Tag Archives: imaginary artists

NEW YEAR, SAME MISERABLE BASTARD

1 Jan

This year the WordPress annual blog report has expressed viewing figures via the rather peculiar metric of “sold out performances at Sydney Opera House”, which I apparently did eleven times in 2013. Whatever I was performing there, it must have been rocking.

I’ll be doing some proper posts again in the new year, and also recording some more Artbollocks Theatre readings. In the meantime:

You can read my tip*, one of the top five of 2013 for Culture Pros in The Guardian. Spoiler: “pro” isn’t short for prostitute, but you do still need to pay us… somebody else’s top tip is to use cat, owl or bird hashtags so look forward to plenty of those in 2014.

Derren Brown is also mentioned. Don’t worry about it, just accept it.

* NB: Not a euphemism.

Grumpy-Cat

#CAT #OWL #BIRD #CAT #OWL #BIRD #CAT #OWL #BIRD

  • If you’re in the UK and you’re a blogger, a journalist, a commentator of any kind, or even if you just like twatting away on Twitter, then you can rejoice in the fact that from yesterday– the 31st December 2013– the Defamation Act 2013 came into force and henceforth prevents anybody from screeching defamation or libel every time they’re fairly criticised unless they can conclusively prove in advance that “serious harm” is being done by discussion of the matter at hand… so every single one of the people who’ve threatened me or other commentators in the past for expressing opinions and encouraging debate, or rumbled about legal action in an attempt to stifle dissent can now definitively and with the full backing of British law DO ONE. Critics of the art world, the Omerta era is over. Let’s make sure the gains made by the late, great Cathedral of Shit and their ilk aren’t reversed.
  • And finally, below you can check out some of the greatest hits and biggest shits of the past year from this blog. I was joined during my surprise 2013 Antipodean gigs by these top special guests:
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ARTIST OPPORTUNITIES THAT AREN’T, RUN BY GALLERIES THAT AREN’T

TOPTASTEMAKERS

Boo! COLOURBLIND KIDS TV PRESENTER CAPTAIN HOOK and THE GRINWITCH OF BOTOXIA– I beg your pardon, I mean “TOP TASTEMAKERS” SAMIR CERIC and ZOE KNIGHT of Debut Contemporary are the bumbling panto villains of this season, and every season. Boo! Look out, Wendy, they’re behind you!

brent_resize

One of the USA’s most exciting contemporary artists, BRENT.

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

ROLF HARRIS. [Joke about Two Little Boys]

C0085418 Shoichi KOGA, "Seitenmodoki" (Ganesha Nan

JAPANESE OUTSIDER ARTISTS.

HandsOfOrlac

OH SHIT, IT’S CHARLES SAATCHI!

Maude

MAUDE LEBOWSKI.

“Check out my street art and viral vid website, redwindmill.co.ck."

TRUSTAFARIANS OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE.

18-kirk-douglasVVGRazor

… and VINCENT VAN GOGH.

PS: #cats.

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AUTHENTICITY IS IMPORTANT

9 Sep

12702WThe Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam sells lots of bourgeois knick-knacks and posh toys, as all art museums do nowadays. Exit through the gift shop and all that. Along the lines of the previously mentioned Edvard Munch Screaming Hello Kitty, here’s the (quote) “authentic Miffy as a painter! Has she painted the ‘Night Watch’ maybe?”

Yes. I’m sure she has. If anybody needs me I’ll be in the museum painting over some priceless Rembrandt selfies to reflect this astounding new information.

RembrandtVMiffy

Update: Giant version of Miffy as an artist in the Rijksmuseum shop, photographed with my own fair hand. Or with a camera that was in my fair hand, to be pedantic. I don’t think this oversized Miffy artist was for sale.

MiffyArtistRijksI was very disappointed that they didn’t have any of their Rembrandt-shaped candles in stock, because I always wanted to set Rembrandt’s head alight. I did visit his house, though. Pretty swanky for a rabbit’s abode. Though now it’s just down the road from a fairly unglamorous Albert Heijn supermarket.

I’d like there to be a candle version of me. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

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IMAGINARY ARTISTS VI: MOORE

19 Apr

VoH2

Although horror comics and Tales from the Crypt were very American artefacts, 1973’s Vault of Horrors was a very British sub-Hammer luvvie-fest starring the likes of Denholm Elliott, Anna Massey and Terry-Thomas… and yes, in the picture above that’s a pre-Doctor Who but already bug-eyed bonkers Tom Baker playing a deranged artist called Moore in the segment called Drawn and Quartered. “Deranged artist”, he writes, as if there’s any other kind. OK, more deranged and irrational than usual. More deranged, irrational and dangerous even than Tracey Emin, because Moore has a special magic voodoo painting hand. Moore doesn’t seem to have a first name, so let’s call him Tom since Tom Baker blesses us with a fairly good dose of Tom Bakerness in this film.

Tom is cheated when his scumbag gallerist Diltant nicks his paintings and sells them off for a huge profit in cahoots with a crooked critic and a dodgy dealer, while Tom remains penniless and uncelebrated. Also bitter, obviously. Again, I say these things as if there’s any other kind of gallerist, critic or dealer… only joking!

Scumbags.

Tom sets out to do do that voodoo that he do’s so well and exact his revenge. It’s a bit like a lowbrow, badly-dressed and greasy-haired 70s nod to The Picture of Dorian Gray, since whatever Tom does to portraits of these wrong ‘uns manifests itself in real life.

VoH1

Denholm Elliott: scumbag.

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IMAGINARY ARTISTS V: JOKER

16 Apr
Batman-1989

“I kind of like this one, Bob. Leave it.”

“Barbed wire is the medium of the future, Mrs. Russelmeier… but that is no way to make a banana.” The Joker, 1966.

Two 1966 episodes of the Batman TV series– itself a masterpiece of Pop Art and camp– overtly call out to Pop Art and the (then) contemporary abstract expressionists with Pop Goes The Joker/Flop Goes The Joker, in which the eponymous lunatic vandalises an art gallery. When one of the artists whose works have been permanently wrecked with splashes of paint actually likes it and appreciates that their value’s been increased (“All I could ever draw was stupid looking farm boys”– a sly but spot-on dig at Norman Rockwell), the Joker wastes no time in getting himself into Gotham City’s art world. He starts by winning an art competition against the likes of Jackson Potluck, Pablo Pinkus, and a paint flinging monkey. After an all-too-accurate satirical  exhibition of what would generally be referred to as their “practice”, the Joker paints the prizewinning artwork; a tiny mauve dot on a blank canvas. One of the judges, however, notes that “I kind of like what the monkey did…”

In fact both episodes are loaded with great quips or mordant observations about the general perception of contemporary art and artists. Some of them still strike a nerve, especially Joker’s fraudulent art school (Joker: “Sorry, millionaires only, please.” Millionaire Bruce Wayne, after being instantly accepted: “Aren’t you going to give me a test to see if I have any talent?”), the crit session where anything can be justified and Bruce is castigated for earnestly sculpting fruit, and the art dealer surreptitiously upping the price tag of a painting by $2500 when Alfred expresses an interest on behalf of the millionaire Bruce Wayne.

JokerArt

As a bonus, both episodes are also packed with assistants in smocks and berets, and they get beaten up by Batman and Robin.  They’re generally just daft and fun to watch, as well. You remember fun, don’t you? It’s the thing that was completely forbidden and absent in Christopher Nolan’s pompous, pretentious iterations of Batman recently. “Why so serious?” indeed. Joker could be addressing Nolan and Christian Bale directly when he sums up the real appeal of Batman in Pop… “What can you expect from a man who appears in public in such a ridiculous outfit?” You can go dark with Batman and the Joker– Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Grant Morrison’s writing for these characters effectively if somewhat inadvertently provoked the whole dark and gritty superhero orthodoxy of the past twenty years, almost on their own– but the pair remain essentially adolescent power fantasies and not realistic as human beings, despite or perhaps even because of their psychological and narrative potency.

Tim Burton’s brief recapitulation of Pop Goes The Joker, in the first of the 80s/90s cycle of Batman films, is clearly somewhat darker even though it still features comedy berets. And it’s inexplicably soundtracked by an incongruous, mediocre Prince song that has nothing to do with anything, but let’s ignore that for now. Joker and his cronies once again vandalise an art gallery. This time Degas and Rembrandt, among others, get a Joker détournement intervention. The Flugelheim Museum’s collection of Classical sculptures is smashed, or they get green hair and red lipstick. Only Francis Bacon is to Joker’s taste. The film’s an absolute bloody mess in almost every way except for its stunning techno-gothic-deco production design, but again there are a few sharply observed little details. Immediately following the destruction of the Flugelheim’s art works– and after gassing most of its patrons, possibly fatally– the Joker meets with photographer/journalist/Kim Basinger/eye candy/whatever Vicky Vale. I’ve always loved the way Jack Nicholson goes through her portfolio of trendy stuff, barely looking at any of it and dismissing every page with, “crap, crap, crap, crap…”; I’ve often been tempted to do the same with portfolios and in art galleries. Eventually he finds some photos of murder victims that he approves of. Fortunately I’ve never done that with somebody’s portfolio.

Batman89Vandalism

Nicholson’s Joker also has a bit where he portrays himself as a kind of outsider artist who’s just prepared to go that little bit further and mutilate or kill his public if necessary. “I make art until somebody dies.” This ties in nicely with the deranged intensity and strange obsessions of some real world artists, and with the Joker’s own fascinating imaginary psychology as a man who doesn’t think there’s any such thing as a joke that’s gone too far.

Under the break you can watch both episodes in full, and a clip of the Joker obviously having a profound influence upon the young Banksy at the Flugelheim:

UPDATE: What a shame, all the videos are gone due to what YouTube calls “copyright claims”, or what I call Prince and Fox being absolute twats.

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IMAGINARY ARTISTS IV: HALLWARD

8 Apr

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In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

“It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done,” said Lord Henry languidly. “You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place.”

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891.

“All art is quite useless.”

Oscar Wilde, in the introduction to the same novel.

Amazingly, the Royal Academy is still too large and too vulgar. Lord Henry also gives a perfect description of the art private view that’s still valid today. Published in a magazine in 1890, then in revised and expanded form as a novel in 1891, Wilde’s book managed to be perfectly scandalous without ever spelling anything out. It was clear to most people, however, that the painter Basil Hallward’s passion for the beautiful young Dorian Gray was a long way from being platonic. Hallward fears that he’s put too much of himself into the eponymous painting, in both an artistic sense and by way of outing himself, but it’s Dorian’s soul that’s laid bare in it after he is mysteriously granted the vain wish that his perfect portrait would age and suffer while Dorian himself remains unblemished.

Wilde is seriously fuzzy when it comes to Basil and Dorian’s timelines, but at some point presumably circa 1875– after Hallward handed the portrait over to Dorian and after it had begun to manifest signs of Dorian’s moral decay, but before there was a large discrepancy between Dorian’s age/appearance and the painting– Dorian stabbed Hallward to death in an act of displaced guilt and anger. Of course only a few years on from 1891 Wilde was embroiled in his own homosexual melodrama, one that led to his own all too real social and physical ruin.

The picture(s) at the top are from the 1945 film version of the book, the only adaptation I’ve seen that’s not absolutely bloody disastrous. They were painted by a real working artist, the American Ivan Albright. There have been a number of other adaptations featuring Basil Hallward and/or his muse Dorian Gray, but discussing them would probably involve talking about the abominable film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and nobody wants that.

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