Sunday, December 28, 2008

just let me be the dog at your party

frank waaldijk, just let me be the dog at your party

just let me be the dog at your party (own work, 2008, 21 x 30 cm, mixed media on paper)

been sick for days with a heavy cold. nothing to do but lie in bed, write posts on this blog and...yesterday's drawing.

art & money 3: robert hughes, damien hirst, mona lisa curse

so just a short note. it turns out i've missed a tv programme on the english channel 4 called `the mona lisa curse'.

really a shame i missed it, in the programme art critic robert hughes denounces the contemporary art scene in a clearcut way, it seems. i've tried to find videos on the web, to no avail.

a taste of the well-received programme can be found in a hughes' article in the guardian.

i'm uplifted by finding a prominent art critic sharing my views. still, the new clothes of the emperor keep on being admired and talked about...for instance by germaine greer in the same guardian. germaine really illustrates very aptly what i've been trying to say: `art in the 21st century isn't about making things, the real art is marketing'. or something similar (go read for yourself). and she's serious. the hirst auction is the artwork, according to germaine, not the stuff that was being auctioned.

well. sigh again. not a very deep work then, just rather lucrative. it's more like a pop tune for the rich. but who in their right mind is going to put britney spears in the same category as a certain old and dusty johann sebastian...although according to germaine we should do so, i believe? germaine?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

art & money 2: sotheby's (& postmodernism)

just yesterday i happened upon a recent video message (2 actually) sent out to the world by sotheby's - you know, the art auction house. the first video is called `contemporary art market- a candid view from the inside'. (the second video is the most recent private viewing video for the auction of 11 november 2008,


deep sigh.

i usually try to ignore these hyped-up worlds. but as in some previous posts (first half this year i believe), when it gets too blatant i feel some kind of counterweight is necessary.

to not put a too fine point on it: sotheby's is about making money. that much becomes clear after seeing this video. its message seems to be: please keep selling and buying contemporary art at the highest prices that the economic situation allows.

quite an uplifting message for mankind, i suppose. people in deep poverty everywhere, people dying from illness, malnourishment...and then comes sotheby's with an explanation why john currin and jeff koons (oh let me add richard prince here too for good measure) are such wonderful artists, since they depict the emptiness of the jet set life. and for this wonderfulness the jet set is nudged to pay exorbitant sums...which they do...emphasizing their emptiness, i have to admit, but the so-called art is not any better for it. in my not so humble eyes these art works are shallow and feeding off the emptiness of their buyers, not drawing upon some inner treasure, not adding to the growth of human art experience.

it becomes, upon closer analysis, quite disheartening to see what incredible influence money has on contemporary art. i believe the situation completely comparable to the influence of high-risk money marketeers on the global economy (see the current financial crisis). to make the latter precise: a handful of people driven only by some primitive gluttony/competition/risk-thrill are really capable of disrupting the world economy.

likewise, the jet set with its nauseating excess of money is capable of corrupting the whole concept of intrinsic value of art. auction houses, galleries, museums, art institutions, newspapers...they all go along with the ride.

why exactly is richard prince such a wonderful artist? it is -really, realistically- because the jet set has adopted his works. this then becomes the assignment for artists: create work that will be adopted by the jet set.

john currin -like many others- proudly describes this process: how in the beginning he wanted to `break into the art world', and the way to do this: do something noone else is doing. now currin is painting shallow remakes of danish '70 porn pictures. (why sex? see the previous post on ralf kwaaknijd) it doesn't really matters what he paints anymore, he has been jetsetted for life. if you want to be similarly jetsetted, then one popular recipe is still as dumb as ever.

let me spell it out for you:

you have to confront the jet set with their idiocy, but in a very obvious and shallow way, or they won't get it, get it? don't waste your time on real technique or colour development or well, anything really artistic you know? the jet set doesn't know the difference, they've spent their energy on making money, not on looking at art. they rely on art experts, brokers, other jetsetters, auction houses etc.

do something blatant, different. but remember, stay shallow. the shallowness is important so that first art experts can be shocked (controversy is necessary to justify that your work is in some way `important!' `new!!'). and then by just keeping on doing shallowly what you are shallowly doing, some experts will start to say: oh, but it is ironic, it is deep, it is an ambiguous comment on consumerism, it is ART, you should buy now...

if this is what you want to do with your talent, then good luck, fellow artists.

for me, beautiful art (it is relatively rare) can be found in any price range. a higher price doesn't guarantee a higher quality at all. don't let all these (moneydriven) art buffs fool you into thinking otherwise. use your own eyes, your own feeling, develop them, and ... let me know ;-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

man woman spirituality 7: rembrandt's jewish bride

rembrandt van rijn, the jewish bride

rembrandt van rijn, the jewish bride (around 1667)

rembrandt van rijn, detail of the jewish bride

rembrandt van rijn, the jewish bride (detail)

an interesting site on rembrandt's technique: northern light studio.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

tft monitors bleach out art pictures, especially paintings

a short post today about thin film transistor liquid crystal display monitors (tft monitors).

the thing is, almost everywhere i go, i see this type of flat screen monitor being used. but when i view my artist's site on such a tft monitor, it all looks awry. the colours and lighting of especially paintings and drawings are horribly distorted, making many works seem as if they are simply bleached out by having been in the ocean for extended period of time.

i tried to see if other pictures of artworks suffer similarly, and yes they do. it really hurts my eyes to look at pictures of paintings on these monitors. (sculptures generally come out ok, normal photographs also are acceptable.)

yet noone seems to be complaining. i remember returning a brand new tft monitor of a well-known quality brand a few years ago (i couldn't stand the way it rendered the colours of my own paintings) and that the salesperson told me that yes, colour was known to be an issue, but i was the first one to complain. i had to say that i'm a visual artist, which convinced them to take it back and refund me.

my dilemma is now becoming acute. should i buy such a tft monitor and try to limit the damage by spending enormous amount of time to readjust my art photographs? or should i just stay with my old iiyama vision master, in the knowledge that the majority of people looking at my sites will get to see something horribly different from what i see (which are usually strong, well-lighted colours).

i cannot express how stupid i find this type of problem. one does one's best to create faithful pictures (this is hard work, because photographing paintings and drawings is not easy), and then supposedly better technology comes along, and all the hard work is for nothing. simply because to most people, faithful colour representation of art works is not so important.

oh well. there goes the neighborhood. sorry to grump on you. please, if you visit my site, try to do so on a crt monitor or something comparable in colour /lighting quality.

Monday, December 1, 2008

woman, man 6: postpostmodernism & spirituality

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman ii, 2008

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman ii (2008, polystyrene on wood)

so let's connect the two running themes (postpostmodernism & man-woman spirituality) for a moment, returning once again to dutch visual artist ralf kwaaknijd. kwaaknijd obviously kicks against the ruling postmodern art structures with this work, which is so small that one must squat to see it properly. (an ironic reference to the in kwaaknijds eyes unpalatable and unimaginative postmodern sculptures which borrow their legitimization purely from their absurdly large size). yet this irony could be construed as postmodern, were it not for the fact that kwaaknijd also carefully chooses his subject, materials and sculptural form. man and woman here are engaged in an abstract entanglement which can be viewed both as dance and as struggle, as embrace and as fight, as opposing and together. made from the same materials and forms, man and woman are -somewhat fiercely perhaps- completely equal, thus shattering any `romantic' but discriminatory notions one sees so often in prepostmodern art. but what about sex?

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman i, 2008

ralf kwaaknijd, man woman i (2008, polystyrene on wood)

in the same man woman series, kwaaknijd comments on the -in his view absurd- role of sex in postmodern art. since postmodernism cuts away `meaning' and `sense' and even `morality', what is left in terms of human motivation? often sex is the answer. largely of course because sex still has some power to shock the general public, making an artist who uses explicit sex somewhat of a controversial figure, which is 3/4 of the thrust of the postmodern establishment. shallow for those who see through this marketing technique, but then again that is a seldom heard minority.

but also because in the absence of any `higher' or `spiritual' values, people really start defining their `realization' in terms of sex.

kwaaknijd's sculpture above tackles these issues rather blatantly, in the familiar abstract sense. looking closely one sees an abstract representation of male and female genitals, engaged in sex. yet once again, male and female parts are made of the same materials and sculptural forms, closely resembling their parallel embryonal genesis (for those of you with a working knowledge of embryology). the reduction of `man woman' to their genitals is both scornful and yet, in its simplicity also defusing. sex is simple, from nature's abstract point of view. there are no higher values in sex, unless we add other values...and for this we need some form of spirituality - a simpler conclusion is: we need some form of spirituality (which is a decidedly unpostmodern view).

kwaaknijd however still uses postmodernist techniques, he exaggerates them, distorts them, but he is still a child of his times. this to me suggests the term postpostmodernism. and i wait impatiently for a truly different ism to shoot up. come, daring fellow artists, whither shall we go?