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Germaine, dear

Post #1235 • September 23, 2008, 12:25 PM • 16 Comments

Art is not something you get, like a punch line. Art is not something you understand, like the details of a financial transaction. And while Robert Hughes hardly needs my defense, having received it in grander measures that I could ever deliver from Fugitive Ink, it may be that art could benefit from a bit of defense from writers like you who want to reduce it to punch lines and financial transactions. Yes, Damien Hirst has succeeded in becoming the ultimate sellout. But Hirst is just the largest tumor on a sick patient who is otherwise capable of loftier aspirations, some of the most sublime products of human effort, in fact. The rest of us haven't given up on her yet. I tend to think of you as part of the cynical past. Hughes, for all his noted decline, even for his love of tradition, adheres to principles better suited to a future that contains art worth looking at.

Comment

1.

MC

September 23, 2008, 2:22 PM

Another ironic first name...

2.

beba

September 23, 2008, 3:28 PM

"Yes, Damien Hirst has succeeded in becoming the ultimate sellout."

the sellout is laughing all the way to the bank... and will have the economic ability to create/make art/trash for as long as he wants...
nice sellout!

3.

opie

September 23, 2008, 6:18 PM

None of this has anything to do with art or what art can do for the soul, or whatever it does for us that is intimately and spiritually valuable. None of them seems to even know what art is. Hughes is a holdout for art that has been really art, and he writes well, so he is onto something, but he still doesn't know good from bad. Hirst is an unapologetic flimflam artist who would make PT Barnum swoon in admiration. Greer is a silly person writing smartass artsy stuff for the culturati.

It is all low-level, crummy and distasteful.

4.

Jack

September 23, 2008, 6:29 PM

Is that really Germaine Greer? The photo looks an awful lot like Bea Arthur as "Maude." Anyway, has feminism become so unprofitable or ho-hum that she's had to resort to being yet another dubious art writer? I'd just as soon listen to Bella Abzug talk about Piero della Francesca or Betty Friedan discuss Puvis de Chavannes and the Symbolist movement.

She is, of course, what's apparently wanted: smugly cynical, hipper-than-thou, and proudly morally relativistic. There's always room for one more such vulture at the increasingly putrid carcass that is the current art establishment. Yawn. Been there, heard that. Ad nauseam.

But hey, did you all get a load of Damien's photo? Does he look the part to the nth degree or what? I mean, you gotta hand it to the guy, one can't get much more brazenly bogus than this. I can't wait for his autobiography, which will surely be titled The Apotheosis of Bunk, or perhaps The Golden Crock.

5.

Jack

September 23, 2008, 6:50 PM

Correction, OP: that's the would-be culturati.

And I wouldn't call Greer silly, exactly, though what I have in mind is rather worse. True, at her age, she's trying a bit too hard to be au courant, but I guess that's what it takes to keep her own "brand" from being completely forgotten. For some people, it is a matter of marketing, after all, especially once they've gotten hooked on being a "celebrity."

6.

Terrance Houle

September 23, 2008, 6:56 PM

Hi
I am wandering if you have permission to post my image on your website? or is that just what you do to other artists work. I do believe a copyright infringement might at hand?
as for your make sense comment, just for the record in my photo works I have never worn a feathered head dress and Robe.
Sincerely
Terrance Houle

7.

Walter

September 23, 2008, 7:17 PM

Bobby Hughes was a distant relative of my cousin Howard, much to my surprise he stopped by last week wearing purple hospital gloves after a narrow brush with a mad pornographer who worked for that other Damian who sold his soul to the devil for a couple of Twinkies and a shot at the Governor's daughter. We sat around and drank Cachaça Mojitos until we were cross-eyed drunk drunk, giggling over a dispute about the color of Mszzz. Greerz underpants, Bobby insists they were peach but my sources, which are formidable insist they are PUce. Between giggles over Peech and PUce we both nearly peed out pants, it doesn't get any better than that.

Bobby passed on this little tidbit of information, which came indirectly from an old boyfriend Carlos in London who happened to be sleeping around with one of the boys at Skinner's, the Bond Street gem dealer. Word has it that Damian didn't actually pay up cash for the bag full of diamonds, rather he floated a loan with a couple of art world types who were willing to invest the cash if Damian would sign over several new works as collateral. As it turns out Bobby's little press dissections of Damian's recent productions put a damper on the market that even a flirtatious visit from a pair of Tottenham Court lezzies couldn't repair.

Poor Damian received a margin call from the Bond Street boys as well as his dealers, compounding the problem was the leaky copper roof of the Hirst Castle which was driving him up the wall, or at least towards the bucket. So everyone sat down and cut a deal, Damian would offer up for auction the works from the Fleet Street dealers and have his factory make up a hundred or so lesser pieces for publicity purposes. It would be a triumph of commercialism within the art world, the Bond Street boys would get paid for their diamonds, the gallery would sell off its old inventory which was starting to l;eak in some cases, and everyone would share the fabulous cash prizes fetched by the spinners, butterflies and polka-dots. Bobby and Germain would incite the public by squabbling in public and share the pair of Tottenham lezzies. Everyone ended up happy. At least that's how I heard it.

8.

Franklin

September 23, 2008, 8:17 PM

Terrance, it's called Fair Use and you ought to go familiarize yourself with it. I'll be happy to post any corrections if something I've written is incorrect. Otherwise I'm wandering if impersonation might at hand.

Walter, I hope it's true.

9.

ahab

September 23, 2008, 10:01 PM

Interesting diversionary strategy, Terrance Houle. Copyright and intellectual property are the first things I bring up when a drubbing-of-a-review cannot be parried elsewise.

10.

opie

September 23, 2008, 10:45 PM

Good story, Walter. Good to know how it really happened.

11.

Jack

September 24, 2008, 9:55 AM

Given that Greer herself is beside the point, since she means nothing and is quite inconsequential in an art context, there's still the matter of a presumably serious, reputable publication running this sort of trendoid tripe.

Clearly, no editor with a clue regarding art would fail to see through this empty, useless screed, which is infinitely more about the writer and her need for notice and "relevance" than about art criticism.

Essentially, she's trying to score points with the "right" people by attacking Hughes. Hirst is merely a convenient tool, and I doubt she really gives a shit about "his" (using that word very loosely) work one way or the other. It's all a game.

12.

John

September 24, 2008, 11:18 AM

I have no idea what motivates G. Greer, but the fact is she has been writing quite a bit about art lately and getting it published.

13.

Jack

September 24, 2008, 12:48 PM

Well, John, she's a "name," of sorts, and she says all the things she's supposed to say. Apparently, that's quite good enough.

14.

Bunny Smedley

September 24, 2008, 1:19 PM

Clearly Greer has 'issues' regarding Hughes that go all the way back to their early days in Australia, as well as (obviously) more than a little chippiness regarding their relative success afterwards. I suspect that Greer thinks her art criticism is taken less seriously (and has earned less money, and garnered less attention) than Hughes' art criticism simply because she's female. Others may wish to suggest different explanations.

Her book 'The Obstacle Race', for instance, is well written in the sense of being lively and vivid polemic, but is also remarkable as an 'art book' so completely focused on social history / feminist apologetics as to leave out the 'art' bit more or less entirely.

In any event, it's like mushrooms after the rain: if Hughes gets attention, then it's only a matter of time until Greer pipes up, seeking a little attention of her own.

(And thanks for the link, Franklin.)

15.

opie

September 24, 2008, 1:37 PM

"Others may wish to suggest different explanations"

Yeah, really.

We miss you Bunny!

16.

opie

September 24, 2008, 1:51 PM

...and this is why:

"... it’s not just the lack of anything painterly or personal or even truly skilled in the increasingly lazy facture, not just an objection to the aesthetic meanness of works which have proved themselves unable to deepen or develop in front of the eyes, not even the realisation that whatever charge the best of them is capable of delivering works only as a one-off experience — thereafter rotting, perhaps, in the vitrine of subjective recollection until there’s nothing left but cloudy water and, perhaps, mild nausea. It’s not even the lack of beauty — of some sort of human order made out of experiential chaos, briefly heartening and life-affirming — although this, obviously, is a balefully glaring lacuna, too."

Zowie!

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