Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Britney @ MoMA

It was an extremely awkward moment. I was liberally partaking of MoMA's libations and enjoying myself in the reserved section of their restaurant and perhaps just a bit too quickly (see previous note on libations) opened my mouth to share my opinion with one of MoMA's curators about all the space and time given over to the Tim Burton exhibition. With barely the first few words out, I saw in the curator's face that I had made a mistake. I was not addressing someone who agreed with me that MoMA was no place for such a show.

"Backpedal! Backpedal now!" cried the diplomat's voice in my head...but it was too late. I had to own that I had insulted my host. (I think I first quickly scanned the room for Bambino, but he was off charming someone, and well, there was nothing to do but stew in it.) I received a response to why the show was in the museum, but I have to confess to not really hearing it...so loud was the diplomat's voice in my head berating me.

My boorish behavior notwithstanding, I doubt the rationale would have changed my opinion. I like the few temples of fine art we have to reserve their limited resources for fine art projects. Pop culture rules the rest of the world (truly, is there anywhere you can be and not find it?). Why must the fine art venues show it too?

Oh, I suspect the earnest answer to that question would be that only a well-trained curator can properly show us how transcendental or sublime Pixar's images truly are. And while I might quibble with that if pushed, I'd suggest that this education is equally possible in museums not reserved for fine art, where the mixed messages being sent to the public about intellectual and aesthetic (over commercial) pursuit or artist's intent (over producer's) won't water down the impact of their educational mission.

Then again, a perhaps more earnest answer might be that presenting the cream of the crop in intellectual and aesthetic pursuits takes money and lots of it and that crowd-pleasing exhibitions with mass market appeal bring in money and lots of it. I fully understand that, especially in these economic times. But the risk here isn't really that occassionally museums will need to present blockbuster crowd pleasers...rather that pop culture will insidiously seep in and like the weed it is continue to displace other efforts.

Don't be silly, Ed, I can hear curators saying. We're not spending all the time we are at school and in galleries and in studios to be defeated in our efforts to bring the best art we can into our museums. The thing is, I don't think it will happen that way. It will happen the other way around. Charlie Finch hints at how the takeover will occur:
There is a new Vonage television commercial, in which satisfied customers toss their old, higher phone bills over their shoulders to form a pyramid-like stack in a corner which looks exactly like a Felix Gonzalez-Torres pile of hard candy, the difference being that, in the commercial, you add to the stack, rather than taking one away.

This is not the first time that some enterprising Madison Avenue type has appropriated the work of an artist unknown to the world at large to sell something in TV land. Among recent such borrowings are Doug Aitken’s video billboards and his video of an empty shopping cart in a parking lot, Maurizio Cattelan’s little boy on a tricycle and his elephant covered in a sheet. AT&T is currently bigfooting the trope with a TV spot directly ripped from Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates, a borrowing so over the top that it may have inspired Vonage’s sly art world rejoinder. The reasons these familiar art world motifs are so easy to steal is that no one in the outside world knows about them. [emphasis mine]

Back in the 1950s. Madison Avenue played on the familiarity of fine art to its wider audience in order to sell things. Dutch Masters Cigars was self-explanatory, and Whistler’s Mother and the ever-popular Mona Lisa were ubiquitous. All of Magritte’s distortions dominated liquor ads. Nowadays, the Ad Council runs a piece of stupidity under a Caravaggio pic of a young swain with the caption, "I’ll bet your kid thinks that Caravaggio was one of the Sopranos."

Far from its ostensible claim to educate the public in the finer things artwise, what Big Media wants is to obliterate fine art as a recognizable cultural touchstone so that episodes of Lost, Avatar and Geico caveman commercials will dominate the virtual museums of tomorrow. And our art world accommodates this policy perfectly, both high and low.

Bambino and I read the disclaimer on the AT&T commercial the other day and scratched our heads. The New York Times recently talked about it:
Here is a response from Steven Schwadron, a public relations executive at Fleishman-Hillard who serves as a spokesman for AT&T: “The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had and have no direct or indirect affiliation or involvement with the creation of AT&T’s advertising.”
The part in quotes appears in small print in the commercial, although I don't recall seeing it the first time we watched it, leading me to wonder if they added it in response to inquiries. Either way, I have to wonder if that's all they feel it takes to totally rip off an artist (a declaration that the artists have no direct involvement with their efforts). UPDATE: The fact that the same disclaimer appears on AT&T's homepage suggests that perhaps there are lawyers involved.

Now I actually have no issue with virtual museums (or physical museums) of tomorrow showcasing all the truly creative efforts that go into pop culture or even advertising. There's a lot of talent out there that deserves to be recognized. Indeed, build a new space, exhibit what you want, and I'd probably visit it. I simply don't feel that blurring the line between work created first and foremost with commercial concerns dictating decisions (usually with a committee of others, many with non-creative objectives, having major influence) and work created with intellectual and aesthetic decisions first and foremost guiding its creator, un-interfered with, will serve anyone but the advertisers. As Charlie notes, Big Media wins it all if they can "obliterate fine art as a recognizable cultural touchstone." Our fine art temples shouldn't be helping them in that effort.

Labels: art museums, cultural priorities


Anonymous matt said...


5/25/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

What?? The contemporary art shown at Moma is not created with commercial concern??


5/25/2010 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I knew someone would sling that comment into this thread...didn't think it would be you Cedric, but...

There is to my mind a world of difference between a fine artist who is aware of their market, but still autonomous, and a commercial or pop artist whose work is fussed over by others to ensure it meets the commercial goals of its release.

5/25/2010 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

There are ALWAYS lawyers involved.

5/25/2010 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

OK, so I owe Cedric an apology, I did write "work created with intellectual and aesthetic decisions alone guiding its creator" which does suggest no commercial concerns enter into the creation of fine art (which I don't believe)...

I will edit that text to connote what I do believe.

5/25/2010 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

I agree with you (and Finch), but as long as there is money to be made in advertising you will find BFA and MFA graduates working there, using what they've learned to make money in order to pay back student loans and make a living. There aren't enough jobs in education, and they sure can't make a living from their art. And this will always be the case - fine art, like fine music, poetry and other high culture forms will always feed pop culture and be used by it to make money, but will never be as popular. And fine culture will always strive to reach broader audience while trying to maintain integrity to it's message and purpose. In this frustrating, indirect way it does.

On another note: first two paragraphs are very funny :)

5/25/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I was only teasing (and that angry Moma curator should have chilled out).

To me the problem is not so much that Tim Burton is at the Moma than how the exhibition is presented. If the exhibition is commercial ("we heart Tim Burton!"), it doesn't belong at the Moma. But if the context of the Moma lends an opportunity to scrutinize Tim Burton's undeniable artistry outside of its commercial aspect, than it's doing its job. Moma's mandate is to cover the whole broadness of contemporary aesthetics, not just fine art, and Burton is... somewhat more than strictly commercial. He's an author of the blockbuster. Did we talk about style recently? Burton's got style. His work is authentically his, for a start, that's what museums have always been obsessed with, the aura of authenticity. The question is, how do we define Burton's authenticity and why should we even care? I'm sure Moma curators have arguments for that.

We have an exhibition about Miles Davis currently at Montreal Fine Art Museum. But is it pop?

Cedric C

5/25/2010 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Oh, and Burton is a rare director who is mostly an art director. All his films are subordinated to the art direction. It's a specific case of interest for a museal context. Otherwise I don't think art critics are best suited to criticize cinema. Not if they aren't able to tell me the number of shots in a film after they've seen it.

Cedric C

5/25/2010 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous John Legweak said...

I couldn't get into the Burton show when I was there. (I was just visiting NYC and only had one chance.) I haven;t seen a review, how was it?

5/25/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Now I actually have no issue with virtual museums (or physical museums) of tomorrow showcasing all the truly creative efforts that go into pop culture or even advertising. There's a lot of talent out there that deserves to be recognized. Indeed, build a new space, exhibit what you want, and I'd probably visit it.

Let's explore this. Should such museums be tax-exempt and state-supported?

5/25/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Let's explore this. Should such museums be tax-exempt and state-supported?

That's a different thread :-)

5/25/2010 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

FWIW I agree with you Ed. I don't think cinema or movies belong with the plastic or fine arts, anymore than ballet or opera do.

This is not to say they're not an art form - only that they're seen to better advantage in cinemas or museums of moving image, theatres, on screens or stages, etc.

Even to say they're beautiful or 'aesthetic' is hardly qualification. Beauty contests, street car meets, hairstyles and make-up, for instance, may all cultivate beauty, variously. But that doesn't make them art, much less fine art.

That curators are incapable of recognising even these fundamental categories, much less maintaining them, only points to a sad, slow decline.

5/25/2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

John L asked how the show was. C.r.o.w.d.e.d.

I popped my head in a couple of times. You could barely see the work for all the people. The mood was light and people were happy to be there, but from what I could see it was Velveeta compared to frommage. (And I say this as a fan of Burton's movies.)

The one good thing about this show is that it pulled a lot of kids away from the other galleries, so you could view Monets, or the permanent collections in relative peace.

5/25/2010 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

That's a different thread :-)

I'm not sure. I don't see a distinction between Tim Burton's aesthetic, intellectual, and commercial motivations and those of Marina Abramovic's or Gabriel Orozco's except for the intended audience, which in Burton's case is larger. By the conditions you've laid out, why does Orozco belong in MoMA but Burton doesn't?

5/25/2010 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

Joanne I disagree with you, I think the one advantage of having this show, apart from the income it generates for the museum and the publicity for Tim Burton, is that it brings youth to the Museum and even if they only come to see the Burton exhibit, being that youth are curious, surely at least a few of them will pop their head into the other exhibits and maybe will gain some appreciation. That in itself is a noble cause, imo.

5/25/2010 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

Ed, I've walked into this landmine discussion a few times with "lay people". My sentiments were a little nastier,so now I can follow up with a little more subtlety. My biggest practical issue with Burton show is the enormous amount of time dedicated to it. We could have had 2 more shows programmed in that slot.

5/25/2010 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Agree with highlowbetween (and would add there are plenty of other places for the Burton show)

Disagree with Franklin in that the original question you asked had nothing to do with a comparison of the exhibitions but rather with funding. Funding is another issue.

Looming large, to my mind, among the things that makes Burton's work different from Abramovic's or Orozco's is the autonomy I've noted, now repeatedly...as well as the intent (which, yes, includes audience).

5/25/2010 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous John Legweak said...

Thanks Joanne. Even though I couldn;t go in I could peek into the space. I remember it as being narrow and cylendrical, like a tunnel. I don;t have an opinion as to whether the show was apopriopriate. What I'm more curious about is whether it worked (and for who). I did see the Kendricke exhibition, and that definitely worked for me, especially the animations. (I found Shadow Procession positively mesmerizing.) Somehow I can't imagine the Burton pieces coming off nearly as well.

5/25/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

I'll risk taking on the devil advocates cap ...

There was a time where theology (?) was faced with the dilemma is religion grounded by the "physicality" of the church and its hierarchy? We ended up in our epoch with religiosity juxtaposed with spirituality.

Possibly fine art is facing a similar dilemma. Is fine art grounded in the museum?

I see fine art as selecting aspects from our culture, IE it allows us to see the waters we are swimming in. So street culture might actually have every right to take back what was originally its own. (muddling commercialism with street culture a bit here)

The question for me returns to our fine art temples ...helping in such a process.

Is that where fine art is grounded? - in the temple?

5/25/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Orozco is playing to an audience of aficionados of curator art, post-minimalism, or however you want to characterize it, just as Burton plays to an audience that likes stories and animation. Orozco outsoursces the realization of complicated projects to people who actually know how to build things, just as Burton relies on the many trades in the film industry. Orozco has to interest a group of art-world insiders in his projects so he can display them to ancillary audiences, just as Burton has to interest Hollywood insiders for the same reason. What autonomy are you speaking about?

5/25/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I can only hope you didn't hurt yourself writing that Franklin...it stands as perhaps the most strained of arguments I've ever read by you.


I'm confused a bit by your question Gam. I'm not suggesting fine art only exists within or is grounded in a museum. I'm suggesting something else: that a "Fine Art" museum mixes the message of its educational mission when it brings in pop culture...or at the very least, when in brings in too much pop culture.

5/25/2010 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger mikesorgatz said...

MOMA screens films so it would seem appropriate to show a director's work especially when it crosses over into other media, such as drawing and painting. As far as advertisers co-opting art, well that would be a great theme for an exhibit wouldn't it?

5/25/2010 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger J Bills said...

When I heard of the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA, I couldn't help but think, "What ever happened to the Museum of the Moving Image?" I was reminded that there is also a downside to mixing artistic practices & studies, a loss of speciality. I'm sure the film department at MoMA is great, but I can't help but wonder if you had an entire museum of staff dedicated to film study putting on this exhibit, would Burton's work be better served?

5/25/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

hi Ed, I started to comment here about an hour ago, and my point drifted, got so long and filled with links, and so off-thread, that I decided not to burden you here! Instead I posted it to newsgrist. Basically it's my response, not to the Burton at MoMA issue (which I agree with you about), but to the 'ads referencing art' issue. I don't make a habit of re-directing people to my blog in other blogs' comments sections, but since you got me started, I hope you don't mind just this once. For anyone interested, the post is here:

Why referencing isn't stealing.


5/25/2010 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

It was a serious question and your dismissal of it tells me that it's a good one. (I'd like to know how much difference there was between my allegedly strained argument and what the MoMA curator said to you while you were busy berating yourself for your manners. Oh well.) Orozco and Burton have important similarities in their practice and the main distinction is that they're aimed at different art audiences. If you'd like to argue that the museum should serve some art audiences and not others, go right ahead.

Also, I'd like to see an argument for something you've assumed but haven't proven yet: that Burton's work is "created first and foremost with commercial concerns dictating decisions." By extension, I wonder how you'd prove that this is not the case with Orozco. Burton's vision is singular and personal, and the commercial machinery seems to flow from it, not the other way around. I picked Orozco as a like example partly because he was in the museum at the same time, and partly because it would have been too easy to pick Murakami or Koons, who are even more similar to Burton, and are even more handily disqualified from the museum if Burton doesn't belong there.

5/25/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

++they're seen to better advantage ++in cinemas

Yes if the exhibit shows films on screen, but this is not the point. Burton is an art director, they are probably showing his drawings, maquettes, works-in-progress. They are probably insisting on the behind-the-industry studio output rather than the films, and Burton has been involved in many personal non-commercial projects.

I reiterate that the Moma has a design and architecture section. They cover larger than fine art. The notion of the fantastic have been very important for visual artists of Burton's generation (from Matthew Barney to David Altmejd). To provide such a link with a pop culture phenomena only can help bring a context to contemporary arts. Is the fantastic really just about beauty? I think there might be something to scrutinize there.
Oh but never mind, the show is probably just trying to tell you that there is a fine art aspect behind all the imaginative drawings of Burton, but strictly it is more about this ever-developing inner-universe than about cinema. Let's face it, the master realist painters of today work in cinema and videogames, and it's not fair to art history to give all the place in museums to a conceptualist tradition without ever looking at where the technical masters of today are at. And by masters, I don't mean people interested in beauty, but people simply trying to transcribe a personal inner world they envision, according to an original style, without having to always find reasoning and arguments for it. If Burton sells, that doesn't mean his approach to artmaking isn't sincere. He is simply more accessible because the general audience love fairy tales and monsters. These interests are grounded in much older sources than pop culture. Just like Expressionist cinema of the 1920's about Golems and whatnot delivered more than strictly pop culture.

Burton's interest with myths and archetypes (victorian neo-gothic and else) is too specific to be simplified as a quest for the beautiful. And besides trying to explain it all, there is a strong collector base for this stuff. Collectors buy his frigging drawings (I mean art collectors, not movie paraphernalia buffs). He's a fine artist.

Cedric C

BTW, Burton just gave the gold palm to Wheeresakhetul, so that's enough to lend him extra cultural credibility to his detractors. Wheeresakhetul is one those cineast whose work is closest to being redeemed as being fine art within the cinema industry.

5/25/2010 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a misstep by Moma driven by financial reasons. There is no other explanation. I agree with ed. At best, his work is illustration that has no aspirations to be anything else. Why are so many compromises made surrounding the display of art? Art is difficult and elitist....always has been, hopefully always will be.

5/25/2010 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

The argument about what belongs in an art museum is a settled matter. It was decided, to my chagrin, that it could be damn near anything. Well, damn near anything means damn near anything, and the same short bus that dropped off the yogurt container lids and the naked people occluding the hallways delivered Burton's tiresome illustrations. As far as I'm concerned, the people who thought that damn near anything was a good idea now get Burton as their just desserts.

5/25/2010 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

It was a serious question and your dismissal of it tells me that it's a good one.

You mean the second question, and not the first, tangential one that would have led us into territory well covered and not vital to the post, correct? Just want to be sure we've buried that first one.

Also, I'd like to see an argument for something you've assumed but haven't proven yet: that Burton's work is "created first and foremost with commercial concerns dictating decisions." By extension, I wonder how you'd prove that this is not the case with Orozco. Burton's vision is singular and personal, and the commercial machinery seems to flow from it, not the other way around.

I can give a snarky one word answer: Disney.

5/25/2010 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger ryan said...

I have to agree with Joy's insightful and well researched post re: ads appropriating the works of fine artists. It's always been this way and (as long as artists continue making visually compelling work) hopefully always will. One can channel surf and skim through design magazines seeing countless, less obvious examples of this practice, it's one of the things I most enjoy about having fine art literacy (knowing where those ideas originate).

While the influence in these ads is obvious, I think it's more complex than the advertising industry stealing artists ideas outright. Once a great work of art is well known for all to see (and hopefully they will), it's going to be imitated and copied for all the right and wrong reasons, time and time again. Christo and Jean-Claude's The Gates, Longo's Men in the Cities, and Shonibare's mannequins have all become visual icons (even if most people don't know who first created them). Cultural influence (beyond the art world) should be thought of as a sign of success and importance as an artist. Maybe some people could care less for the attention, which is fine. And I'm sure it's upsetting when someone else profits off your ideas. But if you're being imitated in the commercial world you're probably already a commercial success. And, if nothing else, I'm sure an ad agency would hire you for their next campaign.

In terms of the MoMA show, I agree with Ed that Burton's work is wrong for the venue. Museums should be filling a void for what we our culture hasn't seen and should. The Marina Abramovic show is a good example of this, and I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before the advertising world appropriates it.

5/25/2010 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I can give a snarky one word answer: Disney.

I see your Disney and raise you a BMW and a Bulgari. I'll agree to throwing out Burton from museum consideration if Kapoor, Koons, Lichtenstein, Warhol, and Holzer go with him.

5/25/2010 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

I happen to agree with Franklin here. There are others, much less deserving than Burton who are shown in the museum.

5/25/2010 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

I'm not referring to Orozco here, but just a general statement, without getting into names and specifics.

5/25/2010 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could the curators be using Burton's work as a transition away from a conceptual dead end? If they sensed a shift and yet had now idea know where it might lead, this might be an easy, tentative, first step. And as a crowd pleaser, if they're wrong, they're still, to most folks, right.

Just a question arising from the seesaw of debate here today.


5/25/2010 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Edward says "I don't like Burton, and Disney, at least not in the museum".

Franklin says "I only want certain types of art and artists in museums".

I'll go with the "Anything can and should happen in a museum", but anything only does happen when the balance permits it.

Edward should have his day, Franklin should have his day, and I should have my day (Hey, I love Kapoor!). You need shows to please different crowds. If you're pushing in one direction, it's not fair. So once that we have Burton, the next show should be any artist that Franklin's been hoping to see "retrospect". I mean, give the man a break. He's been upset about what's in museums for a long while. Who shall it be, Franklin? Sometimes wishing loudly makes things happen (I'm serious).

Disney is an inevitable museum topic, and been covered a couple times. It all depends on the angle. It's hard with Disney(Tm) because the archives mostly come from them, and they're legendarely prone to check what you've done. I would suspect Disney collectors to be simply fanatics of Disney or pop culture, while the Burton collector is more likely to have developed an awareness of a fine art market. There is a slight distance at play with Burton, a pastiche of something else. Disney is a kid that never grew up (or barely, he had an artistic idealism too).

It's true that Disney was the american Dali. Why would american museums refuse to honor one of its greatest artist? You don't have a Dali, deal with your Disney. I think he's done great. Disney delivered. When it's just the money the products aren't that good. Pixar also runs that extra mile at times, where you can see one's goal is not just to make money, but to win trophies in its category. Anything that strives forward a perfection of itself, for the sheer sake of perfection, is artistic. To debate wrether something is part of what we define as fine art or not is a little absurdly elitist if you're only doing in it in hope that you won't have to discuss and appreciate the artistic value of what is not.

Cedric C

5/25/2010 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"I don't like Burton, and Disney, at least not in the museum".

Not exactly. I simply answered Franklin's challenge: "I'd like to see an argument for something you've assumed but haven't proven yet: that Burton's work is "created first and foremost with commercial concerns dictating decisions." with the argument "Disney."

To elaborate, I highly doubt that any film produced by Disney is NOT created first and foremost with commercial concerns dictating decisions.

As to whether Disney belongs in MoMA or not, I would prefer not, but then I don't make decisions there.

5/26/2010 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

ryan: thanks for reading my post. your follow-up here nails it especially with regard to "Cultural influence (beyond the art world)".

as for the Abramovic show: j'agree absolutely!


5/26/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

Gee Ed, I'm surprised at your naivete, do you really think world famous artists, from Leonardo to Hirst (apologies for using those two in the same sentence) heck, much before Leonardo, are not motivated by commercial concerns, wanting to satisfy and communicate with audience/patrons, reach and be appreciated by a large audience, achieve fame? Most of them do, as also most of the less known artists. Since Pop art and Andy Warhol turned the spotlight towards the consumer, wanting to present a mirror to society, for some reason, instead of seeing the point and moving on, the art world fell in love with the grotesque image in the mirror and stayed stuck in pop art, merging banality and high art to a point where nothing is left that has any meaning in visual art, everything that is visual is either banal or corrupt, contemporary art is left with either sarcastic continuation of mirror reflections, or conceptual ideas rejecting and self hating the image shown and by that rejecting any visual legacy or tradition, and by that also blocking any sincere and dignified development of that tradition. What is left for visual artists are only a few possibilities: play along with the now idea/concept/verbiage inclined world of contemporary art; play along with the sarcastic, insincere vision of pop; go for the graphic design/advertising industry; or else get pushed to the fringes, making what is considered banal, pathetic, yet sincere and at times visually enticing visual images. Sometimes artists in this last category find an audience thirsting for their vision. Sometimes they find channels that allow them expression which brings them back to main stream and allows considerable freedom, even if that channel is Disney. I would argue that even though Tim Burton does work with Disney his art is highly creative, visionary and sincere. I have seen the show, most of his drawings are too adolescent for my personal taste, but so are Dali's paintings and a lot of other work shown in the museum. However, I have great respect for him (Burton) as an artist, and I agree with Cedric on this point - we should all have our day.

5/26/2010 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

And I am not saying that I reject the conceptual, I have respect for all.

5/26/2010 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

...One can channel surf and skim through design magazines seeing countless, less obvious examples of this practice, it's one of the things I most enjoy about having fine art literacy (knowing where those ideas originate).

This comment by ryan above re: references to art in advertising, brings up something that is not often understood, especially not by those taken with the idea that listing sources is always necessary, and somehow essential and ethical when one is re-using and re-purposing source material - creative ideas and materials previously produced by others. Listing references and sources is something you have to do in your PhD thesis and conventionally (but not always!) in most academic pubs, while in art this practice is not only *not* convention, if instituted it would truly be an encumbrance. In cross-overs such as advertising referencing art, I think ryan's comment expresses something to keep in mind: we really learn and appreciate, not from reading grocery lists of sources, and not from reading the info on the wall label in the museum. The direct experience of the artwork, with or without 'art literacy' (which can even get in the way sometimes, right?), the naive absorption, the novel reckoning, the personal moment of recognition - these are the things that really matter.

5/26/2010 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Ben Will said...

This is really starting to de-evole into anti-contemporary art manifesto's that are off topic and disappointing.

There are museums of and for everything and everyone. Museums concerned with modern art should be full of just that. Moma should be searching for other artists to exhibit, not blockbuster exhibits by non-artists.

5/26/2010 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous John Legweak said...

Ben, I thought Modern Art ended in 1977. Are you saying they shouldn't show anything later than that?

I thought MOMA's problem was that they were too stuck in the past, not the opposite.

5/26/2010 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

What I really like about this blog is that Ed's posts always provoke thought and different opinions, allowing so called 'anti' anything manifestos to form as long as they are uttered in a respectful way. Even when off topic, different opinions are allowed. What makes it even more exciting is the acceptance of art (and especially contemporary art) as being fluid, changing and forming with time, even changing as we speak.
I don't think anyone said Burton was a non-artist. The discussion was about whether commercially inclined, pop culture has a place in the MOMA, and the way fine art is being taken over by commercialism, which led to the discussion about what defines these etc...

5/26/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

By the way, Koons' BMW looks great!! The Kapoor ring is tacky, but both works speak about the exact same thing (time-space fluxus).

Koons uses the archetyp representation of speed in pop culture (those lights in Star Wars or any sci-fi film when an engine speeds up to lightspeed).

Kapoor, well, he does mostly that,
put in form basic forces and relations constituting our universe (well, our understanding of it). The work from which the ring is inspired takes pretty much the shape of one accepted representation of the universe's scape or the function of time space: the double conic-structure
(all possibles of the past reach to a point and unfolds to an all possible of the future).

That silly ring... acknowledges and spouses the space-time interaction of the moment you enter you finger until when it comes out, just like Koons' car attempts to frame in an object in constant movement.

I want my Moma Koons VS Kapoor show, and it must be titled "the kitsch and the sublime".

Cedric C

5/26/2010 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

@Franklin said: I see your Disney and raise you a BMW and a Bulgari. I'll agree to throwing out Burton from museum consideration if Kapoor, Koons, Lichtenstein, Warhol, and Holzer go with him.

I agree with Franklin, Iris, others, on this too. There are many others more deserving to be shown @MOMA. Seemed like the museum just capitalizing on Burtons status to bring in the masses and make money.

I drove down to Manhattan from Rochester for one of my regular art viewing visits. Took in the Whitney Biennial (ugh!), and a number of other exhibits, including a stop @MOMA. One of my most disappointing trips as far as the art was concerned. Oh well, better luck next time.


5/27/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I am really enjoying this post.

I agree with virtually all of Nathaniel's points on Joy's blog post, but I won't be tiresome and repeat them here.

@ Ryan, who states, "And I'm sure it's upsetting when someone else profits off your ideas. But if you're being imitated in the commercial world you're probably already a commercial success. And, if nothing else, I'm sure an ad agency would hire you for their next campaign."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The sad fact is that there are many artists who are still not making a living off their work, who, indeed may not have even SOLD the original piece that some multi-billion dollar corporation "appropriated" for their campaign.

For a fantastic example, in 2005, a group of students as ESRA made a film called "Above Then Beyond", a beautiful film, worth the 4 minutes:

In 2009, Pixar released "Up." How much do you think the students made on their film? How long did it take them to make it?

I got the reference from a website called "You Thought We Wouldn't Notice", which is a site dedicated to artists whose work has been "appropriated".

5/27/2010 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Why is Kapoor's name always dropped with pop or conceptual artists? He's like a visceral Brancusi (adds up to the experiential intent of Brancusi).

Was Brancusi a crap artist too?


5/27/2010 10:00:00 PM  

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