"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

In the Studio: Martin Parr

Continuing in the vein of the profound in the banal, here is a short clip of the photographer, Martin Parr, talking about his work. Parr takes photographs of ordinary people and shows them in a extraordinary light – something that is very difficult to do and which easily demonstrates to the unconvinced the difference between a great photograph and a snap.

(I’m sorry if all the recent posts have been very Brit centric, its not deliberate)

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Gelitin are Smashing Telly’s favorite pretentious artists because whatever they do is both stupid and remarkably thorough. Here we have a alphabet of shitted out letters in a gallery in Zurich.

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Goodbye to all That

2008 was an early end to a decade with no name. The post millennium? The new century? The decadent decade, perhaps? It was an entire era of price without value, a zeitgeist that artists would surely try to capture, symbolically. But how to do it and still sell your work? Perhaps Damien Hirst knew how?

Damien Hirst is very rich and he is not stupid. His most daring work of art was an elaborate joke that could have become a symbol of this decade that closed down early – a platinum and diamond-crusted real human skull, the world’s most vulgar trophy. Like a gorilla hand ashtray or an elephant foot umbrella stand, this $100 million decorative, anatomical, bling trinket needed to be sold to someone very rich and very stupid for it to be complete, a tasteless prize that was bought and therefore self-awarded rather than given.

Who would be the recipient of this severed head which was completely covered in money, but in less money ($25M) than its asking price ($100M)? Would it be a Russian oligarch, a Manhattan property tycoon, a member of the Saud family, a London hedge fund manager, a vapid LA Youtube celebrity or any other of the monstrous avatars of the decadent decade. Sadly, even the diamond skull was a flop, and was rumored to have been bought by Hirst himself, to save face. Like the hedge fund managers, Hirst became rich but didn’t leave the legacy he wanted, and the contemporary art market, which peaked with his $170M takings at the “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” sale, was merely a bubble created by the recently rich who wanted new stuff rather than antiques and wished for the million dollar art equivalent of fast food, to buy taste, immediately.

But this bubble was particularly symbolic. The contemporary art market was leveraged beyond real estate and stocks and artists were part of the culture they could have been dissecting and rebelling against, they were collaborators rather than renegades. The sudden demise of famous living artists tells a better story than the art itself ever could.

Ben Lewis tells the story of the contemporary art bubble in Prospect:

“While British house prices took six years to double at the start of this century, contemporary art managed it in just one, 2006-07. (Over the same period, old masters went up by just 7.6 per cent and British 17th to 19th century watercolours actually lost value.) Contemporary art in the emerging economies did even better. The value of its sales in China increased by 983 per cent in one year (2005-06). In Russia they rose 2,365 per cent in five years (2000-05), while its stock market increased by “only” about 300 per cent…The Chinese painter Zhang Xiaogang saw his work appreciate 6,000 times, from $1,000 to $6m (1999-2008); work by the American artist Richard Prince went up 60 to 80 times (2003-2008). The German painter Anselm Reyle was unknown in 2003; you could have picked up one of his stripe paintings for €14,000. Now he has a studio with 60 assistants turning them out for about €200,000 each.”

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Robert Hughes, American Visions

Robert Hughes’, epic journey through American Art. A must see.
American Visions makes it onto the ‘Smashing List‘.

Running time, approx. 7 hours (in 42 parts).

Playlist URL

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John Berger, Ways of Seeing

It has been 20 years since I read the John Berger book: “Ways of Seeing”, which was based on the classic, BAFTA award winning, series of the same name, made in 1972. Until now I hadn’t seen the original, which is a must see for TV connoisseurs. Here is episode 1.

The series deconstructed traditional paintings by reverse engineering the known methods used by advertisers to create their own compelling imagery. Of further interest is how this is a worthy example of an intellectual process that became subsumed within politically driven academia with prior agendas.

Thank you to James who recommended this classic piece of television.

Part 2 of 4 of Episode 1
Part 3 of 4 of Episode 1
Part 4 of 4 of Episode 1

Total running time, episode 1: 30 mins.

(I have added a tag called “the smashing list”, where I’ll be adding my picks of the all time greatest TV programs – Ways of Seeing makes the list)

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After Paradise – Contemporary Art in Iran

A documentary about Iran’s nascent contemporary art scene which started to re-emerge 20 years after the revolution. This was largely due to Iran’s baby boomers growing up, creating one of the youngest adult populations on Earth.

The fact that Iran has a very young population is very often overlooked. It gives hope for a more progressive secular culture as suggested by the odd fact that Iran was the third biggest country after the US and Brazil, on Google’s social networking service, Orkut.

Running time: 36 mins.

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Parkour Thermal Images Documentary

A documentary about an artist capturing Parkour with a thermal image camera. The idea is slightly better than the end reulst, unfortunately.

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Saul Bass Documentary

Ironic that the titles and production value of this documentary are actually terrible, considering that Saul Bass is the most famous title sequence designer. Nonetheless it is a mesmerizing look at some of the best movie title sequences of all time, narrated by Bass himself.

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BMW Art Cars – Roy Lichtenstein

This is in German, Lishtenshtein und BMW cars, so it sounds right, and is really just a prelude so that I can rant about the artist, or rather, his fans.

I once saw an interview with one of the impoverished comic book artists whose drawings Lichtenstein had blown up, back projected and traced. It was quite sad to see him timidly suggest that his composition was slightly better and that Lichtenstein had missed something. Lichtenstein was less of an artist, than a curator, but he realized that to make the, so called, intelligentsia comprehend how iconic American comic book art was, required dumbing it down by making it bigger, brasher and bite sized. How ironic, and post modern, indeed.

David Barsalou has been sourcing the original art that Lichtenstein copied, here and here.

My only real objection with Lichtenstein is that some people who wax lyrical about his work don’t realize what he did. I think it is quite possible to take the seemingly moronic, minimally creative task of identifying things and turn that into a popular art form. That, after all, is the idea behind this and the other Curations sites.

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Who Gets to Call it Art – Trailer

A trailer for a movie, I must get, about the New York art scene in the 60s.

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