Thank god we’re (mostly) giving ourselves a break from political coverage this week with an art bingefest: art which is concerned primarily with cat food art, food’lberities, a room full of petroleum gel, and dicks. Back to the good ol’ classic dick blogging.
Bar none, the best response we’ve seen to George W. Bush’s paintings:
Why do they exist? Why are they being exhibited? How are they being used and discussed? Why do they matter?
I think the simplest answer for why George W. Bush started painting is because he has nothing else to do. Bush is toxic and unemployable as a political figure. He can’t campaign for Republicans, can’t talk on television about anything important, can’t give speeches for money, can’t write memoirs, can’t travel to certain countries where he runs the hypothetical risk of getting arrested for war crimes. Painting is a harmless and respectable pursuit that offers an aura of cultured acceptability….
This is as good a time as any to point out that Bush painted his portraits, not just from photographs–a common enough practice as well as a long-established contemporary, conceptual strategy, though I think only the former pertains here–but from the top search result on Google Images. Many photos were taken from the subject’s Wikipedia entry. Bush based his paintings on the literally first-to-surface, easiest-to-find photos of his subjects.
Is this meaningful in any way? If he had one, it would mean Bush’s studio assistant is very, very lazy. [Greg.org]
Maybe we would talk more about Bush’s record if we called that art, too. Allen continues:
Ironically, there is even more important art buried within the Senate’s trove of classified CIA documents. And as Bush was being interviewed by his daughter on NBC, these other artworks were still being actively suppressed. Jason Leopold and Al Jazeera reported that the Senate report contains detailed sketches of waterboarding by Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader imprisoned at Guantanamo….Since the CIA illegally destroyed its own waterboarding videotapes in 2005, these drawings may be the most powerful visual evidence of the torture regime we have left. [Greg.org]
Koch Industries may hold the most net acreage in leases of the Canadian oil sands, which means they’d have the most to gain from the Keystone Pipeline. Time to stop buying Angel Soft toilet paper, I guess. [Washington Post]
Katy Perry just broke up with fellow celebrity John Mayer. How’s she planning on coping? By becoming an art collector. Of course. [Jezebel]
In case you’ve been living under a rock from the 1950s, one way feminists have been battling the gender gap in the arts is by “counting.” [The Week Magazine]
The Love and Radio podcast has a bonkers, but brilliant interview with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge who recounts falling in love with Lady Jaye at a slave auction. [Love and Radio]
Contrary to popular opinion, New York is the least profitable place to be a landlord. [Curbed NY]
“…The idea of contamination was a governing principle,” says MoMA Associate Director Kathy Halbreich of Sigmar Polke. She believes Polke willfully suppressed his market by eschewing his signature style. All this, will be on view as part of the MoMA exhibition “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010.” starting April 19th. [Artnews]
In Bushwick, you can buy a hug for five dollars. [Craigslist]
We use UPS to ship a few things from our office each month, but that’s going to stop. The company dismissed 250 employees after they protested the dismissal of a long-time employee. [The Daily News via: @luxlotus]
New York State is offering a 25 percent tax rebate—up to 4 million dollars—to “theatrical investors” who commission touring theatrical productions. Should be interesting to see if this tax loophole could work for touring art exhibitions sometime down the line. [Wall Street Journal]
Activist investor Daniel Loeb has had his suit against Sotheby’s auction house fast tracked. He claims the cap on the number company shares he can buy hampers his ability to win a pending board fight; Loeb wants to see the company’s CEO, Bill Ruprecht, ousted [The Wall Street Journal]
How does somebody get “bumped up” in pay from from 200k to $1 million a year? At museums, the perks seem to pile on exponentially. According to this piece, not only do prominent museum directors like MoMA’s Glenn Lowry and the Met’s Thomas Campbell get salaries of over a million dollars, they also get free apartments because they “entertain for work”. [Artnet News]
If that pisses you off, then maybe you’ll want to look into worker co-ops, a business model with no boss and no investors to skim off the fattest profits. Apparently people make double the average wage and work less. [New York Times, Boing Boing]
If you missed the hackathon for women in art at Eyebeam, there’s another one this weekend in Washington, DC. [Women in the Arts, h/t @rcembalest].
Karen Rosenberg seems to like Maria Lassnig’s show, but it’s unclear exactly why. The most we get is that “they’re inventive”. [The New York Times]
Unbound, an exhibition in tribute to the late programmer Aaron Schwartz opens tonight at Thoughtworks. You have to RSVP to attend. [Latino Social Innovation]
New York City is experiencing significant population growth. Will this effect your rent? [The New York Times]
In tough times, the AAMD (American Association of Museum Directors) has been acting as a watchdog, imposing sanctions and criticizing museums that are trying to sell off works. The latest culprit is the Delaware Art Museum, which has decided to de-accession four valuable artworks to bail itself out of debt. [Los Angeles Times]
Cory Arcangel has teamed up with Bravado, the global music merchandising company, to launch his new line of Arcangel Surfware: lifestyle clothing for web surfing (sweatpants, bed sheets, etc). Fittingly, the merch will debut in a one-day-only pop-up shop at the Holiday Inn Soho. [Cory Arcangel]
AFC’s Corinna Kirsch goes on Temporary Art Review to talk about the future of art criticism. [Temporary Art Review]
Jerry Saltz isn’t giving up on the fight to save MoMA, whose renovation he believes will be “another Penn Station”. He thinks that if enough prominent artists from the collection get together and petition the museum, it might stop this “garden of Modernism” from becoming a “business-driven carnival”. [Vulture]
We admire Saltz’s effort, but based on what we’ve seen from Lowry, we don’t think critical opinion is a big motivating factor in MoMA’s decision-making. Two years ago at Frieze’s “Expanding Museums” panel, Lowry seemed to define public accessibility as placing the entrance closer to the street. He also anticipated this “period of discomfort”. “We all go someplace and it seems new and we get used to it, and then it changes, and we’re upset,” he said, “and in ten years if we change things people are going to be equally upset.” Ultimately, he pointed out, people don’t own the museum. [Frieze]
The vanished Malaysian flight MH370 is believed to have landed in the Indian Ocean, and passengers are presumed dead. Famed calligraphist Liu Rusheng was one of the passengers. [Daily Beast]
In time for spring, Ben Sutton rounds up 11 new public artworks around New York City. [Artnet]
“Every motherfucker in the world thinks they have a shot at hitting the lottery, which has odds of one in 259 million, but the best-educated students in America do not believe that they are signing up for several decades worth of debt slavery when they enroll in grad school, even though the odds of that are better than the odds of your art history degree landing you that curator gig at the Met.” [Gawker]
The Harlem explosion has led to the discovery of thousands of miles of corroding pipes which could also explode. [The Verge]
Lindsay Lohan has a reality show on Oprah. The first ten minutes features Lindsay yelling at somebody about not folding her clothes, and then a quick intervention from Oprah. We’re guessing that’s about the formula for the whole show. [PaperMag]
The 9/11 Memorial Museum will open in May, and will charge $24 for admission. Yuck. [The Art Newspaper]
A whole museum section in the Times today. Here’s a seemingly neverending piece on cultivating young donors. Another piece tells us that a survey conducted in by the American Alliance of Museums found that more than two-thirds of museums faced “economic stress”. [The New York Times]
MoMA’s exhibition of the work by conceptual photographer Robert Heinecken gets a very mixed review in the Times. Karen Rosenberg describes the artist as “ahead of his time in some ways — and hopelessly retrograde in others.” That’s just the first sentence. He was not a feminist friendly artist. [The New York Times]
Alan Pocaro likes Judy Ledgerwood’s transformation of the stately Madlener House in Chicago into what looks like an op art experience. [New City]
Robert Heinecken, “John Szarkowski showing Charles Kuralt how to hold a watermelon when eating it left to right”, 1985 (Image courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography)
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! The world is still a shitpile.
MoMA’s retrospective of the California-based artist Robert Heinecken should have come sooner, says Christopher Knight. Heinecken’s lack of recognition to this point could have a little something to do with his criticism of MoMA’s powerful photography curator John Szarkowski, and a general New York-centrism. [LA Times]
Holland Cotter reviews Neue Galerie’s “Degenerate Art”, which demonstrates how Hitler used art to demonize the Jews and promote his official agenda. [New York Times]
“At this year’s [South by Southwest] festival, historically a place of artistic idiosyncrasy, music labels were an afterthought and big brands owned the joint.” [New York Times]
Some in Cincinnati are upset about Todd Pavlisko’s piece “Docent”, which required having a sharpshooter shooting inside the Cincinnati Art Museum’s key gallery on a day when the museum was closed. Shareholder Stewart Maxwell complains that the piece shows disrespect to the museum’s most treasured work. [Cincinnati.com, h/t Benjamin Sutton]
In an interview with City Beat, Pavlisko says the piece is a form of institutional critique, which will make visitors think differently about the gallery every time they visit it. The gun has nothing to do with gun violence, but is simply an “art-making tool”. [City Beat]
Ed Ruscha sure picked a safe bet for his upcoming, year-long High Line mural, with “Honey, I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic Today” (though it does describe the feeling of being on the High Line). Marina Galperina has some better suggestions. [ANIMAL]
Syria claims that foreigners, mostly from Turkey, have used the war to systematically loot its artifacts. [TAN]
Speaking of looters: A very thorough and rightly-outraged reminder of why the bluechip art market is a complete distraction from capitalism’s larger and devastating class disparity. “Whenever I see a Rothko I think of Madoff, and how the afterlife of modern art is now yoked to the pissing matches performed by the big swinging SHLONGS of Wall Street,” writes Rhonda Lieberman. She also thinks that the Detroit Institute of Arts spectacle– with the possibility of selling its treasures to pay off creditors– spells a dark future ahead. [The Baffler, h/t @GiovanniGF]