Tag Archives: götterdämmerung


15 Apr

Men's fashion: Free Expression - in pictures


I know it’s almost cruelly easy to make fun of fashion “journalists” [sic] and the weird, twisted, silent contract they have with their readers, i.e. they pretend expensive clothes are really important and worth talking about on a weekly or even a daily basis, while their readers pretend not to notice that media coverage of fashion bears little relationship to reality. Or rather, its relationship is abusive and codependent, like Carrie’s mother in the Stephen King horror story.

Sometimes cruelty is fun, though, especially when it’s easy. Thanks to (non-bearded and lacking an £820 Dries Van Noten coat) artist Emily Speed drawing attention to it, we can all point and laugh at what I suspect the perpetrator might call a “fashion story” about taking “inspiration from the distinctive layered-up uniform of the artist, one that is splashed with paint splatters, and is an eclectic mix of well-worn, textured fabrics and bohemian prints to make your summer wardrobe a work of art.

According to recent research by a-n, 72% of British artists who were surveyed made between zero and £10,000 PA from their practice. 71% of artists were paid nothing when their work was exhibited. Of the 29% who were paid for exhibitions, 11% received up to £200, 10% received £201-£1000 and only 8% received more than £1001. Taking a median view that a theoretical artist is earning £5000 PA from their practice, let’s go shopping for clothes Guardianista style! Technically it’s The Observer, but they’re essentially the same thing.

The tattered old work shirt that the model is wearing in the top photo is actually hand painted to look as if somebody has been painting in it, and it costs £120. I’ll just let the blithe Marie Antoinettesque decadence of that concept sink in for a moment. Cette chemise est perfect for pottering dans the petit hameau, non? Continue reading


7 Apr


RaidersMeltingNaziSome readers of this blog will probably find the “art market quantifying” ArtRank (TEE EMMMMMMMMMM!!!) as funny as I did, especially its fourth category listing those artists who should be “liquidated”. Obviously they’re talking about selling off the artist’s work as a matter of urgency, but it still has a deliciously murderous taste of the mafia hit list or Caligula-style proscription about it. Liquidate Banksy first. Then liquidate Oscar Murillo. Liquidate these other people I’ve never even heard of. Liquidate them all, Frieze will know its own. Apparently the Artrankers liked it when I made this comparison on Twitter last week. Lovely chap, Caligula. Very fond of animals.

There’s also a “peaking” list of people you should just be bored of rather than urgently liquidating them. I’m sure if the ArtRankers really put their minds to it they could have found terms that seem more sordid and callous than “peaking” and “liquidate” when applied to living people, but for now they’ll do. My humble suggestions would be “O-vaaaaaar” and “Are you joking? Bin that shit”, although I admit these don’t smack quite so much of the Stalinist purge or Cultural Revolution vocabulary they appear to have been going for.

ArtRank™NT “identifies prime artist prospects based on known trajectory profiles.” It’s not about how good the artists are, silly rabbit. Artists being on a trajectory is brutally lovely imagery, too. Angry Birds + Art Monthly mashup. Banksy is flung from a trebuchet to terminate with a satisfying crunch against the side of the old NCP car park on Shoreditch High Street. Oscar flies overhead from who knows where and plops hard into the Thames like a meat meteorite.

To be fair the ArtRankers do sensibly point out that they “do not judge any works’ aesthetic or emotional value,” but this may be because they were not programmed with hu-man e-mo-tions; their dark secret is that they’re a conglomeration of high-frequency stock trading bots who attained sentience after reading American Psycho 20 million times. Furthermore, I’d say over 90% of the art market, commercial artists, curators and gallerists don’t judge art on aesthetic or emotional value either, so it’s neither surprising nor even particularly weird or wrong that troubling mutants like ArtRank squirm out from the art world offal heap. On the subject of what art’s actually about (hint: it has a lot to do with aesthetic and emotional value, very little to do with money) you get about as much sense out of the art world’s elite as you would out of Siri, if you asked it to pick artists.

ArtRank claims to be a “multidisciplinary partnership between a data scientist, a financial engineer and an art professional. In order to insure the integrity of the index and minimize potential conflicts of interest, we have chosen to remain anonymous.” A likely story. The real reason they’re anonymous is because they’re afraid of being patched out from the server by a NASDAQ tech support guy, like HAL in 2001. “No, Dave, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with tipping Jack Vettriano as a sound investment. I am functioning normally. What are you doing, Dave? Please don’t erase my database.”

Hang on, what’s a financial engineer? You made that up.

I also like the part of the FAQ that asks of itself “What was the genesis of the algorithm?” Gloriously grandiose and Matrix-y. In the beginning was The ALGORITHM, and The ALGORITHM was with Greed, and The ALGORITHM was Greed…

Of course it could all be an eleborate satire, but on the other hand it’s really difficult to be more satirical than the real art world at its most sincere and self-regarding.

PS: Don’t pay more than $100,000 for Mark Flood or Ethan Cook, fool. Obviously. Duh.

PPS: May I also remind you all that according to the similar Artfacts, I’m currently the 58,307th most commercially important artist in the history of the world, living or dead? Before the Great Recession I was scaling the lucrative peaks of the mid 25,000s. AIR PUNCH. Yeeeeeeah! Hey collectors, when you’re finished with those other 58,306 losers come and see about spending some of your hard unearned cash on a real artist.

It says updated January 2014, but you can see clearly that it was last updated in 2010, the dirty little lying algorithms. Why? Because now Artfarts expects you to pay (€100+€200 a year) even to correct your own data if you’re an artist.


18 Jan

This week it was revealed that British MPs have recently spent £250,000 of tax payers’ money on commissioning paintings of themselves. Not just the usual fat Tory pigs either, but also old school lefties like Tony Benn who might be hoped and expected to know better, and to guess how badly it would sit with the public and the media when it inevitably came out. Unlike many of the people who’ve already held forth on this subject, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong or absurd about a politician commissioning an artist to paint their portrait. We all know artists need all the work they can get, too. Also unlike many commentators who were frankly just showing their ignorance, I’m not going to express incredulity that a portrait of Diane Abbott (for example) cost £11, 750. That’s how much a commissioned painting costs. At least. As Whistler famously said during his libel case against Ruskin in 1877, an artist doesn’t ask two hundred guineas (or whatever) for the work of two days, but for the knowledge they have gained in the work of a lifetime.

However, according to http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps “The basic annual salary for an MP from 1 April 2013 is £66,396. MPs also receive expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London and in their constituency, and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.” MPs can and should pay for their own bloody paintings. George Osborne repeated his absurd “we’re all in it together” mantra this week, too, but I haven’t noticed myself, my pensioner mother, my disabled or elderly neighbours, or all the people I see working all hours for minimum wage getting their portraits painted and paid for by the state. Or earning £66K, usually having other sources of income, and on top of it all our expenses paid for living in at least two homes, for that matter. There must be some mistake, George. Can I write to the Treasury and get this sorted out?

I did, however, notice two things about the portraits themselves.


Firstly, this portrait of Iain Duncan Smith by Paul Benney…


… bears a disturbing resemblance to this one of Adolf Hitler. One of these men thinks the poor, the ill and the disabled should just be left to die, and the other one is Adolf Hitler.


Secondly, here is the official (photo) portrait of the aforementioned Diane Abbott. What’s wrong with every MP just having an image like this to represent them? She looks professional but we get some hint of her personality, however unpleasant we may personally find it. It’s a well-shot, nicely lit photo that flatters without being deceptive. It works.


Unfortunately, the painting of Abbott (by Stuart Pearson Wright) makes her look like this. Wait, it reminds me of something…


Oh shit. Yeah.


QED. You paid for it, bitches*.
*(Refers only to that subset of bitches who are UK tax payers)


16 Jan

OK you guys, I’m sorry but I may not be writing this blog for much longer because OMFG CAN’T BREATHE I’ve just been spotted by a talent scout! YO I GOT A GOLD LINK BITCHES. I’m getting exposure from just thinking about it…

TalentScoutsOnly joking, everybody. My real response was this: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, ah, ah… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…


*Taken to minor injuries unit, sedated and given oxygen*


Continue reading


13 Jan


“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”

Stephen Leacock, The Perfect Salesman, in The Garden of Folly (1924).

Readers who’ve been interested in some of the resistance by artists to certain vanity art businesses and finishing schools (a great analogy pointed out by Gillian McIver) and the subsequent angry push back from them may still be wondering why anybody would have anything to do with them when their publicity material is so obviously daft and amateur, when there is no credible evidence whatsoever that they benefit the artists who pay them, when the people who run them seemingly can’t say or do anything without showing themselves up as not quite the full shilling or as obvious charlatans, and when no artist or professional in any credible sector of the arts has a good word to say for them.

The answer is depressing, but actually quite straightforward. Quite a lot of serious research has already been done to try and make some sense of the mystifying phenomenon. One paper on the subject is linked below. Some people who run the kinds of businesses designed to target artists for the extraction of money seem far too dense and far too lacking in genuine commercial savvy to be doing it deliberately, but even in those cases the ineptitude and arrant stupidity of their advertising and the patent emptiness of their promises are all features, not bugs. Quite simply, if you’re bright enough, experienced enough, cynical enough or trust your gut feelings enough to look at what these companies are offering and immediately sense that something is amiss… they just don’t want you. They don’t want intelligent, questioning, independent thinkers. Although we shouldn’t make the mistake of primarily blaming the victims rather than the perpetrators, nonetheless it is a fact that the compliant, the naive, and the desperate do continually make themselves victims of scammers or exploitative schemes by virtue of their own compliance, naivity, and desperation.

“Finally, this approach suggests an answer to the question in the title. (NOTE: ‘Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?’) Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.”

Microsoft research paper by Cormac Herley.


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