October 2009 Archives

By way of Art Fag City -- yes, I'm still reading it, no, I don't know why -- I read a brief op-ed in the New York Times about Becky Smith, whose gallery, Bellwether, closed down earlier this year. Faithful readers will recall I wrote of my hopes for other galleries to do the same. How ironic the gallery should be named Bellwether! Maybe she should've named it "Coalmine Canary" or "Evaporating".

Becky Smith

Becky Smith in happier times, in Brooklyn in 2000.

I have to admit, though, reading about Becky's abject failure -- eating Velveeta, not having enough money to get to Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh, for crying out loud, you can practically walk to Pittsburgh from New York -- okay, that's hyperbole -- reading about her total collapse as an art dealer, I have to admit to feeling no schadenfreude at all. And I usually love me some schadenfreude. But not this time. I actually felt bad for Becky.

Because she called her collectors, the people who'd bought art through her gallery, the people who'd built her up, who'd propelled her into a business with $75,000 a month in overhead, she called them and she begged for them to save her. And when she begged, they said no. They forsook her.

Here she'd been curating from her values, not her taste, chasing acceptance. And for a time she had it. She thought she knew what she was doing. She was confident. She thought she was going to be major.

And then one day it turned out she didn't know what she was doing, she wasn't accepted, and she wasn't major. She thought she was in control but she wasn't. Becky was at the mercy of others. Her gallery existed at their whim. And at the crucial moment they removed their support and it turned out, just like that, she had nothing. She'd had nothing all along.

I find this tragic, in the older sense of the word, where the sadness comes from one person's downfall due to some integral flaw, some essential error at the core of their being, something which cannot be corrected or countered, something we might call destiny.

I don't often quote the Bible, but sometimes King James just says it best:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

October 8, 2009


Christopher Reiger, Without Maps or Manifest, 2009, watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper, 34.5x29.75 inches

Christopher Reiger, Without Maps or Manifest, 2009, watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper, 34.5x29.75 inches

I went in to Chelsea last Thursday specifically to see Christopher Reiger's latest show, Some Species of Song, at Denise Bibro's Platform (until November 7, 2009). I just want to say up front, before I get into the show itself, that I consider Chris a friend. Well, not a friend, really. But more than an acquaintance. I actually can't think of the right word for what he is to me. We've never met, but we've exchanged friendly e-mail messages and commented on each other's blogs. I don't read him every day but he's on my list to check every so often. Obviously I'm on his mailing list. And we showed together in the Blogger Show although, actually, our works were never in the same gallery. Anyway. My point is, I like Chris and probably can't be unbiased about his work. Then again, if I didn't like his work, I probably wouldn't be friendly with him; I don't make a habit out of sending e-mail to artists whose work horrifies me.

Chris' show is, as always, worth seeing. With this batch of work he seems to have toned it down a bit; the last paintings of his I saw he'd thrown in the kitchen sink and some of the attached plumbing, but here he's cut back a bit and left some white space. In some cases he's left quite a bit of space around his subjects, and I like the extra room.

Christopher Reiger, Living, Moving, in the Space Between, 2009, watercolor, gouache, and marker on Arches paper, 17.75x17.5 inches

Christopher Reiger, Living, Moving, in the Space Between, 2009, watercolor, gouache, and marker on Arches paper, 17.75x17.5 inches

Chris bases his work on a firm foundation of nature. I know from his blog that he feels a strong connection to wild animals and spaces, and he brings that into his work by using animals as the centerpieces of his crazed compositions. I found myself thinking of Dalí as I went through the show, not so much because his work resembles Dalí's -- it's nowhere near as slick (whose is?) -- but because of the way Chris, like Salvador, repeats motifs across each work, or across multiple works; and also because of the obsession with scientific symbols and diagrams which the two painters share. A bird -- a crow perhaps -- mapped with a constellation I can't identify -- I was never very good at constellations -- is the main subject in one painting, then shows up reversed in the background of another. Penrose tilings make more than one appearance. Bird silhouettes abound. Some items are numbered with those lovely handwritten numerals found in 19th century scientific illustrations.

Another artist I thought of is James Joyce: Chris' set of symbols is hermetic and vast and beyond my ability to decipher; I imagine someone could spend a career unraveling his parallels, assonances, harmonies, and relations. Is he connecting frogs and tadpoles to spermatazoa or is that literally a cutaway diagram of a tadpole? I don't know for sure, but there's definitely plenty to think about.

Christopher Reiger, Further Murmuration, 2008, watercolor, gouache, pen and sumi ink on Arches paper, 15x16 inches

Christopher Reiger, Further Murmuration, 2008, watercolor, gouache, pen and sumi ink on Arches paper, 15x16 inches

The work doesn't get too hung up on the conceptual, intellectual side anyway. I'm not sure everything I see is strictly intended by Chris. I may be inventing my own complexity on top of his. Stepping back to the purely visual his work is lovely if somewhat cluttered. He's reduced the clutter from the work I saw last year but he's still trying to get across a lot of information. And it seems like he likes to throw every color he's got at every painting; again, he's cut back, but not quite as much as I might like. His very best work in this show is much more minimalist: I really liked Further Murmuration, which is nearly monochrome, mostly negative space, and positively beautiful in its tiny clockwork miniature perfection. His sensitivity in handling the watercolors here is nothing short of sublime. I've held a baby bird in my hand and this painting feels the same.

I should probably add that, in keeping with the nature theme and Chris' involvement with ecology and conservation and so forth -- he only eats meat if he's hunted and killed the critter himself -- some percentage of the price of each work he sells goes to the Wildlands Network. You can read more about his charitable sales model on his site.

After seeing Chris' show I went next door into Denise Bibro proper to see Gone to the Dogs. About this the less said the better. Really, anything I write about it is a bad idea. I can't quite write nothing, although that's what I want to do. Imagine a show that makes you long for Coolidge's A Friend in Need, take it down a notch or two, and you've got it.

Thus suitably stunned I staggered out into the lovely night air. I had nowhere else in mind; I was in Chelsea just for Chris. So I began to meander as my head cleared and soon I found myself in Jack Shainman's space on West 20th looking over Tim Bavington's Up in Suze's Room (through October 10, 2009). This is not the kind of show to clear an addled brain.

Tim appears to me to be the bastard child of Frank Stella and Stephen Westfall, with perhaps some Op Art DNA thrown in. Maybe not so much Stella since his canvases aren't shaped. But stripes always make me think of old Frank.

Tim Bavington, Up in Suze's Room, 2009, synthetic polymer on canvas, 120x96 inches

Tim Bavington, Up in Suze's Room, 2009, synthetic polymer on canvas, 120x96 inches

I suppose Tim's standout difference is that his lines aren't painted between taped-off areas. They're sprayed. This gives the edges a softness with a sideways overspray texture I kind of like. It reminds me of my airbrushing days. I'm not sure how Tim keeps his lines so straight -- I can think of a few possibilities, including an incredibly steady hand, but I can't figure it out by just looking at his paintings.

Tim's colors are all over the place; I can't divine a pattern for his choices. They kind of remind me of digital color pickers from programs like Photoshop. If you read his titles and some of his verbiage you find he's inspired by music and rock songs and so forth, but I went through the show entirely on visuals. Based on those alone I have no idea where his palette comes from; having read some I'm still not sure, but I can imagine there's some kind of system.

Most of these are just standard eye-bending fare, but in a few Tim breaks out of the stripes and starts allowing blurs, smears, and flares into his carefully ordered compositions. The signature image, Up in Suze's Room (apparently named after a Paul Weller song, whoever he is), is a fine example of Tim's letting loose. Amidst all the somewhat sterile stripes it really comes alive. With its large scale and concentrated color it stands with some of the better Color Field work I've seen.

Stephane Calais, Les lunettes de Christoph Jacquet dit Toffe, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 25.75x21.25

Stéphane Calais, Les lunettes de Christoph Jacquet dit Toffe, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 25.75x21.25

From there I swung through ZieherSmith just because the door was open. Big mistake on my part because I got a look at Stéphane Calais' absolutely dreadful Flowers for America (through November 7, 2009). The conceit behind this show seems to be that Stéphane has sent a lovely bunch of plants and paintings to our shores. Or something. What he's really done is set up a bunch of truly dopey plastic vegetation-like fronds with macrame hangers and basketballs all around the room while ugly, uninspired, incompetent art gazes wanly from the walls. "It's better to be incomprehensible" Stéphane says in the gallery verbiage; he's silent on being indigestible.

Uncertain of where to go next I walked uptown to the usually dependable West 25th Street. There I found a large crowd massed outside Cheim & Read. I can't remember the last time they showed anything I wanted to see but tonight I bumped into James Kalm chatting with people in the crowd. I joined in and he introduced me to some people, then looked down at the contents of his hand with some surprise.

"Looks like I've stolen one of their price sheets," he said, and sure enough he was holding one of those plastic folders containing the list of works in the show and the prices almost no one actually pays. You're not supposed to remove those from the gallery, you're supposed to, at most, carry one around with you inside as you go from work to work while shaking your head in disgust or, possibly, approval. Of course Cheim & Read, being an awesomely hugely successful blue chip gallery, can most likely afford to have a few of those 55-cent folders wander off.

"Do I want to go inside?" I asked James.

He handed me the folder. "Yes, you want to return this for me."

So I gamely went in. Unfortunately the gallery staff had chosen the front desk to double as the bar from which free drinks were issuing, and the desk is right up near the front entrance, causing a big rugby-style scrum to form. It took a few minutes for me to work my way through and then I was free to squeeze around the rest of the gallery.

Jack Pierson, FLOURISH 2009, 2009, plastic, 77x55x1 inches

Jack Pierson, FLOURISH 2009, 2009, plastic, 77x55x1 inches

Much to my chagrin I found the show belonged to Jack Pierson (through November 14, 2009). Jack's been throwing together letters from "found" signage -- I assume he gets them on eBay or something, from stores closing down -- into new forms for some years now. It's a concept that's so unutterably lame Barney's stole it for its window displays; and if a department store can appropriate your style almost exactly for use as window dressing, that's a sure sign you suck. I went around once to confirm -- yes, he does indeed suck -- and then exited.

Outside again I saw that James was now talking to David Gibson. Considering the last review I gave to one of David's shows I decided I was better off sneaking away, so I scuttled down the street to Dillon Gallery where I saw Norihiko Saito's show (until November 7, 2009).

Norihiko Saito, Field in Autumn Shower, mineral pigment on paper, 35x142 inches

Norihiko Saito, Field in Autumn Shower, mineral pigment on paper, 35x142 inches

Norihiko -- I'm not sure which is his family name and in fact had to look up his gender -- paints paintings which are barely there. I got the sense that these are in the Japanese tradition of paper screen painting -- and in fact one of them was displayed as such -- but perhaps I'm too much of a barbarian to appreciate them. These looked to me like the backgrounds of screen paintings I've seen, as if Norihiko sort of forgot to add some bamboo in the foreground, or maybe a bird, or a geisha, or something. Anything. Instead there's just this large -- in some cases, vast -- amorphous undulating atmosphere of nearly nothing. These could be faux marble finishes, or maybe the foundation for a Natural History Museum display of Pleistocene cave painting recreations.

After that I walked over to 511 West 25th just to see if anything was happening at my favorite building; I found there that both George Billis and Robert Steele had vacated their ground floor fishbowl-like spaces (later I saw from their Websites that they just moved upstairs) and a Tesla Motors store had moved in. It's not really a Tesla dealership since they don't have a selection of cars for sale, but they do have one you can look at and plenty of shiny brochures and salespeople with bright white teeth and so forth. The car itself is lovely, low-slung, and in fact probably not something I could fold myself into, but I think we can all get behind an electric vehicle that's cool, and the Tesla certainly is that, so long as you're shorter than I am and a good deal thinner.

Ceci n'est pas un Stella.


Not a Stella (photo by Steve Marcus for the Las Vegas Sun

Not a Stella (photo by Steve Marcus for the Las Vegas Sun).

I have two reviews in the pipelines working their way to your eager eyes but in the meantime I couldn't pass up this story.

ARTINFO reports on a story from the Las Vegas Sun: There's a painting up near the bathrooms in a building of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas which everyone has sort of assumed is by Frank Stella. For some reason or other the newspaper decided to send a photo of the painting to Stella's gallery, Paul Kasmin, to see if it's really his. Stella says -- through his lawyer -- that it isn't his at all, and has asked that it be destroyed.

It wouldn't be a fun story if there weren't a twist, though. Turns out UNLV doesn't own the painting and they're not sure who does, since the nice old lady who loaned it to them died, leaving, like most regular people, no estate. So UNLV is unsure of whether it can actually do anything to the painting beyond leaving it right where it is.

Also, doesn't it look nice there?

Stella, for his part, has an alternate suggestion: Put a card next to the painting reading, "This is not a Frank Stella painting."

I think that's a great idea because, as far as I understand the current rules of the Game of Art, if the UNLV administrators go ahead and follow Frank Stella's over-the-phone directions to put that card up, they've magically transmogrified a not-Stella painting into a true Frank Stella Conceptual Installation consisting of a forged painting and a printed card in a juxtaposed configuration.

Which is, I think we can all agree, totally awesome.

Professionally Written Website

Clearly a professionally written Website. Proofreading courtesy Yours Truly.

So Associated Press, always on the job, reports that beloved British artist Damien Hirst has a show, No Love Lost, opening at the the Wallace Collection tomorrow (Wednesday, October 14, 2009).

I'd like to set aside several things about this which make me angry. Allow me to list them in no particular order:

  • AP thinks this is worth reporting on, apparently, because Hirst is actually painting this work, all by himself, without his mom's help, in actual oil paints. This is not actually amazing, since almost anyone can put paint on canvas. It's not that hard.
  • Hirst's art openings apparently warrant Associated Press coverage. Because nothing else all that important was happening today anyway.
  • Hirst actually says about his record-breaking Sotheby's auction last year, "We were very lucky with that auction. I think it's a lot more to do with luck than skill." If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of wanking.
  • "Hirst says he ignores reviews. 'The biggest effort I make is not to get excited by the good ones. Then you can ignore the bad ones.'" Damien, a word, if you'd be so kind: Stop ignoring the bad reviews. They're correct. You suck. Go away.

Now that I've got them out there, let's set them aside. Sigh. I feel better, don't you? Indeedy do. A great weight has been lifted. And now I can freely visit the Wallace Collection Website and see what they have to say about their big upcoming show. The Wallace Collection is, as its site will tell you, "An International Treasure House". So let's see what they've got up about Damien Hirst and his wonderful show of....

Good lord! Was someone paid to write this page? Errors and all? This is a professional writer?

Spent all the money on the silk wall linings for Damien's masterpieces and left nothing to hire someone who could actually use proper English punctuation in the course of cranking out a whopping 150 words in a row.

So much for the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible.

Popping Pop Art


Venus of Willendorf, 24,000 BC

Venus of Willendorf, 24,000 BC

It's extremely difficult now to imagine a world in which popular culture is ephemeral. The blossoming of the Internet and its overlay, the World Wide Web, has effectively granted most people access to almost the entirety of human history and culture. Some kind of record of almost every artifact, from 160,000-year-old stone tools right up to Takashi Murakami's latest plastic ejaculatory sculpture, is available in moments.

Takashi Murakami, My Lonesome Cowboy, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, and tired, tired irony

Takashi Murakami, My Lonesome Cowboy, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, and tired, tired irony

In this culture of cultures, where anything and everything is equally accessible from anywhere, it's hard to imagine that a great deal of this culture, certainly the last hundred or so years of it, was intended to evaporate, never to be recalled. My favorite example, my favorite thought experiment, involves film.

The Aristocats, released December 1970

The Aristocats, released December 1970

Quasar VCR, 1976

Quasar VCR, 1976

I was born in 1970 and that puts me at the tail end of the last generation to remember -- only just barely -- what movies were like when they were simply movies. I clearly remember when my aunt and uncle, who were always at the forefront of home gadgetry, got the first VCR I'd ever seen. It eventually changed how our culture related to the moving picture. Before VCRs arrived in homes in the late 1970s, movies and TV shows were strictly disposable entertainment. Movies came into the local theater, played for a while, and vanished, never to be seen again.

Last House on the Left, released August 1972

Last House on the Left, released August 1972

Roger Corman

Roger Corman

In fact this is what the whole genre of exploitation cinema was based on. It takes some thinking to realize what was being exploited in these movies wasn't the actors, or the topic at hand; what was being exploited was the audience. The idea behind exploitation film was, you got a great idea for something audiences would want to see -- sex, violence, death -- you put together a poster to draw them in, and then you had something, anything, on celluloid you could throw on the screen in front of them. It didn't have to be good or even okay. It didn't have to be remotely entertaining. Because the movie wasn't the point: The point was getting people to buy tickets just once. After you'd shown the movie everywhere you were able, you could just throw the damned thing away because you didn't need it any more. And no one cared (except, perhaps, disappointed moviegoers).

We've changed how we look at exploitation cinema. We think of Ed Wood and Roger Corman as auteurs whose artistic drive pushed them to work despite lacking basic resources (often including simple talent). They weren't. They were opportunists out to make a quick buck. We've forgotten that because we've lost the ability to imagine the relationship people had to culture in the time before mass video reproduction.

Mainstream movies weren't much above exploitation circles, either. If a studio was very, very lucky, it'd make a movie that could be re-released every few years. Disney movies were good for that. And I remember seeing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark in re-release. Star Wars came around more than once. But they were a dying breed by the early 1980s. And before that no one made a movie expecting it to be that kind of movie; you made a movie to come out once and disappear. Maybe it'd show on TV. Hitting the jackpot with a movie people wanted to see over and over was pure chance -- chance at times helped by lapsing copyrights (cf. It's a Wonderful Life and Night of the Living Dead).

DVD Savant

One of my favorite places for reading about movies is Glenn Erickson's DVD Savant column, because not only is he an entertaining writer, he's been around long enough to be able to evoke what it was like for a film buff in the days before the VCR. These days being a film buff is easy. In the 1960s and early '70s, it took a lot of effort. Glenn writes about reading about classic science fiction movies and only managing to catch up with them on late-night TV in heavily edited scratchy copies. Film students would rustle up old 16mm prints of films they'd hoped to see. Film stills circulated like samizdat.

Cult films really were cult films in those days: Movies seen by a small group of people, discussed in reverent tones, displayed in ratty little temples by fervent disciples. To have seen a film like Un Chien Andalou or Metropolis put you in an elite clique.

William Hartnell as the Doctor

William Hartnell as the Doctor

Things were much the same in the world of TV. TV shows were meant to be aired once and then never again. TV series creators hoped to reach the magic number of episodes after which their show would be eligible for syndication; even then, not every episode was bought and re-aired. A select few series went on to become staples in syndication -- The Brady Bunch, MASH -- but by and large TV shows were all expected to evaporate as soon as they'd gone over the air. I still remember my surprise when, in high school, I met a Doctor Who fan from England who informed me over there, everyone's favourite Doctor was whoever was on when they started watching the show; the BBC never showed reruns so no one in the audience had ever seen any shows earlier than that. A couple of years later I learned that the BBC had lost a number of the earliest episodes of Doctor Who, if you can stretch "lost" to include "demagnetizing and reusing the tapes to save storage space". (NASA did the same thing with the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which is admittedly more egregious.)

Movies and TV only highlight the most obvious changes in our way of looking at culture. In fact the changes had been happening across different media at different rates, but they'd been happening: Newspapers became available on microfiche, magazine stock and printing processes improved, audio recordings got better and more varied with magnetic tape and then CDs, and so on.

So let's think about that: Let's use our imaginations to reconstruct a world in which popular culture is evanescent, and while we hold that in our heads let's go back to the mid-1950s and consider the birth of Pop Art.

It's well known that Pop Art's major innovation was to elevate the look of the quotidian, the appearance of the every day object, to the status of fine art. This is a bit of a twist on the readymade of Marcel Duchamp, which of course is supposed to be a regular object which an artist has decided to call a work of art. And anyway readymades really didn't come into their own until after Pop. So we'll set them aside for a moment. Pop Art isn't about the object itself, it's about the appearance of that object: A painting of a Campbell's soup can or a mock-up of a box of Brillo, the sine qua non of Pop.

Or Pop is about the appearance of representations of those objects: It's about the tropes of advertising, of copying the look of newspaper photos or magazine ad photos. Or even taking those actual items and re-using them in a collage or silkscreen.

Hatari!, released June 1962

Hatari!, released June 1962

But let's place Pop back into the context of an impermanent popular culture. Remember we're holding in our heads a world where, when Hatari! finishes its run at the Orpheum, you'll never see it again. A world where, when Campbell's changes its soup can designs, you'll never see that design again unless you happen to be some kind of deranged soup can label collector. (Remember as late as the early 1970s, a sure sign of Howard Hughes' madness was that he sat in his hotel room all the time watching old movies.)

Now what are Pop artists doing?

They're taking the temporary and making it permanent. They're taking the every day, which passes under our notice as it goes, destined only for the trash heap, and they're rendering it in long-lasting materials. And they're putting it in places where objects are preserved as carefully and perfectly as human technology will allow: Art galleries and museums.

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can, 1962

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can, 1962

Campbell's Campbell's Soup Can, 2009

Campbell's Campbell's Soup Can, 2009

Go ahead. Take a look at Warhol's soup can or his Brillo box. You've probably seen these images a lot. You probably already have a pre-programmed reaction to them. You probably think, "appropriation of the methods of mass manufacturing in a fine art context" or maybe you think, "my kid could do that" or "what a marketing genius Andy was". Those are valid reactions. But what I want you to do now is really look at those objects. Visually. Look at them.

Brillo box, 2009

Brillo box, 2009

Did you notice what I noticed? Campbell's soup cans don't look like that any more. Neither do Brillo boxes. Campbell's soup cans are still very similar (although an argument could be made that they kept the design much the same due to Andy), but they've still changed. And Brillo, wow, it's a totally different critter!

Diet Coke can, 1982

Diet Coke can, 1982

If it's hard for you to really see this with Warhol, then just find yourself a movie from, say, 1982. Go ahead, download one. It's easy. Now find a scene where someone's drinking a can of Coke. Do cans look anything like that any more? No, they do not.

And that, my friends, was the genius of Pop Art. Taking the fleeting (yes, my thesaurus is working overtime) and making it fast. Taking the transient and nailing it down. Turning the too-mortal into the eternal immortal.

Now let's bounce back a bit to where I told you to download a movie from 1982. You probably didn't, but you could have. Well, maybe you personally couldn't have -- maybe you're not the pirating type, maybe you don't know how this downloading thing works; but I could have. Because I've had a fair amount of practice and I can figure things out, I'm at the point now where I can find and download virtually anything with a few minutes' worth of work. Almost no piece of pop culture ephemera is so elusive that some evidence of it -- a photo, a news item, a video, a TV show -- cannot be downloaded.

Swamp Thing, released 1982

Swamp Thing, released 1982

Are you reading Patrick O'Brian's wonderful but woefully under-illustrated biography of Pablo Picasso? You can follow along with the images at the On-line Picasso Project. Curious about the extended European version of the original Swamp Thing movie starring Adrienne Barbeau? I can get that. Joss Whedon's entire run on Astonishing X-Men? It's out there. Wonder what Coke can designs have looked like through the years? Holy cow is there a page for you.

The Internet and the World Wide Web, then, have finally drawn together all the diverse developmental strands preserving and making available past artifacts of culture -- from paper and movable type all the way up to the compact disc -- and put them in one place: at the very end of your fingertips.

So at long last, and by a somewhat circuitous route, we arrive at my thesis, which I will here phrase in the form of a Socratic question: If pop culture is no longer ephemeral, what's the point of Pop Art?

This might be a simple academic question if not for the fact that so much of contemporary art is still stubbornly based on Pop. But it is. A great deal of Pop continues to be made under various guises, including the school of "pile together a whole bunch of crap and call it art". I used to call this Dumpster Diving Art, but the plain fact is you no longer have to jump into trash bins to make this sort of work any more; you can do it from Starbucks using your laptop.

Pop was becoming obsolete as it was being invented. By the 1980s it was almost pointless and now, well, whatever worth it might have had has certainly proved more evanescent than the artifacts it intended to preserve. You can most likely buy your very own 1962 Campbell's soup can on eBay, and if there isn't one for sale now, just wait a bit. It'll turn up.

I always say, if you wish to become wise, don't do what the wise man did. Seek what he sought. So where should art go? The Pop artists were seeking to do something that couldn't be done any other way. Now there's another way. Let's ask ourselves, then: What can't be done today? What can't the Internet do?

What can't be reproduced?

That's easy. The irreproducible. That which cannot be reproduced is that which cannot be reproduced. Obviously. The Internet can't project the experience of a real oil painting, of carved marble, of standing in the room or park with the actual art object. That's what can't be reproduced: Real live in person experience.

And that, friends and neighbors, is what I'm driving at here. Pop is over. Time to get back to art.

Stuckists Rule, Tate Drools


The Stuckists Badge

The Stuckists Badge

Artinfo reports that the Stuckists showed up at the Tate denouncing the Turner Prize. I don't know much about the Stuckists except that their L.A. contingent's Website sends a lot of traffic to my post on John Currin. Looking them up again I find the original Stuckist manifesto and I find, much to my surprise, that I agree with them. "Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists"? Hell yeah! "Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art"? Testify!

And anyone who gets yelled at by Tracey Emin is my favorite person in the whole world. Because, really, she's terrible. So Billy Childish, I love you.

We should all join with the Stuckists in denouncing the Turner Prize. What junk. This makes me long for my old days of cranking out propaganda on the photocopier. Maybe I should stage something outside the New Museum.

Richard Prince Sucks


Richard Prince's cowboy crap

Richard Prince's cowboy crap

Associated Press reports that the Tate Modern has shut down an exhibit of Richard Prince's Spiritual America which includes a photo of a photo of a nude ten-year-old Brooke Shields.

Never mind that this image of Prince's is about thirty years old. Never mind that it's a photo of a photo. And never mind that a quick Google search will turn it up. In fact, let me Google that for you. British police have decided that now it's a bad photo.

And good god they're right. But why did it take the police to shut down Prince's show? Wasn't there anyone else in the museum hierarchy who could see that this guy's work sucks? That anything would be an improvement over a Prince show? That it would be better and more edifying for the public if they left the rooms at the Tate Modern empty and let visitors stare at blank walls? That once an artist has stooped to child porn to keep his stock afloat, as Prince did 26 years ago, he's irredeemable?

Shutting the show down because they don't want to cause offense to their visitors? How about not giving that crap house room in the first place? I'm offended and I've never even been to England, let alone the Tate Modern. I don't even have to set foot in the damned place to be offended. It's a sad fucking day when I'm on the side of the jackbooted thugs, but hearing that anyone anywhere is still displaying Richard Prince's efforts is almost enough to make me want to join al Qaeda. Stick a fork in it -- clearly Western Civilization is done.


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