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Catalogs of inadequate art won't last long at these prices

Post #1440 • January 7, 2010, 3:36 PM • 18 Comments

This is a little bit of a cheap shot, but I am a collector of what I call natural art criticism (see also here). A borderline case thereof sent by the Boston ICA just appeared in my e-mail inbox. Their catalog of one of the current exhibitions, that of dreary work by Damian Ortega, is not exactly running out the door, with less than two weeks to go before it closes. These circumstances have prompted the museum to channel Crazy Eddie. This reminds me of the de facto futures market that formed around the exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Alberta in late 2008. Nothing quite like art criticism written by the invisible hand.




January 7, 2010, 5:03 PM

But Franklin, it's an exclusive offer, and the guy was mentioned in Artforum, and it's 50% off. How can anyone possibly refuse?



January 7, 2010, 5:29 PM

"Damián Ortega’s work explores specific economic, aesthetic and cultural situations and in particular how regional culture affects commodity consumption."

Wow, dynamite! I could read about that all day. My friends need to know about this. I'll take a dozen!



January 7, 2010, 5:50 PM

It really is hard to believe that such lame, tiresome drivel as that quoted by Opie would actually be offered by any self-respecting person or entity as a supposed enticement or selling point. It appears these people are either terminally clueless or utterly cynical.



January 7, 2010, 6:08 PM

Wait, it just hit me: these people were actually delusional enough to ask $40 for this thing initially. Is Boston really that rich? Even in this economy? Hell, Franklin, if such a price is considered reasonable for such an item, you definitely need to at least double or triple your prices immediately.



January 7, 2010, 6:31 PM

I love it!



January 7, 2010, 7:23 PM

As for "inadequate" art, that depends on one's perspective or orientation. It was obviously sufficiently "adequate" to get a show at the Boston ICA (which, of course, need not mean anything of substance, neither in Boston nor in any other venue anywhere else). I expect Ortega feels more than adequate. They even put out a (presumably) upscale catalog for the stuff. Some people, ostensibly serious and doubtlessly "with-it" art people, clearly had absolutely no adequacy concerns, hence the show. And, needless to say, everyone who's anyone knows the Artblog crowd is hopelessly "inadequate" (except for the odd windmill, who evidently serves to keep OP unaccountably occupied).



January 7, 2010, 9:38 PM

I'll keep my twenty dollars.



January 10, 2010, 1:28 PM

I heard via Chris Rywalt's blog of a truly amazing Jerry Saltz review of a show by Gabriel Orozco (who is, or certainly was, a very trendy Mexican artiste, to the point of being heavily patronized by some very major Miami collectors). Pay special attention to the shoebox bit in the third paragraph and, especially, the panegyric to Yogurt Caps in the fourth.

I think it's probably better to let this astonishing piece of hogwash, I mean, critical legerdemain speak for itself, for Saltz, and for the system and world he belongs to and serves. Enjoy.



January 10, 2010, 8:06 PM

Somebody should inform Saltz that "confound" and "vex" are not good things. They are bad things.



January 10, 2010, 8:16 PM

Au contraire, MC. It all depends on, uh, context. In the context of the official art world, which is all Saltz need worry about, art that is "vexing," "confounding," "uncomfortable" and, of course, "disturbing" is just the ticket. Heaven forbid one should be too, you know, "retinal." In other words, idiotic criticism for idiots. Makes perfect sense, you must admit.



January 10, 2010, 9:31 PM

A simple little ceiling design for that spare guestroom you keep meaning to re-do (but do not put Jerry Saltz in it; the ceiling could well vex him literally to death):

Dessein de Plaphon


Chris Rywalt

January 10, 2010, 9:35 PM

If -- note I say if -- someone is especially reactionary and hidebound, something which confounds and vexes them into actually using their brains for a change can be a good thing.

I'm pretty sure that's not what Jerry means, however. Well, actually, I think he does, but it's a problem: It's the knowing art person saying, this object is great because it vexes people with lesser perceptions.

In other words, only people with great taste and refinement can see the emperor's new clothes. Lesser people are vexed by the fact that he appears to be naked.



January 10, 2010, 9:43 PM

Chris, after this Orozco review, you can stick a fork in Saltz, because he's done.



January 10, 2010, 11:11 PM

Jack, in #10, you get the point. With dada & its descendants, the negative is positive, & the ugly is beautiful. It's all part of a fundamentally reactionary frame of mind.



January 11, 2010, 8:28 AM

"It's all part of a fundamentally reactionary frame of mind."

It's even worse. It's part of an irrational, deluded and/or cynical frame of mind. I still have trouble understanding how so many moneyed people freely choose to buy into this nonsense when they absolutely don't have to and could obviously get much better (real) value for their money.



January 11, 2010, 11:08 AM

Cynical,yes. Cynicism goes with reaction, in art & politics -- it's the mindset says we must go back to the past, because we have no faith in the future. "The past" with dada is the figurative -- not necessarily representational, but figurative, meaning art whose subject matter can be described in words: soup cans or conceptualist art using actual words or videos of people... not irrational, rather logical but starting from different assumptions. The same cynicism then slops over into abstract painting, where ugliness instead of beauty triumphs as well.



January 11, 2010, 11:11 AM

Where it starts is that so many people want the fiigurative but have to have it with that "avant-garde" flavor that dada bestows on it.



January 11, 2010, 11:19 AM

Well, yes. Fashion and projected image issues are a huge part of it. The real aim is not so much being "avant-garde" but the cachet attached to that, however shallow. The need, the absolute compulsion to be and stay "in" at any cost is pretty reactionary, all right.



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