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Archive for the ‘Art or Commerce?’ Category

Happy news! Artists and the people who love them meet at last, on mutual ground. No more stark, unfriendly gallery spaces where some intern behind the front desk refuses to acknowledge your arrival. No more standing around at openings with a plastic cup of lousy wine in one hand and a gussied-up Ritz cracker in the other, hoping for a chance to speak with the artist. No more stratospheric prices that make you feel like a dwarf star in the vast art world universe. Really? Really! (more…)

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thiebaud_cakesA commercial display of baked goods is an art form built on the strategic use of separation.

Example: We step from the mean streets of our little town or big city into a store scented with vanilla, cinnamon and coffee, pull a tiny paper ticket from a stingy red dispenser and read the number that tells us… nothing, really, except that we must be patient. We are. We take our place among the many suitors craning to see the confectionery vision laid before us. Glittering gustatorial gems are staged in Busby Berkeley arrangements on gold foil laminated cardboard platters and white paper doilies.

When we finally reach the front of the line we bend down to peer through the glass encasement—the border fence, the high wall between us and our object of desire. Trays and rows of frosted, sprinkled, drizzled, confettied, and powdered morsels tease our eye and our pallet. (more…)

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© David Levinthal / The New York Times

© David Levinthal / The New York Times

I’ve written about artist-photographer David Levinthal on this blog before. Now I’ve discovered he does photo illustrations, too. Regular New York Times readers may have seen his soft-focus photos in the August issues of the Times Sunday Magazine, illustrating “Mrs. Corbett’s Request”, a serialized story by Colin Harrison. Levinthal captures the weary, down-at-the-heel atmosphere of Harrison’s tale perfectly.

Just last week I noticed another Levinthal photo in the October 26, 2008 Travel Section (page 1, top of the fold) accompanying an article on winter vacations. The scene of brightly colored skiers in a clichéd winter landscape feels like a snow globe diorama. (more…)

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Wall Street has jumped the tracks. Its former liquidity is iced. The bulls have morphed into bears. The “masters of the universe” have gotten their pink slips and the rest of us are waiting for the shit to roll downhill. Oh, I’m sorry — for the shit to “trickle down.”

For a while, it looked like the big dogs — the ones with the golden parachutes — would actually get their asses kicked and their appetites curbed. Wrong! Congress (your senator, my congressman) wants to step ‘n fetch some more kibble to feed the yawning maw of corporate greed and irresponsibility.

We’ve been told the “assets” taxpayers are poised to absorb (for a cool $700 billion) should increase in value; taxpayers will get their money back, eventually. Hmmmm… when was the last time the government returned some of our money? Oh yeah, when Bush ’43 sent us $600 to shop at Walmart, so the whole country could stay afloat, so what’s happening now wouldn’t happen. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” (more…)

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They say that there is no bad publicity in the art world, and well here we go round the mulberry bush yet again with Bill Henson’s latest at Roslyn Oxley9 in Sydney. The truncated sound bytes we are hearing across the media waves say much less than there is to say and take us nowhere; Its art, tis not, tis, etc echoing the characters of another artist by the name of Henson, with Miss Piggy landing a good purse wallop through the moral majority and the shock jock media while Kermits’ and other Muppets mount a strident arm waving and lame high pitched art for arts sake, defense.

Now I have not followed the career of Bill Henson closely but I believe those who have the power to dispense titles or deal in superlatives have added him to the list of Australia’s greatest artists. But in my humble opinion Henson is just an artist who over the years has achieved a technical competence and a recognizable subject oeuvre that has given him an audience, some good opportunities and a fairly regular paycheck. (more…)

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Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

—The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot

– – – – – – – – – –

I recently viewed Amir Bar-Lev’s 2007 documentary, My Kid Could Paint That. It’s a compelling work that’s as painful to watch as a car wreck. It starts out as a fairly straight-forward narrative of how one anonymous little girl becomes the center of a scary media circus. However, more is afoot. Is it a story about the myth of genius? Is it a story about the meaning of abstract art? Is it a story about the role of media in the selling of art? Is it a story about art market mythology? Is it a story about parents manipulating their kid? Is it the story of a kid whose behavior changes because the camera is there? Is it a story about how the media exploits the story to create more stories? Is it a story where there is no “true” story? Is it a story about the documentarian who becomes part of the story? Is it a story about the failure of the documentary to fulfill its ethical mandate? Yes. (more…)

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Earlier this spring, as we stepped off the elevator on the top floor of the Whitney Biennial, my company at the museum made the rather amusing but to my mind also very accurate observation that it all looked like “an open studio at an MFA program”. My friend was reacting against the lack of space to move around any one piece, to truly see it and attempt to take it in, without bumping into either people or other works of art. In all, visiting this biennial (as well as the 5 or 6 I’ve seen before this, I should add) is a rather stressful and uncomfortable experience; perhaps especially so for those of us who have the luxury to visit Chelsea weekly and often find ourselves to be the only visitor in a gallery at a time. What’s most annoying to me is that with all the clutter, movement and distracting chatter, it is impossible to establish a new relationship to an artist’s work that I have never seen before. That, it seems, should be one of the biennial’s most important purposes. As it is, it resembles a big, well-attended art fair, both in aesthetics and function, with the exception that sales staff is really hard to come by.

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