Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Art Gallery's Being Mean to Me

I'm not much of a film critic. But when I was invited to last night's premiere of a new HBO documentary, I accepted because the subject of the film is one of the main themes we discuss here on the blog: artists-galleries and artists-collectors relationships. Directed by Jeff Stimmel, the documentary focuses on the career of painter Chuck Connelly. Here's how HBO describes it:
The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale is the unusual story of the rise and fall of a major talent, along with Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat, from the 1980s art world. Though he was extremely talented with a profitable collection of work, Chuck Connelly ended up alienating every collector and gallery owner he worked with. This 63-minute documentary follows the life of this brilliant yet enigmatic painter, who had great success as a young artist but who now sees his career fading. Driven by desperation, and left by his wife during the course of this documentary, Connelly hires an actor to pose as a young, upcoming artist to sell Chuck's work to galleries and art dealers. The film provides an intimate and often troubling character study of Connelly, a working-class guy from Pittsburgh who holds "traditional" beliefs that art is, above all, about personal expression and craftsmanship. These notions have proven to be less-than-fashionable in today's elite art world, the inner workings of which are also glimpsed in the film. Shot over six years, this dramatic and entertaining documentary explores a painter's passion for his work, despite being his own worst enemy.

Describing The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale, director Jeff Stimmel notes, "This is a simple story of a working-class outsider who is fighting ageism, elitism, and cronyism - in this case within the art world." In the film, Connelly vocally rails against what he sees as profit-hungry tactics of dealers and gallery owners, who buy paintings in bulk to get the greatest return on their investment. With over 3,000 paintings in storage, Connelly could be paid a large sum to clear out his studio and sell his entire collection of artwork. Though this would make him rich, Connelly would never agree to sell in bulk because each individual painting would be priced "dirt cheap."

Interestingly, in 1989 Martin Scorsese was looking for an artist who could be a model for his film, New York Stories: Life Lessons. Several art dealers recommended Connelly. Subsequently, the "wild man artist" played by Nick Nolte was based on Chuck, and all of the artwork shown in the film was Connelly's.

A number of insiders in the art world are interviewed in the film, including the venerable gallery owner Annina Nosei, who launched both Chuck's career and those of Basquiat and Schnabel; the successful 1980s artist Mark Kostabi, who is the very opposite of Chuck; Walter Robinson, editor of ArtNet, who provides astute insights into Connelly's art; Matt Garfield, Chuck's patron, and others.
I actually enjoyed the film. There were plenty of comical moments and food for thought about careers in the art world. But I don't think I can object enough to how this description frames the film for the viewer. I'm gonna try though:
Where to begin?

I guess with the positive stuff. Of all the art world insiders interviewed, the one who stood head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of not confirming some caricature (truly, his description of Connelly's work was lovely) was Walter Robinson. Just about everyone else--perhaps through editing, perhaps through the questions they were asked, or perhaps through their own doing--was portrayed as a one-dimensional character.


Yes, that's the positive stuff. My lingering impressions of what the director did (more what he missed) go down hill a bit from there.


Let's start with this nonsense: "This is a simple story of a working-class outsider who is fighting ageism, elitism, and cronyism - in this case within the art world."
"Working-class outsider"? Really? You mean like Warhol? Or de Kooning? or a thousand other starry-eyed youngsters who come to New York from working-class backgrounds across the country and the world and yet manage to learn how not to be their own worst enemy? The notion that the gallery system is oppressively classist is hogwash. I come from a working-class background, as do most of my friends who own galleries (granted, most of my friends who own galleries began in Williamsburg, but...) as do many of the artists I work with.
The film provides an intimate and often troubling character study of Connelly, a working-class guy from Pittsburgh who holds "traditional" beliefs that art is, above all, about personal expression and craftsmanship. These notions have proven to be less-than-fashionable in today's elite art world, the inner workings of which are also glimpsed in the film.
I actually wish the director had lived up to this last claim. The "glimpse" of the inner workings of the art world is so thin as to be virtually translucent, revealing a bias behind it about how unfair the art world is that could have been easily put aside in the interest of objectivity.

For example, everyone I spoke to after the film was still confused about exactly why the galleries that worked with Connelly stopped working with him. The gallerists interviewed never got a chance to explain that. There's the implication that once Page Six got a hold of Connelly's quote about the Scorsese film (Chuck was quoted, although he was involved in the film, as saying "It sure wasn't
Raging Bull") that his career was instantly over, but no further explanation of why or how that comment ended his career. What "inner workings" exactly were at play there? Most dealers I know could spin such press into buckets of sales. Or would at least try. Why didn't that happen here? We never find out.

I should note that I think Connelly is a very talented painter. Several times I gasped at works shown in the film. But this notion: "that art is, above all, about personal expression and craftsmanship" and $2 will get you a subway ride out to Flushing. In other words, why, if that's all art is about, wouldn't thousands of other artists out there deserve the same success Connelly feels was robbed from him? There are thousands of talented artists who will tell you that personal expression and craftsmanship are central to their work. Does the world have the means to celebrate them all? To make them all rich? Is that, "above all" what the world needs from its artists?

There's a good deal of self-pity in the film. Connelly complains at one point "They tell you to be a rebel and then they tell you to kiss ass," without any sense at all that whoever "they" are, they have no role in telling you to be a "rebel." If you truly are a "rebel" you'll refuse to kiss ass no matter who urges you to do so, which would seem to be what Connelly feels he's doing. Which, admittedly, is admirable. But moments later he says "The art gallery's being mean to me." (I think he was mocking some other artist, but the idea lingers that he too has been abused by the galleries.)


And here's where I think both Connelly and Stimmel miss the point. Chuck insists on playing by his own rules. That's great. But he goes one step further and more or less expects playing by his own rules to handsomely reward him. He admits he spent all the money he made in the 80s, just spent it up, and he wants more to keep coming in while he continues to party ferociously, offend people, screw those trying to help him, etc., etc.

I have repeatedly supported the notion that if artists are not happy with the terms of the system they have every right to change those terms. Implied in that opinion, though, is that the work of changing the terms falls to them. Not to the rest of the world. It's no one else's responsibility to change the system to meet your personal needs or preferences. There's hard work involved in moving the world. If you're not willing to do that work, then live with or work with the way it is. Sitting around bitching that it's not designed to celebrate just you is sophomoric.

I will still highly recommend you check out this film. Again, the comical moments are priceless and the interviews offer plenty of valuable lessons. I do wish HBO wasn't marketing it the way they are, though. Appealing to the public's biases about how elitist the art world is is a cheap route toward attention, IMO.

Labels:

35 Comments:

OpenID ericgelber said...

"Appealing to the public's biases about how elitist the art world is is a cheap route toward attention"

I doubt anyone outside the 'art world' will give a shit anyway. The people who are already embedded in the art world, desire to be a part of the art world, or have abandoned the art world either voluntarily or involuntarily will be the only people paying attention to this. I would say that HBO's packaging of the documentary, and the entire contents of the documentary will have absolutely no influence on the groups noted above. They will take it with the same grain of salt that you (EW) did. Promotional material is a form of propaganda and I am sure the powers that be at HBO wanted the documentary to be packaged in a way that would emphasize drama and conflict.

6/18/2008 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger ec said...

Very interesting information, thank you. I love Chuck Connelly's work, and loved the Scorcese film for what I thought was its satire.
Connelly is a great painter but sounds like his attitude conforms to the basest of mythical artistic behavior: contriving desparation for inspiration.

6/18/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you really think that a Yale graduate and one from a state college in North Dakota have equal chances in the art world? The art world certainly rewards the flamboyant and gregarious regardless of their background. But anyone else needs the backing of rich friends, the right school and/or tons of luck to succeed.

That said, with so many talented artists in the world, why would any gallery work with an ass?
ml

6/18/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

I'd be really curious to hear the rest of the story you also crave, Ed, if any commenters (or you) have access to it.

Two other things:

1. This is a nice follow-up to the post from last week. Thanks for putting things - like relationships to gallerists, etc - in perspective in a different way, and for giving props (and a reality check) to us artists who are just trying to make good work on whatever terms suit our practice. It is indeed hard, and I honestly sometimes waiver between trying to do it on my own, or work the system as I can - and I usually wind up in the former boat. But even then, I still hope to get recognized and quit my job, and have my bad days where I bitch about it a few times a year. If my documentary concentrated on those days alone, well, that'd be unfortunate....

2. To the Anonymous commenter above, you could ask Matthew Barney and Bill Viola (Yale and state school, respectively). Although some artists certainly have their advantages (and I think Matt had an easier time than Bill), I don't think it's exactly easy for anyone.

6/18/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Do you really think that a Yale graduate and one from a state college in North Dakota have equal chances in the art world?

So many other variables play into it, IMO. Taking just those two, I'd have to say the Yale graduate will have a better support network in place and a leg up because of that. I know plenty of Yale graduates with no career to speak of, however, and so that in an of itself doesn't guarantee anything.

But backing up a moment, I think it's fair to suggest that a talented artist from North Dakota stands an equal chance of getting into Yale as a mediocre artist from some blue blood community, no?

de Kooning came from nothing, but his talent got him into an important school

I simply don't accept that socioeconomic status trumps talent in the art world. As I noted, it might provide a leg up when all else is equal, but that's not how HBO is framing this idea in their promotions. They're suggesting no working-class artist stands a chance against the elitism that permeates the industry, and that's simply not the case.

6/18/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

..left by his wife during the course of this documentary, Connelly hires an actor to pose as a young, upcoming artist to sell Chuck's work to galleries and art dealers

Did she run off with the young actor, or did Connelly hire him after she left?

6/18/2008 11:34:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

I understand that your beef is about expecting other people to do the heavy lifting...

...but following the rules is just as stupid as refusing to follow the rules if your goal is to rise above the fray of thousands and thousands of artists with slides in hand, waiting for some attention.

When I was in my first drawing class, my teacher said over and over again that it's important to understand the rules so that you know exactly how to break them.

What she meant by this is that it's crucial to break the rules well. With meaning and force.

I think that's the real point. Warhol certainly didn't follow the rules. He invented them. This worked because his rules had a sympathy with the rules in place.

That's why, ML, the Yale grad and the state school grad have a much more equal shot than you'd think...

...if you can make new rules, you win. Going to the right school is following the rules, and it generally leaves you with heavy debt that makes it impossible to do more than follow the rules. That's a one-way ticket to Behind The Curve for most people. All that high-stakes debt can be just as much of an impediment as coming from nowhere and knowing nobody.

6/18/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Corn said...

By Deborah

Excellent point.

There is no reason on earth why you should EVER run out ov people to be

6/18/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does the film talk about the fact that he is an alcoholic?

6/18/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Caterine said...

could be like a Foxtrot or In My Head A Crystal Sphere Of Heavy Fluid.
but why bring up Neurotransmitters?

6/18/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

it's crucial to break the rules well. With meaning and force.

Uh-huh.

I suspect that part of the problem is that bad behavior often gets rewarded in the short term; adolescents, and people with an adolescent attitude toward Art and the Scene, are frequently charmed and intrigued by the melodramatic, angst-ridden Rebel who abuses his friends, enemies and mentors alike with evenhanded contempt, throws spectacular tantrums and generates plenty of scintillating gossip.

In the long term, however, these people burn their bridges. I know that there are many artists, with whom I was personally infatuated at the age of 25, whom I will never allow to darken my doorstep again.

I wish it was more generally understood that good manners are NOT a class issue. Any nincompoop born in a trailer is still capable of learning to behave decently, by simple observation, and perhaps reading a book or two. I have repeatedly observed people who behaved in the most vulgar way imaginable, who continually complained that they didn't get what was wrong, why they didn't fit in, why those elitist snobs didn't accept them.

Come. On.

6/18/2008 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Your creative ideas are always right on target

6/18/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

I think it's fair to suggest that a talented artist from North Dakota stands an equal chance of getting into Yale as a mediocre artist from some blue blood community, no?

Honestly, Ed, I'm not sure this is true. I've known enough families who openly engaged in pulling strings at Ivy League schools for their ne'er do well progeny to have any faith in the triumph of talent over networking in that circumstance.

Also, opinions as to what constitutes 'talent' vary so widely that your statement as it stands is almost meaningless. Some people have the kind of talent that only manifests over decades of discipline, drive, and trial and error; some others have flashy skills and/or attitudes which don't age well.

Tracking, as I do, the careers of my fellow art students, I notice that many of the ones who earned a lot of petting and awards and scholarships from the institution and the faculty have gone nowhere, while others who were largely beaten on or ignored have matured into splendid artists with substantial bodies of work. Trusting the say-so of an institution as to who's got talent and who doesn't is an iffy business.

6/18/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course there are many illustrious alumni of Yale who obviously got in on their talent and promise; our fine President, for one. And gosh, I believe his father went there as well. Coinkidink?

Oriane

6/18/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I have repeatedly supported the notion that if artists are not happy with the terms of the system they have every right to change those terms. Implied in that opinion, though, is that the work of changing the terms falls to them.

I fully agree with this. But it's a touch galling - just a touch - to hear it coming from someone on the inside of that system. Let's note a couple of aspects of coming up with one's own terms:

1. That it not only involves coming up with some means of fiscal survival that doesn't compromise the integrity of one's work, but that entire structures have to be generated by any number of like-minded people in order to garner critical recognition. The system as it stands involves galleries, museums, critics, and curators, and the news-making portion of that system reserves serious regard for a far narrower slice of working artists' priorities than they will typically admit to. However inadequate the observation that "art is, above all, about personal expression and craftsmanship," I'll take it over the notion that art is, above all, about ideas and issues, and there's no question about what contemporary museums prefer given a selection of mid- and early-career artists. Cutting a new path that doesn't involve this system is going to require extraordinary endurance and business acumen that most artists by nature don't possess. So while it may be true that the artists who don't like the system have the responsiblity to create their own situation, the choice is between being chained to an oar in the slave's galley or throwing oneself into the open ocean. Thus not all of that bitching is misplaced.

2. That the system is going to kick and scream as alternative terms become successful. For instance, criticism (not just art criticism, but all criticism), in the 20th Century form that we've come to know and occasionally love, is dying. It is moving to a shorter, more populist, worse-paying form on the Web. Hardly any critic regards this as a good thing, but something of a mini-industry of snobbery has sprung up to bemoan the allegedly consequent imminent death of critical thought. (See Lee Siegelpuppet, et alia, who are so sad partly because we all know what's going to happen to them.)

If a generation of kids who think of music as something you buy online from the artist grows up to become adults who think of art as something you buy online from the artist, the gallery system is toast, and gallerists everywhere will bitch - and bitch hard - about how nobody takes art seriously anymore. That's probably a long ways off, but I have lived long enough to see one gallery attempt to make insulting claims on sales of my work off of my own website. The zero-middlemen model may be where we're headed, and it's one of the few alternatives to the gallery-museum system that looks viable right now.

I see this even from my own little house on the blogosphere. To put it perhaps too mildly, I have a non-mainstream critical perspective. For this I have endured a steady rain of shit flung by people who are commercially, aesthetically, or philosophically served by the establishment as it stands. I have learned many things producing Artblog.net, chief among them that the person most likely to call you a Nazi (or with equal venom, a conservative) is the one who thinks of himself as open-minded. I expect this rain to wane to a drizzle and finally stop as print reviews become increasingly rare. My question isn't whether, but when.

6/18/2008 04:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have lived long enough to see one gallery attempt to make insulting claims on sales of my work off of my own website."

What does this mean exactly? That the gallery was angry that you were cutting them out as the middleman? This raises the whole issue of exclusivity and representation vs. a less scripted relationship between artist and dealer.

O

6/18/2008 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Specifically, the gallery wanted me to sign a contract saying that if they showed one of my paintings, then sent it back to me, and later someone wanted to buy it from having seen it on my site, they would get a cut. (What if I had shown it at two galleries? It never came to that.) I'm sure they saw it as making sure they weren't cut out. I saw it as wanting the advantages of having my work in their inventory without troubling themselves to have my work in their inventory. Honestly, if someone in the region of the gallery bought one of my paintings I might have given them a cut anyway. But as it happened, after my work sold badly for them one year, they dropped me. Such is life.

6/18/2008 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

There I was completely wasting, out of work and down
all inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
so I might as well begin to put some action in my life

Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law

So much for the golden future, I can't even start
I've had every promise broken, there's anger in my heart
you don't know what it's like, you don't have a clue
if you did you'd find yourselves doing the same thing too

Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law

You don't know what it's like!!

Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law

Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law

6/18/2008 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello,
i was at your talk this eve in bed stuy (the one who asked how you the gallery--and not the other way-- go about finding new artists). i was impressed with your talk: straightforwardness, clear outlingingness -this comes from engagement with one's own activities i think (i think too this element also has to do with ny overall: the stakes being higher here with people knowing this and wanting to help out with advice -i have only just moved here and when i am confused about stops say on the subway, the help is intense and heartbreakingly lovely). now i have read your writing on this artist connelly and its good easy writing one finishes from start to the end! cheers. (no, i am not flattering the gallerist!)

6/18/2008 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger ec said...

Chuck Connelly has a show at DFN that opens Saturday night.
http://www.dfngallery.com/

6/18/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Wow,
If only for the breathtaking naivety, am I continually drawn back to these discussions. I’ve known Chuck for years, he’s a nice guy and a pretty good painter, but on the level of Schnabel or Basquiat?

Folks, this is schtich, this is the image Chuck has fostered for years. Nobody that’s really failing is going to be able to get a documentary film maker to follow them around for five years. The list of superstar artists from the eighties who’ve been dumped is endless. I could fill the rest of the page with names.

Congrats to Chuck on the movie, a brilliant career move, wonderful marketing strategy.

6/19/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger jeff f said...

This is fun...

In my humble opinion this guy comes off as an ego maniac.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx08UVZLVx4

6/19/2008 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger ec said...

I think he's better than Schnabel as a painter, but not better than Schnabel as a filmmaker - tho' I'm partial to surface and image. The work doesn't always focus, it's fixated on bad boy - there's not humility in it, though there is abashadness.
He did make a painting at Lennon Weinberg when they were in Soho, a phenonemal painting with a bull ring or similar, circular space in the middle - with crowds around it. He has a feeling for archetypes - and archetypical imagery that hits fast. He also has nice, sloppy chops. I'm not sure that he has to say what the other painters have to say. But there's something.

6/19/2008 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

Fine Arts was an aesthetic category created to distinguish some of the visual arts from every other forms of visual arts. I'll let you decide what criterias should serve to evaluate that distinction, because those have been shifting throughout history, weaving through heavy influences from advancements within the field of philosophy.

I'll accept easily from any artist that the distinction was wrong if they try to work at the marge of it, but if you are barely questioning some of the present day's criterias about Fine Arts, you're only trying to sell your own vision of what should constitute aesthetic eugenism. You're still promoting elitism, good taste, intelligentsia, etc, those kinds of value.




Franklin:
---the person most likely to call ----you a Nazi (or with equal ----venom, a conservative) is the one ----who thinks of himself as open-----minded.



You site is not right, Franklin.
I would indeed compare you with a dictator. I've had 14 messages banned last week. I've had the level of my IQ questioned I don't know how many times. Been told that I wasn't in par with the level of discussion there. Some of my posts did contain insults, but they were responding to bashing I was receiving from other commenters who never received a single remark about their behaviors. I don't find Artblog to be a place where respect has been enticed.


Cheers,

Cedric, very open-minded

6/20/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Chuck Connelly had a show in a gallery last December just like any other artist. I'm not sure I understand the fuss.

http://tinyurl.com/4hzjnr

In the sample I find the position of the body quite interesting but wonder about a "critique of the decadance of couture fashion".
Nevertheless, maybe one of the smaller regional museum could "retro" his works if the Met won't, as they are plenty of places who almost focus exclusively on figurative painting.

I hope the filmaker really adores this artist because he is making big publicity for him. Than if he does, why not make a documentary about the art itself? Or if he finds it average, why put him under the spotlight instead of interviewing many artists?

Filmaker: if you love the work of Chuck so much, can you please just curate it somewhere?


Cedric C

6/20/2008 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

I'm posting this comment as someone who was on the jury at the Yale School of Art as the student rep (6 faculty votes, 2 elected student votes). Yale like Harvard and Princeton has a policy of full need based aid. More than half of the student body is on scholarship often full scholarship. They briefly attempted ending the legacy policy in the 60's but their alumni donations from wealthy families immediately went in to the toilet. It's amusing to me that people complain about affirmative action when people like Obama at Ivy schools are significantly more intelligent than the people like Bush who got in through the legacy program. The graduate programs at Yale are even less influenced by legacy, connections or family background than undergraduate admissions and the School of Art unlike Columbia gives non merit based grants for 100% of financial need. Tuition is often less than $10,000 for working class students after the aid package. The jury gets a lot of phone calls from people who went there or know them looking for favors to get people in. The year I was on the jury only one person was admitted that way and the people on the jury with any ethics were kind of exhausted by the phone calls and said so. The first round of slide selection is gender and name blind. The second round takes in to account the student's background. Then they go home and read the applications and reference letters of the rejected slides to see if they missed anyone good. This is the only part of the process where references or the admissions essay count for anything. So basically connections only count for one or two people who didn't get through on the basis of their work. One person they pulled back in after reading his essay was an older working class Vietnam Vet from Pittsburgh. The year I served they had discussions about making the program diverse (gender parity, race, older students, political artists and people with working class backgrounds were all discussed). The fact that they make people transport themselves and 6 works of art for an interview probably does pose a hardship for many people. Some of the faculty are less egalitarian than others and the people who don't fit the mold have to jump through extra hoops to get in and are sometimes miserable once they are there but I think several of the people in the program are completely sincere in their attempts to be fair and the woman who runs the financial aid dept. is excellent ( cobbling together grants and loans, even helping people find affordable housing). A faculty member warned me not to "have an agenda" and I replied that I told the students to vote for me specifically because I would have an agenda. I didn't help any friends get in and told them I wouldn't when they asked me. I've heard very different things about other graduate art programs including Columbia but as far as Yale goes that was how the admissions jury worked. They tried very hard to be fair and it was an imperfect but sincere system.

6/21/2008 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

That's nice.
I know someone who went there from the 'working class' background, he was a little like a deer in head lights, his quote.

He has done nothing since grad school and can't find a full time teaching job, he still paints but is not showing very much.

Going to Yale is not all it's cracked up to be, but then again that can be said of any grad school.

The phone call thing is rampant at every grad program in this country.

I saw this at my school, they had 10 places and 4 were reserved for friends of the grad program.

That's almost half, it made me sick, the level of corruption at this place was not good.

6/21/2008 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger jeff f said...

Sorry I had a typo:

I saw this at my school, they had 10 places and 4 were reserved for friends of the head of the grad program.

6/21/2008 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Cebe aka Cindy Barnes said...

"Even if you want no state, or a minimal state, then you still have to argue it point by point.

6/21/2008 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok point 1: people are corrupt.
point 2: they enjoy the power.
point 3: some are beyond corruption.
point 4: There's the way it is and the way you want it to be...
point 5: screw point 4.
point 6: ...

6/22/2008 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who works for HBO and heard that HBO fronted the money to finish the Connelly doc and thus had a big hand in creative decisions on the doc (more drinking and raving, less painting and less painting-talk). After all, has HBO ever shown a doc about any kind of artist, qua artist rather than qua personality? Maybe they really know their market: maybe the HBO audience is more interested in wild characters and outrageous stories --paying the world-historical zero Heidi Fleiss money to make a doc about her???-- than in the slow deliberative work of making paintings or the painstaking detailed work of selling paintings, courting buyers, and so forth. I heard there is a director's cut DVD that's longer and fills in the art story better.

6/28/2008 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the words of the late great George Carlin, "Who gives a fuck..."

People are always trying to climb on top of each other. This guy is no different then anyone else.

He comes across as arrogant and self absorbed. Some people have commented that he is a nice guy. He seems like a drunk to me, but hey there are nice drunks and mean ones.

The film is not him, anymore than it would be anyone on this blog if it was made about them.

Most painters I know live very boring lives, they spend as much time in their studios as possible, sober. Not the stuff for great TV.

If they are lucky enough to be full time artist this means 12 hours a day for some.

If they have a day job it's all the the other hours. Getting fucked up and parting might be fun, but eventually you have to pay the piper some way.

6/28/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

I've conducted interviews with hundreds of artists and I can tell you that the majority of them-- even the most successful-- came from modest backgrounds. I would go as far as to say that some were dirt poor before they "made it". A few were born into wealth, but in the long-run that did not really help them compared to some of the others who came from nothing. Having a strong network with influential friends can help as far as success is concerned. However, success and success in the artworld are two very different things in my humble opinion. Take that painter of light guy for example... he has created an empire with his art-- the guy is worth millions!-- but he will never be successful in the artworld... even if he tried to buy his way in. Most of the really successful people I've interviewed obtained their first break due to connections they had with other artists-- peers that they learned from, drank with, and so on... their friends. I think that is something people tend to miss out on. Artists tend to focus on trying to force a friendship with a gallery owner (who is most likely a stranger) when they probably should be more focused on making the friendships they have with other artists stronger. Agree?

7/06/2008 05:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

It's been a year since the release of the HBO version, but now the director's cut of "The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not For Sale" is available. Check it out at www.theartoffailure.com. The DVD has a longer cut of the film plus an extra feature with Chuck discussing his work.

5/29/2009 03:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own 3 large Connellys I bought (not for 500 but for many thousands)for a very simple reason. I am greatful to own world class work and have it on my wall. Its a shame he didnt or hasnt become as big as he wanted to be, but had he... I wouldnt be able to have what I have. They were not cheap, but as everyone knows here...they also were not 1.5 million. I look at the work every day...its just great, great art and Im lucky to have it.Chuck the person...who cares?

9/16/2010 12:28:00 AM  

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