make $$$ emulating duchamp
Post #577 • July 11, 2005, 12:11 PM • 160 Comments
From the Sydney Morning Herald, Embarrassment of riches: "Contemporary art in Australia has never been more popular or profitable, but the artists - and some say the art - are getting poorer, reports Alexa Moses."
Earlier this month, during a visit to Australia, the New York art critic Dore Ashton lamented that the dumbing down of contemporary visual art had already happened.
"Art has just been lassoed to serve the purposes of the larger society, which are totally commercial," Ashton said. "It must be said some artists are glad enough to collaborate." Art, she said, is increasingly considered entertainment, a commodity for which one is sold a ticket.
Ashton argued that when art is asked to serve a commercial master in the form of the market, (which demands art be cost-effective, marketable and profitable), art can suffer. The appreciation of an artwork, she said, is more about contemplation than saleable entertainment.
As if to illustrate her point, Gianni Motti, whose soap bar made from the liposuctioned fat of Silvio Berlusconi just sold at Art Basel for 15,000 Euros, revealed the following to a reporter for the Financial Times:
Such acts, along with the soap, might irritate people enough to ask: "But is it art?" Motti responds: "Duchamp said, 'Le tableau est fait non par le peintre mais par ceux qui le regarde' - the painting is made not by the painter but by those who look at it." This may sound like a cop-out, but he is right: if the public doesn't take an interest, and the media don't get excited, then these bizarre acts and objects fall flat on their face.
Motti feels that the high price the soap fetched in Basel is proof of its overwhelming success - and that this financial aspect provides a pleasing final twist: "Berlusconi clearly makes so much money - it's good for someone to make a bit out of him for a change."
The soap bar is saleable entertainment, proof positive, and its justification is Duchamp.
I said it on the last post, but here it is again:
My rejection of the urinal has to do with application, not theory. If great art derived from that act of prankster nihlism, I would honor it. Instead (as I've said before), if art is free to do whatever it wants, including suck, the urinal made it possible to suck much, much harder. That's nothing to be proud of, and not worth further contemplation.
I realize now that I didn't go far enough. Let me add:
1. No great art derived from any of Duchamp's works.
2. Citing Duchamp has become a reliable indicator that someone is trying to sell you bad art. Anyone who falls for this, even philosophically, is a rube.
3. Anything that sells for an amount that could support someone's middle-class lifestyle for six months is not transgressive, controversial, or offensive to bourgeois values. On the contrary: it is as safe as houses and as scary as Halloween at Metrozoo.
4. Art as entertainment, (I propose the term entarttainment, preserving the doubled "t" to better differentiate it from plain old entertainment) has become a major enemy to quality in art. This hasn't always been the case: Rubens and Boucher were entertainment on some level. But entertaining content, pranksterism, avantgardist posturing, media whoring, party-throwing, and other foolishness that surrounds the art world has become a huge impediment to serious art-making and the serious contemplation thereof. And if you don't think this is a problem, you're part of the problem.