Friday, January 12, 2007

new york mag: warhol's children

New York Magazine has a Vice-style article celebrating the crazy antics of three cocky ny artists: Dan Colen, Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow. Colen was just in the last Whitney Biennial and McGinley also had a solo show at the Whitney. Colen turned Saatchi on to Dash's work and now the threesome seem to crave attention! Looks like there is some formula to being insane, doing drugs, living in ny and becoming an artist...well there's more to it than that but the story paints an interesting picture of the boys' lives.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm tempted to start doing coke again and cut a slit in my paintings and lube them up with vaseline.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

This is the kind of stuff that NY magazines like to write about when they decide to cover the arts; the whole artist-as-outsider, artist-as-enlightened oracle/channeler, artist-as-youthquake-badboy, particularly when there's a group of them who hang out together so that the periodicals can identify a fresh generational shift. Or so they believe (and get others to believe as well). Once you've seen this old, hackneyed, story again and again, you understand that it's just a nostlgic desire by collectors, the media, and others to revert back to a mythical time like NYC circa 1945-1968 when the last true bohemia (for lack of a better word) existed. It's really lame.

Putting aside one's kneejerk revulsion to this kind of arts coverage, and trying to view each artist and the works they create as individuals, it becomed clear that at this age, these artists are marginally interesting but have (alot!) more to prove before anybody can assess if there's something substantive there or not. The situation is only further confused by the voguish, modish, au courant sensibility already granted these artists and the unfortunate existence of a terribly overheated art market where people with too much money and not enough discretion are willingly paying prices that are all but ridiculous for artists of this age and stage of development.

It all makes wonderful press, and the market demands the ritualistic sacrifice of new young 'artstars' offered for its consumption. But this kind of marketing cannot and should not be confused with the art itself. Where an artist comes from, what their background is, and how they live means little or nothing to how one consider the end product. The artworks must be viewed as the thing-in-itself, and not surrounded by the attendant noise so endemic to this kind of blustering coverage.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

Sure Todd, I agree with you to a degree. But I don't like to hear that art "must" be viewed independantly of the creator. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It's entirely dependant upon whether or not the artist presents themself as an aspect of the work or not. Think Gilbert and George, or any of many artists working in this way. And why can't one be more subtle about how they do it too? Why declare it outright like G and G? Couldn't one simpy create a lifestyle that could not be ignored and make little effort in hiding it from the press? These artists are doing this intentionally, either for publicity or for the art and almost deffinitely for both. They can do that. It's interesting.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous jim said...

yeah todd, you might want to explore some critical theory. there are no "musts." there's your opinion (which could be expressed as a personal "should" ...)

google "intrinsic criticism" and go from there.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

Curtis:

I'll have to respectfully disagree.

In the case of G&G that you mentioned, sure it's nice if you know them (as I do), but in the end result, sometime in the far flung future, someone will come upon a single work of theirs in a Museum somewhere, without all the attendant support information, without the ability to see that specific artwork as compared to many others by G&G. Just that artwork, in a Museum, by itself, surrounded by other works, created by other artists. And the viewer at that time is going to have to treat that artwork as a unique object, the-thing-in-itself. Now, if it is successful and can hold its own in that light, than of course, I agree, it's always nice to understand an artwork in the broader context surrounding the work.

This can easily be made pointedly clearer if we direct our attention away from the youngest and newest, and look back a couple of centuries to a different time. Famous artists, were, in their own way, just as big celebrities then as they are now. But when you look at a Vermeer, or a Rembrandt, or a Goya, or Byzantine mosaic, or a sculpture from ancient Greece, do you know about the artist's life in great detail, if they were a 'bad boy or a 'good boy,' if they were a party animal or devoutly pious? Is this information necessary when trying look at that art critically? It's always nice to have as much 'back story' as is possible, I agree, but I still don't believe in the end result it to be important when considering an artwork.

A work of art, first and foremost, must (yes, there's that naughty little word again!) speak eloquently on its own behalf.

Of course, it's a different argument if the artist's life IS the artwork, as in the case of living performance art. Than I absolutely would agree with your pov.


jim:

Sorry poor baby. If the big, bad word 'must' is just toooooo much for your razor-sharp-no-margin-for-error-world to manage, I respectfully would like to alter the seventh word in the eighth sentence in the third paragraph of my previous post from 'must' to 'should,' in total deference to you overwhelmingly potent and laser-sharp understanding of critical theory (as compared to mine).

Interesting that you don't actually have a thought of your own regarding the subject at hand to opine, but only seem able to ape and parse the response of others.

Perhaps YOU might want to google "vacuous" and go from there.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that maybe this discussion brings up a good point about how the museum displays work. The context of the work of Gilbert and George (as well as Dash Snow) is critical to the work.
I think it is okay to explain things further.
I wouldn't want to judge a work of art based on its survival skills in a museum - that seems like a very closed read.
Does art have to speak eloquently?
Joseph Beuys is quite a difficult artist to grasp, but you can't deny his importance - especially in the museum circuit. Background information is crucial to understanding his work.
there are grey areas... nothing, even art, is ever so simple to be fully understood just from the way it looks.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Mr mxyzptlyk said...

I am SO SICK of reading about characters like this, whether in the artworld or not. priveledged characters who create "art" by tearing up a newspaper and then jacking off on it. So the fuck what.

I feel ripped off. I went and paid money for that NY mag.

Maybe I should make a collage out of it, jack off on it and send it to the writer of the article. Think it would make me famous?

6:28 AM  
Anonymous the pied piper said...

Todd’s comments are very good. He understands that much of contemporary art is rooted in the self, and is therefore limited in value. He hints at the necessity for objective criteria in evaluating art, but he does not take the step of delineating that criteria. That’s a tough one.

Great art is so much more than self expression. My thought is that art of real value must be grounded in the culture from which it comes, and must positively convey those values. I don’t think great art is possible now because our culture (western civilization) is in decline. This decline is a natural stage in an organic process, because all civilizations rise and fall. Our decline doesn’t have a precise starting point, but generally its origins can be associated with the late twentieth century and the advent of modernism. Current trends toward globalization, multiculturalism, and relativism flow from that period of history.

I used to think that formalism was the objective criteria for judging art, but then I realized that formalism only resulted in good design. Picasso is a good example of this problem, great as he was. In Todd’s far flung future (100 or 200 years?), I doubt that we will see Gilbert & George in a museum, if such a thing as museums still exist. Instead, I think that we will see that people have reorganized along ancient tribal lines. Their art will reflect their own identity and the pursuit of their unique destiny, as opposed to the suffocating conformity of Bush and company’s egalitarian new world order.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous m. said...

LOL. Dammit, but I have to agree with Todd. I've been sitting here trying to find something he said to disagree with and I just keep chucking appreciatively at his handling of the seventh word in the eighth sentence in the third paragraph of his previous post. Damn.

Other than the hoity toity "if you knew them (like I do)" attitude... I completely agree.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

hi m.:

I want to apologize - I realized after I reread the "...if you knew them (like I do)..." comment in my previous response to Curtis that it came off in a manner that I did not intend. I only meant to illustrate that even in the case of being personal friends with an artist (or in this case artists), that this should still have no impact on one's judgement of an artwork.

On the other hand, jim (jimmy-boy, jimbo, the jimster, jiminey cricket, jimnasium, jimmy-crack-corn-and-I-don't-care, etc.) can still eat my shorts!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

todd,
You are a

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Curtis said...

Todd,

I still disagree. You're right to say that all that matters is the work as one experiences it in the present. But no work stands on it's own. You could posit many possible futures in which now famous artwork loses it's contextual appeal or even physically deteriorates. The long term "lasting strength" of art is really a minor thing to consider when evaluating what it IS. And all art is viewed in context. I could not believe that if you were chilling with Michelangelo and were shown a Picasso that you would be able to appreciate it.

My argument is this. For you, personally, if you had not learned the story of these artists and you did not like the work, than fine. But you have learned it and therefore must consider it when viewing th art. You have no reason to extract it from the work.

If your argument is that all work must be universally enjoyed, than you must be a very dissapointed person. No art. Not one work of art is universally enjoyed. They are all dependent on context.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

Hi Curtis:

Hmmmmm. Maybe I should be clearer when I throw around a word like context. Of course, a generalized context IS probably necessary – let’s face it – if I was required to suddenly look at some Martian’s ‘artwork’ (if their culture even manifested such an idea in the first place) I would, of course, be hard pressed to come to any reasonable appreciation and/or judgment of what I was seeing for the very first time with no context of any kind. SO yes, I agree, no work stands (entirely) on its own. But I DO believe, however, that assuming we’re not looking at Martian art, but are looking at the earthly equivalent, that we must try as much (as we are able) to divorce ourselves from the prejudices, inclinations, and misunderstandings that surround an object, and try our best to form our own opinion about what we are experiencing, even attempting to rid ourselves of our OWN preexisting preferences and assumptions. We must be as objective as possible, and approach the artwork as an object(ive).

Therefore, I completely disagree with your statement that “…personally, if you had not learned the story of these artists and you did not like the work, than fine. But you have learned it and therefore must consider it when viewing the art. You have no reason to extract it from the work…” I have EVERY reason – no, responsibility - to extract ‘the story,’ as you phrase it, as much as my ability will allow me to. As to you argument regarding ‘universal enjoyment,’ there is no such thing. Nothing is universal (we’re back to our discussion above regarding our good friends, the Martians, above). Clarity IS developed, however, with the removal (as much as is possible) of the self (and that of others) from the direct experience between an object(ive) and the one experiencing it.

I think, though, more to point, that my initial comments in this particular regard had more to do with the icky nonsense that New York Magazine tried to shove down my (our) throats regarding this group of artists as being the next ‘big thing’ – that this hollow, vapid, type of coverage should pass for decent arts writing. And I don’t mean to intimate that this article had to read like something out of Artforum magazine. It’s just that this could have been so much more interesting, and really discussed the work, rather than turning into a lifestyle documentary (Look at these crazy guys! They build real life hamster’s nests! They use semen in their artwork! It’s just like Pollock and
Basquiat all over again! They must be geniuses! There work will be worth a fortune in the future – no, wait – it already IS a fortune!). I said it once, and I’ll say it again – “…it becomes clear that at this age, these artists are marginally interesting but have (a lot!) more to prove before anybody can assess if there's something substantive there or not. The situation is only further confused by the voguish, modish, au courant sensibility already granted these artists and the unfortunate existence of a terribly overheated art market where people with too much money and not enough discretion are willingly paying prices that are all but ridiculous for artists of this age and stage of development. It all makes wonderful press, and the market regularly demands the ritualistic sacrifice of new young 'artstars' offered for its consumption…”

3:28 PM  

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