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Teaser

Post #903 • November 8, 2006, 9:36 AM • 105 Comments

After a brief stop for fuel, Artblog.net travels to the Portland Museum of Art. It will take the day. Tomorrow: Domains of Wonder at the MFA. Friday, Roundup. Next week: one more show at WAM, shows at Portland and MIT.

Comment

1.

George

November 9, 2006, 10:31 AM

Just in case you haven't seen this. $496 Million Auction Shatters Record

2.

Bunny Smedley

November 9, 2006, 3:02 PM

Any ideas as to why Klimt ended up as belle of the ball? He isn't someone I'd have thought to list in my top 100 painters of all time. (Shows what I know ....)

3.

George

November 9, 2006, 3:39 PM

Bunny,

I guess a rising tide lifts all boats. Or, maybe it's a billionaire boys club thing to see who can buy the 'most expensive' painting. There does seem to be a prediliction for the linear at the moment. I liked the Kirchner but my trust fund advisors told me to back off when it hit 38 million, ah well next time.

4.

George

November 9, 2006, 3:39 PM

Bunny,

I guess a rising tide lifts all boats. Or, maybe it's a billionaire boys club thing to see who can buy the 'most expensive' painting. There does seem to be a prediliction for the linear at the moment. I liked the Kirchner but my trust fund advisors told me to back off when it hit 38 million, ah well next time.

5.

George

November 9, 2006, 3:52 PM

oops

I really liked the Egon Schiele - "Kniender Halbakt nach links gebeugt "

6.

Bunny Smedley

November 9, 2006, 3:57 PM

George,

Oooh, I'd have been there pushing up the price on 'your' Kirchner, which seems to me so very much more compelling than the Klimt, except that my trust fund, like yours, couldn't quite take the pace. Another time?

Still, the apotheosis of Klimt surprises me. Being to some extent a child of the1980s (a bit of a late developer frankly) I'd have thought the big boys, in their innocent haste to flash the big bucks, would have gravitated towards the big names: Picasso certainly, maybe even Pollock, but not necessarily the slightly overwrought eroticism of fin de siecle Vienna, with extra added gold ground. And the thing is, in the 1980s I don't think they'd have done this at all.

You're right, of course, about the effect of the rising tide on even the most unlikely boats. Still, just because there's a lot of money out there to spend on things (and there is - to some extent what's happening in the art auction markets is not much different from the splashing of cash in the world of high finance right now) doesn't really explain why people spend more on some things than others.

Actually, on reflection, I think what I'm trying to discover is why someone spent so much on work I don't hugely admire. And even I can see that isn't a very interesting question.

7.

opie

November 9, 2006, 4:32 PM

Bunny, you persist in overstating your modesty.

The rising tide does not explain the Klimt/Schiele phenomenon. There is a lot of mediocre art at the million & under range but when you get as high as this the art is usally pretty good, the exceptions being artists like Warhol, Johns & Lichtenstein - which at least can be rationalized - and those Godawful 1930s Picassos which seem to be de rigeuer for every arriviste in Palm beach & Hollywood.

I have no real explanation but it has been building for quite a while. Someone told me that the gay crowd liked them a lot but that didn't seem like a sufficient reason for that much support. There are much better museum-type artists of all sorts out there, some quite rare at auction, which go for far less. I find both artist's work stiff and clunky, often with bilious color, often simply unpleasant (I like the figure George points out, but not overmuch)

Maybe one of our silent readers can enlighten us.

8.

George

November 9, 2006, 4:58 PM

Part of it is just a matter of taste (preference for one thing over another taste). For example, I strongly disagree with opie about the merit of Jasper Johns.

As I mentioned there is clearly has been an interest in 'linear' works over the last few years. For what it's worth, I spent an hour speaking with an 'art appraiser' at a party awhile back. He told me that "It's not about the art, it's about the money"

The money game is like musical chairs, how much one pays doesn't matter until the music stops. It appears like some of the sharper art insiders are selling into this market and that much of the activity is at the high end which draws the headlines.

9.

jordan

November 9, 2006, 11:36 PM

I'm sure that these painters don't give a damn. However I think that it is much more than fair to say that at least some of the work has been returned to the origional owners family.

10.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 5:08 AM

I dont understand why there is constant discussion or debate over why and how much a work of art has sold for. What does it matter..its not your money they are spending. It doesnt matter if anyone thinks the art is great art or crap...that has never been the criteria to determine great art or crap art. A lot of xrap has sold for millions and a lot of great work hasnt...either way the discussion is totally meaningless at the end of the day.
If 'one' needs the price tag to determine the value then they are in the wrong game...artist or investor...both are losers.
If an artist even to the end of his or her days hasnt sold well or smoozed enough with the so called 'right' people ...does that determine the merit of their work? of course not!
The scale of art and money and how it tips and who tips it ...means nothing in the end.

ps. I adore the Klimt/Bloch B. portrait and thinks its brilliant and transfixing, magical. The painter did this gorgeous piece for a woman who was his patron and the work has travelled from its source, through theft and other evil adventures back to the owners heirs and now is in the safe hands of another patron of the arts.
Also its not about the tides and boats floating up....its about a great piece of art work that was stolen and off the market till the courts forced an accounting and an art lover who has the bucks scooping it up.
Egon is also terrific.........has nothing to do with fluctuating tastes or who likes what.......its all about the talent and the work!

11.

opie

November 10, 2006, 7:16 AM

Elizabeth, I think we all understand that it is "all about" how good the work is and that market appraisals may not reflect wuality, but to say that the relationship between the art and the quality of the art and market evaluations is "totally meaningless" is willfully dismissive.

If you make art, or if you make your living from it, one way or another, what the market does is central to your livlihood. You cannot afford to just dismiss it out of hand.

12.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 7:28 AM

OP. with all due respect.....I do ...........and I do make my living from it and have for the past twenty years done quite well and charge what I like and they pay if they like.........so I do dismiss it and I will always feel it is about the art, true talent and skill and not about the $$$ and what 'someone else' feels its value is.

13.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 7:32 AM

I might add that there are probably quite a few people who regret their expensive purchases and did not buy with a view to the quality of the work as opposed to what the 'market' was commanding or demanding.

14.

Bunny Smedley

November 10, 2006, 7:49 AM

Elizabeth, the question I was trying to raise was, primarily, about the history of taste. Some people, myself included, find it quite interesting to reflect on why certain artists or works are more or less popular at certain cultural moments. Sorry if 'constant discussion and debate' about this bores you.

15.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 8:01 AM

OP, your comment ...what the market does is central to your livelihood....makes me believe even more that I need to dismiss it..........there are too many variables at play here .....you have your dead artists as opposed to your living artists....you have artists who are promoted and marketed well who sell for ridiculous amounts because of great PR and not because of talent...you have artists who are brilliant who never get exposure and sell for little...we have all seen this occur in the past....too many famous artists to count who died broke and sold for millions later and those who are broke today who will likely follow the same fate..........I dismiss it all and keep painting happily not caring:) and I charge quite a lot:).

16.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 8:03 AM

Not boring Bunny...wrong word...I said its meaningless in the end to the artist....maybe not to the investor but to the artist I think it is meaningless.

17.

opie

November 10, 2006, 8:57 AM

I dismiss it too, Elizabeth. In my work I dismiss it completely. And in my appreciation of work I dismiss it completely. One cannot function fully and honestly as an artist unless one does this.

But that is quite different from finding it a fascinating and anxious topic of discussion and debate, which I, for one, enjoy.

18.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 9:38 AM

I was thinking of the expression 'theres no accounting for taste'.....how can we track taste in the art world/market? Do we follow fools ..are we influenced really? by investors who are led about by the diamond studded gold rings in their noses, held by supposed art advisors who 'instruct' their clients tastes based on this 'market'....an example would be that farce Kostabi and the feeding frenzy that took place over 'his' (haha) work.
fine, there are different important movements...the new new...as we spoke about ages ago.....call these cultural moments, those have happened and will happen again ..but to try to analyze taste is too subjective and is too much of a crap shoot of fate from the artists point of view to make sense to me.................
I think one thing we can all agree upon is that we all have our own list of favorites, the ones who move us, the ones who show brilliance and we stand in awe of them..I know I do....and when we do, we dont think of the price.

19.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 9:49 AM

next to Kostabi on that really bad list would be Hirst...but I give kudos to Saatchi for that PR job though, now thats talent!!!. Anyone seeing Damiens work would say taste is Dead...not just his sharks.

20.

Marc Country

November 10, 2006, 10:57 AM

My guess is, Klimt (especially "the kiss", but many others as well) are big sellers, and have been or years, in the cheap reproduction market (ie. posters)...art interested boys and girls have been hanging up images of his 'totally neat' paintings for decades, no doubt, and buying sale-priced coffee-table books of his work (along with Monet, Maxfield Parrish, and whichcever other artists are on the discount rack at the local Chapters). Kilmt's reputation as a genius of decadent art (Just like Dali, but not so freaking weird) has been solidified amongst mainstream 'art appreciators', which is exactly who hedge-fund millionaires et al are... middlebrows with middlebrow taste, but nothing 'middling' about the money they have to spend on the art they like.

21.

Marc Country

November 10, 2006, 11:02 AM

P.S. When's the new Klimt movie coming out? I mean, I assume there will be one...

Well, here you go... before I posted this comment, I checked Wikipedia, and "Raoul Ruiz directed a biopic, Klimt, starring John Malkovich in the title role. The movie got its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on January 28, 2006."

22.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 11:23 AM

Marc, thats really funny............a ?, why is it that artists always come out looking like demented tortured whakos on film ....when in reality we are more sane, centered, creative, talented and focused then all the ordinary people? :):)

23.

opie

November 10, 2006, 11:53 AM

I second that, Elizabeth. I think artists are more normal than other people. They seem abnormal because they refuse to do the abnormal stuff everyone else does, which seems normal because everyone does it.

If that makes any sense.

24.

George

November 10, 2006, 11:58 AM

My remark ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ was directed at two specific points. First, the large amounts of money being spent on art at the current moment. Second, the record price paid for a Klimt earlier in the year which established the psychological upper boundary of what a Klimt was ‘worth’ in todays market.

A second and major factor relates to the legal issues surrounding the Klimt works. The case was resolved in favor of the heirs and as a result the paintings in question were brought to market. Essentially these paintings were locked up for the last 60 years. When prime examples of an artists work come to market they always generate interest because of both their rarity and their quality relative to the artists body of work.

The ‘taste’ factor is about current taste and a topic fraught with disagreement. Never the less, it is clear that the tastes change over time and this affects the prices paid at auction. For whatever reason, rising prices cause increasing demand, which puts further upward pressure on prices.

It should be obvious that auction prices are not entirely based on the quality of the work but reflect a number of other factors as well. At the moment there are more billionaires than ever in history, part of the increase is a result of globalization and part is due to influence and greed. Never the less, the wealthy desire to preserve their wealth and art is again being touted for this purpose. The result, aside from individuals ‘just collecting art’ has been the rise of the art hedge funds or speculators which have deep pockets and it seems, a taste for the ‘popular.’

The artworks in the recent auction are by artists long dead and it has no affect on them at all, unless maybe their ghosts are turning over in their graves. Should these factors like auction prices affect an artist working in their studios today? Of course not. Should an artist have some working knowledge of how the art marketplace functions? I would say yes.

25.

George

November 10, 2006, 12:03 PM

Schiele made some really sexy drawings, in Texas they’d be considered decadent or downright obscene.

26.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 12:12 PM

OP.......u understand me :) you really really do...........and yes u do make sense :)........
Marc....who should play you in the movie? who should play OP and Jack?

a short list of movies where 'we' dont look so great.....picasso, bacon, pollack, michaelangelo, van gogh; kirk douglas screamed his way through that film and vg was honestly ill, ........I take notice now that there arent any female artists on this list :).....I cant think of any?

27.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 12:24 PM

George, you have two kinds of animals in collectors...the ones who love art and the ones who love money....... I have had the pleasure and annoyance of meeting both in my studio...the latter got the door and no painting:)

28.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 12:27 PM

George, yup, you couldnt be more right about Egon.

29.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 12:38 PM

George, your second paragraph is not exactly accurate...they were not 'locked up' for 60 years ..they were stolen by the Austrian Nazi's 1st and then 'kept' by the Austrians and 'shown' in their National Gallery.
Maria Altmann, holocaust survivor and niece of BB sued the Austrian Gov. in the American courts and won when the Supreme Court overturned the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in a 6 to 3 decision.

30.

George

November 10, 2006, 12:53 PM

Elizabeth,

I knew the story behind the Klimt paintings, by 'locked up' I just meant they weren't available for sale for 60 years. Over a 60 year period, the sale and resale of these paintings might have changed the current results. Some of them might have ended up in a museum 100 million dollars ago and off the market as a result. The fact they have become available after such a long period and in a bubbly market more or less guaranteed they would bring record prices

31.

opie

November 10, 2006, 2:02 PM

But George, the original discussion and still the unanswered question is why are these multi-million dollar paintings in the first place. That is what Bunny asked and what I responded to. Of course there are "factors" up the wazoo, but our puzzlement had to do with the fact that we thought they were not that good and could not find sufficient rationalization for the high prices.

Elizabeth, I make all kinds of typos and misspellings but I try to get names like "Pollock" spelled right.

The person who would play me in the movies is old-time actor Robert Ryan. I looked like him when I was younger. My brother is a dead ringer for Richard Benjamin. Because he is also an actor it makes problems for him

32.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 2:17 PM

George, after I posted it due to (this part is for OP) LACK of sleep due to too much coffee and painting all night..it occured to me that that is what you meant...no worries Jack.
OP, yes u do make a lot of typos and I never once bitched....u have to admit its a funny typo considering....:):)
George, I cant seem to shake the phrase 'whatever floats your boat' out of my mind....:)


Oh yes...now that I recall, there was an artist chick flick ...frida..........:)

33.

George

November 10, 2006, 3:50 PM

re #31, opie and bunny

I said: Part of it is just a matter of taste (preference for one thing over another taste). [8]
I actually think that is the correct answer. People disagree over the merits of Klimt's paintings. Some like them and some don't. With all due respect to opie and Bunny, it is apparent that those who disagree and admire them, put their money where their mouth was.

This doesn't mean that the two of you are wrong, but I have to take your views as personal opinions, not absolute fact. For example, if the three of us were to pass judgement on two painters, Jasper Johns and Jules Olitski, I suspect that opie and Bunny would think Olitski is the vastly better painter. I would totally disagree and consider Johns the better painter. We could argue forever and never reach an agreement (so I won't)

The point is that there will always be disagreements on the merits of one artists work over another, auction prices only affect opinions for a limited period. Tastes change and over a span of years, various artists and their works rise and fall in our preferences. There are obviously certain artists which manage to establish themselves at the summit of achievement, they are few and far between.

34.

opie

November 10, 2006, 4:04 PM

You are wearing me down agan, George.

I am somewhat dimly vaguely marginally aware that there is such a thing as "difference in taste". This is not a particularly incisive, get-to-the-bottom-of-things explanation for the very high price of Klimt.

I think Johns is a vastly overrated artist but I understand why, I have a feel for it, I have experienced the history of it. I do not understand or have a feel for why Klimt is in the tens-of-millions category.

The Klimt market mystifies me. I think it mystifies Bunny, too. People have "differences of taste" about hundreds of artists and they do not sell in the tens-of-millions. Please don't tell us it is just "difference of taste" and "disagreement about merits". That's obvious. It doesn't help.

35.

Franklin

November 10, 2006, 4:17 PM

The low-eight digit Klimt market mystifies me less than the high-eight-digit Picasso market. The Klimts at least have a lot of superficial beauty, although I think they have a lot of substantial beauty as well. Trying to put a number on it is hard enough, much less trying to reconcile it to a number I can't even visualize.

36.

George

November 10, 2006, 4:26 PM

Well opie, help me out here. (or Bunny too)
What is it you don’t like about Klimt?
In today’s market his best paintings are obviously worth more than 10 million dollars when priced comparatively with other works. So how do you think they should be priced? Give me a number.

37.

Bunny Smedley

November 10, 2006, 4:44 PM

George,

Two quick points.

First, although I've seen several works by Johns that I rather liked, I've never actually seen anything by OIitski 'in real life' as it were, so would certainly not express the view you've attributed to me.

Secondly, whatever my art critical affiliations may appear to be, my economics are pretty squarely Austrian, Hayekian, that sort of thing. A Klimt is 'worth' what the market will bear. I don't quite understand how the myth seems to have arisen here that I particularly dislike Klimt's work. I don't. I've seen several quite attractive things by him, mostly (from memory) at a Royal Academy show in London in 1999-2000.

What I was trying to ask - and several contributors here, notably Marc Country, have raised interesting points in this respect - was why, all of a sudden, Klimt's work was achieving such high prices at auction.

What I take these prices to mean, incidentally, has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of Klimt's work. They have, on the other hand, everything to do with demand for his work amongst individuals and institutions with enough cash or credit to secure it at auction. So, I think both the points about the previous scarcity of Klimts on the market, coupled with the familiary and perhaps approachability of the images, have usefully answered the question I attempted, however ineptly, to raise.

A final point: I guess if I was getting at anything with my slightly dismissive comments about Klimt about, it was simply the sense that he's, well, a bit on the decorative side - not 'difficult', not the sort of painter who needs a lot of critical effusiveness to ease him down the slipway, And before anyone starts attributing other things to me that I don't mean, I am not saying this is a bad thing. All I am saying is that, in previous decades, paintings achieving high prices at auction have sometimes been rather different. Obviously, some people here will find this point deadly dull, irrelevant, pointless, whatever. But at least it's the point I was trying to make.

38.

Jack

November 10, 2006, 4:47 PM

Klimt works such as the one bought by Lauder are absolutely perfect for rich, high society types who see themselves as the embodiment of refinement. It's more or less the painting equivalent of Faberge objects for royalty and the aristocracy--extremely upscale eye candy, with the benefits of both luxury and tasteful decadence. Then there's the Nazi-Jewish angle for added drama or relevance, even though that's a lure after the fact. Given the people we're talking about, with that kind of money and position, the stuff is bound to be practically irresistible.

Basically, it's first-rate decorative work (as distinct from great decorative work, such as Tiepolo). It's beautifully done, ravishingly pretty, very accessible, and has "high class" written all over it. A total cinch.

39.

Elizabeth

November 10, 2006, 5:30 PM

Jack nailed it

40.

George

November 10, 2006, 6:12 PM

re#37 Bunny,

Ok, I stand corrected on how I was interpreting your preferences.

As an artist, I’m probably a bit of an oddball in that I have studied the financial markets closely for over 25 years. There is a phenomena called (I think) "bracketing" which occurs when a high or low number is posted relative to a price or event (as in the number of deaths in Iraq for instance) People seem to have a generalized idea of what might be ‘reasonable’ and using this intuition might scoff at a highball or lowball estimate and tend to move their focus towards the center of the range regardless of the validity of the estimates given. If the high or low estimates are achieved, they are met with astonishment.

In the case of the Klimt paintings recently auctioned there are two primary forces in effect. The first is the recent painting of Klimt’s which sold for 136 million or so, this sale defined the high end. At the low end are the sales of works by other established painters in the 10-40 million dollar range. The attitude becomes one of "well, if that one was worth $136 million, I’ll bid to $xx high for that one" where the mental bid limit is in the range of $10 to $90 million. (i.e. of course 136 million is too much)

I also agree with Jack’s Faberge Factor, the paintings are handsome if decorative and they have appeal because of this. Also, as you would suspect, one cannot discount the name factor in establishing prices. Picasso sells well, I think more because of the name factor, than on the merits of the individual works. The secondary dealers know they can resell Picassos to wealthy collectors because the collectors want to say ‘they have a Picasso’ (or a Dufy, or Degas, or Dufus or…)

In the Sotheby’s auction yesterday, paintings by Le Sidaner sold well. I had never heard of him before today. A Degas sold for $400000 less than a Picasso of lesser quality. Klimt drawings went at reasonable prices (50k ish). It was a mixed bag

41.

opie

November 10, 2006, 8:22 PM

George, if you want to find a Klimt we can talk about that might make it easier. I have to say he is my least favorite of the ultra high-priced artists.

Le Sidaner is one of those auction staples. most of them latter-day Impressionists or artists who managed avoid Cubism, like Camoin, Dufy, Denis, Guillaumin, Lebasque, Loiseau, Manguin, Marquet, Martin, Vlaminck, Utrillo, Lebourg and others, some of whom were capable of bringing off a good painting. (There was a honey of a Marquet in the sale).

Why that Le Sidaner went for half a million ifs beyond me. So is the perfiectly hideous de Chirico that also went for that amount, or, on the other hand, some pretty respectable Pissarros and Sisleys that were bought in.

42.

George

November 10, 2006, 10:06 PM

re: #41. Opie

I’d just as soon dispense with the Klimt’s. I’m not a big fan of his work in the sense that I spend any time looking at it. For the same money I’d rather have a Pollock any day.

I will make some purely financial observations though. The world financial markets seem to be indicating that we are at the beginning of a major asset inflation. It started with real estate, which world wide saw significant price increases since the turn of the century (last 6 years) This seems to have come to a halt primarily because real estate is closely linked to disposable income and when prices get out of wack (a finance term) something has to give and that is what is happening now.

That said, the US government has been printing money like there is no tomorrow and the US economy drives the world economy. I also believe that the Fed (moneybags for the gov) wants to, or already is engineering a paper ‘asset inflation’ in order to finance the war debt. As a result, I expect to see the US financial markets to increase in value by about 50% to 75% by the end of the decade. I also expect the price of gold to double from where it is today (roughly $630 NY spot) at the very minimum. As these two markets go, so will the art market.

What the point of this? Well the head of Aquevella Gallery recently sold a Cezanne for $16 million, he bought it at auction a few years back for around $7 million (numbers approximate, from memory) This ratcheting up in pricing is being applied to all the artworks coming up for auction. It is not occurring in a broad swath but seems to be rotating across the various historical sectors. Once someone pays $30 or $40 million for a painting, it is unlikely it will be offered again for a few years, although it could be sold privately. So as each market group achieves a record high, it begins to define the upper limit on prices for the particular area for at least 3 or 4 years.

The reason I asked ‘how should they be priced’ was part serious and part rhetorical. The art market seems to have experienced a range shift in pricing, more or less across the board except on the very low end (alas). Essentially prices have doubled from the previous price ranges. Obviously this cannot continue unabated, it is one thing to double the asking price of a $1 million dollar painting, but quite something else to double the price of a $100 million dollar painting. The buying power is just not there.

As a result I would expect to see continuing price increases on lower priced artworks (less than 20 million) with a smattering of record prices achieved every now and then for a good headline. This would mean that we should have expected to see works by artists like Le Sidaner move into a higher price range, a range which based upon what we knew seems pricey but which reflects the current demand as capital flows move into hard assets. FWIW, the price of gold which hit its nadir in 1998 at $253 an ounce (USD NY spot) has more or less predicted art prices since then. With the exception of price changes caused by political unrest, the price of gold should more or less indicate the direction of the art market. (Over the longer term using a smoothed average for the gold price since it is somewhat volatile)

43.

1

November 11, 2006, 10:38 AM

while what i'll add to the conversation may not directly address the question at hand, as to why the klimt pictures have garnered such prices, it should expand upon other notions hinted at here as to possibly why.

it's funny how greenberg can lead the way in answering a lot of questions that are often brought up on the blog in more detail than we attempt to expose on our own. unfortuantely i will fail to do that here, but it is true.

originally i was going to connect this phenomenon to a contributing artistic reason why klimt's paintings could be getting these prices to what greenberg called "homeless representation". in volume 4 of the greenberg essays, in an excellent article written in 1962 titled "after abstract expressionism", a term i'm sure he has used elsewhere, to help provide some insight as to the prices. but as i went back to reread that again i realized it did not apply. i was using the term incorrectly. neverthless it spurred some thought. regardless i know greenberg addressed what i am trying to shed some light on and did actually provide terms and talk that help explain the situation.

the klimt, like a rousseau, kind of pops out of nowhere, like -homeless representation- (not used in the way greenberg intended, he actually had other terms for this). it is a very unique style, difficult to connect implicitly. somewhat a melding of styles, but it is not part of the normal evoltion of painting history. an oddity or curiosity that that is getting elevated status and prices for this sole reason.

while the pictures are all basically well done, polished and pretty they are a bit spectacular. not using spectacular as good nor bad. i can see why people might initially view them as striking and sensational, but once again maybe not good or bad. glamorized a bit . and although pretty as mentioned, they do have a slightly disturbing affect because of this. fantastical.

somewhat extending on the above, grand mannerism also seems to play a part. these are painted as to say look at me. i am great, important paiting. a good comparison would be picasso's "guernica"

outside of these possible artistic reasons for the prices and status, basic economics apply. supply and demand and trending markets explain a lot.

lastly, when i was at the moma 2 years ago, when comparing my 2 -homeless representations-, rousseau and klimt, i felt empty with the klimt and actually liked the rousseau, quirkyness and all. then you step up to other figurative paintings like, cezanne's, "the bather" and matisse's "male model" and you know where art is at.

44.

opie

November 11, 2006, 11:11 AM

If you look at the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer - the painting Lauder paid $135 million for - at the web site below (I hope it works) you see a painting essentially held prisoner by stiff, mindlessly repeated decorative detail, lavishly dressed up in gold. The figure is grey, ashen, lifeless, equally trapped, equally laden with precious ephemera but utterly detached from the rest of the painting. The picture is unmoving, dead, inexpressive, souless, a pure trophy with a scant vestige of art. My only feeling when looking at it is pity for the poor woman, rich as she was.

I know this is an extreme and provocative thing to say, but if you really see this as a great work of art, if you eye tells you that, apart from all the effluvia which comes in its company, then you can't see art.

http://webpub.allegheny.edu/dept/german/KlimtAdele.jpg

45.

catfish

November 11, 2006, 11:42 AM

I kind of like it, opie. It packages a bunch of pleasant but trivial decoration in a wrapper that distracts, somewhat, from how trivial it is without detracting much from the pleasantness.

Many regard it as a "heavy" picture, full of significance, irony, etc. That seems like a mistake to me. Just looking at it, it is pleasant enough to be called enjoyable, but not pleasurable enough to be called beautiful.

To my eye, the grey ashen lifeless figure is just a patch of grey that sets off all the gold decoration, not profoundly, but it does its little job well enough. As a figure, it is irrelevant - detached, as you say.

That this has risen to the 8 figure level seems like a sign of a frothy market.

"Effluvia" - that's a great word.

46.

opie

November 11, 2006, 12:22 PM

Well, Catfish, I will defer to your eye, because I well know you have one, at least as far as "pleasantness" is concerned. I find it distinctly unpleasant, but I can see how it could be seen as the opposite.

The only thing to be "read into" the picture is the pathetic nature of the figure, drowning in all that peacock vulgarity, holding her hands as if to both hide and expose her deformed finger. Poor little rich girl.

Actually, it is 9 figures, but what the hell.

I used "effluvia" advisedly, rather than leftovers, residue, accessories or appendages because I liked the watery sound and the implication of the emanation of gas. Words are wonderful things!

47.

Jack

November 11, 2006, 1:31 PM

This is a better Klimt:

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/klimt/klimt.fritza-riedler.jpg

48.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 2:44 PM

Op, whats with this 'poor little rich girl' description? The woman was an art patron and held one of most notable salons of her time. Whether you like the potrait or not, it wouldnt exist if it wasnt for her love of art and support of the artist. Her husband was hugely wealthy and she could express this love of art in her support and admiration for artists.
I understand Ronald Lauders desire for the work, not just because of its haunting beauty....but because those sweethearts and grandchildren of the nazis are trying to raise funds haha to buy back all of the paintings from the BB collection. Hell will freeze over (my prediction) before Ronald Lauder would let that happen.....I would bet money that that painting would have gone higher to any amount ( of which he has,being a billionaire) so that the work was returned to JEWISH hands.
Bravo Ronald Lauder.........and a huge middle finger up to the Austrians....there is justice after all, it just cost $135 mill.

49.

catfish

November 11, 2006, 2:46 PM

I don't know, Jack. How do you see that head splitting the window behind it, making the window appear as a head-dress of some sort? Is that part of the picture's being "difficult"?

50.

opie

November 11, 2006, 3:32 PM

The poor little rich girl remark was based on my feeling about how she looked in the picture, how the artist made her look, as I tried to make clear.

It is possible that there was a motive of Jewish solidarity going on here but I have seen no mention of it. I have just the vaguest supposition that personal ego might loom somewhat larger.

51.

1

November 11, 2006, 3:47 PM

i agree with opie, whoever bought that picture, made an individual decision. JEWISH or not.

52.

Jack

November 11, 2006, 4:59 PM

I have not seen the Bloch-Bauer portrait in person, only in reproduction. The image of it I was carrying in my head, however, was more flattering than the one at the URL that OP gave above. OP's image seems gaudier, fussier and, I'm afraid, kitschier. The other portrait seems more substantial or less artificial, or perhaps the sitter simply had more character (Adele looks rather vapid). The "head-dress," Catfish, strikes me as a reference or bow to Velazquez portraits of royal females (such as Mariana of Austria).

I have to say, though, that the more I see of Klimt, the queasier I get, so to speak.

53.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 5:29 PM

OP, thanks for clarifying your comment and 1, of course ot was an individual decision to buy it....but trust me when I say I know this topic of holocaust restitution and stolen property.....that this was a JEWISH decision by Ronald Lauder a JEWISH art patron and that being JEWISH had a lot to do with that high price and that considering all the factors involved PLUS the history and the 60 year FIGHT to get it rightfully back into JEWISH hands.........he would have paid much more if need be.

54.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 5:30 PM

ot=it..............I hateeeeeeeeeeeeee typos!!!!!!!!!!!!

55.

opie

November 11, 2006, 7:09 PM

A "Jewish" decision, Elizabeth? This is an odd locution. Lauder had nothing to do with the restitution, as far as I know. I think you are out on a limb here.

56.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 7:22 PM

Op, Im not out on any limb here....it was long 'known' in the Jewish community about this enduring legal fight over this Jewish property and Ronald Lauder and his connections watched closely as it went through the negotiations and legal stages and how Maria Altmann and her tenaciousness and terrific lawyer kicked Austrian ass by overturning the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which allowed her to sue as an American in the American courts....the Austrians and their thievery and stonewalling met their match...it was over.
Do you think the Austrians didnt bid on that work....they most certainly did...and no matter how high .......they would never have gotten it....trust me.........you all think that high price has to do with the art and its value, it does partly ..but the larger impetus here was the issue of it not being bought and taken back to Austria.........Mr Ronald Lauder, even though a great lover and patron of the arts ....definetly made his decision with the history of who and what was involved in this collection.

57.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 7:31 PM

OP, I could also tell you if your ever interested why the Swiss settled with Edgar Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress for 1.25 billion and NOT 600,000,000. million as was originally agreed to........and this came to me by way of a board member who was there.
The stuff of movies OP...but all true.

59.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 7:40 PM

I dont know if Ronald Lauder is a great lover....I should I said that better...a great art lover, hows that...but he may very well be?

60.

Jack

November 11, 2006, 8:41 PM

Thanks, George. He went with what he had and what he was, and I expect he made the most he could out of it. He obviously can't be faulted for that, and there's a certain integrity there. The works without human figures seem more interesting or less tricked-up, possibly because they're less over-familiar (meaning they haven't been reproduced to death).

His more "iconic" pieces do bring up the issue of kitsch, some more than others (Adele does, rather overtly, the more I look at it). However, the work is successful for what it is. I don't much care for horror movies or science fiction stuff, but I can still recognize that, in those genres, there are varying degrees of quality in terms of wnat the genre is about. I sort of feel that way about Klimt.

61.

opie

November 11, 2006, 8:51 PM

Yes, thanks George, for the good set of images. I like the one with the girl in front of the pink wall, and that apple tree (I guess it is an apple tree) is nice, good color on both of them. The rest leave me cold in varying degrees. I just don't think he drew or painted very well, and I have never been fond of obsessive repetition in painting or music, or writing for that matter.

OK Elizabeth, I won't argue with you. I know little about these things.

62.

Elizabeth

November 11, 2006, 9:40 PM

very nice George........I agree with Op on the tree....dont care much for the landscapes...prefer the portraits and the two here for my taste are the Adele BB and the young girl (pink wall)........I like what he does with women, he has a feel for the female figure.

Op. no worries, I have been and still am involved heavily in that area and its shocking, strange and reads like a movie sometimes. It another chapter in history thats playing out in front of us and sometimes the art world over laps into legal world....to say emotions arent a huge part of what has transpired (the Klimt purchase) and is long from being over, is a massive understatement.

63.

George

November 11, 2006, 11:24 PM

When it rains, get an umbrella

64.

George

November 11, 2006, 11:51 PM

Eakins Masterwork Is to Be Sold to Museums
Current bid is$68 million by a the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art acting together.

It was decided they could cut the painting in half and exhibit their half on a rotating basis with the other half. This way a "blockbuster show" would be when the two halves were joined together!!! :-)

Aw, just read the article.

65.

1

November 12, 2006, 2:38 AM

george those prices are insane. i guess.

back to klimt. the more you try to look at him and give him his due, the more he let's you down. in the big picture, good painter, mediocre drawer and decent artist. the guy definitely had serious talent, but is not a serious first-rate artist. after the initial deceitful wow factor, it mostly turns into provincial, overbearing, ultra- decorative, glamorized, garish, heavy-handed, pretentious spectacles. he spins together various styles from old and new, far and wide and what comes out is a formula for grand manner that usually turns to kitsch. over time you feel like you were almost hoodwinked by a fraud. high class schlock. they really become more and more awkward over time.

that said he can still put together some good pictures. but after looking more and more, the more i am disappointed and angry that others have been fooled by a con.

here is another page of his work:

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~dbi9m/klimt/Women.html

i thought "portrait of emily floge " was better than most.

66.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 10:50 AM

This Walton woman may mean well, I suppose, but she's prettty much an embarrassment. Her previous stunt was bad enough, but this Eakins painting (which, needless to say, is a far better work than the Bloch-Bauer portrait) has absolutely no business spending any time in some vanity museum in the middle of nowhere. It's obvious people only give her the time of day because she's so rich, otherwise what she's proposing would never be considered. Can't she see how ridiculous, even tacky, she looks?

67.

opie

November 12, 2006, 11:02 AM

When the new rich grab culture it is always awkward, Jack. Kind of like hyenas wolfing down carrion, downing it in the largest possible chunks. That's where all those multimillion dollar prices come from.

Worse is when they get "advisors" who usually bear the dangerous burden of being half-informed.

But the dealers just love these people. The fresh money is like wind in their sails. (wind in their sales?)

68.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 11:33 AM

Well, she may be better than that Geffen guy. I expect she can be counted on to avoid poking holes in what she's paid millions for. Honestly, why don't they just buy fancy cars and jewelry?

Yeah, I'm sure she has all the advisors she can stand, as well as countless dealers lined up to slobber over her and praise her eye. It never fails.

69.

George

November 12, 2006, 11:50 AM

It seems to me that the key aspect of the Eakins story was the desire of the University to have the painting go to a museum rather than to a private collector. In the current market it is hard to imagine what the painting might fetch in a public auction.

From the NY Times article, it appears that Walton was brought into the deal to help out on the financing for the the National Gallery. The Crystal Bridges Museum might be a vanity affair, but how different is this from the Getty? Just a smaller vanity faire? In any case, if I am reading between the lines correctly, $68 million is the opening bid and other Museums now have the opportunity the see what kind of stuff their billionaire backers are made of.

I have a hunch this affair isn't over yet, Philadelphia wants to keep the painting in Pennsylvania and I have a hunch there might be other offers as time goes on.

70.

Marc Country

November 12, 2006, 11:56 AM

Jack, that was Wynn, not Geffen, with the sharp elbows...

71.

George

November 12, 2006, 11:59 AM

Jack,

It was Steve Wynn, the casino guy, who poked the Picasso. Geffen sold the Pollock.

72.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 12:22 PM

Geffen, Wynn, what's the difference, really? We're still talking trophy hunter types, though I guess they have to spend money on something, and it might as well be flashy and "classy." I don't know, it may just be the way it's always been, only more money and more crassness, but it's still irritating. And yes, I know, it won't stop, certainly not on my account.

73.

George

November 12, 2006, 1:49 PM

As collectors go, Geffen is pretty good. "Geffen has the largest private holdings of works by Pollock, Johns, and de Kooning" [artnews]

"False Start" by Jasper Johns

"Target with Plaster Casts by Jasper Johns

"Police Gazette" by Willen de Kooning

"Interchange" by Willen de Kooning

He also owned De Koonings "Woman III" and several Rothkos which I couldn’t find pictures of.

A LS Times article on Geffen and his collection

74.

opie

November 12, 2006, 3:03 PM

George, I don't know what the ego quotient is here, but the Getty is a very serious art center all around. I don't think that is a judicious comparison.

Geffen is certainly sharp. Seems to be an astute trader.

That Johns "False Start" - ouch! What a dog!

75.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 6:40 PM

I saw a few small still lifes by Frida Kahlo today, all painfully banal, utterly mediocre and completely inconsequential. I don't know what they'd sell for right now, but I expect it would be a pretty penny. I wouldn't want any of them as a gift, artwise. Somebody call one of the hedge fund crowd (well, at least one from Latin America). Sometimes, the lunacy of the art world is a bit too much, even for someone who's reasonably used to it.

76.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 9:45 PM

OP, you're just being closed-minded about that "False Start" picture. I mean, it uses text, which is pretty advanced and all, and those bright starbursts of color are very, well, eyecatching. Perky, even. That Leroy Nieman guy, or whatever his name is, would be impressed (he's got a book out on his work and everything, so he must be important). Besides, it makes no real difference whether it's any good or not. It truly doesn't--not for the kind of crowd we're talking about. Do you really think they even know?

As for the "iconic" target business, the more I times I see the damn thing, the more gimmicky it looks. Or dated. Or tired. Or tiresome. Just don't tell the hedge fund idiots. It'd break their hearts. Even the obscenely rich have a right to their delusions.

77.

catfish

November 12, 2006, 10:43 PM

Hey Jack, False Start is not just "perky", it's quantifiably perky.

78.

Jack

November 12, 2006, 11:09 PM

Isn't it, Catfish? It's like that Couric person on uppers. Still, I feel obliged to remind OP that it could be worse. It could be a Richter pretending to be perky. That's a scary thought.

79.

opie

November 13, 2006, 12:07 AM

You're right, Jack. At least the Johns is nice and bright and painterly. A confused muddle is better than a chilled cadaver any day.

It is interesting how the spectacular popularity of contemporary art has created this market of "collector" pictures, pictures which have little respect among artists and other professionals but are red-hot among collectors. You can see them in quatity in the recent contemporary sales.

There are the artists that other artists and museum people respect, like the recently discussed Marden and Scully, and the "modern masters", like Warhol and Johns, but now we have artists whose work has little if any support from professionals, artists like Dumas, which collecters snap up at almost any price.

Of course I am not really in on what is going on in the art world, but this is my impression.

80.

Elizabeth

November 13, 2006, 1:38 AM

I cant think of any artist alive or dead who has hit the target each time... now Jack Bush the Canadian artist who CG really liked a lot hit the mark quite often and well......we all have our favorites list and more then likely in among the body of the work there are gonna be some big dogs....Frida had a lot of woofers and even though her life was difficult, dramatic and tortured...it would have been if she was painting or not and I think her prices reflect that mystic of the distressed artist who has suffered for or through her art , while its people like Jack and I who suffer to look at it.

The ideal situation for these collectors and I might add the 'investors' , would be to hire Jack and OPie who have an educated back ground and a sincere love of art to guide them with honesty and not ass kissing.....that would be the ideal.

81.

catfish

November 13, 2006, 6:09 AM

Shit happens, as they say. By the time HyperRealism took place, critics had quit doing their jobs properly, so dealers took the bit in their mouth, so to speak, and put HyperRealism over as the commercial success that was just laying there for it to have. And why not? Dealers were and are merchants and merchants exist to put product across to buyers. They have not relinquished the bit since they took the lead. Critics, like metal boats without rudders, organized along the magnetic lines created by the flow of money into, from, and around the merchants, and the art boom has flourished ever since. In hindsight, it all seems like a Spinozian necessity driven by the herding instinct of the wealthy, a "mobacracy" of the well off. This mob does what any mob will do, it consumes whatever gets in its way.

So, the dealers are doing their jobs and the critics are not. The real question, though, is whether there are any artists left are both willing and able to do theirs.

82.

catfish

November 13, 2006, 6:11 AM

Make that "mobocracy".

83.

opie

November 13, 2006, 9:04 AM

Yes, it is interesting. The system continues to turn out "art objects" but the motivaitions of the market (and the academy, which willingly follows the market) have completely taken over, like a flu virus. Serious art-making has been denigrated and shoved back so effectively that it may just wither on the vine, or turn elsewhere. It is beginning to seem vestigial. The whole enterprise may suffer the fate of what we call "classical music", whereby we go to museums (concerts; recordings) to see the great art (music) but it is all art made in the past.

This may be a natural, if unfortunate, process. Maybe art forms have a specific life cycle, like other organisms. Someone should write about it.

84.

Klimt

November 13, 2006, 9:32 AM

I paint pleasure! I paint beauty! You "serious" artists only give it lip service, while I give it my heart. There is a world of love to be had, and joyous art to be made. I love the paint and love what and whom I paint. I would never do any the disservice of the slow death of the heART that seriousness presents. Throw off your inhibitions and join me, men! The seduction of Life is an earnest game, but only rarely is it serious.

85.

Jack

November 13, 2006, 10:19 AM

Yes, the fate of serious or art music is very sad indeed, not least because of the perversely irrational and contemptibly wrongheaded reasons for it. It was like someone bound and determined to commit suicide for the sake of utter foolishness. As in, "Let's forget what music is for and about, and let's persist in making so-called music which will never find an audience--that'll show them we're really serious and advanced." Bunch of pretentious, deluded idiots.

86.

opie

November 13, 2006, 10:41 AM

The production of pleasure is a serious business, Klimt.

87.

Jack

November 13, 2006, 11:31 AM

I had a somewhat interesting experience this weekend which relates to the Klimt discussion throughout this thread. I saw an 1877 painting by Hans Makart (1840-84) at the Bass Museum. It's a portrait of a Viennese actress or opera singer, reportedly a femme fatale in her day, as a Valkyrie. Very Teutonic, extremely fleshy, sort of a looser, sketchier version of Rubens.

Makart was 20 years older than Klimt and died relatively young, when Klimt was in his early 20s, but he was the undisputed king of the Viennese art world from about 1870 till he died, enormously successful, and highly regarded in his time. He had a huge, lavish studio where all the right people went for celebrated parties, including Richard Wagner. He was primarily a history painter, famed for his theatrical flair and use of color. His reputation died with him, but he remains historically important.

I thought of the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait. The Makart is much more painterly, vigorous and straightforward. The Klimt is far more stylized, "designed," fussed over and "special," like a hothouse flower that cannot possibly survive outside of a very specific milieu. Klimt's style is certainly more individual and personal, but also more artificial.

Go here for the Makart, and see what you think:

http://www.artrenewal.org/images/artists/m/Makart_Hans/large/makart_hans_die_valkyrie.jpg

I

88.

opie

November 13, 2006, 12:03 PM

Tha makart picture is good enough, nicely painted except for some areas arounf the hands and face of the figure. Very conventional but also very aware of the techniques of the masters. The Klimt is more "stylish" I suppose. I am not wild about either one.

89.

jordan

November 13, 2006, 5:36 PM

Jack you said "more artificial" - given the root word of "artificial" (art) then this could very well mean 'better'...
If artifact + official = official art, ( which thereby reflects an importance of high standards according to our western judgement) then what you are saying is that this is an excellent painting which has been made by Klimpt of so-and-so and therefore "more" worthy of appreciation and thus higher quality than other art.

90.

Jack

November 13, 2006, 5:45 PM

That's not what I meant, Jordan. Artificial implies something more contrived, calculated, fussy and self-conscious, more artsy, if you will, or less straightforward and less direct. It depends on the context, however, so it's not a good idea to take it literally or out of context.

91.

jordan

November 13, 2006, 7:15 PM

Jack - I had a hunch that this is what you meant, however I thought that others may not.

92.

Jack

November 13, 2006, 8:17 PM

OP, for what it's worth, the areas at upper left and lower right of the Makart portrait don't look that blocky or that dark in reality, meaning the real thing looks better. It's not a great painting, but it's solid and respectable work, and it's more impressive seen at true scale. It also has a peculiarly crystalline glaze which I found oddly appealing, or at least intriguing, but that's not evident at all in the reproduction. Vienna is famous for its rich pastries, so the lady in question could be seen as a gigantic, cream-filled confection with clear sugar glazing, no?

By the way, while I'm at it, here's a small image of one of the Kahlo still lifes I mentioned above (also at the Bass now):

http://www.bassmuseum.org/exhibitions/images/Fridas-225.jpg

I'll take the super-sized puff pastry any day.

93.

Jack

November 13, 2006, 8:30 PM

P.S. The Kahlo still life looks slighter, dinkier, and more like run-of-the-mill outdoor art fair stuff in person than in reproduction. There may be a lesson in there somewhere.

94.

opie

November 13, 2006, 11:09 PM

I will take your word for the effects of the Markart - I can easily see how they could be there in the original. The Kahlo looks like an ad in Gourmet magazine.

95.

George

November 14, 2006, 12:24 AM

I am totally bored with all this jabber about why so-n-so's crap.

What is the point? Is this little electronic enclave going to change anything by complaining about artists who happen to be successful in the marketplace at the moment? Whine whine whine, made from sour grapes, tastes like vinegar.

Look the other way and tell me something different. Who do you like, dead or alive? Write a manifesto to counter all that you constantly vilify. Give the readers an alternative path and make a case for it. None of this "it’s gotta be good" business, we all know that but it seems we can’t always agree on what we think is good. Take a stand and make a case for it.

Otherwise it reads like everyone is explaining to themselves why their personal sore is festering and it kinda hurts.

Yours truly,
Bored, but busy working on an alternative.

96.

jay

November 14, 2006, 4:21 AM

George, I'm inclined to think that you may have lost it here...
Please tell me otherwise as I look forward to your clarity...

97.

George

November 14, 2006, 4:51 AM

I'd just rather hear about what's interesting than what's not.

98.

opie

November 14, 2006, 7:39 AM

I don't think taking a principled stand against the burgeoning population of naked emperors is "sour grapes", George. No one else is saying it.

99.

Jack

November 14, 2006, 10:48 AM

George, you should know better by now. You're quite free to deal with art and the art world any way that suits you, but so is everyone else. It's a very personal thing, certainly for me, and I will not even consider doing it somebody else's way instead of my own. Your disapproval, or anyone else's, is irrelevant.

100.

George

November 14, 2006, 1:27 PM

opie and Jack,

That's not what I mean. First of all, it's not as if there are no dissenters out there, there are, I heard a lot of eyeball rolling chatter about Klimt sales for instance. I don’t expect everyone to agree, artists hardly ever agree. Another artists work can often spark a lively debate. So no one here is holding the moral high ground by acting as if they were the last bastion of the dissenter, that’s nonsense, it doesn’t fit the facts because the artworld is rife with disagreement over what is interesting or good.

Much confusion swirls around the prices paid at auction for certain artworks. Because of the seemingly bottomless well of cash entering the art market, an incorrect assumption by the way, prices are being equated with ‘quality’ when this is only a small aspect of the situation. The speculators, some collectors, the gallerists and whoever are trading in artworks as if they were commodities. It’s a bull market and the price for ‘commodities’ are rising, that’s enough reason for most players to participate. Somebody will get burned in the end, but for now, Nero is fiddling.

Linda Sandler of Bloomberg news on the auction market (text file)

My comment is not ‘disapproval’ per se, it’s a statement of boredom. I’ve been reading this blog for awhile now, we all have become somewhat predictable in our opinions and what stands out to me is the negative tone of dissent. It is not that I disagree, a lot of times I see the point. If anyone here is truly interested in changing the course of art, dissent over what is currently popular or hot, hot, hot, is only a starting point. If that is all there is it won’t be seen as holding the ‘moral high ground’ (whatever) but just as a lot of sour grapes.

What is needed is the expression of an alternative, a positive discussion over another potential path(s), a modest proposal for the future as an alternative to what we might perceive as the flaws of the moment. It is one thing to gripe and quite another to suggest a positive direction. which might have some grip in the current cultural climate. I was surprised that no one picked up the thread on Velasquez, instead the focus turned to questioning the ‘value’ of Klimt, sparked by the first comment at the top of this page. The real issue must be ‘if there is so much money for art out there, how come I’m not seeing any of it?’ (Truthfully, I ponder this myself as I try to figure out how to pay next months rent)

I look at a lot of other artists work, a lot of contemporary work because of my local, but also at paintings from history. I spent 4 hours last night pondering over one of the most interesting Fra Angelico paintings I had ever seen, 500 years later it is still vital and relevant. What I see in the galleries is generally less than interesting, regardless of how successful the artist might be. I ask myself, why is this? What is needed to redirect the practice in a more fruitful direction? I’m thinking about it. It’s time to quit playing defense and to play offense.

To the barricades.

101.

opie

November 14, 2006, 5:00 PM

Forgive me George, but when it comes to boring, getting headmaster lectures about what we should be doing and how we should be behaving tops nasty negativity any day.

102.

Jack

November 14, 2006, 5:14 PM

Well, George, I can't speak for others, but it's not my job or responsibility to change or direct the course of art. I'm not an artist. My job as a member of the serious art audience is to respond honestly and personally to the art presented to me, and then support it or reject it depending on my judgment. I do that routinely.

If enough members of the ostensibly serious art audience did as I do, I can assure you things would be quite different, as you can well imagine. You, or others, might or might not like the difference, but that's another matter. There would at least be a drastic reduction in BS, or tolerance for it, and supposedly visual art would have to succeed visually before it would get the time of day. Rich idiots would be called rich idiots, and ditto for posturing clowns a la Hirst or Emin or untold others.

I can't, of course, control what others do, but I can and do control how I deal with art and the art system--by my rules and my choices determined by me. It may not be much, but it's a hell of a lot more than what the typical art scenester appears to be doing.

103.

George

November 14, 2006, 7:30 PM

Re #101, opie,

Headmaster lectures? Well excuuse me, isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?

I commented on the other thread about your essay on Morris Louis. It is more interesting than most of the commentary here, in part because it was written from a positive point of view. It took a position, defended it and argued against the opposing point of view. You took swipes at what you found wanting, bashed them if you will, but by putting it into an historical perspective you presented a well thought out case for the art you cared about. But that was thirty years ago and a lot of water has gone under the bridge. Some of the things you said then are just as relevant now but they seem to have become displaced in the current dialog by the weight of time.

104.

George

November 14, 2006, 7:36 PM

re#102 jack

Yes, I know you are not an artist... oops, I just ran out of words...

105.

opie

November 15, 2006, 12:02 PM

Time weighs heavily on bad art and bad writing, George. Give it time.

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