Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's so Goddam Buzzy About Post War Contemporary Art Anyway?



(image via sadiecoles)

At the risk of sounding like a vinegary old buzzard not unlike Hilton Kramer (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment), allow The Corsair to, for a minute, go all "Conservative" on the Contemporary Art scene's Cubist ass. (Sotto voce) Bludgeon/curmudgeon-style. And, since the aforementioned Ass is Cubist, we will make sure to kick all multiple perspectives of said Fractitious Tushy.

Recently -- across the globe -- the newly-monied are going gonzo with an insatiable appetite after post war contemporary art. Why? Is such "clever" and sufacish work more accessible to the contemporary Attention-Deficit-Addled viewer than, say, a Titian to a educated man a hundred years ago (And, Does anyone read Novels for fun anymore?)? Or, a mysterious El Greco? A ravishing Raphael? A sumnptuous Caravaggio?

An awful but clever Andy Warhol recently went for -- no joke, this -- $71 million. Those intrepid Page Sixxies inform us that George Michaels, "has spent $20 million on pieces by controversial shark-pickler Damien Hirst, among others." What gives?

Let's blame the rise in prices of Dubious Art -- pickled shark, anyone (Averted Gaze)? -- to the influx of asshole hedge fund and Russian oligarch dollars presently flooding the market (The Corsair sips on a Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1978 Grand Pauillac). As we all know, money doesn't account for Taste, which takes years of patient study to acquire.

The patience required to unlock the sepia-colored secrets of a Mannerist painting is lost entirely on those hyper-aggressive Wall Streeters who hanker, greasily, after something "Shocking," or "Contempo" -- the larger sized the better -- such as the works of Damien Hirst, to hang in their storied McMansions in the McHamptons.

The thundering "Death of God" pronouncement of Nietzsche echoed through the eerie, twisted monochromatic forest of Guernica, then, through the various experiments in pre-War Art -- and their multiple manifestoes, political and mystical -- exhausting itself, finally, in the all-style-and-no-substance works of Andy Warhol. The "Death of God" was, beyond Deicide, the Death of all Absolutes -- Love, Harmony, Proportion -- all those swishy concepts upon which Classical Art and its remarkably quaint ideal of Beauty (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment) relies. Who wants Beauty in Art, right? Not that one would expect a culturally-ambitious Hedge Funder to be able to notice these themes at work on the compositions of the past half century; Johnny Wallstreet and Boris Silverdollar their knowledge Now, Shnell! not after a decade of inquiry into the History of Art. It is no coincidence that Warhol leeched himself onto genuinely talented artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. If Warhol were alive today he would be astonished that his paintings are more valued by the market than the supremely talented Basquiat, or, say, John Singer Sargent.

Which is not to say that all Contemporary Art is Bad. Quite the contrary. That's the sort of cultural hack criticism that comes out of that louche hotel on the margin of propriety known as The Hilton-Kramer (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). For every imposter like John Currin or Christo (And his partner, "Jean-Fraud") or Damien Hirst or a shitty little Botero, there is something approximating the real-deal, like Jackson Pollock.

Was that altogether too Hilton Kramerish?

2 comments:

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