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it's enough to drive you to drink

Post #426 • December 8, 2004, 7:41 AM • 14 Comments

Monday, December 6, 2:36 pm: Jerome du Bois mentions somebody named Rothkopf on the comment boards. Googling "rothkopf art basel" turns up some kind of society column on Artforum.

At this sort of event - and at Basel Miami there were many of them - short and sweet was the name of the game. And, besides, the invitation to the 11:30 AM book launch promised cocktails. The sooner it was over, the sooner we could get to the next panel, the next opening, the next glass of chardonnay. I shouldn't be so cynical. After all, the panel offered a certain madcap fun, and it was events like these that gave one an excuse to commingle with immensely talented artists and curators in immensely beautiful surroundings, often with immensely beautiful (or, at the very least, beautifully dressed) people.

Et cetera.

Tuesday, December 7, 6:44 pm: an alert reader sends in a link to a story about the ABMB party chez de la Cruz. Lo and behold, the same website. This time I pay more attention. It seems to be titled, or taglined, "Scene and Herd." Hm. Something like reportage ensues:

Before entering the house to see the much-hyped assume vivid astro focus (aka Eli Sudbrack and "collaborators") show, to which the de la Cruzes had given over the entire second floor, I stopped for a brief chat with Jeffrey Deitch. As always, he percolated with infectious optimism. "Miami is the new New York. In ten years, all the key galleries will have branches down here. Artists love it - space is cheap, climate great, collectors plentiful." After a quick cocktail and a last look at the scene in the garden, I almost believed him.

Cocktails again.

Later, I catch up with Tyler Green.

ArtForum has started a blog -- kinda. It's more of a long-format diary, but at least ArtForum is beginning to revamp their website. The entries are a little long to be true blog entries, there's nary a link to be found, and they're more concerned with scene than art, but hey, maybe with ABMB out of the way they'll become more truly blog-like. Or maybe, given the academic dryness of the magazine, they'll become as stiff and unreadable as, well... let's just see how they do. We're rooting for them.

Oh. This is a blog. Now that you mention it, it has permanent links and comments enabled. This jogs something loose in my memory... wait... right. day, mainstream paper-based art journalism will break down and admit that art blogging exists. When they do, they will want to know how widely the phenomenon has spread and why. They will cite Todd's survey, and then qualify it as probably inaccurate, but that won't stop them from using it. Shortly thereafter, Artforum will start a blog. It will provide an even more horrible reading experience than their message boards.

I'd like to say that I called this back in September, but I didn't really. For one, I was incorrect about it being an even more horrible reading experience than their message boards. This is a wholly different flavor of horrible.

None of these concerns were voiced too loudly at NADA's raucous Friday night party at the Sagamore Hotel, where Art Basel and NADA dealers rubbed shoulders with scruffy twenty-something artists and their friends in the rear garden by the pool. At 1:30 the crowd was herded out the front door so hotel guests could get their sleep, and the party split in two: some headed north to the Raleigh Hotel and others south to Bar Deuce.

You know what? I don't give a shit.

Tyler hopes that ABMB is causing the blog to emphasize the scene, but I looked at last month's archives and found this about some openings in London:

If your evening of private views begins on the gleaming avenues of Piccadilly and officially ends with an undignified scrabble for the last lukewarm bottle of Rolling Rock from a plastic bucket, it's likely you've been on an eastward trajectory.

This report from Brooklyn:

Maybe it was the ice-cream truck dispensing free sundaes out front or the guffawing long-haired dude boinging up and down on the trampoline inside, but the opening of "Phiiliip: Divided By Lightning" at Deitch Projects' Williamsburg outpost felt like a decidedly off-kilter fun fair. Phiiliip - nee Philip Guichard - is the 24-year-old cipher whose home-recorded album Pet Cancer made all the best-of lists in 2001. He's also a club entrepreneur, DJ, and part-time Dior model with one glittery foot plopped in Scott Hug's K48 magazine scene. "P:DBL," organized by John Connelly Presents and produced by Deitch Projects, is a kind of invitational inquest into the persona of an underground New York pop star (that would be Phiiliip) on the verge of releasing a new album titled Divided By Lightning.

And this story about the MoMA reopening:

The sixth-floor bar rapidly established itself as the A-list artists' enclave, with Robert Rauschenberg and Chuck Close surrounded by a coterie of senior admirers leading the way. Nearby a somewhat more youthful contingent including Doug Aitken and Thomas Demand rubbed shoulders with James Rosenquist and Jeff Koons.

Hey Artforum, I have an idea - how about using the blog to expand your art criticism? But on second thought, never mind.

His landscape paintings, as large as twelve by ten feet, and black ink drawings, as small as seven inches square, are sensoriums skeptical of an Enlightenment conception of logic, developing instead by the nonlinear momentum of highly adaptable plants and animals.
In her second solo at this gallery, Lisa Sigal trades in her site-responsive archi-sculptural vocabulary - which has stood out this year in group shows at Artists' Space, White Columns, and Clementine Gallery - for a more painterly idiom that focuses on the internal relationships of each construction.
Lars Arrhenius's closest progenitor would have to be Matt Mullican - both dig into the world of graphics, signs, and symbols and imagine that these ciphers live in an analogous world of life, death, violence, and spirituality. Arrhenius's The Man without Qualities, 2001, amusingly proposes the universal "man" sign that graces restrooms around the world as the embodiment of Robert Musil's existential blank slate.

The art world described in Artforum is a giant cash register lubricated with liquor and horseshit. It is a world that oscillates between party and theory without ever stopping off at clarity.

Artforum would serve the art world better by encouraging connoiseurship: nuanced descriptions, lucid writing, identification of relevant parameters, a skeptical but not cynical eye on the market, hesitancy to coin a phrase, and, most of all, prioritizing taste over idea while addressing both. I would love to read an art magazine modeled on Saveur, from which the following passage about cognac (since we like alcohol so well, apparently) is taken.

The way various cognacs are assembled, however, is also of paramount importance. "Greatness comes from blending," asserts Yann Filloux, the master blender at Hennessy and the seventh generation of his family to practice the art. Because old cognacs have so much more personality and individuality than young ones, blending becomes especially tricky with XO quality and above. Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, and Rémy-Martin all have quite distinct XO styles - the product of marketing decisions as well as of tradition and inheritance. Martell's best cognacs, always with a high percentage from the Borderies, are invariably dry and crisp, with a nutty taste and a floral perfume. By contrast, Rémy's finest, all from the Champagnes, taste smooth and silky. Hennessy goes farther down that path, emphasizing a round, lush style, while Courvoisier pulls back - its best cognacs seeming, if not austere, then always serious and substantial.

But as such a thing does not yet exist, all we can do is refrain from reading the available dreck, which shall continue to be my practice.



that guy in the back row

December 8, 2004, 4:44 PM

Finally, art writing that just focuses on the important stuff: who was there, what did they ware and who did they sleep with. If this is Artblog's only competition from the print world, they've already lost the attempt to win the web.



December 8, 2004, 6:29 PM

The only thing at all surprising about any of this, Franklin, is that there's not even an attempt to conceal or disguise such rampant, brazen, cynical fatuousness. It's gotten so far out of hand that it's become the norm, so nobody feels much need to even keep up appearances. Needless to say, the people, publications, galleries and institutions involved have no credibility and deserve no respect--or at least they can forget about mine.

It's painfully obvious that, like Basel, art is not the point, it's merely the pretext, the means to get other things which are clearly NOT about art or its appreciation. We're talking money, status, image, perks, freebies, parties, having a good time and so on. The last thing most of these clowns are really, truly serious about is art itself, though they'll sure as hell use or abuse it in any way that suits them.



December 8, 2004, 6:43 PM

Publications devoted to wine and food (as well as most magazines of specialized connoisseurship) will always be better reading than art magazines because, although they are buffeted by trends like everyone else, they report on direct experience, continually search for value and recognize successful innovation.

If a wine tastes like vinegar they say so, and if you taste it you know it. And no one will go to "Wine Basel" and buy the stuff.



December 8, 2004, 9:36 PM

Nice work Franklin. I read, and occasionally enjoy, Artforum, but I think the ribbing is well-deserved. It may not be the appropriate response, but I found the cognac description hilarious.


The Fabulously Fatuous Groucho Marxist

December 8, 2004, 9:42 PM

Trust me, I been drinkin' already. . .
Hey Oldpro, where is this Wine Basel??? I'm kinda thirsty.



December 8, 2004, 10:11 PM

In my imagination, I'm afraid.

I had a prettty good cellar years ago, when a decent vintage of a first or second growth Bordaux could be had for around $25, and I used to go to a lot of "tastings", where growers and shippers would put out their wares for sampling.

Like Art Basel, It was difficult to get all the way through one of these affairs. Unlike Basel, however, you were pretty happy when you did.


Groucho Marxist

December 8, 2004, 10:35 PM

Well then, Oldpro, it is a shame that I cannot get into your imagination. . . 'cause I am still thirsty.

I am sorry to hear that you did not have fun at the Art Basel. I had a terrific time.

I know that you must be thinking, "How could a Groucho-Marxist have a terrific time in the company of so many greedy CAPITALITS??"

Well Oldpro, I think it was because I slipped in for free. . . and I found the bar. . . and then I saw some art that I liked. I also saw plenty of stuff that I did not like. . . so I laughed at it. Hahaha!



December 8, 2004, 11:28 PM

You're already there, groucho. Drink up!

I, too, am a "CAPITAL LIT".

But clearly you had the better attitude.


Groucho Marxist

December 8, 2004, 11:59 PM

Hey Oldpro. . .

Sorry, I meant CAPITALISTS. I told ya I been drinkin' already. . .

Now, can you direct me to the Cheese Basel? I am sure it has to be down in Miami also.

I heard a rumor that it was somewhere around the 20,000 ton sculpture of Vanilla Ice. I have not been able to find that either.



December 9, 2004, 12:37 AM

I have to admit that I merely scanned over the excerpts Franklin posted. It's just not the same without the photos of coutless whozits posing with various society whatzits. Come to think of it I can't recall actually reading the text over at Artforum either. Mostly just looked at the photos and wondered why everyone in Miami was on the phone with Yoko Ono.


Yoko Ono

December 9, 2004, 2:11 AM

Cheese Basel, formerly Swiss Cheese Basel, formerly Atelier Emmentaler Basel, will be relocating from Miami Beach to the Wynwood Arts District.

Yes, anyone who is Anyone was on the phone with me. Why? I'm so fabulous, they're so fabulous, and if you didn't talk to me you need better PR or a new stylist.



December 9, 2004, 4:41 AM

The 20,000 ton Vanilla Ice sculpture was installed in the Miami River off of NE 3rd Street. You should have seen it, Groucho - like a reversed Ophelia he rose from the sea to battle an empty horizon.


shaolin soccer mom

December 9, 2004, 5:39 PM

"Reverse Ophelia" is like Christmas in my head! I can't believe an idea can pay such dividends! The imagery! The layers of philosophical nuance! The plot lines and hyphthetical autobiographies! I want to meet the man who wrote the press releass.

Nevermind the art. Art writing is the new art. I want to be a Reversed Ophelia.


Sarah Hromack

December 10, 2004, 5:06 AM

Um Franklin, you have a new fan. Check out my blog...



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