my rant about bananas, art basel and contemporary art
It started not long ago when I chanced upon news from this years Art Basel Miami. The stories went viral and were widely shared.
Here are a few of the most relevant links (I will be quoting from them the most poignant excerpts):
If you see a banana at the Perrotin art gallery, avoid all temptations to eat it*. The tropical fruit could very well cost you $120,000.
and further down:
Cattelan’s banana offers insight into how we value objects. He originally sought to create a banana-shaped sculpture made of resin or bronze and then circled back to using a real banana. The work follows a hallowed tradition of avant-garde artists such as Piero Manzoni who sold “Bodies of Air (Corpi D’Aria)” in a series of inflated red, white or blue balloons.
In 1961, Manzoni sold 90 small cans labeled “Artist’s Shit (Merda d’Artista) for roughly $30. In 2016, the Milan-based auction house Il Ponte Casa d’Aste reportedly sold one of the cans for nearly $300,000.
* avoid all temptation to eat it: was this considered a challenge? Apparently so ......
The $120,000 banana — a real, rather ripe and edible one — is the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and titled “Comedian.” The work comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, and owners are told that they can replace the banana, as needed.
Instructions on how to replace the banana are not included.
....... read more
An art piece of a banana duct-taped to a wall, which captured a lot of buzz in the past week, has reportedly been taken down at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach.
"The crowds surrounding the installation posed a serious health and safety risk, as well as an access issue, so the work was removed," Art Basel said in a statement to The New York Times on Sunday.
The controversy-stirring artwork first sold for $120,000, and then was sold two more times for $120,000 to $150,000, reported The Times.
............ read more
I could go on and on .... there is tons of it found on a Google Search: art basel miami banana duct tape
and I had tons of comments on my Facebook post(s) - but the best one was by my artist friend Ana Neamu who wrote:
every time i see something like this, I can't get out of my mind this movie:
....... which brings me to this:
not much has changed in all these years
.... when I wrote in the introduction to my blog December 17th 2013:
The times of manning the barricades have long since past for me. I no longer hold my breath waiting for change. Hoping, against all hope, perhaps, but I have no illusion that pissing against the wind will change the course of the Titanic.
Read more on my Blogger Blog LAOKOON, ANTI-LAOKOON and ANTI-KOONS which deals with a variety of related subjects, the part about Art Basel Miami just being a humorous closing observation.
On that Blogger Blog I had linked to an article in Vocativ about Art Basel 2013, and while there was still a remnant of the article on that link, I found that they changed their website format to strictly video reports, phasing out written stories. This is sad, going from cutting-edge reporting from the Deep Web to serving brain-pablum. Here is another look at the Vocativ story: Vocativ lays off entire editorial staff in shift to video.
Some articles like the one I linked to are still available, but only the text remained, the images are gone, and they are not indexed. You would find them only on old links via a search engine. I am not one to give up that easily, and I did find the original in the Internet Archives. So I downloaded the images from those archives and am posting them here (on the title image I added the lettering in Photoshop). I also added a image of Duchamp to illustrate the origin - the image links to the Wikipedia article.
By Emily Levy
Dec 06, 2013 at 8:57 AM ET
MIAMI—It’s the first week of December, which means the world’s current and future gout sufferers have descended once again upon Miami for Art Basel, the jet set’s annual orgy of conspicuous consumption. Now in its 11th year, Basel Miami has become one of the largest and most important art fairs on the international circuit, where wealthy drunks drop obscene amounts of cash for the latest and greatest from hot young artists, and everyone else tries to fuck them.
It’s widely known that wherever hot young artists go, perfume-scented clouds of bullshit form overhead, raining down free money and adoration. And the smog is thick at the Miami Beach Convention Center this year. A quick survey of the product on offer has convinced us once and for all that being a successful contemporary artist is the greatest job in the entire world. And here’s the exciting part: We’re pretty sure we’ve cracked the code.
Own a trash can? Have a basement, garage or closet? Are you physically able to wrap pears in tinfoil or drop stuff on a floor? Well, you might as well buy a villa in France, friend, because you are a successful contemporary artist. That’s right: Now you, too, can earn $100,000 to $1 million at Art Basel without even leaving the house! It’s that easy.
Wait a second, you’re asking, do I need to buy all kinds of fancy equipment or expensive professional art supplies? No and no! Just follow these 14 simple DIY steps using everyday household items and a little imagination. We’re not even going to make you buy the infomercial DVDs or pay shipping and handling, we’re just going to give away this life-changing information free of charge.
If you’re also asking yourself, “Didn’t the original gangster Marcel Duchamp figure this shit out almost a hundred years ago with his famous found-object urinal?”
The answer is yes, and congratulations for taking art history 101 in college. “But how is it then that an entire generation of RISD grads can keep ripping off the same idea year after year and still convince these corpulent billionaires to line up at the trough?” It’s art, you philistine; didn’t you go to college? Now let’s get down to business. All prices quoted below are real.
1. Wad up a pile of your soiled underpants and drop them on the floor. Done. Congratulations! You are a fucking genius. Seriously. This piece sold for $3,500. We told you this would be easy! Now you can barely afford to keep your underwear on—it’s like printing money. (Rosa by Adriano Costa, Sadie Coles Gallery)
2. Splash some paint on a couple of used mattresses. Demand $65,000. EACH. You’re getting the hang of it. (Untitled by Wade Guyton, Kelley Walker, Greene Naftali Gallery)
3. Oops. You spilled some tennis balls on the floor. And…it’s a goddamned masterpiece! You’re a natural. We knew you had what it takes.
4. Blindfold yourself and grab 14 random items out of your attic or closet. Arrange them on the floor. Charge nothing less than the $12,000 you deserve, you beautiful monster. (Destination Peru by Meric Algun Ringborg, Galerie Nordenhake)
5. Wrap some fruit in tinfoil. Finished. Your raw talent is positively sexual. (The American Supermarket by Robert Watts, Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects)
6. Place one fruit on a mirrored pedestal. Take the rest of the day off. (F.R.O #a-g by Thomas Zipp, Baudach)
7. Swipe some belts from your mom’s closet—the ones she got at Marshalls that time but never wore. Apply them to a wall. You must be exhausted. Stick with it, you can do this! (Beltbuckle (Voodoo Ray), Belt Buckle (Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag), Belt Buckle (Misirlou) by Jim Lambie, Anton Kern Gallery)
8. Put a rock in the corner. Make sure the rock is nice looking. This must have been what it was like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. (Still. Life. by Ugo Rondinone, Esther Schipper Gallery)
9. Grab a big armload of shit out of a Goodwill donation dumpster and paper-mache it all together like a disturbed child. If you can’t find a pink sweatshirt, just toss in a dirty rag or whatever junk is closest, like a fast-food wrapper. But not your beret—you’re going to need that. You’re an artist now.
10. Dump the contents of your kitchen utility drawer into a concrete receptacle (Warning: advanced). (New Museum by Adriano Costa, Sadie Coles Gallery)
11. Steal any bike in Portland and/or outside someone’s tent at Burning Man. Ask $25,000 or best offer. (Pedal Over by Jarbas Lopes, Galerie Krinzinger).
12. Choose one sporting good from your garage and kick it into the middle of the room. Wait for your check in the mail. (Minus gallery fees, of course—the leeches always take a piece. They live off your creativity because they can’t create themselves. That’s just going to be life for you now, get used to it.) (Untitled (Ball) by Marzena Nowak, Gallery Mezanin)
13. Own a Shop-Vac and a can of spray-paint? Don’t overthink it. Quit while you’re ahead. You just earned $75,000—which is what this sold for on the first day. (Labor Saving Device by Roxie Paine, Kavi Gupta)
14. Dangle some life preservers on your step stool. Now take a load off and have a beer—you’ve really earned a break. But make sure to leave the red plastic cup on the stool—this is art, for fuck’s sake. Here’s $25,000. (Summer Law by Lizzie Fitch/ Ryan Trecartin, Andrea Rosen gallery)
I like to give credit to the author, and after some searching I found a profile for Emily Levy on LinkedIn that seems to be the right one, because of the dates she lists as working for Vocativ (2013 - 2014).
Are you with me so far? Kudos to you, your attention span is better than 99.5% of the Facebook click-happy crowd.
In conclusion I like to point out that not much has changed since 1975 when Tom Wolfe wrote
THE PAINTED WORD
QUOTE from the Introduction:
All these years I, like so many others, had stood in front of a thousand, two thousand, God-knows-how-many thousand Pollocks, de Koonings, Newmans, Nolands, Rothkos, Rauschenbergs, Judds, Johnses, Olitskis, Louises, Stills, Franz Klines, Frankenthalers, Kellys, and Frank Stellas, now squinting, now popping eye sockets open, now drawing back, now moving closer—waiting, waiting, forever waiting for . . . it . . . for it to come into focus, namely, the visual reward (for so much effort) which must be there, which everyone (tout le monde) knew to be there—waiting for something to radiate directly from the paintings on these invariably white walls, in this room, in this moment, onto my own optic chiasma. All these years, in short, I had assumed that in art, if nowhere else, seeing is believing. Well—how very shortsighted! Now, at least, on April 28, 1974, I could see. I had gotten it backward all along. Not “seeing is believing,” you ninny, but “believing is seeing,” for Modern Art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text.
Basically he was saying that a group of critics (he called the kings of "Cultureburg" -Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg and Leo Steinberg ) had made it so that artworks mattered less than the texts that were produced surrounding them.
Quoting a book passage from Wikipedia "The Painted Word":
Conceptual Art: "…there, at last, it was! No more realism, no more representation objects, no more lines, colors, forms, and contours, no more pigments, no more brushstrokes. …Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until… it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture… and came out the other side as Art Theory!… Art Theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision… late twentieth-century Modern Art was about to fulfill its destiny, which was: to become nothing less than Literature pure and simple".
About Tom Wolfe - Los Angeles Times, May 15th 2018
Tom Wolfe, novelist and pioneer of New Journalism, dies at 88
Once asked why critics despised him, Wolfe said, “Intellectuals aren’t used to being written about. When they aren’t taken seriously and become part of the human comedy, they have a tendency to squeal like weenies over an open fire.”
reviews of "the painted word"
I found this review rather interesting, a in-depth paper of which the author says:
"Caveat and disclaimer: this is an opinion piece, based on my own personal research."
A Review of The Painted Word - 38 Years Late - by Miles Mathis
One other review (of many) I perused on Goodread that is remarkable is this one:
John Orman's Reviews > The Painted Word