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the difference between life and lifestyle

Post #640 • October 6, 2005, 12:52 PM • 30 Comments

A good read in which Michael Kimmelman redeems himself somewhat in my estimation, and Stephen Metcalf writes:

I don't think what I felt when I saw the Rembrandt was "mediated desire." What I felt when I saw the signature was: "Huh, this whole art thing - maybe it's not such a fraud." To an even greater extent, your friend Alex's book collection so lacked a signature that its dignity as a private memorial act was total. When you discovered that Alex's father had preserved it, the discovery didn't enter you into a market relation with Alex's father, or with the memory of Alex; no "value" was assigned, no desire excited or extinguished; it was something closer to a communion, if I hear you right.

Via SuperGirl.




October 6, 2005, 1:11 PM

Only somewhat.

Steve Metcalf's slowly dawning undertsanding of the condition of the art world has been discussed with much deeper understanding, greater detail and at some length on this blog even since I have been commenting on it, and Kimmelman's response is typically cautious, circuitous and over-the-shoulder looking.

Judge him by his eye, which operates at about 50% on a good day, and his enthusiasms, like his head-over-heels tumble for the Dia foundation, which went on for weeks on the pages of the Times a year or so ago.



October 6, 2005, 1:12 PM

"Contemporary art has become a lifestyle for the rich and overeducated."

So tell us something we don't know.



October 6, 2005, 1:15 PM

I take exception to the quote Jack highlighted, as I am only overedcuated.



October 6, 2005, 1:16 PM

Um. Add to that that I can't spell.



October 6, 2005, 1:24 PM

Kathleen, 99% of people reading that will read it as intended and not see the typo. I do this all the time (though I deplore it) and I just leave it and assume it will be understood



October 6, 2005, 3:19 PM

Judge him by his eye.

No. This is the cat who claimed, in one article, to "get" neither Raphael nor Rembrandt. Some of what he says remains true in the abstract.

This is the kind of art writing I'd like to see more of - something that values a few basic heartfelt interactions in front of art instead of some kind of overblown thematics. Sure, we do it here all the time, but imagine if it became widespread.



October 6, 2005, 4:10 PM

Well, he may give lip service to actually looking at pictures, and that's nice, but when he looks at Raphael and Renbrandt (and so much else) he don't see nothin'.

But I know what you mean. Imagine if that attitude - of actually looking - got widespread, indeed.



October 6, 2005, 6:04 PM

> Oldpro: " his head-over-heels tumble for the Dia foundation, which went on for weeks on the pages of the Times a year or so ago."

I think it's actually been well over two years now since the opening of Dia:Beacon, when Kimmelman was enthusing to anyone who would pay attention that the Minimalists were, like, THE Greatest American Artists EVAH.

I suspect that's what you're talking about, but certainly wouldn't swear by it.



October 6, 2005, 6:07 PM


That was two years ago already? Sheesh.



October 6, 2005, 6:27 PM

> That was two years ago already? Sheesh.

Even longer, I guess. Kimmelman's NYTimes Magazine article, The Greatest Generation appeared April 6, 2003, a month ahead of the opening.

Elsewhere: Felix Salmon, Jerry Saltz, AiA



October 6, 2005, 6:28 PM

Yes, it opened May 2003.

Time flies.



October 6, 2005, 6:41 PM started in May 2003. A month later, I wrote this.



October 6, 2005, 7:39 PM

You can do your Zen Buddhist kindness thing, Franklin, but my estimation of Kimmelman is, well, minimal.



October 6, 2005, 8:22 PM

Just in case someone missed this from the link:

As an old man in 1911, Degas visited a show of his hero, Ingres, every day at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. Degas was blind. He went just to run his hands over the pictures.

Think about it.



October 6, 2005, 8:49 PM

"Contemporary art has become a lifestyle for the rich and overeducated."
While we're at it, why not drop the "contemporary", and change "has become" to "is".



October 7, 2005, 8:10 AM

off topic: hell froze over, and then the MAC had an abstract painting show.



October 7, 2005, 10:17 AM

Because I suppose I am the chief hair-splitter around here, Alesh, I must point out that " the MAC had an abstract painting show!", though nominally true, is a bit misleading.

The exhibit is anything but what one might surmise from such a headline: that suddenly MAC was somehow covering contemporary abstract painting. There are several PC markers and points of "distance" that make the exhibit more comfortable for a pomo audience: the most recent painting in the exhibit is almost 20 years old, the artist is Cuban, she is portrayed as having suffered rejection in NY during the AE years because she was a woman and a geometric artist, and the text does its best to enmesh her in various "socio-political" and "theoretical" movements of the postwar period. it also manages to use the word "formalist" in a vaguely positive way, thereby allowing MAC to be "culturally broad minded". There is more than a whiff of strategic planning here.

If MAC ever really ever gets seriously behind the vigorous abstract painting that is being done in Miami and elsewhere I think you will be able to skate in Hell at your leisure.



October 7, 2005, 11:23 AM

are the executive directors generally the curators down here? just curious. how does one determine what is shown at MAC and elsewhere (locally)?



October 7, 2005, 2:22 PM

"Contemporary art has become a lifestyle for the rich and overeducated."

I agree with Jack, duh. That is the way it has always been but now it's covered in "Lifestyles of the Rich and Flameous".

Metcalf writes, "The bourgeoisie can't get enough of placing its own thumb in its eye. No limit can be placed on the tendency; in fact, it constantly needs to refresh itself with new outrages. Thus an art district can indeed become a Disneyland for rich people. To employ life itself to chasten this tendency—to bring life to bear on our experience of sculptures and paintings, or poems and novels and plays—isn't philistinism; it's the opposite of philistinism."

I'm not sure what Metcalf is implying here, that Art-Disneyland is a sign the bourgeoisie is interested in "self elevation" (a decent topic for a series of self-help books) or that they are endlessly trapped in a never ending circle of ennui, crack whores looking for a better more outrageous fix.

The rush for the sensational, as titillation, like an "action" movie is also implied in what Dix referenced earlier when she deprecates "method of execution (lightness in form, not in content)" This idea falls neatly in line with the idea that Duchamp "challenged the prestige of the handmade" which is a tenet of yesterdays aesthetic wars. In a temporary moment of frenzied production, fostered by the demand for membership in the inner circles, it becomes convenient to downplay execution and forms with both a recognizable and comparative aesthetic history because it allows for increased output, product.

It's like fighting yesterdays war, with the battle lines too neatly defined, populated by sophomoric minions mimicking the old generals. Art has a way of eventually seeing through the ruse with a flanking maneuver. The "new sensational" is the bend and squint thought of "who did this?"

ps, added a bunch of drawings to my website this week.



October 7, 2005, 2:42 PM

i like how you have grouped your drawings into sets. you the man george


that guy

October 7, 2005, 3:06 PM

some of those drawings should stay in the studio George. The "Patsy Cline" ones in particular. The Irises are okay.



October 7, 2005, 3:09 PM

Mek, Thanks for the comment. In the studio I work with 27 up at a time, 3 high x 9 wide but that doesn't work on the web (because wide pages tend to flicker). These initial 48 works, mostly oil on paper, are studies which I'm using like a dictionary or diary of images. Although I work on them individually they are not intended to be viewed that way, a typical groupings is 3x3 or nine images. The grid arrangement is neutral and easily scalable and these are just studies for larger works currently in progress. BTW, if you click the individual images a larger version will open in a new window.



October 7, 2005, 3:18 PM

#22 that guy. Thanks for the comment. Individual; opinions vary, I decided to no not edit the selection, these are the first 48 studies warts and all. I agree on the Patsy Cline-2 which is on the dopey side and I'll probably go back into it later. I decided early in the process not to edit things, just let them happen and see what comes of it. Sometimes annoying relationships have surprising results. It's an investigation not a product.


that guy

October 7, 2005, 3:55 PM

"I decided early in the process not to edit things."
clearly not working. edit more. destroy. more crap is still crap. purge that studio.



October 7, 2005, 3:56 PM

"Rich and flameous" is good, George.

You are not far off with the "flanking maneuver" idea. I wish to hell it would start flanking.

I don't know how MAC runs itself, MEK. They have a curator. Maybe there is a web page with a mission statement, or some such.


that guy

October 7, 2005, 4:00 PM

"just let them happen and see what comes of it. " whats happining is bad art without a control mechnism to stop it from sucking. carry on.



October 7, 2005, 5:26 PM

george: nice drawings. i especially like the 10k knockoff purse. it's fitting with this discussion of art, big money, and lifestyle because the latest fashion trend or style is the 10k bag.



October 7, 2005, 8:25 PM

the current show was curated by Rina Carvajal, MAC's "executive director and chief curator," though most of the past shows have been by outside curators.



October 7, 2005, 8:27 PM

oh and speaking of crappy web sites, i'm currently working on the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood's site, in progress but up. Any comments or suggestions?



October 7, 2005, 11:51 PM

When I click on something, like "exhibitions", I get the same page i clicked from.

Is that because you are "in progress"? Or is it my computer.



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