Showing posts with label Basquiat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basquiat. Show all posts

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some Amusing Links

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

R. Blagoj. and wife Pa. Bla. are gonna be on The View on 9/9

Apple sells $2.4 billion worth or iPhone apps annually.

If Famous Graphic Artists Were Web Designers
If you have ever found art amusing at all, you'll enjoy the images in this article (you can just browse it and look at the pictures) for instance. At left is Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue, 1927 by Piet Mondrian. At right is the author's rendering of how he may have designed a "window vase" if alive and working today.

They give other artists similar treatment. Warhol, Basquiat, Frank Stella, Yves Klein, Monet, Matisse, Georges Braque and others.

The Travers is on Saturday. You can expect a column on here tomorrow about it, complete with predictions.

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Lars met Jean-Michel

By: T.R. Slyder,

Metallica drummer and Napster-o-phone, Lars Ulrich just plunked down $13.5 million at Christie's for Jean-Michel Basquiat (Bass-Key-ah)'s 1982 Untitled (Boxer). The original Christies estimate was $16m.

Since I have posted in a while, and was looking for something, I'll put in my two cents about Basquiat. He has to be the single best example I can think of an artist being in the right place at the right time. He came to artistic quasi-prominence in the late 70's from his graffiti. Just as millions of Americans were learning what the word "graffiti" meant, the art scene was starting to ponder its commercial viability. His work was undeniably fresh, hip and different. And he certainly looked the artistic part- multi-ethnic black guy, dreadlocks, spoke little English, major league body odor, dressed uniquely- in short he looked the part of art superstar. If these drawings came from a kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma they'd be derided as loud and garish. But he looked the part and was soon being sold by early Warhol patron Larry Gagosian. His works were sold with other then-fledgling art god's Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel.

Once a member of the art cognescenti annoints you as cool, you go from subjectively cool to "objectively" cool. Basquait was thus anointed in the early 80's. No longer comments like, "I'm not sure I like that dude's work. It's a little loud and out there." met with, "Yeah no kidding. I wish I could turn down the volume." Instead they were responded to with "No? Larry Gagosian disagrees with you. People used to say that about his proteges Warhol and Lichtenstein, now who's laughing? I think his pieces are daring, and reflect the institutional suppression of the urban black experience of today. People thought Hendrix was 'loud and out there' at one point too. Or were you too busy listening to Buddy Holly at the time? He challenges the viewer."

In other words the nod from Gagosian or Scharles Saatchi takes your work from, "Yeah. I don't like it." to "Well, if I want to sound in-the-know, I better start lying about how I love it." I think Basquiat is the prime example. I get Picasso, Klimt, Van Gogh, Dali, Lichtenstein, those are some of my favorites and their price points make sense to me. But with Basquaiat, I think he came along in from the right place, New York, in a time when there was a void in the who-will-be-the-new-art-superstar-now-that-Warhol-and-Licthenstein-are-no-longer-new? era. And I think the NYC art scene was ready for a non-white face to be the Jimi Hendrix to Andy Warhol's Bob Dylan (the Warhol/Dylan metaphor is a bit of a stretch, but they are both fairly plain-ish and clean, nothing overly controversial with their content or jarring on the surface).

When I was an art consultant, everyday I'd hear someone say something like, "I don't get why some of those paintings get auctioned off for tens of millions, when they look like a bunch of scribbles to me." Or, "How come when Andy Warhol copies and colors a picture of Marilyn Monroe, he's a genius and it sells for millions, but if I did that, it would sell for $7." Or the occasional, "That painting there is selling for $12,000 , I like that better than those Lichtenstein comic-book-looking paintings that sell for $80 million. Why the difference?" The answer is that the guys selling for millions:

1. Didn't come from the midwest, they came from New York, L.A. or London.

2. Look the part. They don't look like Howdy-Doody. When you see them you don't think, "This dork did that cool painting?", you think "Damn! This dude is out-there. I'm not sure I'm smart enough to see the world as he sees it. I'll leave the artsy stuff to him, and he can leave actuarial science to me!"

3. Are connected. When your painting is hanging in the gallery of someone with the clout of Gagosian or Saatchi and/or Mick Jagger starts collecting your works, you just became an art rockstar. Done deal. If my dorky uncle just got named the lead in a Spielberg movie, he just became a movie star. Whether he deserves to be or not is no longer relevant, Spielberg decided, and it was so.

Basquiat hit all three of those criteria out of the park. So remember that when you look at art with someone who doesn't get art, because they're favorite first comment in the museum is going to be, "Now why is that worth $60 million?". Regurgitate my 3-point list and they'll shut up, and stop their aw sucks belief that their art ignorance makes them holier-than-thou.