Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some more important Modern art ( some offensive content )

I clipped this out of an art guide a number of years ago. Evidently there had been some problems concerning the WOW quotient of art, that The New York Times says this piece has remedied.

Piss Christ, by Andre Serrano is a photograph of a plastic crucifix bearing the form of Jesus Christ that is immersed in the artists own urine. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art awarded this piece a prize and the National Endowment for the Arts participated in it's purchase for 15,000 dollars. The piece was displayed at the Whitney in 2006.

Study after Velasquez's Pope Innocent X is by Francis Bacon, a giant of British modern painting. Bacon has been the subject of three major retrospective shows at the Tate, London's most important museum showing contemporary art. Here is another, for good measure entitled Head.

Below; Benefits supervisor by Lucian Freud. Considered the most important British painter of our time, Freud has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The museum of contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

Below Robert Mapplethorpe self portrait with a bullwhip in his anus. I have used a slightly censored version. Let me know if you need to see the entire image.

This photograph was included in a traveling exhibition funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Mappelthorpe became the best known art photographer of our time. He photographed many subjects but his homoerotic images caused enormous controversy. The Corcoran refused to hang a show of his work. Dead of aids at age 42 he funded The Robert Mapplethorpe foundation which has raised millions of dollars to combat HIV and Aids.

For the Love of God, Damien Hirst. Hirst is the richest artist in England believed to worth more than 200 million Pounds. Hirst sold out a show at Sothebys auction house for 198 million dollars. He says his work is concerned with death. Asking price? 50 million dollars. So far unsold, this would set a record as the largest sum ever paid for the work of a living artist.

33 comments:

Steven Zapata said...

Ability..to remain..even-handed..fading!

jade said...

I was so happy you've included some of these; but then I saw you maybe were joking. I've always loved that Freud painting.

as for piss christ - I wish he'd never done it,but you have to admit it's kind of an awesome photograph.

also, Freaking damien hirst. grrr.

Brady said...

My ability has already faded. It's a con. The only reason they are still allowed to do it is because it isn't illegal.

In a con why don't most marks report it to the cops? Because they would be embarrassed to admit they are idiots.

Why don't these collectors admit they've been had? Because once they figure it out, they need to convince some other sucker to buy it so they're not broke on top of feeling like an idiot.

Modern art = An agenda + A visual aid.

Deb said...

GAG!!
I think I agree with Brady.. there's an agenda here.

Somehow I have this notion that art should be, well, beautiful. It should elevate, inspire, point to the universal and the true. Even art that deals with dark subjects can still have these qualities. Shock art is garbage.

Mary Byrom said...

Stapleton, how absolutely delightful! Again, you have just the right touch...makes me smile from ear to ear ...

JonInFrance said...

It doesn't have to be beautiful, but it does have to be sincere

Ivana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T Arthur Smith said...

Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same. :P

Stape, you should mention Maplethorp's political connections. The politicians all hated his erotica, but ignored it because they all wanted him to take their portrait.

artistnh said...

Many years ago the Tate ( I think) was touting the wonders of the piece they chose as first prize in their yearly contest. Until the TV news did a story on the artists, a four year old. They showed him happily slamming paint onto a piece of paper.

mariandioguardi.com said...

There is no "agenda". For the high end collectors it is all a high end commodity game ( investment -sale- payoff). We don't have to play if we don't want to. The big Saatchi warehouse fire a couple of years ago...oh my, all that " collectible" art up in flames! And you haven't even touch on Gilbert and George, yet.

However, to lump Lucien Freud, a figure painter for 70 years in here, doesn't quite match up to "Modern Art". and Maplethorp......photos for every tatse. A little old lady from the mid west could find something in his body of work to
Hang in her home.

This year's winner of the Turner prize was a piece that was beautiful, haunting and lyrical ... It just doesn't happen to be a painting.

phiq said...

Nice post. Lucian Freud deserves respect, that man is quite good.

Piss Christ, I once heard, was making a statement about the light in which the West currently thinks about Christianity. If that is indeed the case, then I think it has merit.

The Hirst skull seems to say a lot about the art world...

Deborah Paris said...

ok, stop. just please stop.

Barbara A. Busenbark said...

About that funding for the National Endowment for the Arts....

Bill said...

Dead animals in tanks never did anything for me, but the diamond skull is actually kind of cool. I wonder if he actually made it himself?

Bill said...

It's just shocking that an artist would depict Christ being humiliated or degraded in some way.

MCG said...

Édouard-Henri Avril was certainly a better draftsman than any of these folks.

Simone said...

Fools and their money ARE easily parted.

Do you think the NEA would support an artist who immersed the image of any other religious figure in urine. I don't think so.

That my tax dollars are used to support this kind of thing is just as appalling as the thing itself.

Commentors like jade, who think there is something positive to found in this image, really need to examine their consciences.

Kevin Mizner said...

Great posts, Stape. I honestly feel that future art historians will look back on the twentieth century as arts "Dark Age".

hseluttrell said...

I was in college when Mapplethorpe's exhibit came through - Cincinnati - which caused all Hell to break loose. I saw the catalog of his work and honestly I didn't care for some of it on a personal level but there are some pieces I loved. The photography was brilliant. You rarely see photos that have that kind of layered meaning and sexual innuendo - even in the flowers! Oh, and if Damien Hirst makes you crazy you should watch the film "Exit through the Gift Shop" by Banksy.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I highly recommend looking at Scott Burdick's videotape lecture, "Banishment of Beauty," that he gave awhile back. It addresses the issues of how modern art has turned away from what's beautiful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGX0_0VL06U

Richard J. Luschek II said...

I wrote a bit about the Hirst skull on my blog if anyone is interested.
http://richardluschek.blogspot.com/2008/12/diamond-skull.html

Content aside, is the Mapplethorpe a good photo?

willek said...

I find Lucien's things interesting and believe him to be a skilled practitioner.

But the other stuff.. Tom Wolfe, in his book, "The Painted Word", talked about there being 10,000 patrons and 6 art critics (or so) of modern art in the WORLD that created and drove that market. If that is so today, let them have their fun. Just not on my dime.

Barbara said...

I do still think so. Although your agenda may be peeking out. Since I'm not a wealthy collector or a critic, I needn't worry about being defrauded. An NEA with arguable judgment is better than no NEA. Time will tell what endures, and how hard future generations laugh at us.

Lucy said...

Look how many comments this post has inspired! Your message comes across loud and clear with very few words, but I have to say I disagree with the message. Certain artists need to explore the dark, the frightening, the ugly, the deepest most disturbing parts of our human psyche, often in ways not seen before or ways that are upsetting. They always have and they always will and they should. Why not?
What the collectors buy and for what price has been controversial since the Medecis. They are still buying Rembrandts too!

T Arthur Smith said...

the 20th century will most likely be seen as a second renaissance. That's how I see it - a time when anything and everything was happening on a massive scale.

What becomes the cream of the crop is still up in the air. It's a moment in history that hasn't stopped yet. And, no matter how hard current academics try to spin it, I'm sure there will be revisions reflecting a ful spectrum of opinion - especially as the internet opens up the discussion.

Jose L De Juan said...

In my opinion time will tell who of these artists had any merit.
I also agree with some comments that say artists are not always concerned with what is conventionally beautiful.

Money and wealth, symbolism and the dark corners of the mind, the elevation of the commonplace to art, all of those things are and have been fertile grounds for art.

Mapplethorpe was a talented photographer. Hieronymus Bosch -all the way back in the early sixteenth century- painted many a figure with flowers, ravens, knife blades and all sort of things sticking out of peoples buttocks. Formally may be he could have used better lighting.

Francis Bacon created wonderful images of fear, loneliness and struggle. We can go as far back as Matthias Grunewald's to find images of agony that raw. The Black Plague inspired many such images. He has always been an inspiration to me.

And I do love Lucian Freud's monuments to flesh.
I don't care for Serrano's piss Christ. Why not add some other religious symbols to the mess while we are at it? An Allah symbol, a picture of Brigham Young, a Jewish star...you name it. Just putting the Christs reeks of "safe" risk taking (literally).

And the skull, well, It looks like expensive jewelry to me. Neither new nor particularly inspiring. Art is not always what fits nicely in the box of chocolate's lid.

mariandioguardi.com said...

I feel a little greedy taking up two comments spaces. So please forgive me. But it occurred to me while I was reading everyone's comments here, that some of Caravaggio's paintings were considered utterly shocking, irreligious and unacceptable. Hmmm......

Jim G. said...

Yesterday you wrote in the comments,

"I am posting them because they are a part of art history, lest they be ignored."

Do you mean like a huge pile of radioactive waste, or raw sewage being dumped straight into a river, or a huge crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, shouldn't be ignored?

Some of these pieces seem to me to be as damaging to human intellectual and social environments as radioactive waste, sewage, and oil spills are to the natural environment, and in very similar ways.

I enjoy a wide range of styles and ideas in the arts, from Jan Van Eyck to Karl Momen. The steaming heaps flung at us in the last two posts, however, seem to be entirely different things. I agree that the status quo should be challenged, but in ways that advance the quality of human life, not despoil it.

These, um, "artists" need treatment, not funding!

Christopher Volpe said...

Great art has always challenged assumptions and pushed boundaries, but there are so many ways to do these things without betraying the passionate enterprise of earnest and dynamic Western art. Speaking of the Turner Prize - great example.

Last year's Turner Prize was beautiful and good in the traditional sense at the same time that it impressively burst human expression further outside of the received boxes. And yes, it was a painting. You have to see it to believe it:

http://littleblackbookofart.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/turner-prize-2009-004.jpg

I think representational painters have plenty to gain from keeping aware of contemporary art in all its guises (and disguises).

Bill said...

On another blog I recently proposed a corollary to Godwin's law - the one that says if any internet discussion goes on long enough, Hitler will come up at which point rational argument has effectively ended. That might be called Manzoni's law, which is that in any discussion of the legitimacy or lack thereof of Modern art, Manzoni's canned fecal matter will be brought into the discussion as the prime example (along with Duchamp's Urinal) of the utter depravity and silliness of modern art. Personally, I feel that piece can be seen as an effective critique of the modern art market (one that literally sells crap) but that it is a pretty minor work in the pantheon overall. An interesting footnote in your introduction to Modern art class.

Dot Courson said...

Absurdity. An attempt to shock. This "visual music" is a fingernail scratching down a blackboard...
It pains me to know that the NEA using MY tax dollars spent 1 Cent on this!.....Where will the NEA be when we artists revolt?

Stapleton Kearns said...

All;
Thank you for all your comments and discussion. I believe I will let you ALL have the last word tonight. Tomorrow this horror show comes to and end and we can return to our usual business.
....................Stape

finnsheep said...

I think we sometimes forget that some of the folks we consider to be great artists today were hard at work doing paintings of specific things or people for their patrons. They may have wracked their brains trying to fit everything the patron wanted ("Oh, and can you make the dress red instead of blue?") into a wonderful composition, but not how to create something original with compost-as-art for art's sake.