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Post #960 • February 23, 2007, 8:10 AM • 70 Comments

The conundrum at the centre of the contemporary art market is therefore that the very attributes on which its attractiveness are based would, in most other markets, be regarded as reasons to steer clear. The size, visibility and imperfections of the contemporary art market are inevitably inviting the regulatory attention but, in all likelihood, to clean it up would be to kill it—or at least to deal its vitality and theatrical modus operandi a severe blow. - Adrian Ellis. I think regulating the art market would be a bad idea, but I also support defunding the contemporary museums. If the latter isn't going to happen, then the museums' interaction with the market might as well have heavy oversight, not to tell them what to do, but to report on the findings.

Vik Muniz, eat your heart out.

Impressive sidewalk art persists. (Reddit)

Kottke links to audio and video of a talk given at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by Chris Ware.

Current Chinese President Hu Jintao, listed in the exhibition catalog as an honorary sponsor along with German President Horst Koehler, governed the Tibetan region between 1988 and 1992, where, Tibet exiles say, he violently cracked down on adherents of the pro-independence movement.

For those who still think of Stubbs as first and foremost a painter of horses, the prominent placement of the monkey painting is meant to signal that the artist was equally brilliant at capturing other mammals, including humans, as is soon made clear in the rest of this 17-painting exhibition. The Times also has a little slideshow of Howard Hodgkin leading from the front arts page, but if they're going to make it impossible to link to it, too bad for them.

Artist Peter Barrett has a food blog.

When the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park opened last month, park administrators hoped it would be popular. ... They failed to consider the possibility that park sculptures would give birth. (AJ)

For 20 years, it has appeared every month: one Campbell's tomato soup can and a pocketful of change left on the plain black granite tombstone.

While going through the basilica archives for an exhibit on the 500th anniversary of the church last year, researchers came across an entry for a key to a chest in the room in St. Peter's where Master Michelangelo retires. (AJ)

One morning last July, the saxophonist Ted Nash took a spin through the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries at the Museum of Modern Art. It was a visit studded with small realizations, in the placid hour before crowds arrive. Ann Temkin, MoMA's curator of painting and sculpture, was there to answer questions, of which Mr. Nash had a few.

For the first time, scientists in Tomaso Poggio's laboratory at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT applied a computational model of how the brain processes visual information to a complex, real world task: recognizing the objects in a busy street scene. (Reddit)

One of the more compelling optical illusions I've seen in a while. (Reddit)

Robert Lang, former physicist and origami master.

Department of Skills: Beatboxing flute Super Mario Brothers theme. (Kottke)




February 23, 2007, 9:33 AM

Howard Hodgkin slide show



Marc Country

February 23, 2007, 11:17 AM

Thanks for the supplementary link, George.



February 23, 2007, 2:27 PM

Howard Hodgkin? these paintings look like those made by monkeys, elepahants, dolphins and cats........but not as good..



February 23, 2007, 3:16 PM

No they don't, Wow. You need to look at more art so you can learn how to tell the difference. They are not bad. I like the green-black on orange one.

But they are not nearly as good as they are supposed to be, or as Kimmelman says they are. They belong to the same species of "respectable good art" occupied by Scully, Marden, Kelly and others.



February 23, 2007, 3:27 PM

ive looked at plenty of art to know these are not worth discussing



February 23, 2007, 3:34 PM

And yet, here we are. I like the second one best.



February 23, 2007, 3:35 PM

i take that back i think it is worth discusing how this is what you consider "respectable good art" , i really dont not trying to be rude, just please help me understand how this is a good painting, they really do look like something an animal made, only worse especially since they were made by a human, a human considered a respectable artist while others who present well crafted artworks go unmentioned



February 23, 2007, 3:38 PM

Wow!, wow.

Things are a bit boring today, wow me with an artist you do think is worth discussing.



February 23, 2007, 3:46 PM

yeah ok....apparently anyone who wipes their ass with tissue ends up with a remarkable piece of art or "respectable good art" i guess we can talk about anyone with the motor skill to wipe their own ass.



February 23, 2007, 3:58 PM

Wow! sounds to me like a big fan of GG Allen.



February 23, 2007, 4:03 PM

lol, maybe just a fan of "respectable good art"



February 23, 2007, 4:06 PM

Wow, you're talking like someone with an opinion but who is hiding behind it.

Anyone can crank, so fess up, who do you think is hot?



February 23, 2007, 4:08 PM

who do you think is hot?

Jacques, of Cape Town, South Africa.



February 23, 2007, 4:29 PM

I’m not cranking or trying to be a dick here, and I understand how art is subjective and someone on this planet might think these paintings are spectacular...what I don’t understand is how people who look at so much art, are surrounded by it in their everyday lives and understand how it is made can give such kudos to this kind of work, there really isn’t much to it....I mean Jackson Pollock cranked out some pretty cool shit so im not talking about abstract expressionism being crap...

Pieces that didn’t look like they were made by a mentally challenged individual have been torn apart on this blog....why are these praised?

Paintings like these give art a bad name plain and simple, these monstrosities require no artistic skill whatsoever. It really makes it seem like anyone who takes a trip to the local art store and ejaculates an artwork can be considered an artist... So by the standards seen here anyone I mention can be considered hot.

Just because you own a telescope, that doesn’t make you an astronomer. So please no bashing, and nothing personal towards anyone or their taste just explain why i may be wrong about this work.



February 23, 2007, 4:37 PM

Wow, ok but that wasn't what I asked.

FWIW, I'm not particularily a fan of Hodgkin either. I was interestid in who you thought was hot just out of curiosity.



February 23, 2007, 4:44 PM

I have just returned from Jerusalem and read of Jules Olitski passing.....I am deeply saddened and would like to express my most sincere condolences to his family and to his many friends. This is truly sad news.
I have deeply enjoyed, been enlightened and transfixed by his wonderful work.

There is a large painting located in the atrium of the Beth Tzedec Synagogue here in Toronto, that I would stand in front of and admire for a few minutes or an hour, depending on my mood that day. Standing, looking puts me into a deep state of contemplation each time, aside from enjoying its beauty. This was/is a gift of his talent to all who view it and we are very lucky to have it.

I have no words now...just sadness.




February 23, 2007, 4:48 PM

Hieronymus bosch, Caravaggio, Andy Goldsworthy, Anselm Kiefer, William Blake, Gustav Klimt, Paul Gauguin....



February 23, 2007, 4:52 PM

Egon Schiele, El Greco, Franz Hals, Murakami kagaku, Euan Uglow...



February 23, 2007, 4:54 PM

Mattisse, Francis Bacon...



February 23, 2007, 5:00 PM

Art history aside, anyone else that can compose a decent work of art...For example ive seen Hernan Bas get trampled on this Blog...his work is not gods gift to art but clearly more interesting than Hodgkins'



February 23, 2007, 5:21 PM

Hodgkins is all over Matisse here.

As far as I'm concerned these paintings cannot be judged second hand , they need to be seen in person.

The ones here don't do much for me.


Marc Country

February 23, 2007, 5:44 PM

I saw HH's work for the first time in the Hayward Gallery in London, near the end of the last century, and some of the pictures linked at the story were shown back then. There are definitely some pictures that are better than others, but the good ones are definitely good (HH is better and more consistent than the best work I've seen made by monkeys or elephants), and have a much bigger and more lasting impact on me than, say, any Keifer painting I've seen, that's for sure.



February 23, 2007, 5:50 PM

i still think the monkeys and elepahants are making better work, try looking at the ones made by cats



February 23, 2007, 5:50 PM

Wow, thanks, just wanted to get an idea where you were coming from.

BeWare, I don't see any relationship between Hodgkin and Matisse at all, using color doesn't count. I haven't seen this show yet, probably won't bother, but I have seen other shows of his work and have been suitably unimpressed. His color is ok, and as noted he's a journeyman painter, but other than that, the paintings are boring.


Marc Country

February 23, 2007, 6:26 PM

Re: Hodgkin v. Matisse...



February 23, 2007, 7:06 PM

MC, I suppose but I was taking Beware's comment as connecting the paintings in the slide show with Matisse and I didn't see the connection. Your example makes a point although the Hodgkin painting feels more cubist to me than Matisse.



February 23, 2007, 7:17 PM

Robert Hughes on Hodgkin.



February 23, 2007, 7:23 PM

By the way, has my audience become so jaded about my nutty ideas that I can throw out "I support defunding the contemporary museums" and nobody sprays their coffee?



February 23, 2007, 8:58 PM

Wow, it is not a question of being "right" but of getting what is there. After all the painting is there for your pleasure, or edification, or whatever. You don't have to like them. I am not wild about them either, but they are not the garbage you are seeing, so i think you just have to look a lot more, that's all.



February 23, 2007, 9:12 PM

It's Friday Franklin, we're tired. Judging by the stuff I've seen in the contemporary museums I'd say your idea is great, and I'm no libertarian. Maybe w eall agree with you...

As for Hodgkin, I do think he's pretty good, and like any good art you really do have to see the work in person. The best ones have a real presence.



February 23, 2007, 9:16 PM


I didn't spray my coffee when you said you supported "defunding contemporary art museums" for two reasons. I don't drink coffee. It's really bad for you. And I was waiting for some sort of well thought out academic speech laying out the reasons for that idea.

BUT, worry not, I raised an eyebrow. And I don't think that I know half as much as some of the people on this site who comment about your blog.

With that said, WHY just contemporary art? Actually, first I should ask, were you serious about that?

I also want to speak to WOW. I don't know everything about all of the artists that you named, but your list sounds very undergrad text bookish. That's not a "put down." Merely an observation. But, no, I don't have a list at all.

Anyway, the discussion that you guys are having seems to me a discussion that started a while ago. And it just seems so futile. Not because art is subjective, but because everyone brings different experience and backgrounds to the table. Another thing I've noticed is that people ar every "high and mighty" about it. As if they're knowledge and experiences are just IT. So that when they say something is "good" (whatever that means) they're word is the last word. period.

For example, with this discussion, there hasnt been much deep, thoughtful, research like discussion as to why the works in question are good (can we please define that? at least for me) or bad (this one too).



February 23, 2007, 9:26 PM

You can't define it, Bergdorf. Art doesn't work that way. And it really doesn't matter that we bring diffrent experience to the table, as long as there is sufficient experience with art, and an attitude that is open to it.



February 23, 2007, 11:25 PM

any thoughts on the Michael Vasquez Snitzer show this weekend?



February 23, 2007, 11:38 PM

I think one Kehinde Wiley is enough.



February 24, 2007, 12:04 AM

fuck yeah! good call franklin, people eat it up though, snitzer could sell water to a fish...........



February 24, 2007, 12:06 AM

That's because most of his customers are like fish out of water, wow.



February 24, 2007, 12:15 AM

very true opie, its amazing how people can be told what they should like and what is good without quesiton..."investments" perhaps?



February 24, 2007, 12:17 AM

I haven't commented on this thread yet, so BergdorfBAP probably isn't speaking to me about "high and mighty". But my experience and knowledge IS it, as is ultimately true for every person whether they acknowledge so or not.

When I look at an artwork, I experience it, I consider it, and I know it. When I comment about how I like looking at the images of Hodgkin's paintings George linked us to but that that they don't hold my interest for as long as I wish, I'm not saying anything other than that I kinda like them and they don't hold my attention.

I can compare them to recent works by Michele Drouin and say I think the Hodgkins are some better, if only because that's what my experience and knowledge tell me. It may (potentially) be clearer for readers if I were to explain what I see in the works and what I remember learning about them; however, I think that would be the more presumptuous comment.



February 24, 2007, 12:41 AM

Franklin or Opie, or anyone else who knows their shit, for lack of a better term, how is it that an art dealer would promote an artist like vasquez so openly and confidently when they are obviously so similar to an already established artist such as Kehinde Wiley and get away with a copy cat killer, cleaning up and laughing straight to the bank.



February 24, 2007, 1:17 AM

Wow, it must be a movement.



February 24, 2007, 1:22 AM

Garish Hooliganism



February 24, 2007, 2:14 AM

btw Franklin, I really enjoyed the link to the sidewalk art. I was baffled! I really thought some of that stuff was real for a second. Very cool.



February 24, 2007, 7:48 AM

Once I helped April from UM out at Seaquarium and the Dolfins painted some pretty good pictures. They where sold in the gift shop for a good amount. The Dolfins sell better than most humans. Humans are too talented. They have to resort to sidewalks and stuff. Talented as they are, they have to entertain like monkeys. That is why they are on the sidewalk. The Dolfins should show at the British Art Museum at Yale.



February 24, 2007, 8:09 AM

There is a lot of copycat art in the art business, wow. There is even an artist named Pettibone who has made a very successful career out of painting minature copies of other artist's work, presenting them under the guise of pomo irony, or "appropriation" or some such. it is not the dealer who is to be questioned but the buyers. After all, the dealer is making money. The buyers are the ones left with the crappy art.



February 24, 2007, 9:25 AM

"There is a lot of copycat art in the art business..."

Once the number of artists grew fairly large, this became more the rule rather than the exception. Bringing up Pettibone is a red herring which has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

There are a number of painters besides Kehinde Wiley and Michael Vasquez working in a realist mode with similar subject matter. I do not think that just because there are similarities in appearance, subject or style, it is a basis for criticism. It would be very easy to frame this same criticism onto other sets of artists who also work using a similar approach, so I won’t go there.

Franklin’s reproach that "one Kehinde Wiley is enough" indicates that he doesn’t care for Wiley’s paintings and is dismissing Vasquez’s paintings by association. In defense of Franklin, people including other artists, respond like this all the time, maybe most of the time. It’s a form of categorization, an implication of inclusion or exclusion, into a personal set of categories of art that they respond to.

The fact that there is a marketplace almost guarantees that galleries will seek out and promote artists working in styles which have visibility, which are in fashion and have a coterie of collectors. It runs in 2-3 year cycles and it is the nature of the beast.



February 24, 2007, 11:01 AM

You are right in general, George, that is, that similarities are bound to exist and that it needn't matter. How good the art is is what counts of course. Look at Picasso & Braque, Monet & Sisley, and the way so many mediocre artists got good fast by following Matisse's lead into Fauvism. Same thing happened during the evolving stages of Abstract Expressionism, though to less effect.

The "it's a form of categorization" is a put-down and it is unnecessary. I think Franklin can tell if related styles and methods have good artists within them. I know I can. Vasquez and Wiley are neither of them doing anything but commercial art. Wiley especially grates because of the cynical way he seems to be playing the race card. His work has all the vacuuous chilliness in th rendering of the lamentable Dali, recently discussed here.

Pettiboine was not a "red herring". A red herring is a diversion. I prefaced my comment about by "There is even an artist..." which should have made it clear that this was an unusual exception, not a device to divert the trend of the discussion.



February 24, 2007, 11:18 AM

"It is not the dealer who is to be questioned but the buyers."

Precisely. The dealer, no matter how sleazoid, is still in business to make money, and if something sells well enough, somebody is always going to push the stuff, even if it's total crap. I not only accept that but expect it. It's just the way things work and always have.

What I do not accept, respect or take seriously is anybody who enables the crap by buying it, especially for serious money, and more especially under the delusion or pretension of being a major collector. When supposed authorities like institutional people get in on the act, I become exceedingly pissed, and my scorn level goes even higher. This may not change anything in the least, but I'm sticking to it.

As for Snitzer, or anyone else, being able to sell water to a fish, I hasten to add that all fish are not similarly fishy, if you get my drift.



February 24, 2007, 11:22 AM

The "it's a form of categorization" is a put-down and it is unnecessary. I think Franklin can tell if related styles and methods have good artists within them.

Yes, as a ‘form of categorization’ it is often used as a putdown which is what I was implying. I wasn’t pointedly criticizing Franklin but making a general observation about this type of categorization. I don’t have an interest in this genera of painting , I read Franklin’s remark as more or less a throw away comment, as a basic dismissal not a critical commentary.



February 24, 2007, 5:40 PM

"... it runs in 2-3 year cycles and it is the nature of the beast."

Yes I agree George - Adele Duck, a painter had told me about the 3- year phenomenon. Year one is promotion and encouragement, year two is flooding the collectors homes, having museum shows etc. while year three the artist sees there work up on the market for re-sale. The price that the artist once recieved as their cut is nothing in comparison to the cut that the re-sale offers the current owner. The style or the look that you had developed and redundantly replicated, often with encouragement, becomes tired and boring because everyone has seen it allready and is so over it.



February 25, 2007, 12:05 AM

Well, assuming there was a Snitzer opening tonight as mentioned above, I didn't go. There was a time when I would have, even knowing I'd almost certainly not care for the stuff, but those days are past. I suppose I was never with-it in the typical sense, but now I'm pretty much over it.



February 25, 2007, 2:46 AM

The more distraction, the better the world.


I was there

February 25, 2007, 8:48 AM

Thanks for posting the article about the Tibetan Art show.

It is SOOOO full of bullshit I'm not sure where to begin.

What is more sad is how little anyone, anyone, anyone even cares about these crimes!

This is what the world must have felt like in the 1930-40s while nazi Germany was fucking the European Jew, Roma and creative undesireables.

As long as we are comfortable and connected, it should not cause us any concern. [NOT!]

We are the culprit and the victim.




February 26, 2007, 1:19 AM

The best "Thug" art that I have seen is on Russian tomb stones - accuratly carved marble reliefs of mobsters who died for a personal cause. Pretty good stuff; Nike shoes, bling leather jackets, and youthful attitudes. Vasquez has some pretty cool paintings so why rip on him ?



February 26, 2007, 4:03 PM

one funny thing is the subjects of these paintings are people who any collector would call the police on in a heartbeat if they even asked the time, so i guess its gritty nature of it, im sure they're feeling really connected to the miami thuglife or whatever if they buy one, lol, now their "down"...the paintings are alright nothing i havent seen before , i guess what people are ripping on is the "copycat" commercial nature of it, he's not the only one illustrating "thugs" or "bling" its trendy and doesnt leave a very lasting impression...



February 26, 2007, 5:32 PM

Snoozeville on artblog today



February 26, 2007, 5:59 PM

I dunno, zzz . Wow was stirring things up, and we had a few interesting tangles, I thought. I kept awake anyway.



February 26, 2007, 6:03 PM

today opie, i said today



February 26, 2007, 6:05 PM

My regulars are not quite on board with this whole comics thing.



February 26, 2007, 6:06 PM

i thought the moonlight one was actually pretty interesting, i like how it fades in the end



February 26, 2007, 7:01 PM

OK, Z. I guess I think of each posting as a "day" especially when the comment is there instead of the day commented on.

Actually Franklin I thought the strip was very sweet and original. You get a lot of information across with those blotchy lines.,


I was there

February 27, 2007, 10:34 AM

see what I mean?

Tibet's crisis is boring and none of you artblog creative thinkers can even muster up an "Amen" or a "gee whizz maybe I'll think twice before buying ANYTHING made in China."

Free Tibet!



February 27, 2007, 3:10 PM

It's not a very political blog, There. Indeed, what happened in Tibet was horrible. The Dalai Lama's response to it is highly educational. It's all worth looking into if anyone hasn't already.



March 2, 2007, 11:48 AM

You clowns have no idea who is buying and have already bought my work. There are so many haters on this little blog....i never really did understand it. Heres the reality of all of it: Im real about what i do, im 23 years old, been painting for 3 and a half years; and im damn good at what i do. Im not a fan of wiley. i have been painting my 'guys' long before i knew about wiley and his guys. (I didnt know about wiley and his guys for a long time because i dont really look at much art)....sorry........Wiley paints gay guys (look closely; his guys are gay)....wiley paints guys; black, 'hiphopesque' gay guys that he finds on the streets of new york. I paint my lifelong best friends, and try my best to explain my relationships with these best friends and how our friendships existed within the gang's heiarchy. Another thing that is important to me when i paint is to show how the masculinity and toughness of my gang member friends read as being manly to a little boy who never had a man in his life as his father was not around. Did you people come ot any of the openings? Why didn't you share your haterade sippin comments with me in person at the opening? here and my e-mail box is open if you think i should know something.



March 2, 2007, 2:28 PM

You clowns have no idea who is buying and have already bought my work. There are so many haters on this little blog

It's called criticism. Maybe Fred can explain it to you.

Im real about what i do

Well, that just legitimizes everything, doesn't it?

i dont really look at much art

Go take care of that. You've demonstrated that you can generate a reasonable likeness from a photograph and throw in enough painting tics to provide some superficial expressiveness. I've seen worse starts, but that's all it is - a start. I was looking at Velazquez two weeks ago and I'm not going to entertain the self-assessment of some recent New World grad who thinks he's "damn good" at what he does. Your work looks like you're being real to ur peeps or whatever, and it stops there, leaving those of us who don't care a whole lot about your backstory with images that look like the hip hop version of this, except not quite as pulled together. (I promise you, that hippy chick once had all the cultural cred that you have now. Not a pretty sight, is it?) So if you're in this for the long haul, past the time that Fred gets through with making money off of your youth and urban verity, you need to get yourself in front of an assload of art and see about making something that will hold up next to its best examples. That's what we call being real around here.



March 2, 2007, 5:45 PM




March 2, 2007, 6:30 PM

Michael Vasquez work reminds me of some GAP ads I've seen. That's not a cut down. Just my opinion.

I embrace all the art snobs posting here.



March 3, 2007, 12:36 AM

i guess we'll see...



March 3, 2007, 11:39 AM

Velasques strikes back...with a promising "we'll see" everyone TAKE COVER!



March 3, 2007, 11:53 AM

get used to "haters" or whatever its the nature of the beast, not everything you hear is going to be music or regeton to your ears, people are going to have opinions and you should be prepared to take the good with the bad mister ive been painting for three years, grow up you have a long way to go, your painting isn’t bad like Franklin said its a good start and people might be a little harsh at times but you should be used to that having gone to art school, I’d try exercising a little humility its not exactly "damn good" either.



March 3, 2007, 3:42 PM

Is it me, or is the word "Hater" arguably one of the more annoying, popular words being used in the English language?

Thanks for throwing a clever new spin on it with "Haterade", I'm going to introduce it to a few 8 year-olds who beatbox in my building.

Thank you.



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