August 21, 2009

Who calls what art?

On the walls in most subway stops they hang movie posters and advertisements in these large metal frames. They evidently glue these ads up and after time they either fall off or they're torn down by vandals. In a particular stop near Inwood there are these frames that haven't been used in a very long time. Each time I leave the station I stare at what remains of the previous posters and can't help but notice the similarities between them and much of the art I see at places like MoMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim. I've always thought artists like Rauchenberg, James Rosenquist, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly and their contemporaries were full of shit and their art was complete garbage for the most part. There's a very interesting film called "Who get's to call it art" about a guy named Henry Geldzahler who basically hand picked his favorite "modern artists", gave them a show at the Met and single handedly brought them all to fame. Who hasn't been to a large art gallery, looked on the wall to see a painting that looks like it was done by a 1st grader, and wondered "How the hell did this painting end up here?"
I have this picture in my mind of guys back in the 40s and 50s, guys who didn't want to work, sitting in these large, industrial, daylight filled lofts in Soho surrounded by large canvases. They're smoking cigarettes in clothing lightly covered in multicolored drips and smudges of paint. Occasionally they get up to splatter some paint in the direction of one of these blank future masterpieces. Along comes someone like Henry Geldzahler or Peggy Guggenheim (who, by the way, screwed Jackson Pollock) who befriends them and these unemployed, talentless loafers become rich and famous. Whether you like him or not, many of Pollock's contemporaries referred to him as "slatterpuss". There are many critics who believe he drank himself to death because he knew in his heart he was a hack and his work was a joke. Even though I appreciate a few of his paintings I still think it was a gimmick. Stand over a canvas, drip paint.
Back to the "accidental art" on the subway walls: So, each day I look at these frames on the walls and think..."These could easily be hanging in the Whitney." Art? Sadly, I think it's mostly bullshit.

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