Repost: Within A Bank Of Modern Fog-Robert Hughes On Jeff Koons & Bullshit Is No Laughing Matter

‘The notion of carefully wrought bullshit involves, then, a certain inner strain. Thoughtful attention to detail requires discipline and objectivity. It entails accepting standards and limitations that forbid the indulgence of impulse or whim. It is this selflessness that, in connection with bullshit, strikes us as inapposite. But in fact it is not out of the question at all. The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept. And in these realms there are exquisitely sophisticated craftsmen, who with the help of advanced and demanding techniques of market research, of public opinion polling, of psychological testing, and so forth, dedicate themselves tirelessly to getting every word and image they produce exactly right.’

From Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit.’

There is ocassionally such a commitment to bullshit I imagine the bullshitter blowing up a balloon; the bright shiny surface mesmerizing; the spirit of creative play engaged. It grows bigger and more beautiful as it expands with each breath.

There are many balloons like it, but this bullshit-balloon is mine. We’re going places.

Making up fans, a record label, a press outlet, awards and a fake web design company just to get your metal band (yourself, really) some Euro-gigs is next-level stuff:

‘I’ve spent the past 24 hours enraptured by the story of Threatin, the Los Angeles-based “band” (actually a vanity project for the solo artist “Jered Threatin”) who used wildly misleading YouTube live videos, paid-for Facebook likes and YouTube views, grossly exaggerated ticket counts and an imaginary booking agent to set himself up with a European tour which is now falling flat on its face with next to no one showing up to gigs.’

On that note, what I’m saying is 100% true: I don’t think it’s mere satire to point out that Dale Lonagan’s bestselling ‘Ismology In The 21st Century: Self-Wonder, Collective Consciousness & Global Harmony’ continues to inspire modern-day pilgrims to arrive at his thriving compound in the desert: Peace Pavilion West.

Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t a profoundly talented architect, but rather a visionary wordsmith and ecological warrior, capable of genuine modern leadership. Imagine through a colossal writing output at Sandstone Mountain, one man realized Eastern visions and Western (S)cience and (A)rt could create a locally-sourced, globally aware community.

I’m certainly not making this character up. His books have changed the lives of millions.

In fact, here’s a quote of his:

Please check out Jeff Koons:

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There’s always been a bit of the showman about Jeff Koons; the kind of young man who could put on a bow tie and try to give many museum-goers their time/money/aspirations’ worth at the membership desk.

This blog forgives people trying to explain what their art ‘means,’ exactly, but confesses to pleasure in seeing Koons put on the spot under the suspicious eye of an ornery old Robert Hughes.

I don’t fault Koons for finding himself firmly within modernism, searching for universal forms and broader historical context within those confines, but I admit it’s nice to see him held to account for his bullshit, and perhaps the broader, deeper bullshit he shares with many modern and postmodern artists: Pursuing novelty and recognition and thus making art into a business and often commercializing it, aiming for celebrity while offering meta-critiques on celebrity, making the personal and private very public (masturbation into social commentary, sex into meta-critques of religious shame, ‘culture’ and pornography).

Two quotes by Hughes that stood out:

Religion is diminished into celebrity..a kind of reverse apotheosis.

‘This alienation of the work from the common viewer is actually a form of spiritual vandalism.’

It’s tough to say that art is really about religion (though much clearly is), but rather more about an experience Hughes wants as many people as possible to have, and that such experiences can elevate and expand.

Aside from the above, there’s something that strikes me as not just late 20th century-modern about Koons, but also very American.

As previously posted:

Is street-art, or the use of graffiti & mixed-materials performed illegally out in public (on public and privately owned property) partly due to the success of capital markets?

-Banksy’s website here.

-Newsweek’s piece: ‘See You Banksy, Hello Invader.

Response To A Reader On ‘Radical Chic’ And A Link to Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’

I’d argue that it’s possible, especially with the constant cries of modernism to ‘make it new,‘ I think this is one way we’ve arrived at pop art, and the desire to blend conceptual art and popular music together. This is in evidence from The Talking Heads to Lady Gaga to Jay Z promoting his new album alongside Marina Abramovic at MOMA.

Many modern artists, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst are people with some artistic talent and native gifts, but not as much in the way of classical and/or formal training. They may be trying to have a conversation with the old masters, but they are clearly also the products of, and speaking to, ‘modern’ audiences. Much of this has become a world of shallow depth, especially among the less talented. Drawing and drafting can be underdeveloped skills while ‘mixed-media’ presentations, celebrity, marketing, money and fame are all thrown into the same pot.

Also On This Site: Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus. A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: WomanGoethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Repost-Within A Bank Of Modern Fog-Another Link To Robert Hughes On Jeff Koons

—————

There’s always been a bit of the showman about Jeff Koons; the kind of young man who could put on a bow tie and try to give many museum-goers their time/money/aspirations’ worth at the membership desk.

This blog forgives people trying to explain what their art ‘means,’ exactly, but confesses to pleasure in seeing Koons put on the spot under the suspicious eye of an ornery old Robert Hughes.

I don’t fault Koons for finding himself firmly within modernism, searching for universal forms and broader historical context within those confines, but I admit it’s nice to see him held to account for his bullshit, and perhaps the broader, deeper bullshit he shares with many modern and postmodern artists: Pursuing novelty and recognition and thus making art into a business and often commercializing it, aiming for celebrity while offering meta-critiques on celebrity, making the personal and private very public (masturbation into social commentary, sex into meta-critques of religious shame, ‘culture’ and pornography).

Two quotes by Hughes that stood out:

Religion is diminished into celebrity..a kind of reverse apotheosis.

‘This alienation of the work from the common viewer is actually a form of spiritual vandalism.’

It’s tough to say that art is really about religion (though much clearly is), but rather more about an experience Hughes wants as many people as possible to have, and that such experiences can elevate and expand.

Aside from the above, there’s something that strikes me as not just late 20th century-modern about Koons, but also very American.

As previously posted:

Is street-art, or the use of graffiti & mixed-materials performed illegally out in public (on public and privately owned property) partly due to the success of capital markets?

-Banksy’s website here.

-Newsweek’s piece: ‘See You Banksy, Hello Invader.

Response To A Reader On ‘Radical Chic’ And A Link to Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’

I’d argue that it’s possible, especially with the constant cries of modernism to ‘make it new,‘ I think this is one way we’ve arrived at pop art, and the desire to blend conceptual art and popular music together. This is in evidence from The Talking Heads to Lady Gaga to Jay Z promoting his new album alongside Marina Abramovic at MOMA.

Many modern artists, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst are people with some artistic talent and native gifts, but not as much in the way of classical and/or formal training. They may be trying to have a conversation with the old masters, but they are clearly also the products of, and speaking to, ‘modern’ audiences. Much of this has become a world of shallow depth, especially among the less talented. Drawing and drafting can be underdeveloped skills while ‘mixed-media’ presentations, celebrity, marketing, money and fame are all thrown into the same pot.

Also On This Site: Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus. A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: WomanGoethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Lie Down With Modern Art, Wake Up Whenever

Thanks to a reader for the link:

From The Daily Beast: ‘Get Into Bed With Tracey Emin For $2 million: The Sale Of A British Art Icon.’

“My Bed” will be sold at auction at Christie’s on July 1, and has been given an estimate price of between £800,000 and £1.2m (approximately $1.35 million to $2 million), which seems astonishingly low given the piece’s cultural impact. Indeed, David Maupin, Emin’s dealer in New York who sold the bed to Saatchi in 2000 for £150,000 (about $252,000), has said he thinks the Christie’s estimate is too low. “It’s historic. It’s priceless.”

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‘Cultural impact.’  So, a lot of people noticed it?  It took a lot of technical skill? People were shocked by it?  People had a strong reaction after seeing it in person?

It made her a celebrity?

I generally prefer the art dealer’s self-interested marketing bulls**t to a journalist’s ‘cultural impact’ claptrap.

It’s worth thinking about Western culture and the travels of the individual artist through romanticism, modernism and post-modernism and to wherever it is some of those artists are headed now. As for Damien Hirst, it was probably inevitable that someone who couldn’t draw all that well, and didn’t have many of the basics down, would rocket in and out of the spotlight, capturing the moment.

‘Damien Hirst’s output between 2005 and 2008 – the period of his greatest success – has subsequently resold at an average of thirty per cent less than its original purchase price. Moreover, a third of the almost 1700 Hirst pieces that have gone to auction since 2009 have failed to sell at all. Most recently, in November, his gloss-and-butterfly collage Sanctimony failed to reach its lowest pre-sale estimate at a Sotheby’s auction’

Does Hirst possess native talent and technical ability that you don’t?  Do you want him to?

Performance artist Marina Ambramovic and Jay-Z were together during a 6-hour lip sync performance-art piece to promote Mr Z’s last album.

Still, it’s probably more engaging than Tilda Swinton in a box.

Maybe Jeff Koons got there first, where marketing, money, and branding met pop art:  A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Deep religious themes and commercialism.  Sentiment, kitsch, the market and some native talent.

From this video:

I think that Warhol, as radical as he seems, still very much prized the idea of originality at the core of his working process, and it’s hard not to see him as being a very original artist in that sense.  The idea of Koons rejecting all originality, I think, is central to understanding what his work was about.’

and:

‘The way Andy predicted celebrity, Jeff predicted branding.’

Here’s Robert Hughes being especially critical of an Andy Warhol modern art collector.  It’s interesting to note that both the artist and the collector may want similar things.

Robert Hughes is skeptical:

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Some of this back-story might help in explaining parts of our current celebrity culture. The desire for fame, to see and be seen, and immortality.

Modern art, pop-art, pop music, fame and meta-critiques on fame are arguably melting in one big pot.  There are lots of people waiting around for something…

What are we missing?

Related On This Site:  From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

The Top Ten Reasons You Should Read This Post-Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Lazy Journalists Aren’t To Blame For Death Of Print’

Full piece here.

McArdle:

‘No, I don’t think that our problem is that our productivity as content producers isn’t growing fast enough; it’s that print media’s value as ad distributors is falling faster than their writing productivity is growing. Baumol’s cost disease may be a problem for other industries, but for print, the problem is simply that costs cannot fall fast enough to cope with the declining value of our ads.’

As Charlie Martin pointed out, a lot of this is really just a numbers game to capitalize and monetize new technology:

‘Does that mean there’s no market for news? Certainly not, any more than the fact that reality TV is ad supported means that there’s no market for reality TV. But when Google can sell a better targeted ad for 0.00001 the cost per targeted reader, the on-paper business model is not going to survive. People who want to do news are going to need to find a model that works.’

Outlets like Gawker and Buzzfeed are finding success, generating massive traffic, and can grow longer-form journalism should they choose.  Whatever you may think of their content, these sites have found ways to capitalize and monetize the latest trends, memes and opinion.   Advertisers follow eyeballs so the entire market can be affected.

Naturally, people working in media and/or working to have influence in media have always been dependent upon technology for their relevance, so they’d better stay competitive.  Obviously, news-gathering institutions have always relied on a certain amount of sensationalism and celebrity-worship.

Yet, who’s going to fund informed, experienced, sourced journalism that takes time and money to produce?

I find myself thinking more like a populist these days:  I’d rather pay for good journalism and acts of journalism myself than have a nationalized news outlet or a few congealed outlets at the top like the days of yore.  Quixotic?  Maybe, but the quality and kind of journalism we have can very much depend on how we vote with our dollars.

For what, if anything, are you willing to pay?

Would you pay every time you read a good piece?

Would you subscribe and then forget about it for a year, never quite getting around to canceling your subscription?

Interesting reads: Nieman Journalism Lab has a neat history.  Also, if you’re getting tired of virality: Viral Journalism And The Vally Of Ambiguity.

Here’s a photo of the First Amendment on the Newseum’s facade:

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”..Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

The NY Times On Pascal Dangin: ‘The Image Chaser’

Full piece here.

A follow-up on Dangin.

Technology changes awfully quickly.

As previously posted:

In the New Yorker, Dangin admits to having worked for Dove, applying some of his techniques (with heavy use of mathematics and computer graphics) to touch-up their photos.  You know the kind.

Another Dove photo here.

Regardless of his motives, Dangin considers himself an artist and what he does a pursuit of aesthetics.


Selva-Real women in Hong Kong?

Via Youtube: Justin, The Horse That Could Paint

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Justin’s paintings can go for as much as $2,500.  He has his own website, too.  I don’t begrudge him his fame.

What’s the saturation point for modern art, anyways?

Here’s the first in Australian art historian and thinker Robert Hughes’ eight-part “Shock Of The New” series, which presents a modern art historian’s sweep of 20th century political and intellectual history and how images, ideas, art, and artists themselves are woven throughout.  Maybe no one knows for sure where modern art’s headed, but it helps to look at the past:

———————-

There is a “tilt” to the culture, and when we focus on preserving and celebrating certain aspects of it, like language, art, and food as most important to pass on, we necessarily exclude other things.  America is still being colonized to some extent, and I personally believe it’s vital to retain an expanding economy in such a melting pot.  For some, culture means simply being more ‘civilized’ like Europe, yet it’s important to note that right now we’re in a situation where art can often equal money.

Related On This Site:  Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Denver’s Devil Horse may be flirting with kitsch: From The Wall Street Journal: Denver’s Mustang Or ‘Devil Horse’…and I like his work:…Joan Miro: Woman

Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public

What are these people doing with art?:  Often combining them with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption.  On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Out of the Valley of modernism, post-modernism, and relativism…one path from Nietzsche’s nihilism is through Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

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From Via Media: ‘The Internet’s Creative Destruction… Of Porn?’

Full post here.

‘As go porn and print, so goes TV.’

Not that there’s any less of it, but that the old business model isn’t working like it used to.

Related On This SiteWho Reads The Newspapers?From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”…Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die?.

What about pay sites?:  From Denis Pombriant: ‘Reinventing The Newspaper Business Model With Zuora”