’t see it that way. Whatever you think about Renoir and his work, this is a lesson for artists in life and its demands on creativity.
Visual artists should really just STFU and let their work speak for them. So here are a few, choice, really stupid, quotes I found on the web from some of the most successful contemporary artists… “Sometimes when you’re drunk you can see better.” Damien Hirst (a blind man sponsors addiction), “Making art has never been a mystery to me.” Richard Prince (Dick cannot imagine past appropriation), “I didn’t have any interest in traditional art.” Cindy Sherman (photography is not traditional?), “You must plan to be spontaneous.” David Hockney (and you must not speak to be heard), “A lot of my work is about sales.” Jeff Koons (ad from Wall Street’s Franklin Mint), “It’s a small world, but not if you have to clean it.” Barbara Kruger (WTF?), “The artist has to be a guardian of the culture.” Robert Longo (quick, Batsignal Bobby!), “Artists don’t make objects, artists make mythologies.” Anish Kapoor (and he’s a delusional god), “The only thing worth doing is what’s never been done before.” David Salle (but copying images is fine), “Everything is art, everything is politics.” Ai Weiwei (all or nothing Weiwei). If only they would just do their work and let it be – but we have to put up with their idiotic intellectual rants as well as their art. Apparently there are way too many interviews to fill with such tripe, and I promise not to echo any more of their nonsense.
What is the Smithsonian thinking by exhibiting art from the Bill Cosby collection when he is accused of rape by more than 40 women? How do the artists feel being associated with an ‘alleged’ rapist in a public setting? Would the museum be so cavalier if the art originated from an accused Nazi torturer – or a forger, for example? These are some of the moral issues that the African Art Museum is dodging by not addressing the problem and continuing their show ‘Conversations’, based largely on Cosby’s collection of African American art. They are practicing moral amnesia in pandering for artwork instead of taking a stand. It is the equivalent of not confronting the issue of slavery just because it is accepted by others in society and you gain benefit. In other words it is unacceptable for the African Art Museum to be guilty of supporting rape by omission, especially when you have standards to respect and hold an important position in the community for exhibiting African art. The Smithsonian is complicit in damaging the image and standing of African-American artists in the exhibition by not addressing this failing. Their directors and curators are also complicit in this failure and should recognize it by at least including a public statement with the exhibition distancing themselves from the donor. It is sad to see blacks in high places neglect to protest against such injustice only because it concerns a rich and prominent black collector and they gain from the omission. This kind of collusion is too close to corruption and the Smithsonian needs to wake up before their whole institution gets smeared through indulging more indecent donations without at least showing some sign of remorse. Let’s hope when it opens next year the Smithsonian’s new African American History and Culture Museum shows a better side of discretion.
Checking through Artnet news recently I found an article titled ‘When is artist-on-artist theft okay?’. This is how bad it has gotten when contemporary critics even have to ask these questions – and most declare such crimes legit! For the record… NEVER should it be OK to steal images from a living artist and copying from dead artists is forgery – or inspiration, depending on the provenance LOL – check out www.nobilified.com for crass commercialism of old masters by exploited painters, most likely cheap Chinese labor. “Welcoming the masses to the 1%” indeed! I think it’s clear that theft is morally bankrupt and image appropriation is creative bankruptcy (or modern art capitalism depending on whether you collect the genre or been ‘nobilified’ haha). Why can’t contemporary artists create their own images and when did it become so acceptable to appropriate? Has visual plagiarism been encouraged by the web and easy, immediate access to images? I think it was Dada or Pop when the practice of appropriation first became acceptable as art, since it’s clear Abstract Expressionism or Minimalism didn’t need other images for affirmation or subject matter. Old masters interpreted life and nature and even Hieronymus Bosch images were based on a ‘personal view of reality’ – this standard formed the basis of western art for centuries. Are global visual arts stuck in a feedback loop like an M.C. Escher drawing? Maybe GIF animations are the future of art after all! Everything in the art world seems derivative today and it can only get worse if artists keep regurgitating other images instead of attempting to develop their own. No, theft is never morally acceptable, except perhaps when you are destitute and starving. It seems that even with its gluttony of contemporary sales, that’s the appropriate analogy for the art world today.
A confession: I have never liked graffiti but I can still appreciate the rawness of Basquiat in a gallery setting. Generally I find graffiti scarring and narcissistic in urban environments and without much artistic merit in any setting. I understand that opportunities for artists are limited and so lead to ‘street’ art in urban environments but why should any artist feel enough arrogant and entitled enough to impose their ‘vision’ unto the public sphere without public consensus? And that is assuming a ‘vision’ when most graffiti is just ‘tagging’ of stylized names and monikers. Really, the only graffiti I find affinity for is when it expresses political counterculture – because I believe it’s not an artistic statement but a symbol of social repression and frustration by the masses. I am also an avid hiker and nature enthusiast so you might imagine how I feel about graffiti artists taking their personal expression into wild nature and national parks. Anger and outrage, that’s what I feel. Here is the article that prompted this rant: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-graffiti-20150427-story.html#page=1 – but it’s not a new issue. Every few months there is an article about graffiti intruding into national parks or monuments to mar the experience for visitors. Why does anyone feel obliged to add artistic scribbles into nature and how can that possibly qualify as ‘street’ art? I can only feel it is an entitled and frustrated artist who needs to deface cacti, rock formations etc and then post their ‘droppings’ into social media, and apparently social media has also aided this practice recently by easily disseminating the artist’s scribbles in nature. In the name of real art, I hope all the nature graffiti artists are fined enough for them to feel it in their pocketbooks. I like my hikes graffiti-free, thank you – leave art for exhibition walls and galleries with few exceptions.