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Being overrated by the art world is priceless, for everything else there's MasterCard

Post #1161 • April 21, 2008, 9:06 AM • 52 Comments

As I thumbed through this week's New Yorker, I came across a terrible self-portrait by Julian Schnabel, accompanied by a sealed envelope pasted opposite in a double-page advertisement. I opened the envelope and inside found this.

Explanation (of what, if not why) here.

Very few people have experienced the thrill of being a famous artist's muse, let alone one who is able to pack such raw emotion into every canvas he touches. Discover the winning envelope and you'll treasure both this highly unique [Nrr! - F.] opportunity and a truly original work of art to hang on your wall.

Someone please fan the copywriter before he faints.




April 21, 2008, 9:14 AM

I posted something about the same ad on April 16.



April 21, 2008, 9:24 AM

Apart from the dubious language (there's no such thing as "highly unique," only unique or not), I guess Julian has decided to throw all pretense overboard and just embrace his inner bogus-ness, dignity be damned. It might even be seen as a bold and, uh, "fiercely honest" act by some idiot/s or other/s. What a hoser. By the way, am I using that term correctly, Ahab?


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 9:34 AM

I think the word you're looking for is 'douchebag', Jack...


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 9:42 AM

Personally, I'd prefer two canvas that are only half-packed with raw emotion, both identically unique. Same price though, right?

Ooh, better yet... can I get a biopic, instead? I want Gary Oldman to play me, too...



April 21, 2008, 9:44 AM

Applied to Schnabel its most accurate form would be 'highly hoser'.



April 21, 2008, 10:07 AM

Otherwise, "Take off, hoser!"

Substitute 'hoser' with 'eh' or 'hosehead' at will.



April 21, 2008, 10:07 AM

I'm not sure even Warhol got to this point, though that's strictly a technicality. Of course, the celebs for which Warhol churned out portraits might have objected to such "cheapening," which would have hurt business. I guess Schnabel must be fairly desperate.



April 21, 2008, 10:23 AM

I found it pretty distasteful too.



April 21, 2008, 10:46 AM

"Personally, I'd prefer two canvas that are only half-packed with raw emotion, both identically unique. Same price though, right?"

LOL, Marc.

Schnabel is not much of an artist, but he is some kind of genius, for sure. That's a great stunt. Probably thought of it while he was uniquely high.



April 21, 2008, 10:56 AM

I just read that the prize is a portrait of yourself by the genius.

Second prize is 2 portraits?

Or maybe you can assign the portrait to another lucky person? I want to win this to get revenge on someone.


Ed T.

April 21, 2008, 2:58 PM

Let's be real, even with the success of his movie Basquiat and his more recent ones, he is not rolling in the dough. He hasn't had a full-time regular job in decades and makes art movies with no budget and favors from actor friends. Artist need to earn a living and anyone that thinks Scnabel is somehow livin phat is kidding themselves.



April 21, 2008, 3:59 PM

re #11

Read the recent New York Review of Books article on Mr. Schnabel and see what the pajama clad master has to say about how much $$$ he can earn by making paintings steadily for a few months. The guy owns a building that is decorated like at Italian Castle in heart of Manhattan and he surfs in exotic locations. Sorry but you are the one who is kidding themselves. Why would I make this shit up?



April 21, 2008, 4:38 PM

his current home and his ex's place have both been featured in recent decorator books. they have massive space in NYC.



April 21, 2008, 5:44 PM

Maybe Mr. T means livin' phat something on the order of Mr. Koons. Which level of the phat strata would you slot Schnabel into then...I read some dumb thing long ago where he was quoted as saying that one of his favorite low-phat things to do was find a posh restaurant and order everything off the menu at once...


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 5:48 PM



Chris Rywalt

April 21, 2008, 6:29 PM

We've been over this ground before, but I feel compelled to note that, while I really don't like Schnabel's paintings, I consider him an artist of film. The movies he directs are, to my mind, really good.

I think this ad campaign is kind of neat. I mean, I despise the whole MasterCard ad series -- and the way it's invaded our pop culture -- but it's a cool thing for Schnabel to do. I'd do it. Hell, I've been thinking of doing free portraits of all the hairdressers where I get my hair done. I love giving drawings and stuff away. The only thing wrong with it is he's only doing one. I think it'd be fun to do one a week for a year or something.

But then I paint fast.


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 7:09 PM

"I mean, I despise the whole MasterCard ad series -- and the way it's invaded our pop culture -- but it's a cool thing for Schnabel to do. I'd do it."

That's one viewpoint. Here's another...


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 7:12 PM

I'm guessing Schnabel's already done absolut vodka... prize to the first one to link to an image of it...


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 7:23 PM

This isn't it...



April 21, 2008, 7:54 PM

Got it.


Marc Country

April 21, 2008, 8:28 PM

DING DING DING! We have a winner...

Yep, there's the maestro in his absolut glory.

It's a perfect image, really... he looks like some sort of baggy-pants Pantalone, shuffling about in his slippers, grubbing with the one hand out, no doubt clutching his bag of money behind his back with the other... The egoistic "Zeus" bit in the background is a bit over the top, though. Too obvious...

As for your prize, Ahab: you win a self-portrait of yourself, done in the medium (or large) of your choosing.



April 21, 2008, 8:48 PM

Been a spell since I gone done myself a self-portrait.


Ed T.

April 22, 2008, 3:19 AM

You all are right, artists should all die in a drugged out death like Basquiat and Cobain. Staying true to their vision through suffering into death. All artists need to suffer for their vision in unending sacrifice......not...... I say right on Schnabel,.... Interesting post and comments.


Chris Rywalt

April 22, 2008, 4:38 AM

Bill Hicks rules.



April 22, 2008, 5:23 AM

Ed T. Please don't conflate your messages.

In your first post you stated "he (Schnabel) is not rolling in the dough..." and "anyone that thinks Scnabel (sic) is somehow livin (sic) phat (sic) is kidding themselves."

I think we proved that these statements are entirely false.

Then in your next message you presented a different argument. You set up this opposition: WE (the other people who commented on this thread) think the only legitimate artist is one who suffers for his/her art (your examples are weird considering how wealthy Cobain was when he croaked) and YOU think that artists have the right to be filthy rich, have their cake and eat it too. The problem is that your opposition rests on false assumptions. None of us said anything about this particular issue. You projected these views onto us.



April 22, 2008, 7:08 AM

Love that Schnabel pic. The epitome of striking a pose. Even Madonna would be impressed. It's so excruciatingly calculated for effect, and yet so faux-casual. This guy is bullshit.


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 8:04 AM

False dilemma, EdT... strike two.



April 22, 2008, 8:18 AM

And by the way, Chris, what's the deal with your hair? Is it that much of a production? What are you, a political candidate?



April 22, 2008, 8:45 AM

I know, Marc. EdT has the wrong slant on things.


Chris Rywalt

April 22, 2008, 8:52 AM

My hair is extremely uncomplicated. And getting more so every day, as it's leaving rapidly. But getting my hair cut is much more complicated because I'm from Mars and my alien masters never briefed me on human socialization.

I have many, many minor quirks, and one of them is that I hate being serviced. I hate the service economy. I don't like asking salespeople to find the item I want; I don't like people picking up my trash; I don't like being waited on; I don't like any of it. I want to do everything myself.

Of course I can't. I don't always have the skills -- I'm incompetent at pretty much everything -- and sometimes you just need helpers for efficiency (imagine everyone trying to cook their own meals in a restaurant).

The trouble, though, is that I can't deal with people properly. One small slip on my part and I'll feel like I can't go back and see the same person ever again. (Some time I'll tell you about why I can't go to the computer recycling center any more.) I feel loyalty other times, loyalty which is completely unnecessary.

So that's the setup. Now on to my haircut tribulations.

When I first moved into this area, I found, fairly easily, a little old Italian barber. He was perfect. He didn't talk. He just cut hair. He was inexpensive. He was always there, except on Mondays (the traditional Italian-American day off). He had no hair himself. I went to him for years.

Then one day I showed up to get my hair cut and he was dead. Nothing but a note on the door: The barber died last week. Sorry for the inconvenience. Signed, the barber's family.

This sent me into a tizzy lasting a couple of years. I simply couldn't find a replacement. Other barbers I tried were terrible, or had long lines, or required appointments. So finally, not knowing what else to do, I went to my wife's hairdresser.

My wife's hairdresser, incidentally, was a tall, leggy, tattooed former fashion model. A very nice person. And an absolute artist with hair. Not that it mattered for me, really, but still. She was fantastic.

So for years that's where I went and everything was fine. In fact she did the hair for our whole family.

Then one day she disappeared. The salon said she'd decided she wanted to work in an office or something and was done with hair. Done with hair! She, an artist, done! My family was devastated.

Once again I was cut loose. I tried another barber but when my son's hair came back sideways I gave up on her. (I still scurry past her storefront guiltily when I have to pass it.) Finally I settled on a salon just down the street from my house, which is nice because I can walk to it. It's very fancy -- apparently the owner is a Stylist to the Stars and famous people come here from New York City to have him work his magic on them -- but it's not too expensive and everyone who works there is gorgeous (male or female). I've got a nice relationship going with this one stylist there, but of course she got pregnant -- I have that effect on hair stylists, I don't know why -- so last time I went in I had to cheat on her with another stylist, an Albanian girl I did a very nice drawing of while waiting.

Anyway. My hair is leaving so I considered buying a set of electric clippers and just doing it myself. Clippers are about the same cost as one haircut, so I'd save money in the long run. But when I finally found a set -- they're hard to find! -- I was so bamboozled by all the attachments and settings and things I couldn't bring myself to buy it.

So that's the complexity of my hair.


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 8:53 AM

I'm not taking the bait this time, opie...



April 22, 2008, 9:00 AM

re: 26...
The Schnabel as Master Renaissance man narrative, which this crap is designed to prop up makes me ill. The need to ply his value as something on par with the pedigree of real Grand Masters is preposterous. Look how flippin' staged the whole thing is. On the upside, his paintings look like they could function pretty well as set design...

I agree with Chris, he should focus on film. Painting is obviously too much of a cash cow however. Must be nice. I wonder how many of his pro bono film friends probably all have million dollar Schnabel uber-masterpieces to offset their do-it-for-free loyalty to art and er...suffering for it. He probably also puts everybody up for free at the pink playhouse when they're in town.



April 22, 2008, 9:02 AM

Uh, OK. Sorry I asked.


Marc Coutry

April 22, 2008, 9:35 AM

Speaking of being overrated...

Ken Johnson, NYT:
"Their setting aside, Mr. Koons’s sculptures remain intellectually and sensuously exciting objects — “Balloon Dog” is a masterpiece — and they are worth visiting under any circumstances."

Oh dear. How sad...


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 9:39 AM

Ugh. Seriously... the problem with the show isn't Koon's sculptures, according to Mr. Johnson... it's the Met's darned roof garden that's to blame. AAAGHHH!!!

If that is not the most glaringly fucked-in-the-head statement I've ever read, I honestly don't know what is...

That settles it: the New York Times must be destroyed.


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 9:42 AM

"“Balloon Dog” is a masterpiece"

What's the weather like in New York right now? I hope it's not below freezing... I'd hate to hear that Mr. Johnson got his tongue stuck on this 'masterpiece'...



April 22, 2008, 9:55 AM

So who is this Johnson clown? As for his "intellect," what there is of comment needed. And "sensuously exciting"? Well, yes, if one likes blow-up life-sized porno dolls...What a hosehead.

Yes, I'm afraid Marc's right. After this, the NYT must be destroyed. I don't see any way out of it.



April 22, 2008, 10:00 AM

Yes, and in the most embarrassing place.

Of course is it the Met's fault. The roof, with its "vast sky" and "open expanses of space to the south and west" causes the sculptures to "easily turn into benign, decorative accessories".

Jeff should sue.



April 22, 2008, 10:04 AM

Are we talking tarted up and glorified Thanksgiving Day parade, or what? Is the Met out of its mind, or could this have been a covertly subversive act to expose the Koons tripe for what it is?



April 22, 2008, 10:11 AM

They want to butter up the collectors who own the Koons so that they can borrow key works from them in the future and bolster their reputation as a purveyor of contemporary art. They are competing with the MoMA for tourist dollars. The views from the MET's roof are better than any sculptures that were ever displayed on it, although I did like the Joel Shapiro exhibition from a few years back.


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 10:29 AM

So, this is what we get with Philippe de Montebello's departure, then? Reconstituted Sharkfin soup served downstairs, and the latest thoughtless, unconsidered by oh so polished churn-out from Koons International Shiny Thing Factory Ltd., so ill-treated, though it may be, by the city's inconsiderately spectacular skyline. I mean, how was Koons incorporated supposed to know that the top of the Met was gonna look like that? I mean, they knew it would be big, but, jeez, don'tcha just, like, blow somthin' up big, then, and then it, just, like, works


Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 10:31 AM

... Morons

I saw a late David Smith show there, once. I don't recall them suffering for the location... even the Andy Goldsworthy huts they had there looked better for the location, bad as they were. But, when you're starting with a god-damned BALLOON ANIMAL to begin with, well, you're likely setting yourself up for failure. Which is what these are, artistically.

From a career perspective, though, of course... Kudos, Mr. Koons! Well done. I do envy you. But, then, I suppose that's the point of his whole oeuvre, isn't it? To be a complete asshole, as big a piece of shit as possible, and get paid for it... sweet!



April 22, 2008, 10:51 AM

This just came in.


Chris Rywalt

April 22, 2008, 12:40 PM

I hope one day to be referred to as "bear-like." It sounds better than "hairy fat guy."



April 22, 2008, 1:10 PM

Bear-like, or boar-like?


Ed T.

April 22, 2008, 1:40 PM

The pretentiousness in this thread makes Schnabel look like Ghandi, get over yourselves. All that I hear are some poor jealous artists. Now you can comment for 10 comments about how much I am wrong again,..thank you. I've gotten the most response from any of the commenters here,...therefore I manipulated this media the most. I win. Go ahead, make 10 more comments about mine.



April 22, 2008, 1:44 PM

Autoresponse: Jealousy


Ed T.

April 22, 2008, 1:47 PM

keep in mind I have all the response in the world for the blog author and his writings, and letting me comment on his posts, thank you.


Ed T.

April 22, 2008, 1:48 PM

*respect., sorry, please fix and erase this comment if you have time



April 22, 2008, 1:59 PM

No sweat, Ed. T. Thanks for reading.



April 22, 2008, 2:24 PM

Great. Another drive-by would-be reformer of the presumably wayward. Thanks, but if I want unsolicited meddling and condescending advice, I'll ring up Jimmy Carter. And incidentally, I'm not an artist, poor or otherwise. Sheesh.


Marc Country

April 23, 2008, 10:38 PM

Well, good to see not everyone in the media is as frothingly gaga as Mr. Johnson about the Met's blunderful Koons roof show... The writer even manages to poke a little fun at the distinguised tastes of the NYT critic...

I smell a change in the zeitgeist...



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