Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Search for True Selflessness in Art Making

Back in high school, when I was first developing my personal opinions about the meaning of art, when art seemed the most noble of human pursuits and as such I projected all manner of highfalutin ideals upon it, it had occurred to me that the only truly selfless art (i.e., art not designed to profit the artist in someway) was the art an artist never showed anyone. The admittedly muddy reasoning went something like this: the act of showing one's art is inextricably linked with seeking some pre-determined response, whether approval, or outrage, or anger, or money for its exchange. Each of these responses would amount to a "profit" of sorts to the artist. Knowing what you wanted the audience of a work to feel or think or do in response, though, would inevitably lead to manipulative choices while making it. Such choices would always require the artist to weigh their effectiveness as manipulation (whether toward emotional response or desire to purchase) against how sincere she felt about them. Sincerity would therefore always be under attack. Eventually it would have to lose out or at least be weakened.

Since then, I've come to believe art is more about communication than anything as self-contained as a perfectly selfless expression. I've also realized just how expensive it is to make, and why selling it is not only OK, but actually beneficial to a range of people, including, of course, the artist. Still, there's a part of me that admires the faith of the true believers still striving for that ideal that I championed in my youth. True believers like Poster Boy, whose subway poster collages (we see them mostly at the E/C stop at 23rd Street) range from hysterical to truly inspired at times. New York Magazine's Brian Raftery has more:
It’s a Thursday evening at the 23rd Street C/E station, and Nicolas Cage is undergoing an involuntarily face-lift. As commuters wait for their train, the subway-art manipulator known as Poster Boy stands in front of an ad for Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous, razor in hand, and traces a circle around the actor’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Cage’s face peels away as easily as a trading-card sticker, and Poster Boy carries it down the platform, where he’s been hacking away at a hot-pink poster promoting MTV’s high-school musical The American Mall. He’s been rearranging swatches of color, text, and body parts to alter the movie’s title (now The American Fall) and tagline (“Love and Dreams for Resale”). Poster Boy slices out the Mall moppet’s head, replacing it with Cage’s appropriately stunned expression. The entire process takes less than ten minutes.

Since January, the 25-year-old has manipulated about 200 underground posters, turning MTA stations into his own public galleries. His pieces are conceived on the spot, and while most subway-poster vandals limit themselves to all-caps obscenities, Poster Boy’s improvised mash-ups recall both the cut-and-paste aesthetic of old punk-show fliers and the fake ads that appeared in circa-seventies Mad magazine: In his hands, AT&T skyscrapers are turned into flaming World Trade Center towers and Heath Ledger becomes a ghostly anti-drug pitchman. Most of his work disappears quickly—MTA employees have even ripped down his work before he’s finished—but you can see it on his sporadically updated Flickr account.

I was delighted to learn a bit more about the vandal who makes our commute home so entertaining, but I was reminded of an interview with another street artist when I read Poster Boy's thoughts on purity in art making:
Poster Boy—who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous (vandalism is, after all, a crime)—has intentions that are surprisingly high-minded. The die-hard Fight Club fan hopes to start a decentralized art movement, one where anyone can claim to be Poster Boy. “No copyright, no authorship,” he says. “A social thing, as opposed to being an artist making things for bored rich people to hang above their couch.” That such a crusade might encourage vandalism doesn’t bother him. “Where I’m from, if you go by the book, it’s a very slow process to get what you want,” he says.
On first read that seems very laudable. Seriously, the medium is true to the ideal. Not only do other people come along and tag Poster Boy's work, but, as noted, the MTA frequently destroys it before anyone gets to enjoy it. However, the very last idea there made me wonder: "to get what you want."

In this context, of course, we can project that what Poster Boy wants is a decentralized art movement, but there was a profile of "Andre the Giant" posters-creator Shepard Fairey in the New York Times the other day that made me question what it is Poster Boy would want after he's been at it a few years. Although he's still working to plaster his posters in public, Fairey is also selling work in galleries for as much as $85,000. (Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.) But street art purists have taken to calling Fairey a "sell out" and even defacing his work. In discussing such reactions, and defending the income he makes from his work, Fairey noted, “I hated being under anyone’s thumb when I was younger and now I’m not, through my art.”

As any corrupt government in the world can tell you, one of the easiest ways to quell a revolutionary is to orchestrate making him wealthy. With something invested in the system (i.e., something to lose), even the staunchest revolutionary oftentimes comes around to the ruling class's way of thinking.

None of which is designed to impugn Poster Boy's current motives. He may be that rare breed of revolutionary who can't be bought. I don't know. I don't think selling his highly inventive work would make him any less of an artist worth watching (and no, that's not an offer for an exhibition). But I do think knowing what you want, really knowing that is, often takes more than a few decades to sort out.

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Blogger david kramer said...

I saw your post. I'm in the 23rd street station every day and love that guys stuff...
There is a truck that drives around my neighborhood in brooklyn that says graffiti patrol, that sprays out all the graffiti on the building in this run down neighborhood. Now there are badly painted squares of off white covering up the tags from those who passed through the neighborhood. It is ugly and boring.
Who is the vandal here I wonder.

Go Poster Boy!

10/08/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Great Stuff!

Awhile back when I suggested that a contraction in the art market would engender new approaches to art making that were not all about producing "baubles for the rich", a lot of folks got very uppity.

Poster Boy whatever his motivations, is taking it to the street, more power to him.

10/08/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Thanks for letting me discover this artist!

I don't think his art is loss to the void because it's well documented on Flickr. This is more a case of interventional/ephemeral art.

As a non-shower, the people who know me don't admire my "purity" or anything like this. They are on the contrary quite angry because they think I'm sabotaging my life, or am wasting, if not talent, at least some interesting ideas, etc.

There are many issues that come into play. Perfectionism, funding, self-confidence, purpose, health, etc... I think I have personally been confronted with bad health enough, or even the menace of death, that anything having to do with having success resounds as meaningless compared to the priority of living an enjoyable life, which I can afford to some degree. And to witness so many artists work so hard, I keep wondering if the success is worth it, yet I am so very happy to be priviledged to witness all that work. Sometimes you just love art so much that you wonder, why take the time to make some more and miss all that is already out there? Yet I know that I'm going to have to get a grip with that because I've been boiling with projects and about to explode. But damn it, maybe I'm too lazy to have an art career. Good art requires a lot of work. At least at the present tense. I don't want to replicate the easy-idea art formula, though I'd have tricks for that if it was my intention. There has just been too much of that. And I have found all the meanings that I was looking for in life. I'm more interested in mysteries and things that I cannot understand.


Cedric Caspesyan

10/08/2008 10:08:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

definition of UPPITY-"putting on or marked by airs of superiority"

Ha! George I disagreed with what you said. I said that there is absolutely no proof that the economic downturn will improve the quality of the art being made, or mean that there will be fewer 'baubles for the rich' churned out. How is the art that Mr. Winkleman discusses in this post relate to the economic downturn in any way? Even if all the rich people disappeared overnight there would still be at least one narcissistic figurehead who would enslave someone or other and force them to make tributes or 'baubles'. The most famous street artists became gallery artists, part of art history (Haring, Basquiat), and I think it is safe to assume that any street artist that gets written up in the NYT will eventually heed the siren call of the market. Their art may or may not stay strong and meaningful during their lifetimes, but this is not entirely dependent upon what they decide to do with their art with regards to the market.

10/08/2008 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After looking through most of what is on the Flicker site, I would have to say that in reality beyond a juxtaposition chuckle here and there, most of it is not really that interesting. Sadly. I dont think that one can put it out there in the realm as "art proper" without subjecting it to the same criteria as a successful collage made by any other artist. While the legal issues do cover a host of what it lacks, lets be honest about it? But then no one ever actually talks about things like that any more...Formal qualities...
That said it is true that it is nice to see it.

10/08/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Interventionist art and arte povera actually earned such a strong legacy across the globe that if it's considered new in New York than it's the last dot on a very blackened map.

If George is right about low economy influencing that type of art, than it will have to be reflected upon that tradition.
Call it a revival, perhaps.

Than even if we go back to trade,
there will be poor artists exchanging art for bread. Those will want to make sure their art please the people who give them food.


Cedric Casp

(because, basically, no one is ever poor as long as are still able to exchange services. Economy is an illusion. A gameplay. A casino. Everyone could be so poor that they become rich again.)

10/08/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

anon, it's not formal but interventional. It's a slightly different tree to bark on.



10/08/2008 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

But then no one ever actually talks about things like that any more...Formal qualities...
That said it is true that it is nice to see it.

I agree that if we elevate it to the status of "fine art" that it should be subjected to the same critique, but I think this work is complicated. (I did choose my adjectives of appreciation carefully.)

I would point out that the process Poster Boy must follow does place intense constraints on his final creations, and while it's a process he chose, I would tend to think we should judge its quality with that in mind.

I'll also note that when I saw the first few of his works I thought "here's a clever vandal" but upon seeing more of them it became clear to me that "here's someone who's had been to art school." He is an artist.

10/08/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous of course said...

whats the difference between "here's someone who's had been to art school." He is an artist and a nigger cook?

10/08/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

assuming you have a point and simply don't know how to make it, "of course," I'll ask that you try again, but I'd appreciate if you ask for clarifications rather than inject your own highly offensive interpretations of what I write.

Before you do though, please stop and think about the chronology of my exposure to this artist. I had no idea who it was before reading the New York Magazine profile. No idea about race or background or any other demographics, so, if I'm reading you correctly, your misguided venom is a product of your own imagination and nothing more.

If that's not what you meant, perhaps you could offer a better explanation.

10/08/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous of course said...

who said anything about race?

10/08/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Well eric,

I said that there is absolutely no proof that the economic downturn will improve the quality of the art being made...

I never said this, I just suggested that a downturn would cause a change in the way young artists approach and make art. I believe this is even more true now than when I initially suggested it.

or mean that there will be fewer 'baubles for the rich' churned out.

You wanna bet? The ranks of the "rich" are being thinned as we speak.

How is the art that Mr. Winkleman discusses in this post relate to the economic downturn in any way?

Gosh darn, I feel like Franklin, quote, quote, quote, wink. If you recall, the point was raised earlier in Ed's post regarding Street Art as a Market Bellwether.

Even if all the rich people disappeared overnight there would still be at least one narcissistic figurehead who would enslave someone or other and force them to make tributes or 'baubles'.

I completely agree with you here Eric. I might add that you would also find a crowd of artists sucking up for the chance to prostrate themselves paying tribute.

The most famous street artists became gallery artists, part of art history (Haring, Basquiat), and I think it is safe to assume that any street artist that gets written up in the NYT will eventually heed the siren call of the market.

No it is not safe to assume this. Haring in a minor artist at best and will be forgotten. Add Crash, and Banksy to the list as well. I am not alone in feeling that Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the most important artists of the late twentieth century and therefor in another league entirely.

I am not making any quality judgments about Poster Boys work here, just noting that it is far more interesting than most of the works seen in commercial galleries.

Psst, that sucking sound you're hearing is the the money vacuum back wiggling around in the pockets of the rich today. What would Elmer Fuld say?

10/08/2008 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous of course said...

the haste for caste

10/08/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

of course 10:58

Your comment is offensive.

10/08/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"of course" I gave you a chance to explain your comment. You declined. With that, I'll ask that you stop commenting here. If you don't respect the dialog enough to clarify your statements, I don't see why anyone else should tolerate your vague insinuations. Please find another blog to troll.

10/08/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger ec said...

I love the manipulation of posters in the Franklin St. stop...sometimes they're very funny. I don't really think of them as art--but appreciate someone doing something for the love, amusement of it, etc., which is always artful...
Yuan Dynasty painters, the literati of ancient China, painted for their friends, "untainted" by the marketplace. But I, as Ed, feel the importance of communicating visual experience. I would not have been an artist but for the experience of seeing Monet's poplars, Stella protractors and other works that changed my world. Perhaps the literati did not need galleries (!) and one could argue good work will always surface. Be that as it may, the system is what it is and I do not think artists choose to make baubles for the rich (I hope not) and if it comes to that, time to rethink the situation--accept the producer role or get to something more meaningful for oneself. But to automatically assume one way of working (or showing) is superior to another is simplistic.

10/08/2008 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

Oh my gawd, life is so bizarre. I was looking at Of Course alias Ann's link to the old Missing Persons hit. So, I had a nostalgic trip and looked at a bunch of old Missing Persons videos, including the classic Mental Hopscotch. Than I was looking at some other rare hits from early 80's and found the name of a tune I've been ever searching since my childhood. I recorded this on a tape when I was like, 11, and lost the tape and never heard the song again but had a memory of it. The track is called The Upstroke by Agents Aren't Areoplanes. There's only about 2 other cases like this where I don't have the title nor a recording sample or lyrics of a long lost song. Haha Whatever. Made my day.

Cedric Caspesyan

(actually a bad remix, but I'll know how to find the original)

10/08/2008 11:59:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

I hope I am not being all uppity again Mr. George.

I still don't believe that because the economy is tanking the art world and the artists who populate it are going to produce fewer works of art intended solely for wealthy patrons, and will instead produce more works of art that you personally consider meaningful and substantial, and even more magically, outside the system of commerce that keeps the art world afloat. Granted, if you think artists are to a certain extent mirrors of the world they and all of us live in, then it would make sense that the art being made during a major depression would be grittier, more despairing, etc., than what came immediately prior to it. But since when have these qualities in works of art stopped them from becoming high priced commodities? If your point is that more galleries are going to fold and that there will be fewer museum exhibitions (and fewer museums for that matter) because of the tanking economy, I wouldn't argue the point. But I still do not see how our shrinking economy, the loss of jobs, credit lines, the foreclosures of tens of thousands of homes, etc., is going to improve the art that is made available to the public for their viewing pleasure or displeasure as the case may be. I still see this whole notion of the downturn acting as a weeding tool for all the bad art out there as a form of bitter fantasy. Also, regardless of what you think about Banksy, Haring, etc., my original point still stands.

10/08/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Tackling Ed's title "The Search for True Selflessness in Art Making" I suppose it's a bit like looking for the Mother Teresa of the art world. Given the rampant number of egomaniacs occupying the field, it seems unlikely.

But so what? So what if Poster Boy has ulterior motives? Suppose it's just the acting out of youths naivety?

If we allow ourselves to consider his acts as art, so what if we can fault their composition or other formal values? Formalism is just another bankrupt critical position which is festering from the lack of fresh thinking.

Even if we allow ourselves to consider Poster Boys works as "just another art strategy", so what? What does that tell us about the state of art at the moment? The bauble makers are in disarray, their markets are rapidly shrinking and their claim to 'exploring' any intellectual truth about this moment in history is gone.

It's time for a new art.

10/08/2008 12:02:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

One final note. George's constant jabs at the rich folks who are losing their shirts right now is completely false, myopic, and just plain wrong. My dad, who was a salsman his whole life, just sold his house and will be moving into a small apartment to spend the rest of his days worrying about being able to pay the bills because his stock portfolio shrank so much these past several months. He ain't rich, never was. But he is fucked because of what is going on. My tiny inheritance is all but gone. So that means I am hearing that sucking vacuum sound too George, and I am a frigging teacher in a rural school in upstate New York for now. So that vacuum you speak of so gloatingly is sucking up more than just the funny money of the wealthy tier of society. But gloat if you must. You are chuckling over people's lives being ruined. But if you think it will lead to a purer form of art I guess you think it will all be worth it. But as you say, Viva La Revolución!

10/08/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic, it reminds me of the always hinted at question of if the artist is being sincere and authentic or is it just another art school manipulation.

That's why so many people love Henry Darger, not just formalistically and narratively, but his position freed him from such questions and allowed people to not feel potentially manipulated, wondering "do they really mean it?"

That's also why people are, in part, attracted to street art. It freeses them from the same questions, although street art has it's own hierachies and rules, just not as apparent to people not involved in it.

I always think about how artists were hired portrait painters but after the advent of the camera it shifted to the artist as visionary and individualistic viewpoint.

It is in the buyers and galleries and artists best interests to present themselves as the beholden one. It is always there, in all the press releases. The subtext is always to place emphasis on *this artists is the TRUE visionary/intuitive/intellectual artist* amongst them all.

That's why there is so much debate over schooling, pedigree, and the self taught, nobody really knows how to define these elusive chosen visionary artist qualities, so it's a fight to the end, everyone backing up there corners and investments.

My friends are in the camp that self taught = true visionary but I think they are mistaken, there are no easy answers on this one. It just makes me sad when I look at the Saatchi site and the numbers of artists are really unbelievable, hard to sift through.

10/08/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


Let me phrase it more simply.

The art market of the last ten years created an "academy" supported by the very wealthy and the galleries catering to them. One can expect this to continue to some extent, but also for the membership ranks to be severely trimmed (amputated) as the market contracts.

Young artists, do not have access to the higher echelons of the art market. It is logical to expect they will rebel against the status quo. How this rebellion is going to be expressed is beyond me but it will happen.

Yes eventually the art market will recover and "commodify" the new work.

None of this has anything to do with "good art" it's about change.

10/08/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

It's obviously so bad that it's not going to be easy or pretty for anybody, so rather than finding reasons to divide us into even finer subcategories of citizens, perhaps it's time to consider ways to use what we've learned to salvage what can be saved. We know, for example, that artists need studio space to work. Using the downturn, the overdevelopment, and the knowledge that where artists congregate others soon wish to follow, there should be daily calls to the Mayor's office asking for an initiative to get some of the condos now going rental in some adventurous neighborhoods to offer low-cost studio spaces to artists, if only for a year or two, until they can get tenants.

Thinking like this is the only productive or honorable response to the mess, in my opinion. Tearing each other apart over the last few scraps leaves everyone bloody and hungry.

10/08/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous judith said...

artists who make it only for themselves? How is that not selfish? Why is it considered more authentic, honst or "pure" than someone who wishes their work to be received, to exist in some world beyond their closet?

Trying to make art for arts sake is impossible if you're human. Sure, creativity is its own reward....but to the exclusion of all other motivations? You'd have to be a saint.

As for "baubles for the rich"--I don't think too many people do that as their primary motivation anyway--most artists are earnestly trying to make something meaningful or else they are egotistical enough to believe that they are. I don't know anyone who admits (to themselves or anyone else) that they are nothing more than a sellout. They are all trying to appeal to human souls. Rich people, tasteless people, tasteless rich people have those too you know.

Its not like some artists are pure, honest, generous and selfless versus those who aren't...aren't we all, like, a mixture? Aren't we people?

10/08/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baubles for the rich comes from the occasional, notice my emphasis on occasional, practice of gallerists or curators suggesting to the artist to make a similar work like the one they sold to so and so collector. Or insinuations that inclusion in a show depends on being consistent with the last body of work.

I've left galleries after such discussions, but it made me think about the artists who didn't. It is never talked about. But I always wonder when I'm looking at a show how much was purely the artist, and how much was the gallerists or curators suggestion.

As for artists being just like people and not to polarize into all one thing or all another, I've seen my fair share of artists who applied and received need based grants even though they had plenty of family money, just to get the accolades.

I am confused about how artists can hope to be be visionaries or leaders or purveyors of revolutionary ideas when at the same time I've observed so many are prey to the very vices and patterns that have driven the history of (non artist) mankind before themselves.

10/08/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous judith said...

Anonymous 1:35--
And I am confused as to when being an artist became synonymous with being a "visionary or leaders or purveyors of revolutionary ideas"...I just like to make objects...with my hands. I find it quite arrogant to presume they might be visionary or revolutionary although I hope they distinguish themselves as better than the mountains of junk out there. The "profundity factor" is not really up to the artist!!

Also really very funny: "As for artists being just like people....," Yup...JUST LIKE PEOPLE....! Some even are people.

Grants are not always based on need. Tough pill to swallow but there you go.

10/08/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I'm sorry about your father, Eric. You're the first person I hear admitting they are personally affected by the current events. May the monads hear your courage and guide you toward the solutions.

Sorry but yes, I'm esoteric.

+++this artists is the TRUE +++visionary/intuitive/intellectual+++artist

I see art and visions in everything. It's just that people are not aware of it. Artists are simply adding that self-awareness about everything they do, sometimes to detrimentful effects.

+++Trying to make art for arts ++++sake is impossible if you're +++human.

Hmm.. For me art is like a game. I don't take it seriously. I look back at works that made me cry when I was younger, and realize how much of a fool I was to let such abstraction have a hold on me. It's beautiful, but, it's not reality. It's not my cat in pain.
I wish more people would realize that. Art is It can be very intense but it's still just art. A play. Theatre.

Cedric Caspe

10/08/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the work on the streets, but I also realize that it cost tax payers billions each year. So the better question is why Obama supports a known vandal and why he has accepted over $400,000 in campaign funding from a petty criminal while turning donations from other criminals away. Fairey only cares about copyright laws when his work is ripped.

10/08/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Poster Boy is simply the latest in a long looooong line of street/subway artist provocateurs. This song was sung in the seventies by the Old School Graf writers, re-packaged for white EV hipsters by Herring in the early eighties, re-packed yet again by conceptual interventionist in the nineties, and re-sold yet again by the stencil/collage “street artists” today. Unfortunatly it's mostly another academy of imitators and acolytes, but it’s nice to see that someone is getting people to open their eyes. Maybe he’ll be able to open a store soon, I noticed the Pop Shop closed at its location on Lafayette Street after a twenty year run.

10/08/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

So the better question is why Obama supports a known vandal and why he has accepted over $400,000 in campaign funding from a petty criminal while turning donations from other criminals away.

Talk about using an axe where a scalpel is needed...or did it take a crowbar to force that bit of partisan non sequitur ranting into the thread?

Poster Boy is simply the latest in a long looooong line of street/subway artist provocateurs.

His work has the element that I think will be the defining one for what sees us through this dark period, though, James: humor. So did Haring, so to a smaller degree did Basquiat. Fairey's humor is a bit to ironic to really do the same thing. Poster Boy's is perhaps obvious at times, but borders on, as I noted, truly inspired at others.

10/08/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

So that vacuum you speak of so gloatingly is sucking up more than just the funny money of the wealthy tier of society.

Please not I am not gloating. I was making a point that the rich are not immune to the current financial situation. It should go without saying that the middle and lower classes suffer disproportionatly from this type of financial stress. Moreover, you should not assume I am not sympathetic with your personal plight, it is something I also experienced in years past.

What is occurring in the world economies at the moment is being caused mass panic and does not necessarily reflect the underlying fundamentals. The fundamentals of our economy are not as strong as the Pollyanna's would lead you to believe, but, the economy is not as bad as most Americans think.

A recent CNN poll suggests that 60% of the respondents think we entering a depression (employment over 15%, bank failures etc). I frankly do not think this will happen but we will have a recession, with unemployment in the 8-9% range, and retail sales including art sales will contract.

It is not the end of the world, but I believe it is important to realize that the art market could not continue at the frothy pace that it did in the last few years. From an economic point of view, the art market was in a bubble as bad as the real estate market, it has to normalize, to slow down a bit.

At market tops, when one is in the midst of a bubble, everything seems like it can go on forever, the quest for the brass ring becomes a dominant objective, and values become distorted. This is an observation of human behavior, not speculation, it occurs in other industries and areas of life.

I am sure for those who believed everything would continue as it was, these are sobering and frightening moments. Yet I can assure you that everyone will survive and that society will adapt and change to accommodate the evolving world events.

It is the end of one era, but also the beginning of another. I'm inclined to be more interested and excited by beginnings, so that is what shapes my views and why I expect to see a significant change in the arts.

10/08/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous stenographer said...

i will never, under any conditions testify

10/08/2008 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you have given up on art completely then Edward? This is not art, and neither is your original thesis, art is most certainly NOT self expression, that we do everyday in everything we do. Its silly as a focus, its a point taken for granted, inavoidable.

And neither is it communication of silly human ideas, weak ones, of the pseudo intelligentsia. Art is a passion for life, and defines our identity, and our purpose. Always has been always will be, everything else is vanity. NOT creative art, but can be something else, usually therapy, often entertainment, and always boring.

This guys stuff is really pretty weak, not relevant to anyone but some art school grad, annoying to the rest of us. Those who continue to make art while holding a job, having families, paying taxes, building for our future, not our own vain ideals of ourselves. But part of society. Which most definitely is NOT Art in the post Modern age.

Really, when you gonna study what art truly is? It's all right there, just not what they teach in art school, but from the caves of France to the Temples of the Ancient Age, the Cathedrals of Medieval Europe to Modern Art. Stop contemplating your navel, and get out THERE, where life is. Thats the real world, and where passions run deep, not the shallowness of the artistes.

Sad, the world crumbles, and the little Neros continue to play.

10/08/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL!!! Part of OUR history? Haring? Basquiat? Spoiled school boys? LOL!!!

Human history is over 5,000 years, these fools are but a blip on the radar of life, road kill in the flow of human events. History?! LOL!

10/08/2008 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unemployment is far higher than the stats they like to give. Under Reagan, its was changed to not count those who are unemployed for over two years, or never employed at all. It IS at least 9% right now. And going to grow if only from all the phsychologically disabled from the war. It will be a very deep recession on the verge of a depression,a s this country went through many times in the late ninetenth century when regulations did not exist to give the checks and ballances to capitalism that exist in all other parts of American life. And have been either removed or not enforced for years.

Art will get better, the wheat will finally be separated from the chaff, as only the strong will survive. Good, thats called evolution.

10/08/2008 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


I'm aware of the stats, it's all relative, and 8% or 9%. No depression.

10/08/2008 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, thanks poster boy. We can get credit for work that hundreds of us were already doing and call it yours? What? You came up with this? What? Should we give you credit for graphiti too? How about collage? Hundreds of individual artists can all be "poster boy" and he can then use it to go to the Whitney and live in the lobby. Get real... (props to Kalm james)

10/08/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its growing, far from done, though our economic growth for the foreseeable future is. Too much damage to sort out, but should not be as bad as the Great depression, but there have been many smaller ones, this may fit that bill. There is far more bad news to come before any good news.

And wars will spring up as poverty grows throughout the world, energy in short supply, food stuff growing in price but not availablity. War. Things will not be the same. We will never agains see such a flow of monies and enregy, mostly wasted. The future belongs to the most effiecient. Capitalism in its laissez faire state is far from that. By Obamas second term, or Palins as McCain is old and getting older and grumpier quickly, we will see growth again. But slow.

10/08/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

comment moderation is back, folks.

I've tried to avoid it, but we seemed to have attracted a few commenters with no clear sense of the fact they should start their own blogs rather than continuously sabotage other ones.

To say I resent them for this, is putting it mildly, but I simply don't have time to argue about whether they have the right to disrupt otherwise interesting threads.

10/08/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting this. It's great.

As far as the "nigger cook" statement by OF COURSE at 10:58, it's a reference to a line from 'The Shining'. In context, I understand the intent. The reference lacks finesse, which may be the point.

Still, I think we should give the term a rest for another 10 years till everyone's simmered down.

10/08/2008 08:28:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Those anon voices sure sound a lot like that Donald guy. Too bad you can't block IP addresses. Then, incoherent tools like Donald would have to scurry off to the library to share their meandering rants with us.

10/08/2008 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it's a reference to a line from 'The Shining'.

And as such somewhat enlightening, but the oil that greases the wheels of the blogosphere is generosity. Sometimes that means explaining yourself to those who miss your references with grace and patience.

Those anon voices sure sound a lot like that Donald guy.

And someone with that Donald guys' IP address was lurking about the same time that comment was posted.

I'm thinking of following the advice I received back channel and permitting comments only to folks who sign up as members. I know that's a pain, but so to is finding thoughtful threads folks have carefully built derailed by one or two assholes.

10/08/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I'm so sorry that you have to bring comment moderation back but I sure understand why. I've been trying to follow the discussion and find the anony comments really off-putting (to say the least). I'm a long time painter but never thought to make money as an artist so maybe I'm not the best one to judge "mr poster boy." I'm always of two minds about this type of public/sometimes political art. It sometimes leads to relevant political commentary as did the poster art of the 60's. It can be interesting as some graffitti is but then, some graffitti is also gang related and leads to violence. Maybe Mr. Poster Boy really doesn't know what he wants - after all, how may of us do? It may be that it's the energy of the moment that he enjoys. Many of us were very idealistic when we were young before the reality of rent and groceries caught up with us. As far as Fairey goes, so much of what he does is openly cribbed from the poster art of the 60's that I find it hard to believe that he was ever very idealistic. You don't copy a famous poster of Angela Davis with some updated slogan without a clear idea of what you are doing and why.


10/08/2008 09:29:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"I'm thinking of following the advice I received back channel and permitting comments only to folks who sign up as members. I know that's a pain, but so to is finding thoughtful threads folks have carefully built derailed by one or two assholes."

I'm all for it but my opinion doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

10/08/2008 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Ok, nobody claimed, not even the artist himself, that what Poster Boy did was the most important historical work ever. What is the point of attacking the historical significance of an artist? Come on. It's just art, and everybody is entitled to participate. All this article was saying is here's this guy doing this thing that is not too boring, at least for those
who don't spend their life being grumpy about everything until they are lucky to meet with another Rembrandt. Frankly, what does all
that pissing attitude is telling me? This can't be serious. It exceeds intellectual debate and is simply badly expressed frustrations.

Dealing with the fabric of everyday life is not about attempting to shape history. That is the role of museum-obsessed artists. Maybe find a young artist who has a current museal show and attack them. Attacking the intellectual value of Poster Boy's project is irrelevant with what he is doing. Or if it is, it's not exactly about how he does than what he does, which is the trafficking of public mass media right inside the public space. It's not about collage. It's not about street or urban art. It's not political. It's a judicious response to an environment overfilled with information. It points toward the holes inside the dogmas of the publicity design world, an industry eager for impactual images that can hold a thousand greedy meanings. These interventions demonstrate how that information should be mistrusted, so much it can easily be shifted. It's no so much about transformation than letting the visible realm of this pervasive aesthetic of everyday life speaks for itself. It's the strategy of the "zoom and enlarge". It won't look any better aesthetically than the material it works with, but it can encircle that aesthetic so to make more obvious for you how it is functioning. I can hardly imagine a better way to do this than the way he does it. It bluntly proposes the whole failure of the publicity stunt right inside the ring where it is battling for your attention.

History relevant? This is about the here and now, not history.

Cedric Caspesyan

10/08/2008 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

namastenancy said...

"You don't copy a famous poster of Angela Davis with some updated slogan without a clear idea of what you are doing and why. "

Being educated and somewhat well-read, I would like to agree with you, but I don't think Post-Modern reference and appropriation allows for such dogmatic rigor. Symbols, images and slogans have all been up for grabs for the past 50 years. The intent is to create new meaning, which I think both Fairey and this "Poster Boy" do nicely. Whether one needs a storied past in Art History to be touched by their messaging is of no interest to them. They're much more interested in this morning's newspaper.

It may be possible that Corita Kent was the last modern (in pre post-modern sense) poster artist, but even a nun can borrow an image here or there to make her point.

10/09/2008 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Just to add, it's not DADA, but of the very post-conceptualist school of dealing with the aura. There is a strong legacy of artists who trafficked photos of publicities, or presented their art within the sphere of publicity (Times Squares minute videos), but less of artists hacking the real thing.
There's a difference. There's also a difference from the strict mode of self-expression that constitute street art.

Edward could represent the artist. Why not? I would sell large photographs documenting the intervention, not fac-similes or fake street works.

Cedric C

10/09/2008 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

In the new era, Poster Boy's works are precisely the kind of subversive counter culture act I would expect. It doesn't matter what he does in five years, right now he strikes out directly against the over-commercialism of our culture. Maybe it's just another youthful folly played out over an unresolved philosophical position. Or, maybe not, only time will say.

What interests me is that because Poster Boy's works are 'exhibited' in the underground, they are considered somewhat less as art, the discussion skirts the issues around their production and location, not their underlying content.

Suppose all Poster Boy's manipulated posters were lining the walls of a major gallery, yeah that one. I daresay that many of the art world players would be falling all over themselves to write about them or suck them up at $400k a pop. Well, maybe in the good old days they would have. No? Think of Mike Kelly, or the early Jeff Koons "Roomy" poster, or some of the other recent shows in Chelsea.

I'm not saying it's great art, but it's a great start.

10/09/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where doesn't matter, it's just weak, and doesn't use color, line or space at all, just scribbles through collage. Social stuff, not art.

10/09/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Under Ground Art History 101: The year is 1982, Keith Harring is King, Kenny Sharf his jester and Basquiat the Black Knight. The East Village is the new Camelot. The whit chalk Graffiti on vacant black ad blocks in the subway has become an arena of graphic action for up a coming artist wannabees.

E-Race, a conceptual “street artist” has a different twist. His modus is to locate illicit drawings by Haring and others in public spaces and perform a Rauschenbergesque erasure of the works. Each “erasure” takes nearly an hour to perform. On several occasions he is approached by police who think he’s merely another Graf writer despoiling public space. When it’s explained that he’s simply “cleaning up the vandalism” the police relent and allow this "good citizen" to continue his work. Over a six month period, through out the city, dozens of Harrings are transformed through this action, an artsy example of subversion of the subversives.

10/09/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hardly underground, a bunch of art school student running around advertising their brilliance. Underground means just that, from outside, nothing is more inside than art schools.

10/09/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Hacking publicity involves another layer than Graffiti or hacking other peoples' Graffiti.

Some of Poster Boy's is weak for
sending anecdotal political messages, but when he's really tweaking the publicity as is, he's mirroring back an effect of public design which is an action much more broadly about current culture than about the personal gratification that Graffiti can offer.

There's always a background history, no one is entirely new. But you need to look at what is slightly different. Ron English is much more the cutural source for this, but the methods are different.

Poster Boy's art only last a few minutes. That wasn't the intention of Graffiti.

Cedric Caspesyan

10/09/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selflessness in art?
What about selflessness in music?

I copied and pasted below from internet news:

LONDON (AFP) - Pop culture icons John Lennon and Mick Jagger were clever capitalists who cashed in on the mood of the 1960s, not spokesmen for a generation seeking revolution, a British academic said Thursday.

Cambridge University historian David Fowler said that so-called "Swinging London" was in fact beyond most normal people, "less a golden age for the nation's young than a celebration of wealth by its social elite."

"The 1960s are often viewed as the point at which youth culture in this country exploded, but in many ways they were the years in which the idea began to fall apart," said Fowler.

"Groups like The Beatles were basically capitalists interested in enriching themselves through the music industry. They did about as much to represent the interests of the nation's young people as The Spice Girls did in the 1990s."

Fowler notes that Rolling Stones frontman Jagger himself, when asked by an interviewer whether he was a spokesman for a generation, replied that he was just a musician.

The academic, who teaches modern British history in Cambridge, said more authentically revolutionary youth movements can be found in the period between World War I and World War II.

He singled out a little-known Cambridge student Rolf Gardiner, who was fascinated by the concept of Jugendkultur in Germany as a way that young people could express themselves more freely and challenge their elders.

Gardiner's cult championed physical labour and rural reconstruction, Fowler said, recounting also how he organised naked bathing sessions along the Cam river, as an expression of "back to nature" values.

"People forget that real youth movements are about a lot more than spending and consumerism -- they are a way of life," added the academic from Clare Hall college, Cambridge, author of "Youth Culture In Modern Britain, c.1920-c.1970."

"People like Rolf Gardiner were true cultural subversives, pop stars before pop even existed. In terms of the influence he had on giving Britain's young people a sense of identity ... he is just as important as Mick Jagger."

The reason the 1960s is perceived as the dawn of youth culture is because of a "break in chronology" due to World War II, which left a state of "collective amnesia," the academic said.

Groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took advantage of this -- but their separation from real fans' lives was reflected in the way they installed themselves in grand country houses, while the London "scene" was equally beyond most people's purses.

"The world of Swinging London may be viewed as an emblem of youth culture now, but it was really for the Michael Caines of this world; an elite who could afford it," Fowler said.

10/09/2008 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

The artist made some quick manipulations of posters, claimed his actions are "Anti-Media", then uploaded his images onto Flickr, a media company, was picked up NY Magazine, a media company, and had himself photographed and presented as a dynamic masked figure in action tearing down propaganda, creating a media myth for himself (Zorro, anyone?).

I don't see what is complicated here - it appears to be a critique of the spectacle. But the spectacle is very resilient to images of its destruction. Such images are quickly absorbed and converted into more images, more grist for the mill. Poster Boy's of activity cannot be political precisely because it claims to be outside the system it aims to critique, but relies on exactly the same forces and conventions, effectively scoring an own-goal.

I'd love it if there was more here, e.g. an extra layer or self-reflectiveness that I didn't get but which is clear when you see the actual posters. Ed, were there specific examples of images you thought were complex or insightful?

10/09/2008 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Poster Boy is only 25.
Seems relevant.

10/10/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I don't think that it's anti-media more than it's demonstrative of how that specific media functions by manipulating-sampling its language. It's a relecture.


++++Poster Boy is only 25.


Cedric C

10/10/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The music you speak of is not great music, but pop music. Of course it is capitalistic. You want real music, the music that equals great visual arts? You are talking Miles Davis, not Talking Heads. John Coltrane, not John Cage. Thelonius Monk, not Devo.

But most of what now passes for art is not creative art at all, but professional art, fine art, pop art, things for pure profit. Not the soul. Great artists will make money, just seldom early in life. Quality lasts, but takes awhile for the public to see. It is of the time, while almost all are behind it, fighting the last war. Toughness and energy are marks of a grat artists, not hyper sensitivity and ennui. Creative artists are not quitters. They have purpose, so continue no matter what. The rest quit when facing obstacles, and clamor for help. God helps those who help themselves. Get to work. Est.

10/10/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Brian Raferty's quotes Poster Boy as saying:

"No matter what I do to the piece, as long as I did something to those advertisements and that saturation, it's political. It's anti-media, anti-established art word."

It is this that I take beef with. Poster Boy claims to be anti-media and anti-establishment, then uses established media methods like magazine profiles and Flickr accounts to promote himself.

10/10/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous alsomike said...

Art is a conversation -- with your audience, your influences, other artists. Why is it ideal to have a monologue?

That's like saying the ideal form of writing is when the author invents a new, private language that only he or she can understand.

10/10/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both ideas are wrong, though many writers have done essentially that, from James Joyce on. Art is not a conversation either, there is no talking back to Michelangelo or Picasso.

Creative art is about making something that enflames our passions, triggering a connection to life, feeling intensely with every breath. It is about humanity, and our concepts of nature, and god. Exploring who we are and our place in the universe. The viewer has no sayso, but the work is created as that triggering mechanism for all, and so must be based on past revelations of power, learning our craft so we can achieve the belonging, part of all.

Art is about losing ones individualtiy, entertainment is exhalting it. This comes from skill and knowledge of history and life, and having the passions of our time to build on what has come before, and so be new.

10/10/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Raferty: "No matter what I do to the piece, as long as I did something to those advertisements and that saturation, it's political. It's anti-media, anti-established art word."

Jon: "It is this that I take beef with. Poster Boy claims to be anti-media and anti-establishment, then uses established media methods like magazine profiles and Flickr accounts to promote himself."

Bingo! He's made his point. The 'art' exists conceptually on Flickr.

I think Poster Boy's the real deal. He's young, hard working, ambitious, thinking, Next stop? Whitney Biennial?

I agree art isn't a conversation, it initiates conversation within the culture and as an internal dialogue.

10/11/2008 10:51:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...


I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Pendulums swing, cycles have beginnings and ends, etc. etc.

The art will change.

But I think it's worth questioning whether rebellion will be the driving force away from the status quo. Academic art's main strategy seems to be the commodification of dissent. And that seems like a good way to semi-permanently neuter the entire concept of "No."

I think that the people who break through this and find the "new art" you want

(I want it too)

are not going to be dissenters. I think they are going to be radical assenters. Prototypes are hiding in plain sight: The Daily Show and Colbert are radically assenting. So are The Yes Men. So's the Reverend Billy.

Satire seems to be the only good vehicle for radical assent right now, but I imagine that will change as we get used to what radical assent even is.

At any rate, less money and less stake in perpetuating academic art will absolutely change the dialogue.

10/11/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous alsomike said...

@George: for art to be intelligible at all, it has to draw from a set of meanings that already exist in the culture. Poster Boy's work, for example, relies on the audience knowing what vandalism, consumerism and advertising mean in the culture. How can a work be said to initiate a conversation when those ideas are already out there?

10/11/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


Yes, A bi-generational cycle is what is driving this change I am envisioning, but it's scope is going to be culture wide, not just in art, but music, architecture, fashion, literature, economics, politics, and many other aspects of daily life.

"But I think it's worth questioning whether rebellion will be the driving force away from the status quo."

It's not happening because of the financial crisis, the end of old capitalism. This is only an outward market of events.

The rebellion against the status quo is not about dissent, it will be young people saying, "You had your chance, now it is our turn, move over."

It is not about money, that's the fin de siècle paradigm, and commercial success will be a side effect. The focus lies somewhere else, by re-defining the world in a fresh way because it is their turn at the helm.

10/11/2008 07:37:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

I see what you're saying about the crisis not driving events.

But what imparts the need to radicalize in the first place?

The crisis will be no great depression. But it is part of a larger set of serious structural failings that should send serious thinkers toward those structures that failed. That's what I mean when I say radical assent. Modernism's drives were nihilistic and often self-annihilating, and we are bearing the fruit of that now in the climate, the middle east, the economy, etc.

I don't think it's just about being some other generation's turn in a circumstance-neutral way. I think it's about lots of individuals being driven to do something in the face of specific circumstances. We are witnessing the total, global triumph of modern individualism. So I think the newness that's coming is going to be more basically conservative than we expect it to be. Not necessarily pro-life or pro-religion. But more interested in building and less interested in destroying. Less individualistic, more systemic.

In that framework, Poster Boy is one of my favorite vandals working the MTA right now, but he's not an example of the future because he's working in opposition to a system.

10/12/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Deborah: "But what imparts the need to radicalize in the first place?"

I think it's more of a side effect of the need to take action. In art, as time goes on the visible part of the cultural territory gets claimed by an increasing number of successful artists over time.

At some point the fences demarcating the various territories become so constricting that new artists can find little new ground to explore and develop. Eventually somebody notices there is another field 'over there' which is fallow and sparsely populated.

This shift from one focus to another may seem "radical" at the time but I think this is mostly because the majority are looking in a different direction.

I have no prediction about the way art will change because I believe it will be inseparable from the major generational change that is occurring now. For example, who would have ever thought Obama could have raised so much money for his campaign at such a grass roots level? The establishment was totally blind-sided by this development.

I don't think there is much value in trying to predict what will happen. At it's core, at least from the artists in their twenties that I have spoken with, there seems to be an interest in getting back to the roots, regardless of medium. I get the sense that irony is out, postmodernism has failed, and that there is a search for a way of structuring meaning, or at least how one finds and views life's meaning day by day.

This leaves the fields open to a lot of differing viewpoints and the question will be how effectively can you get your message across?

10/12/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

George appears to be making two main claims - one is we are undergoing an era change - "its about change", "a new era", "it is the end of one era but also the beginning of another" etc. The other is that young artists will lead the charge, they will "rebel against the status quo", "it will be young people saying, 'You had your chance, now it is our turn, move over.'"

I think it is too easy to say that its about change (when is it ever not about change?), and too early to say its a new era - we do not yet have enough distance to make that claim.

Furthermore, history does not move in a neat progression eras. Hal Foster's "The Return of the Real" makes a powerful case for the way that history is a complex series of turns and returns:

"Each epoch dreams the next, as Walter Benjamin once remarked, but in doing so it revises the one before it. There is no simple now; every present is nonsynchronous, a mix of different times; thus there is no timely transition between the modern and the postmodern." (p207).

In other words, our ideas of the past and of the now mutually revise each other. Talking in terms of eras erases these notions of history.

On George's second claim, attributing new ideas to the young is another over-generalizing myth. George mentions Barack Obama's campaign. We may be seeing a new generation of technology, but it is not as if the young are suddenly charging ahead. Obama himself is 47, and his campaign headquarters is full of people of all ages.

I think Deborah is spot on - we have to be specific and address specific circumstances. I think Deborah's idea of radical assent is a very provocative one.

To bring it back to Poster Boy, I agree with Deborah that what he seems to be doing is not radical assent, but conventional critique. He is quick to attack advertisers, but doesn't bring the same critical awareness to his own use of media.

Hirst's skull may be a good example of radical assent: it both acknowledges and pokes fun at the mutual relationship between critique and the market.

10/12/2008 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I continue to be surprised at the difficulty some people have with the idea that there can be the kind of change I am speculating about. Of course, the passage of time means everything is constantly changing, I don't deny that, it's the baseline. Nor would I deny that the way aspects of the culture loop and influence one another makes the patterns of change complex.

What I am referring to is slightly different, it's more of an attitude change which works its way through the culture. An example would be the 'sixties', there was the 'fifties' and then there was the 'sixties', this change felt dramatic even though it progressed in a nearly linear fashion. Most of the sixties culture was directly influenced by the fifties culture, but it felt different enough to make the distinction sharply.

This (60's) was a generational event. I have spoken with people who relate to me that their sibling, younger by only a year or so, is definitely 'a fifties person' and that they are 'a sixties person'. In this case the distinction is about attitude and they always seem somewhat surprised when they relate it to me.

I believe this type of change is generationally driven, because the demographic is the largest force at work, but I wouldn't want to limit it to only the young. I can see how people might get that impression, I wasn't clear on the point. As people age many, possibly the majority, become fixed in their world view. It worked for them, why should they change? People fear change.

Obama's campaign is a perfect example of the younger generation trumping their elders. Sure we can nit pick about the ages of Obama's campaign workers, I'll bet on average they were younger, but more importantly their ideas about fund raising were younger.

Or, consider the art world. Ten years is a long time, what were you doing in 1998? (rhetorical) During the last ten years we have had, on balance, a fantastically good art market. It would be logical to assume this is the norm, and that it would continue into the future, with some years better than others. However, historically, this is not the case, I suspect the last ten years in the art market were the best in a century and therefore an unusual event which cannot continue, it will revert towards the mean.

I wouldn't be too quick to over analyze Poster Boy's motivations, he may be saying one thing and doing something else, intentionally or not.

Hirst's skull is an example of excess, it's a Fin de siècle Fabrege egg.

10/13/2008 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mark G. Taber said...

I wrote about this artist on a May 22 post on my blog after I discovered one work in the 23rd St. station. I agree with Edward that this project is about a certain idea of the self. This is what makes the project interesting but it also raises serious doubts including what Edward has already mentioned. I think of it as a fragmented self, a self that can be worn and discarded like a mask, a self that will deny the past in order to elude capture is what I’m thinking of. The title of this post emphasizes a slightly different angle, that is no self at all. “Selflessness” has a long association with good deeds. Interesting connection, especially because the current law forbids what Poster Boy is doing. Taking money in exchange for work at any moment may fix a self in place and in so doing drag the project back into what it sets out to deny, circumvent, or destroy, that is a single self identifiable by society and held accountable to the law. When Banksy recently refused to authenticate a work that experts are convinced are by him, he was being true to the ideal of the fragmented self. This isn’t my project by the way, I’m just watching with interest to see if a new mutation develops.

10/13/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Hi George - regarding generational events: I have spoken with people who relate to me that their sibling, born in a different calendar month, is definitely 'a Leo person' and that they are 'a Taurus person'. In this case the distinction is about attitude and they always seem somewhat surprised when they relate it. I hope this means we can agree that generational labels like the sixties are as valid and useful as astrology. I'm a Gemini by the way.

Regarding Poster Boy, I enjoy his sense of humor, and appreciate Mark and Ed's followup points about his notion of compound "myspace" identities.

Still, his work illustrates the challenge of combining art with activism. Poster Boy says "no authorship no copyright". But, directly contradicting this idea, he uploads images of his work to a private Flickr account and marks them as "Copyright, All Rights Reserved."

If his goal was pure activism, presumably he would upload images of his work anonymously to a public domain image site (Wikimedia Commons?), both reducing his chances of getting caught and also ensuring the widest reuse of the imagery. When art enters the fray, and issues of ownership and copyright are never far behind.

PS. The whole David Kernell story would make me very leery of posting things online if I were an activist...

10/13/2008 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Whatever happens, you're only talking about trends
and general tendencies, because art of now is so complex that
there is a type of art for every tastes in the world, and it
should remain that way. So if I can say now that in the margins
they are plenty of artists working with interventions, performances,
anonimity, etc...Than if they get the front page someday, I should
still be able to say that, well, if you look around, you'll find artists who do bauble art for rich or focussed on the niceties of their objects. We are much too educated now to be so black and white unless we really regress.

That said...Did the Depression of the 30's had any effect in Germany causing the rise of the nazis ?? That should also be scrutinized.


Cedric Caspesyan

10/13/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pick up any history book of the period and you will get your answer. Sheesh, American education.

10/13/2008 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Lol, ok that wasn't very brigtly phrased, but..errr...I wasn't really asking? ;-) It should have started with "Didn't" and meant that sometimes the "revolutions" are the not the ones we were hoping for.

Kind of like the Thirty Years War and using religion as a pretext to burst out frustrations about experiencing poverty. Hmmmm. That sounds just like what's happening these days.

Cedric C

10/13/2008 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

++++That should also be +++scrutinized.

I meant that we should scrutinize if the effects of the current NOW Depression will turn into something similar than nazism, in any way (integrist islam already tells me how this question is dumb). I laught out loud at the way I posted this. The funny thing is I'm not american and you insulted american education. I can be the most stupid and unknowing person at times, but here I only wanted to remind how the last Depression resulted in WWII and how that wasn't a great moment for the arts (though a great opportunity for the move of the market to usa). I'm sorry, I think I'm doing a little dyxlexia,

Cedric Caspesyan

10/13/2008 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


I didn't mean the violent type of revolution although late the 1960's came close.

As an outside posibiliy, I do think the world governments are afraid of this (real revolution) and will do everything necessary to end the financial crisis.

There won't be a depression.

10/14/2008 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I finally went to the E/C stop at 23rd Street today after Thursday night openings.

I didn't see any Poster Boy posters that had been collaged (I don't think), but I did see evidence of his activity - many posters had small pieces missing - cutouts that presumably Poster Boy used in his work.

I actually really liked this aspect of his practice - the sense that things are being moved around in the station, a sort of ghost hand.

I imagine encountering a modified poster in the station must be thrilling, since you are seeing something unique you know won't last, like being invited to a secret party.

I found it fun sleuthing around the station, much more than visiting the Flickr page. I still wonder about Poster Boy's idealism, but I can understand why people respond to his work so viscerally.

10/16/2008 09:50:00 PM  

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