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This atrocity has been brought to you by the contemporary art establishment

Post #1149 • March 27, 2008, 9:24 AM • 49 Comments

I started a long and angry piece about this article (via AJ):

A San Francisco art gallery [at SFAI] has canceled a show featuring video images of animals being bludgeoned to death because of "massive" protests from Northern California activists.

The Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Sacramento artist Gale Hart and In Defense of Animals of San Rafael are among groups that condemned the exhibit, "Don't Trust Me," by Adel Abdessemed.

The videos show images of six animals, including a doe, a horse, a pig and a sheep, being killed with a sledgehammer.

The article described the piece too vaguely to form any solid conclusions about it, though, and I abandoned my post. SFAI's Rovian response bears noting, however:

SFAI would like to make it very clear that the Abdessemed exhibition is an instance of a long-standing and serious commitment, on SFAI’s part, to reflection on and free and open discussion of contemporary art. It is a typical feature of our educational mission to encourage our students and the wider public critically to think about and assess the world they inhabit. The video images in Abdessemed’s exhibition are images of events that took place - and regularly take place - in the real world. Their being depicted in video by Abdessemed is part of a long representational tradition, in Western art and beyond. It goes without saying that the motives underlying that representational tradition have often been to criticize and to question the practices of the larger culture of which that tradition is a part. It is of course up to each beholder of Abdessemed’s work to decide for him- or herself whether, where, and how his work fits into that tradition.

I'd like to coin terms for these fallacies, since I see them come up over and over again in the discussion of art: argumentum ad sententia, the assertion that something is good because it provokes thought, and argumentum ad argumentum, the assertion that something is good because it provokes discussion.

Of course, no apologetics for the disgusting excesses of contemporary art would be complete without a message from the video supremacists:

SFAI readily acknowledges that, unlike other representational forms (e.g., painting or photography), the medium of video can imbue such images with a particularly powerful, "real-time" quality—a quality that some people may find disturbing. Because we take such potential discomfort seriously, we posted a disclaimer warning at the front of our galleries in which we indicated the nature of the subject matter of the exhibition.

Are they so thick as to not consider that someone could have painted the bludgeoning of a sheep without any harm to the sheep? It's with that thickness in mind that I go off to a weekend at the Armory and its attendant festivities. Wish me luck. See you Monday.

Comment

1.

opie

March 27, 2008, 10:12 AM

The art world's rejection and compromising attitude toward all values in the name of "freedopm" and "expression" is what leads to the addled consideration of such an inhuman exhibit as well as the mealy-mouthed, intitutionspeak apologia. Imagine justifying a museum show which could only be pleasing to an out-and-out sadist because it "happens in the world"! And this from self-professed "liberals" who stand up and beat their chests over the merest criticism of any of their cherished minorities.

Everyone involved in this idiocy should be ashamed of themselves on both counts, including the artist, who will now reap fame and fortune from all the publicity.

(I beat you to it, Jack!)

2.

Harry

March 27, 2008, 10:22 AM

I'd love to know more about this before being outraged at either the art or the willingness for galleries to yank work that once seemed good enough to show.

Were the animals killed by the artist? What happened to them? Were they killed just for the video? The article in the link doesn't go into hardly any detail about the circumstances of the animals' deaths. Was the video recording something that would have taken place any way?

I agree that the continuing horror here is the art world justifying bad work by saying it provokes discussion. We need fewer arguments but with more thought.

3.

Jack

March 27, 2008, 10:25 AM

That's OK, OP. I declined to comment because it's too easy a target, and I didn't feel like dignifying such an obvious ploy for notoriety with notice.

4.

opie

March 27, 2008, 10:31 AM

Well, excUUUuuUUze me!!

5.

Jack

March 27, 2008, 10:35 AM

By the way, the questions raised in #2, however valid, are essentially irrelevant. This incident is clearly a calculated stunt meant to attract or provoke attention. Neither the ostensible artist nor the gallery people deserve anything better than being regarded with extreme suspicion until proven blameless, and I seriously doubt such proof will materialize. Just another day at the office, more or less.

6.

opie

March 27, 2008, 10:37 AM

What, in your opinion, would justify it, Harry? I can't think of much of anything.

Museums need to stick to art.

7.

Jack

March 27, 2008, 10:40 AM

Sorry, OP. I'm trying to practice my world-weary, over-and-beyond-everything attitude. There might be a movie in it. Or at least a video. I hear YouTube is not too demanding.

8.

Jack

March 27, 2008, 10:51 AM

Here's an alternative example of "shock art" for you:

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/hb/hb_41.1.210.jpg

Apollo and Marsyas, obviously. There are bloodier full-color painted versions, but I feel very graphic just now.

9.

Eric

March 27, 2008, 10:56 AM

Can they make a video of the gallery owners getting clubbed to death instead? I mean that kind of stuff happens in the real world all the time. The video would make the reality of violence much more palpable and real. The video would call attention to, and provoke deep discussion about, all of the people who are getting their heads bashed in day in and day out all around the world.

10.

opie

March 27, 2008, 11:51 AM

Good idea Eric.

In that case I would, like Harry, withhold my objections, awaiting further evidence.

11.

Eric

March 27, 2008, 12:03 PM

And furthermore, they should leave things good and vague with regards to who does the actual clubbing of the gallery owners in the video. After all, we are talking about a work of art and a bit of mystery will help deepen the penetrating and poignant discussions and arguments that the video will provoke.

12.

craigfrancis

March 27, 2008, 1:24 PM

Like Harry, I'll have to reserve my righteous indignation and my chastising of the contemporary art world until I've actually seen the work. What this discussion does bring up for me however are the old questions of freedom of speech. If the Danish cartoons and a certain Edmontonian sculptor's work shouldn't be subject to censorship, why then should this work be? Or does one's sense of freedom of expression only extend so far as to not have one's sensibilities offended? Just curious.

13.

Eric

March 27, 2008, 2:25 PM

That is funny craigfrancis. You are comparing the death threats, which are very real, of lunatic religio-fascists, who got upset about the fact that someone did a cartoon doodle of their prophet, and people who are tired of cliché shock art that tries to redeem itself with a portentous press release? The gallery is being vague about the details of the clubbing death of the animals for what reason? Is it to prove to their very limited audience, which probably includes a plethora of liberals and vegans, that people will become outraged by the display of video footage of animals getting clubbed to death, even if it is stock footage and was not filmed and carried out by the conceptual video artist? I think we can all agree that the majority of our population has become pretty indifferent and anesthetized to images of violence. Cable TV is a veritable blood bath and the war we are currently plunged in is perceived by most Americans through the tidy and completely biased filter of the 24 hour news networks. My criticism of this particular work of video art doesn’t rest on whether or not the artist who made it actually killed the animals that appear in the video. I have a problem with the entire concept. It is aesthetically bankrupt in my mind. This particular work of video art is a ONE TRICK PONY. The artist said, “Wow this is great footage of animals getting their brains bashed in” I will fit in with a number of different ‘critical’ approaches. Voila. Shove it in the gallery and I am done.”

14.

Franklin

March 27, 2008, 2:32 PM

I addressed some of the questions in #12 in the abandoned post. I have said elsewhere that you don't really believe in a right to freedom of speech unless you believe in a right to hate speech. I'm probably the staunchest supporter of free speech I know.

And yet freedom of speech doesn't trump the commission of mayhem and material harm, which is why you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater or defraud your neighbor as protected speech. We also allow the killing of animals for amusement to some extent. We call it hunting. We should probably tolerate it because of its connection, however waning, to the procurement of food. This is where it would be helpful to know the details of the video. If it comes out that the animals were killed for the video, I think it would be a legal case of animal cruelty. If he was documenting a third-world slaughter, it might not be.

Even with those details we can critique SFAI's bloviation.

15.

Franklin

March 27, 2008, 2:33 PM

Even without.

16.

Jack

March 27, 2008, 3:08 PM

I'm tempted to say more, but I'm SO tired of this sort of contrived bullshit. The gimmick is not even remotely novel by now. I resent the mere prompting to comment on it, which is of course part of what the video guy and the gallery desperately want--attention, publicity, "controversy," as usual. It's like a damn script or recipe, and I'm supposed to play Pavlov's dog and be outraged on cue so some asshole/s can get some gain out of it. Well, let the ASPCA or other relevant entity deal with it. We shouldn't even be discussing it.

17.

Franklin

March 27, 2008, 3:12 PM

I wouldn't, Jack, except that late last year some Costa Rican dirtbag may or may not have allowed a dog to starve to death in his gallery exhibition. I don't know if this is the same kind of thing, but I want to start putting some contrary statements out there.

18.

opie

March 27, 2008, 4:37 PM

Don't forget good old Tom Otterness who shot a dog and made a video of it as it died. It hasn't messed up his career much.

A museum which is largely supported by public money is not "censoring" when it decides not to show something which deeply offends the public. It is nothing more than an institutional decision, and a very reasonable one.

We need to keep our heads about what "censorship" actually is. No one is preventing such videos from being made and no one is prevented from seeing them is they really want to. There are no criminal penalties here and no government action. In fact the videomaker may well have been violating some law of cruelty to animals, laws which should be on the books more extensively and rogorously than they now are.

We are talking about decency and humanity. These are the prime considerations of thoughtful, reasonable people. "Censorship" is way down the list, especially when we don't even know what we are talking about.

19.

catfish

March 27, 2008, 6:09 PM

opie (#18) is making a case for life trumping art, which is always the case. He is also pointing out that refusing to show something is not censorship. It is peculiar to the liberal bias of the current academic/museum consortium to cast any refusal to show "controversial" work as an impingement on the right to free speech. The same bias casts refusal to fund such work as also a violation.

The key issue, of course, is "controversial". Thus, all an "artist" needs to do is conjure up something controversial. Then he or she is entitled to cry fowl if it is not shown and funded, as happened in the famous NEA v. Finley, et. al. case that went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found no violation of the 1st amendment when the NEA ultimately refused to fund her controversial project. Apparently, the government, just like private individuals, does not need to pay for stuff it doesn't like. (The NEA had, however, violated their privacy rights, which they paid up for.)

The traditional argument of the liberals is that any refusal to fund (or show) "sends a message". So what? The refusal to fund and show non-controversial art sends a message too. Messages abound and are the natural consequence of any and all actions and non-actions.

20.

Eric

March 27, 2008, 7:17 PM

The problem with liberals and conservatives is that they do not take the time to immerse themselves in the opposing side's viewpoints. They both have kneejerk reactions and would rather pigeonhole and dismiss a viewpoint or idea that runs contrary to their belief system rather than think it through rationally.

21.

catfish

March 27, 2008, 8:24 PM

Eric, I'll go you one better. A given course of action is neither "right" nor "wrong" because it does or does not fit into a certain political strategy. Nor are any of the common strategies themselves "right" or "wrong".

Voters choose the strategy that will prevail for the time being. What especially interests me right now is the contest between an unusual "uniter" (they are rare, Reagan was the last one to make it to the presidency) and the more common "divider" that is going on in the democratic party, though Clinton's capacity to divide is stronger than most. Both embrace practically identical liberal policies. But they are so different in the way they inspire their supporters. Which shows that "liberal" vs. "conservative" is not the only way to understand points of view.

Applying this consideration to art, for a long long time the division between "avant-garde" and "rear-garde" has dominated our business, with "avant-garde" completely winning since 1962 (when Pop began its dominance). What would be compelling is something that can get us off that division and onto something that has a broader base. Trouble is, in art it is not as simple as conducting a vote.

22.

Eric

March 28, 2008, 5:07 AM

With the media being what it is today catfish, niche markets for everyone, an Internet that supplies content that caters to your specific viewpoints and conveniently leaves out all the rest, 24 hour news programming and radio programming that does exactly the same thing, I really wonder if 'uniting' our populace via a figurehead can ever happen again. Would Reagan have become president if the media was analyzing every gesture and phrase he spontaneously generated 24 hours a day? I would just say that the hall of smoke and mirrors is so dense and immersive now that the processing of 'uniting' liberals and conservatives is harder than ever. I like your ideas though.

23.

catfish

March 28, 2008, 5:57 AM

I know I am being vague, Eric. But I'm not looking for a person. (The media scrutinized Reagan, btw, but he seemed to be covered with "teflon" because none of their findings stuck.) Instead, we need something that is positive to replace the newness-avant-garde versus old-dated view. A way of viewing style this is not disjunctive. I once coined "new formalism" as an attempt to do that, but it won't work because formalism is associated too much with dated. Ken Moffett advocates new new which doesn't work either, because his favored artists are transparently not new.

24.

Eric

March 28, 2008, 6:08 AM

Media scrutiny ain't what it used to be though.

Unfortunately the concept of the avant-garde is associated with youth. Saltz buys into this concept wholeheartedly.

One would have hoped that with the waning of post-modernism's status, and the moral relativism and ahistoricalness it entails, we would have thrown our hands into the air and accepted anything as being redolent of 'nowness'. Guess not.

25.

catfish

March 28, 2008, 6:09 AM

Oh, I realize you were directed at politics, Eric, in #22. Obama comes as close to Reagan as uniter as anyone has since Reagan. But he lacks Reagan's "teflon", at least as far as the Clinton "mud" goes. The 3am ad demonstrated this. In fact, if Clinton had understood earlier that her greatest strength was putting negatives on those who oppose her, she might be the front runner now.

Unfortunately, in our group of "rear-garde" artists, there is no one like Clinton who can create negatives for our opposition. Lots try, like Jack. The avant-gardists seem to be blessed with Regan's teflon, though they are not using that fact to transform the art world. Avant-garde BS works too well for them for abandoning it to be a reasonable choice, I'm afraid.

26.

Eric

March 28, 2008, 6:49 AM

"Interactive. That's the main word of the evening." (Michel Gondry)

"It's not just a painting on the wall." (Constance Brantley)

Funnily enough this Ms. Brantley appears to be a recent art school graduate, from Parsons or Pratt I believe, and she actually did paintings in school. But she is still happy to say things like the above noted quote about the medium. The myth of interactivity, the myth of the avant-garde is so prominent and prevalent now because it has coopted the party circuit. All avant-gardists have to do nowadays is come up with good party decor, a large enough space for tumbling around or dancing in, and there you have it, new, interactive art. What young person wouldn't rather dance around to experimental music and doodle things on the wall, rather than stare at a painting?


The avant-garde in a nutshell

27.

Eric

March 28, 2008, 7:02 AM

Sorry about the dead links. The last comment I made doesn't make sense without the video clip. youtube sucks. I tested the link once and it worked but after I posted it it is doesn't work.

28.

wwc

March 28, 2008, 7:54 AM

re #19:

The problem with conservatives is that they use controversial art as a bludgeon in culture wars. To them the value of the art doesn't matter - it's the incendiary rhetoric they can generate from it that has value.

When the Brooklyn Museum put on the (not very good) "Sensation" show, Mayor Guiliani's argument wasn't that Chris Ofili's work was dumb art and bad and not worthy of support - he was incensed at Ofili's use of elephant dung in a religious image. The liberal argument back was that this was a common African art material and wasn't offensive in that context. No one was talking about whether the work sucked or not.

I agree with your critique of liberal ideas about censorship, but the right also uses art for it's own ends.

29.

Marc Country

March 28, 2008, 8:28 AM

"If the Danish cartoons and a certain Edmontonian sculptor's work shouldn't be subject to censorship, why then should this work be?"

Wow! I've never had my sculptures equated with the videotaped barbaric murder of six large mammals for entertainment value before!

Them's some keen thinking skills there, CF...

30.

Cinque

March 28, 2008, 8:34 AM

I'm listening to you, Catfish (#23). This effort seems especially useful, productive even.

2 years ago I would have been in lockstep with the outrage over Abdessemed, and I would have reserved my most caustic venom to rail against the rote anti-aesthetic formula of it all. I mean, it's all just so... easy. So academic. (I don't think I would have been particularly offended by the idea of an animal's death put on display. And frankly, I'm still not. As I've said elsewhere, outrage over that has more to do with our squeamishness at confronting a very real violence that most of us participate in yet would rather not see than it has to do with abstract discussions about what is good or bad art.)

So 2 years later I find myself having decamped from Austin to Atlanta. Suddenly I exist in a very different local art world ecology. This is a city largely devoid of the sometimes absurd academic posturing I experienced on a regular basis for a decade in the heart of Texas. This is a city in which people mostly get down to the business of making things and, most often, things for sale. Things may be beautiful or not beautiful, well executed or poorly executed, but it mostly stays well clear of the boundaries of the terra incognita of That Which is Not Art. It's painting. Sometimes really good painting. And photography. Nice stuff.

And you know what? Turns out that ecology is just as stifling as having too much of the academic stuff. What's needed is a healthy dynamic tension between the two. Without that, investigation stalls; creative people begin to reach back reflexively only for the most familiar and easy rhetorical gestures. That's why Atlanta is a place that until recently, good artists--even good traditional artists--mostly left rather than came to. On the other hand, when these poles energize each other something very interesting happens in the middle. Stimulation. Good art gets made. So, Franklin, while I would agree that discussion alone means nothing (argumentum ad argumentum), discussion in that it leads to collectively re-evaluating other kinds of art making, writing, and moral positions is worth something.

Catfish, what if we look to the chemists? Broadly speaking, chemists divide their activities between applied research, which is designed to end in a usable product (let's call that an aesthetic object) and pure research, which is designed simply to see what happens when you mix A with B (let's call this academic investigation). The pure research is not supposed to do the job of applied research and vice versa. Rather they coexist in a healthy ecology of mutual testing and assessment.

I'm open as to what the new terms would be that would describe such a construct.

31.

Jack

March 28, 2008, 10:40 AM

Catfish, it's not so much that the so-called avant-gardists are blessed with Teflon, but rather that they're blessed with an inordinate number of rich (or sufficiently well-off) idiots who are like putty in the hands of the "authorities" (not to mention those of the Chief Idiots they all aspire to be or resemble).

32.

Jack

March 28, 2008, 10:46 AM

And Catfish, la Clinton's greatest strength is her ability to subordinate or bend absolutely anything and everything to her gargantuan ambition. The rest is just the details. She's so focused she might as well be a laser.

33.

craigfrancis

March 28, 2008, 11:35 AM

Re: 29

Dude.
I'm not attempting to equate the artworks, (sorry if that's how it came across), but rather how we determine which responses from protesters are legitimate and which are merely over-reactions. I was just using what happened with you as an example.

34.

opie

March 28, 2008, 11:48 AM

We determine it by determining what the content is and then making up our minds, Craig. I have no problem determining that animal-bludgeoning is inappropriate for a museum. I don't even care if I an censorious and narrow-minded and all that.

35.

Eric

March 28, 2008, 11:58 AM

opie:

It isn't about animal bludgeoning per se, it is about the deep philosophical issues inherent in images of animals being bludgeoned. Thwack!

36.

Jack

March 28, 2008, 2:29 PM

Actually, Catfish, Hillary's version of "Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger" could easily be "Whatever can be made to serve my overriding purpose, even a compulsively adulterous husband, is simply grist for my mill and will be utilized as such."

37.

Jack

March 28, 2008, 4:29 PM

And Marc, maybe you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I mean, don't you want to be considered shocking, transgressive, incendiary, enfant terrible and all the rest of it? Hell, it's worked well enough for the Chapman Brothers and even Gilbert & George. Don't let those Brits have all the fun (and profit).

38.

jordan

March 29, 2008, 7:28 AM

New-Gatekeepers-Emerging-Challenges-Expression/dp/0974638307

(I hope that this link works), The New Gatekeepers, Emerging Challenges to Free Expression in the Arts contains the specifics on Museum selection processes, funding, editing etc. If any one else has read this I would like to discuss...

39.

catfish

March 29, 2008, 11:43 PM

Cinque: When I say we could use a new framework, I mean just that. Problem is, I don't know of one. The chemist division you discussed is fine, but it does not exclude the avant-garde v. rear-garde "issue". The first thought that comes to my mind is "good" v. "bad", but merely the fact such a division interests me labels me automatically as "rear-garde".

So all I can offer is my desire for something different.

40.

catfish

March 29, 2008, 11:54 PM

The avant-garde does get attacked, Jack. A lot of official critics routinely pan the Whitney Biennial, almost as if they are boxers who can't pass by a punching bag without taking a swing at it. But the attacks don't stick.

Perhaps it is because Whitney shows of the distant past have had some good stuff in them. In the time when we did have genuine "diversity" (as in room for plenty of different approaches to art) the Whitney shows offered something, just as the early NEA grants for artists supported some serious ones. So many give them the benefit of the doubt. Seems to work like teflon.

41.

catfish

March 30, 2008, 12:09 AM

Maybe a little off topic, Jack, but politicians must get elected to practice their profession, in our nation, anyway. The Clintons are good at that. For Hillary especially, dividing the pie so that her share is slightly larger than anyone else's well for her. She might be winning if she had realized how well earlier on, instead of all the democratic love-in stuff she initially projected.

When I went out seeking academic leadership jobs many years ago I had two outfits that I wore. One I called the Texas Teddy Bear - all brown and corduroy and casual, but within the boundaries of "proper". Kind of an L L Bean look. The other was Mr. Hard Ass - navy blazer with brass buttons, precisely colored ties on a white shirt, etc. Mr. Hard Ass was friendly on the surface, but looked like he would fire his own mother, if need be.

Mr. Hard Ass got twice as many job offers as the Teddy Bear. The point is that mean Hillary is what a lot of people want and will vote for. Ambitious Hillary who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants is also appealing. After all, the job of president is a very tough one - the Texas Teddy Bear wouldn't be able to cut the mustard, so to speak. Many people want a prezy who kicks ass. Hillary seems like that is her favorite indoor sport.

42.

opie

March 30, 2008, 7:32 AM

yes, the best thing a candidate can project is s/he will be tough with everyone else and nice to me. A firm, protective mommy or daddy. That's why McCain might just run away with the election.

43.

Jack

March 30, 2008, 11:33 AM

Re #40, Catfish, my point was, at least in part, that what really matters now is not what critics may say, since nobody takes them very seriously (as they surely don't deserve to be taken, generally speaking). The crucial issue is who and how many are buying what and for how much. As long as the stuff, however dubious, sells well enough and winds up in sufficiently major hands, the art mags and institutional people will duly "validate" it.

The pretensions and delusions of the rich idiots, assiduously aided and abetted by dealers and various interested parties who stand to gain from it, have reached Olympian proportions. Given the number of players and the amount of money they're throwing around, artists are far more interested in being in so-and-so's collection than in whether or not Jeryy Saltz thinks they have mojo.

In addition, the less-than major, not-yet-major and/or would-be-major players are also much more interested in what the certified-major people are buying and promoting, along with the asssociated market data, than in what the critics say (even assuming significant discrepancy, which is hardly the norm anyway).

44.

catfish

March 30, 2008, 11:56 AM

"yes, the best thing a candidate can project is s/he will be tough with everyone else and nice to me."

The world is built on fractals. That was exactly the attitude I took on when playing Mr. Hard Ass and it certainly worked. Individual faculty members had a lot of gripes against each other and "the administration" that they wanted someone pretty nasty to address. They didn't seem to realize that other faculty and of course administrators had similar gripes against them and wanted someone to get nasty with them too. I remember one faculty member especially who took me aside and said he was definitely voting for me - then suddenly realizing he was saying that to every candidate ... making sure the winner would be nice to him.

I think you are right, opie, about the outcome of the presidential race. Clinton is even more divisive (and destructive of her own agendas) than tough. Obama has been "messed up" as one of Clinton's campaign officers said they would do to him after he took the lead from her. That leaves McCain, who reminds me somewhat of Ike - a SOB who can act like a grandfather. Besides, McCain has often made sense throughout his career and still does. I just hope he picks a good Secretary of Treasury. That position seems more important than VP these days.

It is interesting how Clinton was once the inevitable democratic candidate and the probable winner in the general election as well - and therefore they ran her campaign as if she were an incumbent president. McCain was so disorganized there was doubt he could even get to the primaries, much less win them. While the front runners were using planes, he was strapped for cash and had to take a bus. Now that totter has teetered the other way.

Since most systems function in similar ways, this gives me hope that real painting might rise up from its own discombobulated ashes. I had a dream last night that Larry Gagosian, no less, realized the time for real painting had come and was organizing shows and taking on good painters ...

45.

catfish

March 30, 2008, 12:08 PM

Well Jack, for a long time I have thought critics no longer counted for much. Greenberg and Rosenberg created the "top" for that sort of thing. When the dealers revolted against the critics of hyper-realism, and subsequently sold that style for high prices without critical approval, hegemony shifted to their corner, and has remained there ever since. Dealers are the ones who organized the wealthy into the buyer's club it now is. The wealthy themselves would not have coalesced on their own.

Every art scene has had plenty of bad work and the current one is no exception. What is different about it is the way it excludes the rare good work - and with a vengeance. I don't see anything intrinsic about a dealer controlled system that would exclude really good work - in fact, the bias should favor it. My unconscious, apparently, feels the same way about it and so I dream of Gagosian representing really good painters, along with everyone else. Why not?

46.

Jack

March 30, 2008, 12:57 PM

Well, sheep, regardless of how they see themselves, have to be led or herded somehow by somebody. I suppose dealers were a natural enough choice, but I think by now they're more like leeches or remoras. The sheep are essentially being led by other sheep, especially those higher up in the hierarchy. The topmost sheep are operating on the basis of their considerable accumulated delusions and the unfailing ministrations of "devoted" self-interested sycophants of various stripes, who provide them with the equivalent of "royal jelly" in the form of high-potency "validation."

47.

catfish

March 30, 2008, 1:06 PM

One good dog can take hundreds of sheep anywhere it wants them to go.

48.

Jack

March 30, 2008, 4:58 PM

So Franklin, you shy, retiring little flower, why didn't you tell us you'd been featured in that new book Miami Cotemporary Artists? I mean, no offense, but I was pretty shocked, art world politics and reality being what they are.

There I am loitering and taking up space at Books & Books, reading away with no intention of buying anything, trying to pass for an artsy sophisticate (in a black T-shirt, naturally) and lo and behold, right smack in the midst of all the usual suspects of the Miami art firmament is one Franklin Einspruch. To add to my amazement, there were other such highly unexpected inclusions. It would appear the authors were not properly briefed; this sort of thing is clearly a breach of protocol.

The included pictures of your paintings, by the way, looked very good--much better than the ones for, say, Hernan Bas, which looked decidedly washed out. Anyhow, congratulations.

49.

wwc

March 30, 2008, 7:43 PM

Jack,

I hope that was a black Artblog.net t-shirt you were wearing. I have one and it makes me look slimmer, smarter and sassier.

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