Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You're Ruining the Art Market, Sotheby's

In a short list of things that really make me angry this is one of them. Let me introduce you to Barnett Newman. While being a fellow artist and Aquarian, I am tempted to love him in spite of my anger just because we have to stick together. Why am I angry?

Because of this article. http://twentytwowords.com/canvas-painted-blue-with-a-white-line-sells-for-nearly-44-million-4-pictures/ Because ANYONE can paint these paintings. Maybe not 10,000 monkeys with sable bristle brushes as they lack sufficient attention span for such a huge undertaking. But any, ANY, human being on the planet can paint this! I can make this on pickmonkey in about 4 minutes if I didn't have a monkey's penchant for distraction.

This is his wiki article. In it, the author states that he is considered one of the foremost of color field painters. So first, we have a term for what this is called; color field, a sub genre of abstraction. And this seems to suggest that he is on par with Rothko, Kandinsky and Mondrian, more so with Mondrian obviously. Secondly, let's face it... blocks of color representing whatever the artist tells the audience it represents is the same thing be it color field abstraction or neoplasticism, associated with Bauhaus, de Stijl or whatever. It is the same thing!!!!!!!

The difference between these guys hawking their wares and the average Joe Painter is that their prowess for bullshit is unmatched by any other skill which they might possess. How can I say that? For one, anyone with a huge canvas, a roll of frog tape and some paint can paint a pane of blue with a white stripe. For two, this excerpt from Wiki:
 Utilizing his writing skills, Newman fought every step of the way to reinforce his newly established image as an artist and to promote his work. An example is his letter on April 9, 1955, "Letter to Sidney Janis: ...it is true that Rothko talks the fighter. He fights, however, to submit to the philistine world. My struggle against bourgeois society has involved the total rejection of it."

He wrote this to Mark Rothko's agent Sidney Janis. And in the 40s he destroyed a good chunk of his work. I'd say in destroying it he really did totally reject the bourgeois-iness of the bourgeois. I don't know how you can call this skill. It isn't like Impressionism, in which the entire structure in the creation process is flipped on its head. There are no gradient under paintings, no washes of color built over the tones, smooth brushstrokes to emphasize the ploy of reality. Impressionism was thick, visible, bold strokes of barely defined planes in which color and light do all the work of the under paintings in the realism of the Old Masters. And it was so different, so ethereal that it jarred the senses.

I will grant you that abstractionism is as jarring to the senses of one accustomed to the work of preceding eras. I will also grant that some abstraction is wildly fascinating. Kandinsky's work does have structure which try as I might, I can not fathom. His is not the work of an elephant with a brush and 14 cups of tempera paint. It has rhythm and motion, pattern. Mondrian as well is pattern. There is something to the work. But Barnett Newman's work is all in his words..... his skill as a busker.

Enter Sotheby's. As the link says... they sold it for 44MILLion dollars.
As I said on Facebook:
At that price you'd better be able to hold a black light up to it and find the cure for cancer, AIDs and class stratification.

You can call this whatever you want. Cathedra is what Newman called it. So on the right.... any number of options I could call this. Other than the fact that this is a statement of protest, this is not art either. It is expression. But it isn't art.

Go home Sotheby's, you're drunk.

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