In the last few weeks, Paul McCarthy has catapulted into the public imagination as the infamous artist firmly behind Paris’s ill-fated “Tree” (aka #pluggate).
What, I ask you, should one expect if one asks artist Paul McCarthy to create a Christmas tree for the place of honor at a renowned, must-attend art fair? Well, it’s Paul McCarthy, so there are only two possible outcomes: a turd or a butt plug.
Ever since 2009, when the Museum of Modern Art expanded its Department of Media to include performance art (it is now the Department of Media and Performance Art), it has been both praised and criticized for its focus on acquiring transdisciplinary and postconceptual work that is often ephemeral, like sets of instructions passed on by word of mouth — things that belong to everyone.
You must, and shall, begin every single conversation about Norman Rockwell by addressing the question: “Is it art?” And then you must, and shall, say: “It is illustration.”
I know what you’re thinking. There can’t be a ‘how to talk about Oscar Murillo’ because we don’t have a decade or so of commentary, he’s too new to have talking points. He’s 28 for God’s sake, you protest.
On the penultimate day of the Armory Show, galleries were reporting sold out booths, sales pushed from in-house inventory, new connections and clients discovered, and not one bit of weariness.
Even though Wool has been blue-chip long enough (since 2010) to make him a staple on a newbie collector’s wish list and the likely star of many a speculator’s wet dream, post-auction media rhapsodizing about the “record price” “achieved” by his 1988 painting “Apocalypse Now” has become the gateway to any conversation about him, at least for the next week or so — or until the show at the Guggenheim ends.
The best way to begin talking about Banksy, right now, following his October New York Residency, would be to NOT talk about Banksy. Not just because of the press overload, but because there’s something big that the media has been ignoring … and that’s context.
As Christie’s preps to sell off Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” for a possible record price of $100 million, it may be a good time to bone up on your talking points for both of these canonized artists.
Did I hear you sigh with half relief/half regret thinking you would never have to talk about Sol LeWitt again? Poor fool, that time will never come!
Regulation in the world of art commerce is a troublesome word.
Warhol settled three times, and then played by the rules. Jeff Koons settled four times and then won. Sherry Levine avoids intellectual property pitfalls by agreeing not to sell. The Shep lost a big one to AP, but has otherwise ducked controversy. And Richard Prince currently rules the co-opting cadre with his recent appeals court trouncing of photographer Patrick Cariou. In each case, the defendants seemed to have learned some lessons, done their homework, and wrestled the law to the ground.