If Bloomberg was an art collector, judging by his bold moves a few weeks ago, I’d say he might consider the Thiebaud painting on the left, and be disgusted by the one on the right. Everything except giant sodas in moderation, folks!Thank goodness for my new habit of snoozing the alarm and reading Twitter before I get out of bed, or I would have missed National Donut Day on June 1st. I also think that it should be National Wayne Thiebaud Day because starting with donut thoughts, everything else I did reminded me of his paintings.
My blog is inspired by you, Ben Shahn, so Happy 114th Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you …
I’ve been int0 Ben Shahn for over a decade because like me, he worked in many mediums. He was a painter, photographer, printmaker, illustrator, muralist, writer and commercial artist. When I was in art school I knew him as “Shahn the painter,” and in photo school I was introduced to “Shahn the photographer.” They’re the same guy, but he went to great lengths to keep his work in the mediums separate, so he’s often known as one or the other depending on your area of interest. To most he’s known as a Social Realist painter.
I am a social painter or photographer. I paint or photograph for two reasons: either because I like certain events, things, or people with great intensity or because I dislike others with equal intensity… But frankly, I find difficulty in making distinctions between photography and painting. Both are pictures.
I have an MFA in photography, and wrote my thesis about Shahn because I identified with his belief that content was more important than form or technique. Like me, also a painter, he was disinterested in the technical details of photography and disliked the preoccupation with how, as opposed to why, pictures were taken.
He wrote, taught and lectured extensively about art and said almost nothing about photography–even though all of his paintings were based on photographs. He was a photographer, took thousands of them, selling and showing them in museums, and was a photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the Depression, alongside Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange.
When I investigated the matter writing my thesis, I started to think that he was just irritated by how differently people viewed his photography than they did his painting, and that’s why he kept them apart–to avoid the conversation of comparison. Well, there are many reasons, and a lot of it had to with modernist constraints at the time, but I also think that he just loved painting.
I, however, love the conversation and I’m fascinated by the way the medium changes the message and introduces new sets of overlapping questions. Now more than ever, with technology advancing so quickly, a camera in every pocket, and the lines between mediums barely existent, it’s a wildly exciting time to be an artist.
Thanks, Ben, for the inspiration to start writing about what I believe in. Happy Birthday.
 James Cuno, “Introduction” to Ben Shahn’s New York: The Photography of Modern Times, (Hong Kong: Palace Press, 2000)
My fascination with perception began when I was a six-year-old trying to exit the funhouse at Cedar Point.* The final room, the “sideways room,” had slanted floors, ceilings and walls, making it impossible to stand up straight. I remember falling over for no reason, clinging to the handrails with sheer delight, and weaving slowly towards the exit, using all the strength I could muster to make it out the door in one piece. It was totally amazing and puzzled me for years. I was so confused by the experience, I don’t even think I brought it up with my parents later to see if it really happened.
To make matters worse, I was never able to go back and check the details because the funhouse burned to the ground the following week. . . and of course, for the past 3 decades, I’ve thought that’s how it met its demise because I’ve always liked a good story. But tonight I’m disappointed because I looked it up, and the funhouse was shut down in 1981 for simply being creepy & dangerous.
I’m pretty sure that my interest in art and perception all stems from that one great day. I’ve been chasing one of my greatest childhood memories of falling over repeatedly for no logical reason, and spent the last 30 years trying to get to the bottom of it.
In a nutshell, perception is the understanding of ones environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. But Wikipedia also goes on to say that it’s not the passive receipt of these signals . . . but is shaped by learning, memory and expectation . . . three big gaping holes in the life of a six-year-old walking through the most sophisticated art installation in 1980′s Ohio. A possible oversight that led to a few broken arms, pissed off parents, and the inevitable shutdown. No worries, there’s hardly a trace of its existence online so I’ll bring it back to Chelsea one day.
I’m playing “Fantasy Art Collection,” inspired by games like Fantasy Baseball. Go to the main page to get the idea.
One of my biggest frustrations as a collector is that I’m limited to the art that currently exists in the world. How annoying! I started thinking about this after I saw Midnight in Paris, and wondered if I would’ve had the foresight to buy Toulouse-Lautrec’s work if he had just been my eccentric 4 1/2 ft tall drinking buddy back in the 1890′s. I like to think that I would have been a prolific contemporary collector and bought his sketches right off the bar, but who knows. My collection isn’t setting art market trends right now, but lets imagine it had, & I was 495 years old …
I’d probably make my first purchase when I was 8 since I’d assume my death was quickly approaching. I’d be really into cherubs since they reminded me of my friends, so I’d buy a Raphael, hang it in my dark, damp room, and I’d be hooked. My collection would look so much different than it does now; I shudder to even think about it. I’d definitely be lending a lot of it to museums that I rarely frequent.
The 17th century would have been particularly brutal, and I’d probably buy a lot of work since I’d want to leave a legacy, and you know what they said back then … “30 is the new 20!” … “That’s IT??”… “How can I be dying already? I was just born!!”
I may have purchased The Calling of St. Matthew, not necessarily because it moved me, but because almost all of the art was religious, and it was the most edgy of the Jesus paintings. The Caravaggio would be my big success, and the others would go straight to The Brooklyn Museum. Ok, I’d probably keep the goat, too. That’s genius.
Vannini, The Triumph of David, 1640 | Gentileschi, Danae and the Shower of Gold, 1621 | Aert De Gelder, untitled, c.1650
As I grew very old and moved into the 18th century, I’d probably buy some genre paintings, but I wouldn’t be very happy about it since the last things I’d want to see more of would be kitchens, markets, and the countryside I couldn’t escape. My boredom with contemporary painting would explain the excessive Rococo furniture and my lavish wardrobe. Although I wouldn’t be very political or French, judging from my most recent Lichtenstein acquisitions, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the 1793 art collecting me would also buy The Death of Marat.
The 19th century is when things would really start to pick up for me. I’d have a huge influence on the art market since the world would find out that I was a superhero who was going to live forever. As such an important collector, I’d walk around with a permanent smile because I’d have the ability to make my artist friends famous with a single purchase.
I’d move to Paris, travel the world, dabble in photography, befriend Giacometti, and hang out with my interesting friends. I’d buy more art than I knew what to do with, although my favorite painting would be the big one Henri did after that crazy night at the Moulin Rouge, when we drank too much absinthe and Salvador was convinced that the clocks were melting. We had a lot of crazy nights, but trust me, that one could go down in history. (I just realized that Toulouse-Lautrec was dead before Dali was born, but whatever…)
Then the 20th century would arrive with Marcel’s urinal for my living room coming soon after, and that pretty much brings us up-to-date with the fantasy art collection of my dreams.
I’m playing “Fantasy Art Collection,” inspired by games like Fantasy Baseball. Go to the main page to get the idea.
Fantasy Art Collection: Sale #1
I can’t believe this is happening. I’m putting my Alice Neel painting up for auction because I don’t want it anymore. The mission behind Fantasy Art Collection was to buy art that I loved so much I’d never trade or sell it. To quote myself, “Art that I like, and art that I would actually purchase and want to look at daily for the rest of my life are very different things,” and with that belief I purchased Alice Neel’s painting of Andy Warhol in early December.
I love Neel, and bought a painting of Warhol thinking it would be more meaningful than one of Ginny since I don’t know her. I didn’t know Andy either, but at least I knew of him—and this is where all my troubles began. I’ve spent the last month reading about him, and although I love his art, I don’t love him. I think it would be way too risky to live with him because, as the saying goes, you are who you surround yourself with. Sure, it’s possible I’d become a super focused genius, but it’s also possible that I’d bec0me the most socially awkward loneliest person in Manhattan and I’d use everybody.
I can’t really make heads or tails out of who Andy Warhol was “for real,” but I don’t like the odds of how he could rub off on me if he’s hanging on my wall. So, Sotheby’s meet Andy, Andy meet Sotheby’s.
This has all caused me to question my feelings about Alice Neel as well. I watched a documentary about her last week and I’m pretty sure that she’d have been a good candidate for the looney bin. I still like her paintings, but it made me wonder if each painting is actually great, or if it was equally the massive quantity of work that propelled her to stardom in the last decades of her life. I know it’s lame, but I liked her paintings more when I knew less about her.
Since it still seems really weird to buy a painting of a stranger, I might just cross Neel off my list. Ok….ok….here’s the deal—if my nieces or nephew grow up with an uncanny resemblance to a Neel painting, I’ll buy it as a gift for my sister Sarah and her husband. Since I’m in Duluth visiting them right now, my niece Signe did some tests this afternoon. She’s pretty sure I’ll be buying one in no time.
At the beach recently I was telling friends that I can’t wrap my head around the depth of the ocean. It was basically explained to me like this: if there’s a mile of water headed north at the summit of Mt. Everest, we’re the colossal squid at the base.
That cleared things up for me depth-of-the-ocean-wise, but now I’m always thinking about colossal squid. Do they actually exist, and are they really the color of nothing? No light, no color, right? I understand it somewhat in theory—color is reflected light—but what kind of crazy 80′s light are neon colors reflecting?
Red + yellow = orange. Red + more yellow and lots of white does not = neon anything. A few years ago I was teaching a color theory class when a student asked how he could make a neon color wheel. I knew it wasn’t happening, but I had no idea why. As far as I knew, you couldn’t make neon colors, you just had to start with them.
Back in the day artists were digging in the ground for yellow ochre, azurite, and the red ochre that was used in cave art. They eventually started mixing them with water or saliva, and painting was born. The palette was dull, and the market quickly got flooded with horse and idol paintings. This triggered a few outliers to take a look around the cave and see potential in the untapped resources they fought on a daily basis. So they started paving the way for the Michelangelos and Picassos of the future by crushing insects to make rich reds and balling up the dried urine from their mango-fed cattle to make vibrant yellows. Long live the geniuses because painting became far more interesting.
Even though I’ve looked it up several times, I still don’t understand how neon colors exist because I’ve never been able to get past the science-speak. Maybe “florescent” is a better name for them; I’m not sure. The most straightforward explanation I’ve found is that neon colors contain pigments that are made up of molecules that are very efficient at absorbing high frequency light, and then emitting lower frequency light (Feel free to add insightful comments to this post or I’ll never sleep again).
With all that said, neon colors remain on my “just don’t get it” list right above eyesight and timezones. I’ve ended up right where I started, at YAHOO!® Answers:Resolved Question. I don’t know what to make of the answers that were posted, but it’s nice to think that I might not be the only one sitting in front of a computer thinking about the color wheel on a rainy Tuesday night in nyc.
“I have green, red, blue, black, white, brown, and yellow. I’m wondering if there is a way to make neon colors with these? Like neon pink, neon green, neon orange, electric blue. You’re suppose to be able to make all colors with the primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, right? So can you make neon colors? and if so, how?”
“Yes, you can. All colors are derived from Red, Yellow, and Blue. Mix 2 of them together. If it’s not strong enough, add more of the brighter color. It might take some experimenting but it is possible!”
“If you mean can you mix regular crayon colors to make neon colors, then no, you cant.”
Neon pink with neon pink to get neon pink.
Neon orange with neon orange to get neon orange.”
What’s up with Fathers Day? Mother’s Day gets so much more play and I think it’s unjust. If my dad lived here I would make a big huge deal out of it—brunch, clowns, balloons, the whole bit. But unfortunately he is sitting in Michigan reading a book right now, so I’m left with no other option than to write him this post. ¡Hola, Padre!
This week I started thinking about art dads, about how important mine is, wondering if famous artists had fathers too, since I’ve rarely heard of any. I started googling around, secretly hoping to find psychotic portraits of fathers that rivaled those of their mothers. No dice. I found a few portraits, but was surprised to find that those who took the time to put brush to canvas had dads that remind me of my own.
My research leads me to believe that many great artists were raised by curious, introspective, compassionate, supportive, great-listening fathers. Don’t misunderstand, none of the artists’ mothers remind me of my own, and we’re only getting half the story because all the artists are men, but I’m lucky to have been raised by a great pair, and I see a bit of James Manney in each of these portraits.
1.Monsieur Cézanne 2.Meneer Escher 3.Monsieur Degas 4.Señor Dalí 5.Monsieur Duchamp 6.Mister Bellows
1. Mr. Cézanne: My dad is a professional writer, which goes hand-in-hand with being a professional reader. I’ve seen him look exactly like this many times in my life—except he wears a Tigers hat. Things my dad does not have in common with Mr. Cézanne: Mr. Cézanne never encouraged his son’s art.
2. Mr. Escher: My dad is a curious man. I thank him for the trait. All my life there were huge biographies and novels stacked by his bed. Since I rarely saw him read them, I decided long ago that he was a secret reader because he’s very wise and can talk about anything. Conversations about art, baseball or life’s struggles will make you want to sit with him for hours. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit his patience for reading big interesting books, but I guess that’s ok because it’s been balanced out by my insatiable curiosity. He once described me as having a “horror of boredom.” I now blame him.
3. Mr. Degas: My dad loves Bruce Springsteen. Since I’m a huge music fan, now and again I catch him up on the bands I’m into. These conversations usually end with him requesting that I send him music. This is how I imagine him looking as he sits listening to his new CDs (guy not playing the guitar). He just loves Bruce.
4. Mr. Dalí: My dad has looked like this many times when I’ve presented him with ideas for my next life change or art in the works. I’m guessing that Mr. Dalí looked like this all the time when his son presented him with ideas for his art in the works.
5. Mr. Duchamp: Marcel and I have so much in common. I won’t bore you with the list, but we both have dads that are great listeners. I wonder if this is what Mr. Duchamp looked like as his son was full of excitement, telling him about the museum that just agreed to buy his urinal. It’s hard to tell if he’s thinking, “you’re totally crazy, how are you my son?” or “I’m so proud of you, you’re a true original and I love you so much.”
6. Mr. Bellows: George Bellows paints his father with a compassion that’s so familiar to me, from the many hours my dad has sat listening to me, trying to understand and encouraging my pursuit of an interesting and fulfilling life. He feels deeply, he thinks about life, takes it very seriously and finds much joy in it. He also has the best laugh, which I’m not sure he shares with Georges dad. I think Mr. Bellows is about to cry, and my dad isn’t nearly this old and hates bowties.
Recently I wanted to buy new glasses, choked on the cost, and called my mom to see if they still had the ones my dad was wearing in their wedding picture. Unfortunately my parents lack fashion foresight and tossed them out in the 80′s, but it got me to thinking…my dad doesn’t remind me of famous artists’ fathers…he reminds me of guys who live in Brooklyn. Then it dawned on me—holy cow, my dad is the ultimate hipster! He studied literature while smoking a pipe and trimming his mustache, wearing skinny pants and Buddy Holly glasses as he wrote the occasional poem. This impressed my mom, who was attending the same all-male college that he was (long story), so they got married and went on to have 4 great kids. Although I do love to point the finger, I have hipster tendencies, and judging by this photo, it’s no surprise that my brother Dave now lives in Williamsburg.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you so much.
Oh, I almost forgot…Happy Father’s Day to Lucien Freud as well! With 40 illegitimate children, his phone must be blowing up today.
Addendum: RIP Lucien Freud, 1922–2011
This week I was racking my brain trying to think of something really nice to do for Mother’s Day when I got a great idea … I’ll make my Mom a blog post. What’s more special than that? I already sent her a text this morning, so this should be a real surprise. Hi, Mom!
She’s not coming into town until next weekend, so I have some time on my hands today and I’m using it to address the elephant in the room. Who else agrees that the famous portraits of artists’ mothers are absolutely terrifying?
When I started digging around on the topic of art moms, I found all sorts of surprising facts like: Lucien Freud spent over 4,000 hours painting his mother, and the only artist to have ever come close to that sort of obsession was Rembrandt. My immediate thought was–Rembrandt had a mother? The guys back then seem parentless, like they just arrived on the scene and nobody asked questions. Of course they came from somewhere, but it seemed pretty common around age 11 to say, “Adiós, Mom, thanks for the talent!” and hit the road to become an apprentice or work for the church.
I feel like artists started having mothers at the beginning of the 20th century. There are paintings of Mrs. Picasso, and Salvador Dalí definitely had a mother who encouraged his talent. That’s another surprising fact I learned: when he was five, Dalí was taken to his brother’s grave and told by his mother that he was his brother’s reincarnation. It gave him really cool ideas for paintings. What a smart lady.
Although she has some things in common with Mrs. Dalí, like encouraging my talent and being a smart lady, my Mom is the best. She’s always believed in me, assuring me that my pursuit of life as an artist is meaningful even when it seems to make no sense. She’s an artist too, although she doesn’t really think of herself as one. As one of the most dedicated perpetual art students I know, her enthusiasm and delight in creativity is contagious. I’ve never done a portrait of her, but she’s done plenty of us over the years.
I love you, Mom. Thanks for the talent and see you next weekend! xoxo
I’m playing “Fantasy Art Collection,” inspired by games like Fantasy Baseball. Go to the main page to get the idea.
Fantasy Art Collection Pick #10
I’ve had my eye on Nude on Summer Sofa for 15 years, so I’m adding it to my collection. Psych. This one is actually not a fantasy and exists in my real life, on my real wall. I present you with my official art collection of one.
Real Life Art Collection Pick #1: Pearlstein
Nude on Summer Sofa and I have been through a lot together. As I’ve pursued my life and art dreams, poor old NOSS has had a thankless nomadic existence. She’s followed me from NYC to Michigan to Brooklyn, through many apartments in Chicago, back to NYC and now hangs above my television on Avenue B.
Writing about George Bellows got me to thinking about painting from life rather than photographs, bringing me back to the game-changing semester I spent in NYC as a 20-year-old art student. Although I only had eyes for art, I went to a liberal arts school because I thought it would be good to know about things like math and philosophy, to make the fantasy dinner parties of my future more interesting.
In the fall of ’95 I was passing the time at Hope College in Holland, MI, getting accustomed to conservative small town life when I caught wind of a semester program in NYC and bolted immediately—never to return. I had been tipped off to the fact that Philip Pearlstein accepted an apprentice, so I pulled some strings, got the interview and spent the following semester painting next to him in his studio. It was incredible.
Spanning the giant 5th floor of a building in the garment district, Pearlstein’s studio and it’s environment was right out of an art student fairy tale. We painted to the tunes of Mahler and Puccini, taking frequent breaks so the models could rest and chat with us about art and culture. There were long leisurely lunches around a big wooden table, with friends and artists frequently stopping in for turkish coffee and conversation that left one persisting question in my head–”what the hell are they talking about???” I listened carefully, hanging on every word, and was actually amazed by my own ability to hang. But I secretly felt like a big dummy, and regularly slipped into the art book library to look up names I’d never heard of like Rauschenberg and De Kooning.
Pearlstein is firmly committed to painting from direct observation, so that was the semester that I officially learned how to see. In my favor, the balance of the situation was off–I spent eight hours a day painting under the watchful eye of a true master, and all I had to do in return was wash out a few brushes at the end of the day. “He paints the nude not as a symbol of beauty and pure form but as a human fact—implicitly imperfect”(Arts Magazine, 1963). One of the models I painted posed for him for a decade, and wrote an essay about Pearlstein and her experience there—It’s a great insight into his work.
The paintings I did are actually not bad, looking like student versions of the ones above. I also learned how to mix oil paint to create a flesh color that doesn’t look like a bad spray tan. But that was a huge challenge, and one day he caught me with the secret tube of flesh color paint I’d bought to speed up the process. He thought it was funny but I threw it away and learned the ropes eventually.
As my first week at the Pearlstein lunch table drew to a close, I called my parents to tell them that once my apprentice stint was up I was transferring schools, getting a BFA in painting and art history, moving to New York when I was done, and living there forever. There’s great power to be had in signing your own name to all the student loans. My two big amateur Manney-Pearlsteins are still rolled up in a closet somewhere at my parents’ house. I always forget to grab them when I’m visiting, which unfortunately isn’t very often since I’m finally in New York forever.
(clue #6 – into how rich non-fake, art-collecting me is … well, it’s no secret that the big apple is pricey, so at the moment I’m living according to my favorite No Fear slogan–If you’re not livin’ on the edge, you’re taking up too much space)
Philip Pearlstein | Nude on Summer Sofa | 1990 | Lithograph 48/50 | 24 × 31 in. | Laura Manney Collection • Brian Rigney Hubbard | Photograph of Philip Pearlstein | Copyright © 2005 • Two Models in a Window with Cast Iron Toys | 1987 | Oil on canvas | 182.9 x 182.9 cm • Male and Female Models With Balloon Chair and Old African Drum | 2000 | Oil on canvas
Fantasy Art Collection Pick #9
I’m slightly superstitious so it seems like bad luck to have only one murderer (Muybridge) in my art collection. They should probably come in pairs, so in the spirit of Noah’s Ark I’m buying a Caravaggio. Since Caravaggio was the first name I googled when I started to consider a second killer, I guess I had a vague idea that he was shady, but I was in no way prepared for my gruesome findings. He was sick and brilliant.
Before I get into the life and times of a truly mad genius, I’ll do whatever it takes to acquire The Calling of St. Matthew, and hang it in my library of floor-to-ceiling art books. I’ve always loved this painting and how warmly Caravaggio chronicles the moment when a daily routine is interrupted by the miraculous. Religious subject matter aside, I need this painting because sometimes life overwhelms me. It reminds me that moments like this are happening constantly—the miraculous of the everyday.
I’ve always been interested in art history because I love art, of course, but also because it’s helped me to understand the world. I’ve taken plenty of history classes, memorized information for exams and promptly forgotten it all. I have no memory for it. But when I studied paintings like The Death of Marat and The Tennis Court Oath, I began to understand the French Revolution. The Enlightenment started to sink in through paintings of the first experiments and anatomy lessons, which began to put so much value on the miracle of human curiosity. Although I grew up Catholic, I never understood the magnitude and power of the church until I walked through The Vatican, passing the frescoes done by nameless artists who spent their lives painting in dark corridors alongside Raphael. I didn’t get the Roman Empire until I stood in Hagia Sophia, unable to comprehend how old it was and the fact that it was still there after being constantly pillaged by the Crusades. And one of my greatest days yet was climbing Mt. Sinai as the sun rose, overwhelmed by its history as my travels got me to thinking about how fundamentally similar Muslims, Jews and Christians really are.
The Calling of St. Matthew has always moved me. In art school it’s shown to explain chiaroscuro, the interplay of light and shadow. In the book Secret Knowledge, David Hockney investigates Caravaggio to discover that he utilized optics and lenses to achieve the realistic craft and detail that’s so unbelievable. Reading Hockney’s book made me like Caravaggio even more because I’ve always thought of Mannerist painting as the 2-D version of the Pyramids. I’ve stood in front of both, totally confused as to how people could do that back then, and not now. Of course people can do both now but we have so much help that they didn’t have—or so I thought until Hockney followed the clues of Caravaggio, Ingres and Velázquez to discover that they, too, needed a camera. Hockney explains his theory in this 8-part video.
Genius is such a mystery. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in Milan in 1571, and began training under Titian at the age of 13, around the time he committed his first murder. By the time he was 30, he was famous and never without commissions. There is no doubt that Caravaggio suffered from severe mental illness, as he would work for a few weeks and then snap. He would turn to the streets, to a Roman style fight club, picking fights and brutally killing the unlucky few. He’d hardly eat and wouldn’t bathe, letting his clothes soil and deteriorate to rags as he slept on the street fully armed. Then once he had his fill and a quickly approaching deadline, he would tidy up and go back to the studio.
It’s unknown how many murders he committed because he was protected by influential patrons who would excuse anything to keep a genius at work. Unlucky for Caravaggio, hard-core Pope Paul V came to power in 1605 and approved a hit to be made on his life. Pope Paul V’s reputation preceded this decision with the burning of a man for his heretical ideas about the solar system. The assassination of Caravaggio was inevitable…or so we think. He’s still missing and was last seen 400 years ago, heading to Rome by boat.
Caravaggio | The Calling of St. Matthew | 1599-1600 | oil on canvas | 127 x 130 in. | San Luigi dei Francesi
Fantasy Art Collection Pick #7
The purchase of my first Lichtenstein is really tricky, thanks to the Swedish thieves who stole “Crak!” from the Abergs Museum in 2008. I’ve gotta hand it to them though, they’re smart criminals with really great taste. I, too, would bypass the typical art booty (altarpieces, brittle frescoes, mesolithic water pitchers) and head straight for the Pop. They picked up a couple of Warhol’s on the way out too.
Here’s my plan: Somehow I am going to buy it off the black market. It’s in the works, but for obvious reasons I can’t talk about it here. All I’ll say is that you wouldn’t believe the hell I’ve been through just to get a foot in the door. Unbelievable! Once “Crak!” is in my posession I’m going to hang it up in my house. I know what you’re thinking, but I figure, hey, its been three years, whats a few more months? Since I can’t have any visitors during this time, for obvious reasons, it might be shorter. Actually… since it is a lithograph, and there are 299 others in the world, I’m probably not very high-risk for accidental jail time … nevermind, I’m getting way ahead of myself.
Eventually I’ll fly to Sweden, stop by the Abergs Museum, ring the buzzer, and leave “Crak!” on the stoop. It’s the least I can do to support the arts, but I don’t want the attention and wouldn’t want to ruin the drama surrounding the piece. It probably adds value.
Once I get back from Sweden I’m going to buy these two Lichtenstein paintings at a legitimate auction, and hang them up next to each other on one of my best walls.I really love Lichtenstein. It’s somewhat of a newfound love because his work relates to what I’m doing with my own. It seems like every museum has one and I’ve been walking by them, giving them a quick glance for most of my life. But recently I bought a book of his work and it’s changed my whole view. Since I make video art, I’m interested in narrative and sequencing, which has led to my recent hobby of reading comics, which has led to my fascination with Lichtenstein.
I like getting one blown-up moment of an implied larger story that doesn’t exist. For the most part his paintings are replicated stills from old comics that do exist and tell a story. But taken out of the context they are just really funny. Of course they look cool too. That’s why I need them in my collection—so I can be reminded every day that life is not as serious as it sometimes feels. They remind me of the bigger picture, and to me there is no price to be put on that (well… I’ll admit, its really handy that fake me is super duper rich).
I’m going to hang my Lichtensteins on the same wall because I like how they inform each other. The relationship between this pair is funny because I’ll always wonder whose side the dog is on. It could be in the room with the girl as she is talking to Jeff, and the dog hates Jeff. But it’s also very possible that it’s Jeff’s dog, Jeff is on the phone behind the scenes, and the dog isn’t a fan of the girl. My dad thinks the dog is Jeff. Endless possibilities!
By the way, the translation of french “Crak!” is “Now my little ones…for France!” Here’s the original comic and the final print.
Crak!, 1964. Lithograph on paper, 18.5 x 27 inches | Grrrrrrrrrrrr!,1965. Oil and Magna on canvas, 68 x 56 inches | Oh, Jeff … i love you, too … but, 1964. Oil and Magna on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Wealth wasn’t an attribute I’d naturally attach to clowns until yesterday. Jeff Koons, the clown of a millionaire artist, has served the San Francisco art gallery and store Park Life a cease and desist. He’s not liking the resin balloon animal-shaped bookends that they sell. So, world, better reconsider those shiny balloons and maybe the big ones too. Matte balloons from here on out.
Soccer moms and grannys beware. He’s got the anonymous white guy thing going on. He’d fit in effortlessly at your kids fifth birthday party and would have no problem tossing a few horeseshoes at the local church fair. You might even mistake him for the friendly mailman, but he’ll probably have a cease and desist stuck in there between the report cards and Oprah Magazines.
And forget about it if you’re a real clown, the Freelancers Union will ditch you. Keep squirting water out of flowers and you might want to consider taking a hike in your big red shoes.
Awe, look at Murakami. He looks so happy at the parade, giving thanks for helium, all the smiles, and his rather impressive empire. He better watch his back. Koons is lurking around the corner. He’s also vying for the still vacant position as king of pop.
Fantasy Art Collection Pick #3: A Banksy
This one is going to be tough since I’m sure he would never go for it. The deal: I send a check to the P.O. box of his choosing, he can do whatever he wants, has one year to do it. Although it will be tempting once he completes his end of the bargain and the bloggers and reporters start poking around, we have a clear understanding that this never happened.
This works out well for both of us. For him it works because he can be sneaky, wear a crafty disguise and attack my house in the middle of the night. For me it will be a whole year of the christmas eve scenario I experienced as a child. Every day I will jump out of bed to inspect my house wondering “was he here last night??!!”
So, Banksy, do what you will, but I really really like these three in particular. I’m not so political so if you can avoid that avenue that would be cool.
(clue #3 into how rich fake me is, well about my living arrangements in general … horray! I’m not going to live in the suburbs! How completely stupid to have a Banksy in the burbs, right?).