Thursday, April 08, 2010

THREE THINGS I LIKE ABOUT JEFF KOONS



Has every bad thing that can possibly be said about the art of Jeff Koons been said already?

It is worth revisiting this question at regular intervals because you don't want to let an opportunity go by. You never know when someone might invent a new word for "stinks."

There are many reasons for disliking Koons' work. My personal favorite is that he pilfers images from honest, underpaid commercial artists, sprinkles them with an invisible layer of irony and resells them as "fine" art for huge sums.

Nevertheless, a person would need a pretty good excuse to expend fresh energy attacking Koons' work. By now most sensible people recognize that Koons' true talent lies only in his ability to mesmerize the tasteless rich. To revisit such well trod criticisms might cause one to be ejected from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses.

Well, here at the good ol' Illustration Art blog, we believe in accentuating the positive, so I have attempted to come up with three reasons to like Koons' work:

Reason no. 1: I like his attitude. Koons seems to have genuine fun with what he is doing. He takes explicit photographs of himself having sex with a porn star and displays them to the world. He spends lavishly on art by artists with more talent (but less marketing skill) than himself. He lives life large, taking full advantage of his superstar status. It's difficult not to respect that.


Cheeky, sold for $4 million

Reason no. 2: He inspires others to new heights of creativity. Koons' work is so bad, his marketing machine is forced to be highly imaginative to persuade people to buy such twaddle. Take for example the following frothy persiflage from Sotheby's shameless Alex Trotter promoting the sale of the painting "Cheeky:"
An outstanding example of [Koons'] satirical commentary on late 20th-century society, this work has his traits of technical excellence and common subject matter while invoking lingering questions of irony versus sincerity-- what is the intent of the artist? Is he serious or is there an element of mockery? This oil on canvas work is composed of disconnected images and high definition colors, executed with photorealistic perfection. The random association of food, landscape and sex is a metaphor for the bombardment of stimuli present in modern life, while the size and fragmentation of the images further impedes their comprehension.
Trotter bastes the painting with irony like a pastry glaze, preparing it for consumption by investment bankers (who only achieved their rank in life by being impervious to genuine irony). Koons of course insists that there is no irony or agenda beneath the surface of his images-- that is, until someone sues his ass for copyright infringement, at which point he reverses himself and swears under oath that his work was not theft because it was intended as a "parody." See, for example, Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992); See also UFS Inc. v. Koons, 817 F. Supp 370 (S.D.N.Y. 1993); Campbell v. Koons, No. 91 Civ. 6055, 1993 WL 97381 (S.D.N.Y. Apr 1, 1993).

Reason no. 3: Koons' art performs an important social function. A private art market within a free society is one of the most finely tuned instruments for exposing the morons among us.  Art is so broad and subjective, and means such different things to different people, it is almost impossible to find an objective truth in art.  Koons' art can fill this vacuum, serving as an objective, unerring compass needle for identifying decadence and bad taste.  The Koons needle is not misled by commercial success; it is not confused by Wall Street quants who have outsourced their taste to consultants. It performs a valuable social function by pointing out those art "experts" who gush about the enigmatic otherness of a puppy dog sculpture, and who persuade credulous corporate moguls that if they spend millions on such crap they will be entitled to brag (as Mr. Brandt did recently), "my whole philosophy of life revolves around aesthetics."  With Koons as our lodestone, we will always have a surefire detector of artistic fraudsters.



The lesson of today's post is: you might not think it is possible to find something good to say about Koons, but if you keep a positive mental attitude, you can find some good in everyone.

104 Comments:

Blogger Laurence John said...

Koons is a prankster, taking the ephemeral kitsch he sees around him in today's low/consumer culture and serving it back to us as monumental celebrations of the trash our kultur* has become. seems a perfectly valid artistic statement to me.




*copyright Rob

4/08/2010 8:16 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Whenever I hear someone say that an artist like Koons is providing commentary on our society with his artistic statements I think of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night.... where the main character, an American spy, keeps a rock solid cover by becoming a leading nazi propagandist. And he turns out to be far more useful to the Nazis than the Allies.

As Vonnegut puts it, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

Whether he is pretending and providing commentary, or whether he is the worst example of the thing his apologists say he decries, Koons certainly makes cartoons that refuse to provide joy. Personally, I don't see his work as some wry commentary on Disney as a global corporate entity. It seems to me that Koons is just writing confessions about his own lack of soulfulness to all the other embittered souls desperate for their daily fix of "Oh look how superior you are to Bourgeois Family Culture, you sophisticated black turtleneck-wearing genius, you." (How dull and sad a mind that needs to hear such a thing once, let alone repeatedly.)

Art is always confessional, and not always in the way the artist intends. Especially if the artist is without introspection. For we cannot fathom information we cannot perceive, and we cannot speak a language we cannot hear.

4/08/2010 11:02 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

oh, i never said he was soulful. it's all just a big slick empty joke. as empty as the consumerist world we fortunate westerners inhabit. get it ?

ha ha.

you're right, it's not funny.

4/08/2010 11:41 AM  
Blogger Øyvind Lauvdahl said...

He offers undead metaphors, and the undead love him.

4/08/2010 12:14 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John-- you have done a good job of articulating the "rationale of last resort" for Koons' work. He turns to this explanation only after viewers have scoffed at his more fraudulent guises (some which were crafted with the help of his paid image consultant). He has claimed, for example, "I have my finger on the eternal," or says, "I am interested in my work's significance-- anything that can enrich our lives and make them vaster." When sensible people snicker at these explanations, he comes back with another justification, as the artist who has no message beyond the surface of his art: "a viewer might at first see irony in my work, but I see none at all. Irony causes too much critical contemplation."

The simple minded and the credulous eventually get worn out or confused and come to rest with one of these many explanations. But for viewers who have have penetrated all of his other ruses, Koons resort to the one you cite--his "I was only joking" / prankster explanation.

So let's go right there-- ignore the fact that Koons wants to have it both ways and focus solely on the artistic statement you have accurately offered.

I agree there is a fun, important and necessary role in society for irreverent pranksters who make fun of "the trash our kultur has become." MAD magazine did that, and in its first 40 years never had to stoop to hiring an artist as untalented as Koons.

Because of the long tradition of pranksters, we do not have to judge Koons' role in a vacuum. There have been court jesters who were profound, or wicked, or nimble, court jesters who illuminated, court jesters who were courageous in the face of power. I don't know one of them who gets $24 million for one of their "jokes." I suspect that is the market price reserved only for work created by a "finger on the enternal."

But if you believe what you have described as Koons' motivation, tell me: has he done anything here (beyond the ability to play on a traditional high school English class thesis about "serving consumer culture back to us") that merits the kind of attention he gets or prices he commands? Is there anything particularly brilliant about what he has shown us about our culture here, or talented in the way he has shown it? Have we gained any unique insight from the way that Koons (as opposed to anybody else) "serves it back to us"?

4/08/2010 12:14 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Oyvind Lauvdahl wrote, "He offers undead metaphors."

Tell me more (assuming by "undead" you don't mean vampires and zombies). Metaphors for what exactly? And in what way are they undead?

4/08/2010 12:18 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Is there anything particularly brilliant about what he has shown us about our culture here, or talented in the way he has shown it? Have we gained any unique insight from the way that Koons (as opposed to anybody else) "serves it back to us"?



no, it's just a cruel reminder. the fact that he makes millions out of big glossy trash just makes the joke that bit more bitter.
but as you say, only the rich and dumb would fall for it (still part of the joke).

4/08/2010 1:01 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Just like that great joke about Oprah... that her show is designed to make women nod, so too Koons' work is designed to make a certain kind of "critical thinker" nod.

Once you get people to nod and accept one of the false choices on offer, as the fuller brush people taught, you can then sell them anything.

4/08/2010 1:44 PM  
Blogger Øyvind Lauvdahl said...

Well, as I understand it, a dead metaphor is a metaphor that has lost its figurative meaning. Its conventional meaning is intact, but the original reference has been ground away by time and usage. Many people use them, but few know why. As such, I find it comparable to the notion of kitsch.

As for undead metaphors...well, I guess "vampires and zombies" is sort of what I mean. It's a completely made up phrase, but I find it fitting. These are metaphors that not only no longer carry any figurative meaning - being themselves void of content, they now exist only in their antagonism to figurative meaning. This, to me, describes the works of Koons and his like. The conventional meaning of his works are plain, simple and extensively common. But as art, as metaphor, they do nothing but aggressively eat away at the very notion of meaning and content. This "art" would simply not exists without the living, soulful art on which it feeds.

4/08/2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Whenever a ship runs out of fuel it starts to feed its own decks into the boiler fire. In short, it eats itself. So it is that modern culture picks over the rubble of its past and rearranges it into its cynical cathedrals – a hubris that barely masks the bitterness of having nothing of one’s own with which to build.

It is in this climate that people like Koons can flourish.

4/08/2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev-- I agree (plus, it has been a long time since I thought about Mother Night-- a great book, and the Goethe quote from which Vonnegut took the title is quite chilling). The question remains, if Koons' work is so obviously superficial trash, why do people line up to throw money at it?

Oyvind-- thanks for the clarification. An intersting point, interestingly put.

4/08/2010 5:35 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

I think Koons and his ilk have taken cues from high-end fashion designers. The idea is to create a label offering assembly-line luxury items, where exclusivity comes through outrageous pricing and couture-like weirdness. No need for a buyer to cultivate aesthetics; anyone can play as long as they have money, even a lottery winner. If it's say, a Louis Vuitton, that's all you need to know. And that type of high-end fashion marketing is something that practically all wealthy people can easily relate to, I would guess. Aren't names like Versace far more recognizable than Koons?

4/08/2010 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are (and have long been) many artists who enjoy sticking their thumbs in the viewer's eye. They want to offend people who "know" what art is "supposed" to be. It's fairly easy to shock people, and it's a quick way to fame and attention. On the good side, it makes us examine our prejudices. On the bad side, we've got the bastard's thumb in our eye. So why do people line up to pay for these insults to our tastes and sensibilities? Because it's a lot more fun to be on the artist's side of the thumb. And also, once in a while, (Courbet? Monet? Picasso? ..) the artist is right, and our vision is expanded. I rather doubt that's the case with Koons, but I'm guessing the people buying his work will never miss a few million dollars for the fun of their gamble.

4/08/2010 9:02 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Re: MJ & Bubbles- What sculpture better expresses the state of modern culture? Those that don't like what they see shouldn't look into the mirror.

Re: Cheeky- It's taken me awhile to warm to the EasyFun-Ethereal series (always loved the title) , but "Hotdog", "Sandwiches"~ Fantastic! 'cept those grapes are some half-assed painting. "Cheeky" is like a mashed-up poster for a voyage on the "Love Boat", next stop Puerto Vallarta!

"Koons seems to have genuine fun with what he is doing." For sure, I believe he also has genuine interest and love for the things depicted. No irony. No smirk. The outre or hipster irony is part of the sell, for those that expect it, and those that need it to "improve" the taste for their palate.
But, does he have to be genuine or sincere? He is the performer, not the audience.

Re: I don't know one of them who gets $24 million for one of their "jokes."~ Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Jim Carrey, Jay Leno, each relative to their time piled up the rupyakam.

Lawsuits from 1992-93. He has moved past that. Those that follow my ill attended blog, know my interest in artistic swipes. Koons has always improved the aesthetic and monetary value of all borrowed images. Why is it only a problem when the swiper is better than the swipee?

In the field of Modern art, Koons is the best designer, and his work is the most joyful.

Here I wish the like of Gil Elvgren, Jack Kirby and Oreo™ Cookies had a more prominent position, unbeknownst to most, there it is my Kultur® gaining ground while you turkeys keep tearing it down.

Again, I believe he is completely genuine, and that is what bothers most. He is the guy that used to live next door that's now living his crazy dream.

Does anyone else think the sculpt of Jacksons face looks like Lucille Ball?

4/08/2010 9:42 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

"Does anyone else think the sculpt of Jacksons face looks like Lucille Ball?"

I find the resemblance of Bubbles and Dr. Zaius far more remarkable.

4/08/2010 10:18 PM  
Blogger Joss said...

I can appreciate aspects of Koon's unique expression, but it also makes me feel a little nauseous. I wouldn't want to spend too much time with it. He strikes me as a slick, less original, modern Warhol. It's the story of art/commerce/culture within which his work exists that is interesting. Lots of fun to read the post. You could go on about it and I'm sure I'd enjoy it. I'd also rather talk about Koons than be with his work. I'd rather be with y'all.

Loved the Vonnegut quote, Mr. Ferrara, cuts to the heart of the issue for me.

I started off commenting about how Koons has got his thumb in your eye David, but realized I like what you do better than what he does. It's nice after all for someone to put together some thoughtful criticism of vapid visual commentary of vapid consumer culture. I do suppose I'd give him a little more credit for his accomplishments, maybe that's just cause' I'm a commercially "failed" artist myself.

4/09/2010 12:45 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"The question remains, if Koons' work is so obviously superficial trash, why do people line up to throw money at it?"

because the rich and trendy want a piece of whoever they have been told by the critics is a cool modern artist. what's not to understand ?


"I think Koons and his ilk have taken cues from high-end fashion designers. The idea is to create a label offering assembly-line luxury items, where exclusivity comes through outrageous pricing and couture-like weirdness."

EXACTLY.
Damien Hirst, who probably took his cue from Koons in the first place operates in exactly the same way... art as BRAND. that's marketing knowhow for you. cynical ? sure, but who's having the last laugh here ?

i must admit i find it hard get worked up either way about Koons. 'Cheeky' doesn't offend my sensibilities one bit. it could easily have come from a lesser known pop-surrealist like Eric White and caused no fuss whatsoever. and the pink balloon dog has a tumescent presence it's hard not to like. as for Jacko and bubbles, it would fit right into my granny's house next to the princess Di wall-plate, the cute orphan girl figurine and the African drummer boy sculpture.

4/09/2010 4:26 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन said: "MJ & Bubbles- What sculpture better expresses the state of modern culture? Those that don't like what they see shouldn't look into the mirror."

अर्जुन, you're not suggesting I look like Bubbles, are you?

4/09/2010 5:50 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc. etc.-- Fashion strikes me as an interesting and very appropriate analogy here. Both are clearly a status ritual. Of course, in fashion you get to wear the status on your back to high society paties and important galas. In art, you don't exactly wear your sculpture or painting, but I suppose you do drape yourself in the aura of someone with sensitivity and taste. Wherever your painting is loaned around the world, it says "Corporate mogul X is not a philistine."

This strikes me as a mighty expensive way to buy defensive advertising-- you'd think they'd do better buying one of those light-up jackets that OK Go wears in concert (this one would say "Not A Mercenary Pig.")

And of course, like all advertising if you don't pick the right ad agency your message might go astray. For example, buying a Koons might say to the world, "I am a gullible idiot."

4/09/2010 6:20 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris Bennett said-- "modern culture picks over the rubble of its past and rearranges it into its cynical cathedrals."

Yes, and so much of "fine" art has been feeding on itself for so very long now, it seems to get progressively more inbred and absurd. Low art has a lot of problems and we could all have a hilaroius time making fun of its weaknesses as well, but art does seem to replenish itself from the bottom. The vampires of neo-pop recognize they are more likely to find a fresh vein trolling in low art than in making art about art at the high end.

Anonymous said: " I'm guessing the people buying his work will never miss a few million dollars for the fun of their gamble."

You are right there. I thought that the recent economic downturn might dampen their spirits and maybe even trigger a brief period of self-examination, but naw. Whatever CEOs had to forego in bonuses for 2008, they are making up for now. It looks like smooth sailing for Koons.

4/09/2010 6:34 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन said: "Does anyone else think the sculpt of Jacksons face looks like Lucille Ball?"

Etc etc said: "I find the resemblance of Bubbles and Dr. Zaius far more remarkable."

Not only did I get a good laugh out of this, but I think this line of criticism of Koons' work is far more cogent and illuminating than anything Sotheby's has produced about Koons (seriously!)

4/09/2010 6:43 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

I like Koons because he knows first quality and is willing to pay for it. He buys paint from our paint manufacturing company, Studio Products.

4/09/2010 7:25 PM  
Blogger Lesley Vamos said...

Great final note - I know personally its definitely a lot less stressful to try and see the good in people rather than focus on the bad... except in some cases when its much easier to just tell them to piss of ^_^

4/09/2010 9:49 PM  
Blogger C B Sorge said...

Insight into ecology explains Koons to me. If there is an available niche, something will grow to live in it. Rich systems allow for very specific lifestyles. If Koons wasn't going to do it, someone else would.


I do love the lively discussion surrounding him though.

4/09/2010 10:26 PM  
Blogger 'sharpyoungbull' said...

you forgot Reason 4! ... Because he hates himself much more than we do!

Honestly, he seems straight out of David Lynch.

4/09/2010 11:45 PM  
Anonymous angkasuwan said...

seems so fragile, like a tree ornament

4/10/2010 1:21 AM  
Blogger Stephen Worth said...

I get more angry at pompous mediocrity than I do unmitigated gall.

4/10/2010 3:58 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

The risk of insult is the price of clarity

If he wasn't making more money than you guys, you wouldn't be so execrcised. In truth, it has nothing to do with the honor of art and dedication to a great cause, it has to do with money. That is the single subject that links all of these diatribes together.

'The sonofabitch is richer than me or making more money than my favorite artist' is as near as I see to an aesthetic conclusion. Before you develop the eyes and skills to evaluate art, perhaps you'd best stop using the cash register as your metric.

The study of aesthetics is damned difficult. Perhaps this is why you guys opt for the other "A" word, accounting. Why not use another A-word and judge his work on the standards of aerodynamics? That begins with an A too.

I like Koons because he manages to reach deep into the very marrow of the unsophisticated and unschooled art poseur and cause their lack of aesthetic knowledge and rudimentary taste to come bubbling to the surface to reveal poseurs are, indeed, poseurs...no different from avid baseball fans who quote statistics or car buffs who know statistics. Never facing the truth that they can't play pro ball or design a car.

Koons is doing it and, insult of all insult, no one here has the talent, skill, imagination and sheer balls to give him a run for his money...and what a lot of money it is! So rather than grumble, why not go out there, show the world how original and inventive (and even deceptive) you are and undo the old faker, making a great fortune in the process?

Oh yeah, I know...you'll be late for work and someone else will fill your cubicle...there are bills to be paid. As I said, one of the attributes Koons has is balls and that's why everyone is criticising ball players they could never come close to matching and car designs they could never even begin with selecting the right bolt. Being a castrati is one thing. Doing it to yourself and being smug about the act is another.

Face it Art Fans...you are fans and you're blowing off steam about a field that you will never, in your wildest dreams ever come close to entering. In truth, there will be damned few among you with the skills to work in one of Koons' art factories...you know, The Little People...and you can't even manage that.

I expect the usual calumnies and outraged mutterings but deep in your hearts (or as deep as an unexamined life can allow) you know it's true...you simply didn't have what it takes to attain your dream and now you're shuffling through a second or third choice, receiving so few of the wonders and benefits a life of art can bring.

Hey guys, it's you and no one else who brought you to your state rather than Koons' state (yeah, I know that you're too dedicated an artist to ever do what Koons does)...well, at least he isn't selling shoes, or insurance or answering the phone in an office or teaching unruly kids.

Bad Koons. Bad Rob...bad, bad, bad Truth.

4/10/2010 9:51 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob Howard-- as a wise man once asked me, "Do you have a problem with harshness?"

I'm surprised you don't think Koons' financial success is a legitimate topic of criticism here. Personally, I am far more willing to forgive a starving man who steals a few dollars to feed his children than I am to forgive the multimillionaire CEO of Enron who continues to defraud shareholders in order to sustain a life of decadence and arrogance. Some people (you, apparently) would say the "successful" thief is no more blameworthy than the one who is just scraping by. Perhaps you are right, and any difference is just a matter of envy. But where I come from, once you have more money than you could ever spend in a lifetime, the justification for a dishonest lifestyle drops away real fast.

I'm not suggesting that an artist must take advantage of the freedom that comes with commercial success to paint with new integrity or to live a life of altruism, but an artist might want to ease off on the scams.

Similarly, I like rogues and pranksters but I tend to subtract points for hypocrisy and sanctimony. I am far more accepting of someone who isn't trying to have it both ways. Koons takes himself seriously and claims to be a great artist until you call his bluff, at which time he explains, "I was just joking." Someone like that cries out to have his bluff called daily.

Finally, you have to expect that on a blog dedicated to "great pictures," crappy pictures are just going to have to take a hit. If you want to engage on the merits of Koons' work, how about if you stop emphasizing how big his testicles are and instead explain to me why that painting Cheeky, or any other Koons paining of your choice, isn't a piece of crap?

4/10/2010 11:29 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Rob...

Something about your mind reminds me of squeezing meatloaf through a funnel.

If your characterization were true, all successful artists would be excoriated on this blog, and all rather unknown and un-monied artists would be praised to the skies.

But it just isn't so.

So it cannot be money that is at issue here, but the innate value of art, which is a value distinct from the value of money, or business acumen, or the value of being seen as hip or politically correct.

Evaluating Art based on the business skills of the artist manages to be even less sensible a criteria than evaluating art based upon whether it looks sufficiently like a photo, (or whether the artist buys your paints).

Why pretend to have an interest in truth and beauty if marketing prowess is your lone comment-worthy criteria?

Possibly I skimmed too quickly Leibniz's seminal "The Aesthetics of Balls: From Gonads to Monads" from which you tirelessly quote.

4/10/2010 12:25 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

"I like Koons because he manages to reach deep into the very marrow of the unsophisticated and unschooled art poseur and cause their lack of aesthetic knowledge and rudimentary taste to come bubbling to the surface "

Oh please do exhume the aesthetic formalism treasures of balloon dog, won't you? Opportunities like this rarely come along for the underprivileged.

4/10/2010 5:29 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>once you have more money than you could ever spend in a lifetime, the justification for a dishonest lifestyle drops away real fast. <<<

Do I read that you have a fashionably flexible morality which justifies dishonesty according to perceived need?

BTW how's that Obama vote going for you? Remember the promises you voted for, perhaps even texted back and forth and felt warm and justified inside as the Age of Aquarius v.2.0 was hailed, and ushered what even you described as a mass looting in Washington. I suspect that the rubber-band morality has somehow managed to to cast the cloak of invisibility on a reality that is much harsher than even Rob the Harsh could produce.

So, on a sliding scale of mountebanks, falsifiers and cynical users of gullible people how do you justify having actually voted for someone with a smoother sales pitch and a deeper well of cynicism than a cynical artist who has no claim to your or my purse? Indeed, as you said, Koons does his Robin Hood routine of taking from the rich and giving to the poor artists. At least it's his money, money that he's earned, not somebody else's money or money that would have gone to deserving artists had Koons not been practicing.

4/11/2010 4:43 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/11/2010 4:53 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>Oh please do exhume the aesthetic formalism treasures of balloon dog, won't you? Opportunities like this rarely come along for the underprivileged.<<<

Well it's hardly an exhumation, but if you really want lessons in Aesthetics (which is a branch of Philosophy, not the visual equivalent of The Special Sauce that you've grown used to) you can broaden your horizons at http://forums.studioproducts.com
As for any educational service, you must pay to become one of our 4,171 members. If this is not, as I suspect it is, just the idle tit-for-tat comment of a wounded ego, simply pony up $70 a year and learn why, that website probably has the highest conversion rate of amateurs making the transition to being pros.

WARNING: if you are serious about being a working professional, do not expect the comfort of traditional art school smoke being blown up your bottom

4/11/2010 4:55 AM  
Anonymous Robs free ad space blog said...

You people are only jealous of koons success. Therefore you should join robs school so he can be a success with your money while giving the illusion to you that "now you are close to the professional world of big money" ha ha... it was all an ad wasn't it rob? Selling dreams to clueless middle aged women and aging lost boys. You big fake.

4/11/2010 9:18 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

“You are right there. I thought that the recent economic downturn might dampen their spirits and maybe even trigger a brief period of self-examination, but naw. Whatever CEOs had to forego in bonuses for 2008, they are making up for now. It looks like smooth sailing for Koons.”


I think you are right David, this is the biggest transfer of wealth in history, perhaps the destruction of America’s middle class to save a bankrupt banks that have more debt then we can possible comprehend. Like eliminating mark to market, who knows what anything is worth now? Maybe money itself will finally become worthless.

There is Koon’s at the Hirshorn a sculpture of someone smoking a pipe and I can’t say I am impressed with the “craftsmanship” even though he hires the best, especially when compared to early artists works.

There is a great expression form Zen and the art of archery, “It is never the bow but always the archer.”

As far as style, Wilde has a great quote, “ Style must be ugly or they would not have to change it ever six months.”

And maybe Koon’s true meaning is money, as Andy Warhol said “Why don’t they just hang their money on the wall instead of art?’

4/11/2010 1:46 PM  
Blogger kenmeyerjr said...

The easiest example I can think of for why I hate (not too strong a word) Koons and his ilk hangs in our own art museum here in Savannah (the Jeppson). It's a coloring book page torn out of a book, with a very hasty few lines of magic marker (or crayon, can't remember) thrown on it. And of course, it is framed, near priceless, on the walls, probably with a long list of supporters attesting to it's cleverness and sense of irony.

4/11/2010 4:21 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Maybe people do pick up on the meaning of Koon's work. I am not talking about his declared intentions to please, but the meanings in the work itself. There is al little bit of "f you” designed into it, this is art, we will spend huge amount of money to support it and you will have nothing to do with it. You can like it but if you don't so what, your feelings about the world and the things that matter to you are nothing and not worth considering, in some ways it almost expresses contempt for our humanness.

4/11/2010 5:38 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob Howard wrote: "Do I read that you have a fashionably flexible morality which justifies dishonesty according to perceived need? "

Yes, although I wouldn't call my double standard "fashionable," I'd call it timeless and universal.

A young artist who is trying to feed his family may succumb to pressure from an art director to "do a Brad Holland painting." It is regrettable, but I treat it as a different category of moral offense than an artist who is fabulously wealthy and has the luxury of painting whatever he wants, but just feels like appropriating someone else's product.

An artist struggling to find work may accept a project with a tight deadline and end up cutting corners; for example, he may not have the time or money for models or photographic reference. For me, his compromises are different from the compromises of someone who is rich enough to work as long as he wants on a painting with no deadlines.

A weak artist may "swipe" a pose, a face, or a composition in order to impress a prospective employer or jump start his career. I heartily disapprove, but I still view this kind of plagiarism as different from someone who already has unlimited undiscriminating clients who will pay him thousands of times more money for the swiped image than the original artist made.

Millionaire pop artists and neo-pop artists may start with someone else's product-- a comic book panel, a Brillo box, a coloring book page-- because they lack the talent to start from scratch. They may do it because they are deluded about the value they add to someone else's art. But one thing is for sure, they aren't doing it because their children will starve if they don't.

4/11/2010 11:37 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

A Brillo Box!

From Songs for Drella (andy)- John Cale & Lou Reed, Style It Takes~
I've got a Brillo box and I say it's art
It's the same one you can buy at any supermarket
'Cause I've got the style it takes

Some don't get it, but then thats the Trouble With Classicists.


Re: "art as BRAND"-- to me it seems to have always been the case. The average Ingres is more highly regarded than a Flandrin (even an exceptional one), just because of the name.

Re: "fit right into my granny's house"-- That might very well be his personal inspiration, a childhood memory from Hick-town, PA.

Re: "suggesting I look like Bubbles, are you?"-- Put down that banana!

Re: "He buys paint from our paint manufacturing company, Studio Products."-- Every interview I've read/heard, Koons only (emphatically) mentions Old Holland. Is Studio Products the secret? buys mediums also?

Re: Money/Consultant Buyers-- I don't think the money would be there without the buyers. People would actually have to care.

Re: "or any other Koons paining of your choice, isn't a piece of crap?"-- Now I know your trollin' me! I have to admit you had me for a minute.

Cheers to those that have the Style!

P.S. I don't have the numbers, but I'm fairly certain that Lucille Ball made more scratch than Richardson, Geilgud, Olivier and Hardwicke combined.

4/12/2010 1:43 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Lesley-- thanks! And I enjoyed your blog.

CB Sorge-- your theory gains credence from the fact that other artists have filled Koons' niche in the past, particularly pop celebrities like Warhol,

4/12/2010 3:31 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"instead explain to me why that painting Cheeky, or any other Koons painting of your choice, isn't a piece of crap?"


i don't think Rob wishes to defend the work itself, just use it as an excuse to try and belittle the rest of us.
David, maybe you should explain WHY you think 'Cheeky' is a piece of crap ?

4/12/2010 7:51 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>> more money for the swiped image than the original artist made.<<<

This could be the point of Koons swiping "art." The photos, etc. are part of that cynical type of art exemplified by Diane Arbus and her sneering acolytes. The human subjects of Koons' work have always come with emotional baggage...easily lampooned...including an artist who would marry a porn star.

The contrasts of juxtaposing an image with a medium traditionally reserved for more serious art is something of a statement. Placing a locomotive in a city square is no more than a standard display. But suspending the locomotive in the same square (and having it puff steam) takes the viewer into another realm of perception. Okay, it's nothing terribly heavy but it is a statement consistent with the body of his work.

The constant juxtaposing of homely images (such as balloon dogs discarded after children's parties) having them made as, what is known in advertising as "hero" size, with flawless craftsmanship, speaks to many aspects of this society.

Having seen the excellent craftsmanship that went into a five-foot tall Alka-Seltzer tablet that was used in a TV commercial, I see distinct parallels with this society and with the consumers who drive it.

Remember, when he was pandering to the quality folk, the arrogant and smug comment your micro-messiah made about human beings who clung to their bibles and guns? Well, a similarly sneering and cynical camera owner conned a "bible and gun" sort of rube who was proud of his recent litter of puppies. He took a picture of the ignorant rube smiling and holding the pups. The intent was hardly positive. It was mean-spirited, arrogant and very, very Arbus. That minor snapshot was made into a postcard and sold in a museum store.

Now here comes the true creativity; Koons took the postcard and drew on it, drawing clown hats and red noses on the puppies and then, in a stroke of brilliance, sent it by standard post to a foundry in Italy with instructions on size, finish and size of the edition. That is a statement about the sacredness of the process.

Seeing this is your area of expertise...who was worse and more venal than the other? Koons took a lacklustre snapshot meant to demean the person in the picture, indeed meant to demean all of the simple pride the squares take in their puppies, their homemade quilts or their home-baked cakes...you know, the fat, stupid guns and bible set. What Koons did was a powerful satirical comment on art that is not apparent to the inartistic.

Mc Luhan noted, the medium is the message and what Koons did was all about the medium. Someone buys a postcard and writes on the picture, defacing it with an arrow to a hotel with the words "Our Room," sends it off. The genius of this is that Koons picked up on the inherent invitation of a postcard and sent it off in the mail. That it should arrive, just as a postcard with no contract attached…just a postcard, and form the basis of his edition of bronze and polychrome sculpture is giggle-inducing, to say the least.

Naturally, the “photographer” and counsel saw a big. Because of the creative thought that went into snapping that snapshot, the photographer insisted that HE should get the proceeds of the edition and, in addition, the bronzes destroyed. A compliant court saw the original photo had been damaged beyond repair. No longer would people be able to buy the postcards without laughing instead of sneering. Something cruel had been brought to ridicule. Koons must pay. What percentage of the take does the attorney get in these cases?

As I said, this thread is all about money and not about even trying to understand the art. As “intellectual” property is your area of concern, I can understand how you would look at Koons in those terms, much the same way that a shark would see a swimmer, not as an individual, but as a fat and juicy meal…a koonstorte.

4/12/2010 8:04 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>i don't think Rob wishes to defend the work itself, just use it as an excuse to try and belittle the rest of us.<<<

Laurence, it is not my intention to directly belittle anyone. Rather, it is my intention to hold sanctimony and self-deception up to a bright light and let people decide if the shoe fits. Just hurling epithets as the envious writer of one of these posts did, takes no talent and even less brains.

That's why Dick's billet-doux comes across as foam-flecked sputtering. It evokes no thinking or questioning on the part of the reader. He lacks the skill to convince.

My point is that David (whom I admire) is looking at Koons' work through the lens of a tort lawyer who specializes in intellectual property suits. As a result of that bias, I believe David is not open to the connection and commentary on society Koons' art is making...or Warhol's art, for that matter. Fer chrissakes, it's been fifty years and you guys still don't get Warhol! It makes me wonder if Whistler is too far beyond your ken.

Masters like Warhol and Koons would be fit subjects for one of Simon Schama's explanatory TV series on art. Just think of all the art you are missing out on. Just think of how you justify that lack by deluding yourselves that people who make enormous amounts of money in commerce by never being taken in by sharpsters, become easily gulled when modern art is mentioned. Of a sudden, these hard-nosed businessmen have their brains fall out -- they roll around helpless as their pockets are picked. Meanwhile, those of you who do not buy art (and don't spend the time to study anything past the old war horses) content yourselves in dismissing an entire century's production of art. Perhaps Picasso has been around long enough for you to grudgingly admit there are some things you like (usually the postcard stuff of the blue and rose periods). But a Brillo box!!!

I hear it in every envious sentence...Hey, who does he think he's kidding? I can make Brillo boxes. Okay, so I can't paint well enough to paint Cheeky but that Koons guy is a faker and he's managed to fool stupid rich people to part with millions.

That's basically what you're saying. Before you pick up your torches and pitchforks, answer this...how does he manage to con monied people to pay him so well? How does he manage to deceive those museum curators into hanging up pure crap (and that's posted here as an expert's opinion). This fakery is immediately obvious to you, so all of you are in a great position to answer...how does he manage to pull it off?

I'll bet there's a New York gallery conspiracy with the slickest salesmen in the world...salesmen who can get past the hard-eyed bottom line guys and convince them that a Brillo box is art. Now that's some sales pitch and seeing that you guys are privy to information I have not seen, please share it with me. Anyone with those skills and techniques would be highly valued.

Really, I want to know how it’s done because i'd like to do it myself. I'd like to become a multi-zillionaire faker in the art world and...hmm, hey if you guys know how this stuff works, how come none of you have used this secret knowledge?

There's a problem with the underlying logic of your position and to admit it would be more difficult than for you to strangle a kitty cat in front of your mother. You must know that you're in a position born of nothing more than envy. Having been brought up Catholic, I was taught the mnemonic SALIGIA as an aid to memorizing the seven deadly sins. The one all of you guys show in abundance is I-invidia, or envy.

Remember, these are DEADLY sins. You might want to rid yourself of this particularly ugly one (I'm guilty of others, but not envy). Then you can get on with being happy and learning with an open heart.

Envy is a real killer and it prevents you from being generous...and art is all about generosity and sharing of oneself.

4/12/2010 9:00 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The reason Warhol and Koons' editorials are rejected here is exactly because they are perfectly understood texts... Easy reading for the malcontents that become "intellectuals" who need everything spelled out for them in order not to feel inadequate.

If you like pablum, you eat it.

As for how such simplistic commentary became high art, that story begins with Empire and Industrialization in the 1800s and is far too involved a narrative to discuss in detail here. The core of it, however, is the story of how disaffection and dysfunction has become a mass cultural force with enormous buying power, and thus enormous political power.

The short list of topics would include: Senseless European wars, Pandering Populist Politics, stupefaction by mass media and public schooling, savvy art investors and PR agents, the rise of widespread interest in the naive and democratic rather than the elite and sophisticated (caused by the rise of city living, cutthroat economic competition, and the academic demands of professional specialization which causes masses of exhausted psyches and wounded egos), the elevation of print over experience as a source of understanding, the ability for malcontents to scrape out a living by constantly advocating for anti-bourgeoise sentiment, dionysian-nihilist mores, and critical marxism in the guise of intellectual discourse, the massing of anti-bourgeoise dionysian-nihilist marxists into a very large and monied bi-coastal cultural force over the course of the 20th century... etc.

There has been so much written on this topic. If you are actually interested in the question, you might want to do some research and some thinking.

(See my earlier post for a refutation of your assertion that all these posts are about money and envy. Really it is Koons' ilk that have been bred in the culture of envy. That they can make so much money by pandering to the unhappy hip nicely demonstrates just how thoroughly the disaffected nihilists have permeated the culture and become "The Man.")

4/12/2010 10:08 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Rob, as i said above i'm not really moved much either way by Koons. i've seen lots of other supposedly clever conceptual modern art that didn't strike me as worth much rumination either; piles of bricks on floors, pickled sharks, an unmade bed... and others that did make me pause for a little longer; the Chapman Brother's "hell" for instance (a team effort, i'm not against that idea). i'm not envious of Jeff Koons because i wouldn't want to have made any of that work.

as for deceiving curators... there's no deception necessary. you just have to play the modern art game and you're a contender. i notice that Koon's explanation for showing some brand new vacuum cleaners was that he 'wanted to extend the Duchampian tradition of the ready-made'. all the curators want to know is who is the next eager participant willing to fall into the modern-art-lineage. drop all the right names, refer to all the right work from the past and you're in. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THEIR GAME. obey their rules. REFER TO THE LINEAGE CONSTANTLY... they only know how to place your work in relation to what is already established. quoting Duchamp always goes down well with curators who wouldn't know a good painting from their earlobe.

4/12/2010 10:21 AM  
Blogger Alan Lawrence said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/12/2010 1:42 PM  
Blogger Alan Lawrence said...

Is this koons guy is the brother of the guy who sold cans of his own shit for big bucks ?

Or maybe he's related to the joker who put a plastic Christ in a bottle of piss and called it art.

All these charlatans will give you the same answer to the age old question...

"What is art?"

"What isn't art,” they glibly reply... as they laugh all the way to the bank."

Once one establishes this;

‘everything is art’ concept,

then anybody's shit qualifies as art... even ones actual shit.

As you implied in your original post, Koons is a not a real artist as we understand the word. He’s a handsome, smooth, confidence trickster with a winning smile and a huge bank account... wouldn’t we all like one of those.

Let’s just pretend for a second that this ‘Koons Kitsch’ really qualifies as fine art...

No, sorry... my imagination is simply not that wild... I’ve seen better art in a ‘Cheep As Chips’ souvenir shop.

Unlike the joker who sold his own shit in cans... presumably as a statement about the sad state of contemporary art. Koons expects us all to believe that his particular brand of shit is actually, pure gold.

The amazing thing is, that some influential, pseudo intellectual, arty farty wankers... actually believe him.

Bottom line. If you can sell your shit and become a millionaire from it... Go for it brother. Some poor slobs just work their arses off trying to do good work for a basic wage.

Yes, I know... more fool me. Must learn how to sell guilt edged shit for big bucks.

4/12/2010 1:43 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John wrote: "David, maybe you should explain WHY you think 'Cheeky' is a piece of crap ?"

Rob Howard wrote: "My point is that David (whom I admire) is looking at Koons' work through the lens of a tort lawyer who specializes in intellectual property suits. As a result of that bias, I believe David is not open to the connection and commentary on society Koons' art is making"

Laurence and Rob, I think that anyone who purports to pass judgment on a picture better be prepared to justify his position. Here is my explanation for why I think "Cheeky" is a crappy picture:

50 years ago an artist named John Kacere began doing huge photorealistic oil paintings of a few strategic square inches of a woman's bra or panties. Like Koons' painting Cheeky, he painted silky lingerie or bikini bottoms stretched taught over firm flesh and blown up to wall sized, "heroic" proportions, as an object of fixation and contemplation.

These were, in my opinion, not great art but they were good paintings, and contained all of the social commentary, wit and creative dissonance that Koons hoped to achieve by strategically cropping that particular subject matter, blowing it up huge and painting it in oil.

In my opinion, Kacere's technical execution was every bit as good as Koons'; the only difference is that Kacere painted his paintings himself. I also think Kacere's design and composition were superior to Koons'; Kacere spent most of his career as an abstract expressionist and went out of his way to create interesting arrangements with the surrounding cloth and negative space. I find the composition of Cheeky totally haphazard, as if a Kacere painting were run through a cuisinart. In my view, Kacere's palette was also superior as well-- Are Koons' colors intended to be that jarring? What's up with that hostile dark green field of color in the background? while Koons has combined colors and shapes in an obvious cut and paste job that anyone might do with photoshop, Kacere devoted a lot more thought to making the components of his images work well together.

To be fair, I think Koons' painting was superior to Kacere's in four respects: first, its price was 500 times higher; second, he had the benefit of the grand pedestal of Sotheby's (including the ninny poet laureate of Sotheby's rhapsodizing about the painting in language I have quoted in my post-- make up your own minds); third, Koons had a cadre of super rich financiers who have turned bidding on art into a competitive sport for social prestige; and fourth, he added that melted cheese sandwich.

I have no artistic respect for the first three factors. I do think that cheese sandwich is a pretty good touch; it makes Koons' painting less literal than Kacere's. But that one insight by Koons is not enough (in my opinion) to offset his other gross failings.

If I didn't think that Kacere's original joke was worth $4 million, why would I want to pay Koons $4 million to pay somebody else to paint an inferior version of that same joke decades later?

4/12/2010 2:32 PM  
Blogger =shanewhite= said...

I'm drawn to the work for some reason and that surprises me somewhat.

I guess in his case I don't care about him or anything else surrounding the work because that would raise my artistic ire.

But seeing a metallic balloon animal that large in a very serious world, I think that's a lot of fun!

I haven't seen anything yet that wasn't well-executed for what it was.

Expression and meaning aside it's half-assed work I have more trouble digesting.

=s=

4/12/2010 5:41 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Rob Howard said...

"Really, I want to know how it’s done because i'd like to do it myself. I'd like to become a multi-zillionaire faker in the art world and..."

You should get some really good pointers from the sale of Damien Hirst's "For the Love of God".

4/12/2010 8:25 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>YOU HAVE TO PLAY THEIR GAME. obey their rules.<<<

That's exactly what I want, Laurence. So many of the commentaries made indicate that the writers have read that rulebook and know what The Game is. All I am asking for is a copy of the rulebook.

You'll excuse me if this all appears to be another of those Star Chamber fantasies with unnamed (but you know who...nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of today's version of dark malevolent Norse (they'd never be hyphenated Americans) gods who live in a shadowy underworld and operate the vast machinery of the universe -- and some brave little Orheus implies that he has descended into that nether-world to come back with a captive Firbird or Ye Magick Harp...and he has now become such an insider that he now knows how the game is played.

What leaves me bemused is how such otherwise undistinguished people, with no special privilege, have managed to find, let alone, penetrate these secret sanctums of the uber-powerful and return to hint (and that's the operative word) at the vile and corrupt plans they have been witness too.

So all I'm asking is (1) where is this place where the rules to the game are made? A street address and phone number for The Art Establishment would do nicely and, (2) a copy of the rulebook...evidently titled the Insider's Guide To Playing The Art Game.

National spy agencies are much more easily located than this ultra-secret group of evil geniuses who, for mysterious reasons, are bent on the complete and utter destruction of all that's good and holy in art. And the reason for this is...well, what is the reason that they devote so much lucre (filthy, of course) and scheming to bring ugliness, chaos and Brillo boxes to the art world when there are so many talented people in the ateliers producing...well, yes that stuff is hackneyed and dull.

It appears that those evil geniuses have got their way and beaten down all of the potentially great talent so that they no longer have the energy to produce anything remotely original.

I need that rulebook and I also need the address of The Art Establishment. This is the first step to fighting them and beating them at their own game. So come on you freedom loving art fans, join together in hunting down and eradicating these pernicious influences on the art world. Let's all get a copy of the way The Game is played.

Wait, it kinda sounds like the Taliban in wanting to go back to a safer, purer time.

4/13/2010 7:07 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>the ability for malcontents to scrape out a living by constantly advocating for anti-bourgeoise sentiment, dionysian-nihilist mores, and critical marxism in the guise of intellectual discourse, the massing of anti-bourgeoise dionysian-nihilist marxists into a very large and monied bi-coastal cultural force over the course of the 20th century... etc.<<<

Ah yes, the ancient twins... Logorrhea and Prolix. They'd be a fit subject for you to make into art.

4/13/2010 7:13 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>You should get some really good pointers from the sale of Damien Hirst's "For the Love of God".<<<

I have not been given the gift of insight that you have and, as such will need you to guide me through this thicket of intrigues and insider dealings, along with the names and addresses of those involved (the guys making the decisions, not the front men).

So if you could cobble together a Big Bucks Crap Art For Dummies for me, I'd be endlessly grateful. I want you to understand that I value your opinion so much that I will give you a generous commission on the millions of dollars I will make from the sale of crap. As some have noted, I already produce nothing but crap and have the requisite loathsome character to be able to immerse myself into this art world for the reason of tricking gullible billionaires.

As I am willing to descend to that depravity, I will keep your hard-earned reputation clean and un-besmirched by donating millions to your favorite charity...or Little League team...in your name.

Yes, I am willing to go to Artist's Hell in order to pursue this...and just for the money. All I need is your insider information and, before you know it, those kids will have nice bright sating uniforms with embroidered turds on them.

So do it. Think of the children!

4/13/2010 7:29 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>If I didn't think that Kacere's original joke was worth $4 million, why would I want to pay Koons $4 million to pay somebody else to paint an inferior version of that same joke decades later?<<<

As I said, this discussion is all about the money. I have yet to read a clear discussion of the art without the references to money.

It just might be that the society being commented upon is so insipid that the perfect commentary is equally watered-down. As a texting, yuppie-value society, there doesn't seem to be any strong elements that can be parodied. It is the same as trying to caricature a formless blob of non-trans fat 100% organic low-calorie margarine melting on a tanning bed. Don't blame the caricaturist if the subject itself is insipid. And certainly don't use money as the metric.

4/13/2010 7:38 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/13/2010 7:55 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Rob Howard said...
"So if you could cobble together a Big Bucks Crap Art For Dummies for me, I'd be endlessly grateful."

Try your local library, dummy. Should already be right next to "Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Schemes for Dummies."

4/13/2010 8:01 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/13/2010 9:26 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"So all I'm asking is (1) where is this place where the rules to the game are made? A street address and phone number for The Art Establishment would do nicely and, (2) a copy of the rulebook...evidently titled the Insider's Guide To Playing The Art Game."


1. they're called art galleries Rob and they're run by art dealers.

2. go to a prestigious college that has a fine art course. In London that would be St. Martin's, Goldsmiths, the Royal College of Art... (i don't know what the top art colleges are in the US right now, you'll have to do that bit of tricky undercover detective work yourself).

3.rustle up some fancy, ironic, preferably a bit sensational/controversial tat in an easy to recognise style. reference as much previous art from the modern art cannon as possible. don't worry about being subtle. if you're not sure where to start, reference Duchamp. if you can draw or paint well, try not to show it and remember never be sincere or make art about 'your emotions'; sincerity really embarrasses cool modern art gallery owners. it's not about YOU silly, it's about your IDEAS ABOUT MODERN ART.

4.at the end of your time at college you will have a 'final show' which is where you display your work and hope to get picked up by one of the big influential galleries or agents. if you don't, never mind. there are lot's of others just like you who never made it either. you can always consider teaching.





p.s. if the modern art orthodoxy tells you that Warhol is a genius you just believe them ? you don't use your own eyes/intellect/gut instinct to decide for yourself ?

4/13/2010 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Knob Poward said...

No, Laurence.

As any fool can see Koons "manages to reach deep into the very marrow of the unsophisticated and unschooled art poseur and cause their lack of aesthetic knowledge and rudimentary taste to come bubbling to the surface to reveal poseurs are, indeed, poseurs...no different from avid baseball fans who quote statistics or car buffs who know statistics. Never facing the truth that they can't play pro ball or design a car."

4/13/2010 10:00 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

To me it seems Rob is right, our ideas about art have changed dramatically in the last century. The very essence modern art is to challenge our conception of what art is and how it functions. The beginning of the 20th century concentrated on the idea of what is art, while the institutions that exit now for art seemed to be more concerned with how art functions The symbol gives rise to thought not to criticism, its purpose is not a matter of judgment as in David comparison of Koons Kacere. The artist puts the work out there and the viewer completes it, the viewer decides its meanings. There are probably many better painters with better technique in the late 19th century then Van Gogh or Cezanne but it seems they have created stronger symbols with more powerful meanings for us culturally.

I think money comes up so much because culturally that is how we give things value or even how we know something is important or even how we decide if people are important. I am not saying this is a good or bad thing or I agree with it, but our whole life centers on money and it seems to me that art that challenges or confirms those notions will naturally touch a lot of us. Diamin Hirst's diamond skull, that gets peoples attention, because it says so much about what we value.

A lot of people in the 20th century do not think art’s purpose is to serve commerce, but the proper concern of art is art. A greatly design poster for Exxon can have the same problem as a Koon’s. The same criticisms that are level at Koon’s with his banker cliental, can’t the same criticism be level at the artist we admired at this blog who have been in the services of some of the largest corporations in America and its government unfortunately for a lot less pay? I think a lot of people find the values of corporate America offensive and can be turned of by Norman Rockwell as much as some people are turned off my Koon’s work.


An aside, (If I remember right) like Koons, Rodin never craved marble he hired others to do it. Are they as good as his bronzes?

4/13/2010 10:41 AM  
Blogger Alan Lawrence said...

Please, no more posts about this pampered millionaire, Koons.

The world is full of talentless tossers who, for some obscure reason, manage to con the whole world into believing that they’re really... Awesome!

Actually, everything is awesome these days, so our vocabulary has become as worthless as Koons’s, Mike Jackson and Bubbles figurine.

Now for the secret of Geoff Koons’s truly awesome success...

Koons aint gonna tell you how he makes his millions, silly..! Any more than a millionaire share trader would tell you how he makes his pile. Most people will kiss a rich guy’s arse, just cause he’s rich. All this arty farty good taste stuff... Who gives a flying toss about that for goodness sake?

Shit sells big time people.

Just go to any white wine, white wall gallery and prove it for yourself. Don’t take any real drawings, paintings or sculpture though. Gallery owners are allergic to yer actual art...

They just want to see cans of shit, vacuum cleaners and dime store kitsch by established bullshit artists like Koons.

4/13/2010 12:42 PM  
Blogger Raisa said...

Is it just me or does the first picture look like Micheal Jackson?

http://mysocalledfeudallife.blogspot.com/

4/13/2010 1:15 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Rob only seems to like Koons because of money, how that makes him different than the haters I don't know.

Art as investement- The price of a non-commodity is completely arbitrary (get what you can get) since there is entire clique reliant on the bubble, why wouldn't they keep it inflated.

Kacere- Cheeky is the superior composition, and its a stretch to say its the same idea, but~ There are those that set the scene and the players that play it. (I was going to link to a Player cut, but man do they suck.)

Sotheby's~ You can read gushing hyperbolic lot notes for much of their merch, sell it big!

Heroic- bigger is better, 4" balloon dog, statue of liberty or Eiffel tower is a paper weight, at 4' a lawn ornament, 40' a monument for the ages.

Jay-Z is a square-undead-nihilist-suit-poseur?

Tom, you are right. Our ideas about art. Does one admire the art of drawing, the art of painting, the art of illustration, the art of art-marketing, the art of art?

Some sand in your eyes~Beach Pals
For those that missed it the first time~ Damn thats silky smooth!

4/13/2010 5:09 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

For the classicists~ Some serious cast paintings.

4/13/2010 5:16 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Rob, your comment on the prolixity of "anti-bourgeoise dionysian-nihilist marxists" missed that I was joking, avoided the point I was making, and demonstrates once again how completely lacking in self-awareness you are.

Kevfucious say: Warrior secure behind thick barricade of skull win every battle in his mind.

Auf, Oaf

4/14/2010 10:02 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>missed that I was joking<<<

You're not very good at humor, Kev. When you have to announce that you made a joke, it's not because you are so subtle but because you haven't got a handle on how rhythm and timing with words.

Don't feel bad about it. Little Dicky (etc. etc) thinks that being snide is funny.

4/14/2010 8:58 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>The very essence modern art is to challenge our conception of what art is and how it functions.<<< I was speaking with the paint maker today and he was describing how he lays his tools, scrapers and spatulas, on a panel and, after a time, the paint accumulates and he presses it down and allows it to build. He spoke of the sheer beauty of the paint itself when viewed apart from having to function in deceiving the eye by creating illusion.

Just the material itself has real beauty and there's nothing wrong or deceitful in hanging one of those panels up as a thing of beauty in its own right...no big plonking statement, just something nice for the eyes. Is there much differences between taking joy in the quality of the materials and an Ad Reinhart black painting that consists of layers of black paint built up and encrusted to become something that can stand on its own, without a supporting reference to nature?

This week we produced a palette of four colors that will handle virtually any landscape situation. The palettes show the orderly mixing of two of what are called "set palettes," a warm variation and a cool variation. Although these colors are assembled for the production of illusionistic paintings of nature, the mixed palettes of neccesity are abstract and they are things of beauty...truly confections for the eyes.

I see nothing wrong with taking real joy in making those and hanging them on the wall. Should someone take a fancy to it and swap a new Benz for it, there's nothing wrong with it. Should he find a buyer that will trade the palette of colors (now thought of as genuine art) for a small vacation island in the Bahamas, I find no fault. Then, I have as much attachment to money as I do a hammer or other tool. To get as exercised about money (especially other people's money) as some on this blog do, strikes me as very odd.

4/14/2010 9:19 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Listening to a fish like you lecture me on comedy... now that would be funny.

Auf, Oaf.

4/14/2010 10:16 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I've always very much liked that statue of Jackson. Can anyone tell me the history behind it? Was it based on another work or photo or no?

4/15/2010 3:30 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Rob, if that sort of minimal/abstract expressionist stuff (where it's all about the beauty of the materials) pleases you then it might not be too late to change tack. for someone who can draw though, i don't see how you'd get you draftsmanship rocks off.

4/15/2010 6:01 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>it might not be too late to change tack. for someone who can draw though,<<<

As my first real art teacher was Hans Hofmann, I have always had a warm spot in my heart for those marvelous abstractionists. I also have warm admiration for mothers, astronauts and acrobats but it is not in my nature to emulate them. For better or worse, I think in terms of realistic drawing and painting. In Hofmann's class I was simply known as "the kid who can draw." I absorbed many of his lessons, especially about color and shape interaction (pull-push) and tried to apply them to the way i saw the world...people with two eyes, ten fingers, the head on top and the feet on the bottom.

The challenges those abstractionists chose to encounter are simply beyond my natural bent. I can appreciate them as an observer but I simply do not have whatever is needed to pursue them in an honest and meaningful way. Like mothers, astronauts and acrobats, I admire and respect them and don't seek to emulate them as there are limits to my abilities. Thus, I have to remain a fan on the sidelines.

4/15/2010 8:16 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

Ah Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. The slightest nudge makes you feel cornered and out come feral Kev with the old bare-knuckle argumentum ad hominem. For all your high-flown prolixity, you're really just another street fighter, aren't you?

That does not augur a sense of humor and wit.

4/15/2010 8:22 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Rob Howard said...
"Little Dicky (etc. etc)"
"ad hominem"

Well I would have at least waited until David's next blog entry before crying "ad hominem". But that's just my snide opinion, of course.

4/15/2010 10:29 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Rob,

Graduate from high school already.

We'll wait.

4/15/2010 11:33 AM  
Blogger liebesreime said...

All of you sound so pissed at Koons because he is making so much money! He may be duping a number of rich CEOs with his 'glossy trash' and made gobs of dough, but at least its not a ponzi!
(Thankgoodness the art market is still free!)
gfromcaL

4/15/2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Tom said: "I think money comes up so much because culturally that is how we give things value or even how we know something is important or even how we decide if people are important."

I agree, Tom. The only person connected wth this discussion who doesn't need to care about money is jeff Koons, and he seems to care about it an awful lot.

Money is our legal tender, where every individual's subjective tastes and desires gets homogenized into an objective, quantifiable exchange. People may have lots of different reasons for concluding that a work of art is worth $X, and people like me may criticize them by saying their judgment is based on gullibility or ego contests or bad taste rather than any geniune "artistic" value of the object. I might be right and I might be wrong. But ultimately the market is established only by those who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Every member of our society recognizes that market, and the invisible hand of Adam Smith steers young talented artists to become snake oil peddlers rather than thoughtful, probing artists. Pointing out that Koons is a showman rather than an artist, and laughing publicly at his fawning sycophants won't begin to counterbalance his unhealthy influence, but it might just remind a few patrons or gallery owners that they can still be publicly derided for acting like fools; it might remind more talented artists that some people can still tell the difference; and it might reassure future historians that we are not a society totally comprised of decadent morons.

Rob Howard said, "And certainly don't use money as the metric."

Rob, I think it is a mistake to underestimate the importance of money, but I am willing to test any metric your propose.

Ounce for ounce, the parody and irony in a Jeff Koons sculpture is-- in my opinion-- inferior to that of MAD magazine, and I would be happy to defend that position. An "inch for inch" comparison gets us the same result. IQ point for IQ point? Calories expended vs. calories expended? The only metric where Koons seems to come out ahead, other than money, is prestige points vs. prestige points. Perhaps the two are related.

4/15/2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger liebesreime said...

re: does this mean I'm forgiven for misspelling "Weimar"?
Ja. du weißt das schon oder?

4/15/2010 2:19 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Liebesreime-- Ich wollte nur sicher sein.

4/15/2010 2:43 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>people like me may criticize them by saying their judgment is based on gullibility or ego contests or bad taste rather than any geniune "artistic" value of the object.<<<

Well score another one for the Forces of Evil because the ultimate squares at the US Postal Service finally bought into The Big Lie hook, line and sinker. Undoubtedly, an Agent of Darkness from the dread Art Establishment (probably a branch of the vulpine International Jewish Conspiracy...I read it right here in Reverend Wright's sermons).

Those gullible fools who have grown overly rich on our postage stamps, were conned into making a block of stamps honoring the worst fakers of all time (except Koons and Warhol, or course) with images of deKooning, Gorky, Still, Newman, Mitchell, Motherwell, Gottleib, Rothko, Hofmann and the arch-demon himself, the faker of all fakers...Jackson Pollock.

Even worse, the pictures are treated with reverence, with some larger than others. Well wait until the promoters of the state fair hear about this because it puts a crimp in any displays of real art...like the model of the Victorian house built with over 100,000 toothpicks, hand-glued together. Now that takes patience, not those kicked-over paint buckets from that drunken speeder, Pollock (if you ask me, he got what was coming to him).

First they have a series honoring Warhol, now this. Waht next...Koons?

Hell in a handbasket, I tell ya... Hell in a handbasket!

What amzes me is that most of you guys are red flag waving crypto-Maoists or other form of smug lefty, yet you display the taste in art we'd expect, not just from the Republican National Committee but bordering on the taste we saw officially honored during Hitler's reign.

You think that you guys would be all for some up-the-establishment art, but nope...very pretty accessible popular art. De gustibus and all that. Meanwhile, I believe that you can still buy those nice stamps with the heart on them.

4/15/2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

kenmeyerjr-- I feel your pain on that.

अर्जुन-- I don't know where you keep coming up with all of these off-the-beaten track songs, but I am really enjoying your musical commentary.

=shanewhite=, I agree with you that Koons' work seems technically well executed. He seems to recognize quality craftsmanship in the people he hires, whether he has it himself or not.

Raisa-- "Is it just me or does the first picture look like Micheal Jackson?"

Do you mean in his current state, or the way he looked back then?

4/15/2010 3:27 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Rob, stop flailing about and listen.

A very simple example for you to read up on is how Williams Glackens asserted his taste over the collector Albert C. Barnes.

I happen to like Glackens, and think his choices for Barnes were better than Barnes' by a long shot.

But this is perfect object example, where a rich collector is simply turned around by an advocate.

Multiply this example by 100 years, a thousand advocates for the new radicalism, and a thousand patrons wanting to seem clued in. And here we are.

4/15/2010 4:19 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Rob, most of that work sounds perfectly suited for postage stamps, or tastefully framed prints to go above the cream leather sofa.hardly anti-establishment anymore is it ?

4/16/2010 9:37 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

"ad hominem"

And on the topic of logical fallacies, "because Koons art makes vast sums of money you hate him/his art" is non sequitur.

4/16/2010 3:20 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

"There is little doubt that the modern mind is opposed to the romantic mind. The modern mind is mainly content to ask and seek causes and consequences - whereas the romantic mind seeks the significance of things. The romantic mind must be restored to its necessary place of leadership. If things have no significance things are hollow!

Depth of style can only spring from a deepening of our emotional life. That is what we really demand and look for!

There's a real task on our hands, Andy. Modern art critics and their supine followers like the flat and the shallow. They like it as they like soft drinks and factory-made bread."

~ N.C. Wyeth - letter to Andrew Wyeth Feb. 16, 1944

4/16/2010 8:14 PM  
Blogger TIM RYAN said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/17/2010 7:39 AM  
Blogger TIM RYAN said...

If your all not careful Koons will paint this message board onto the wall of an art gallery in 225 point comic sans... then you'll really be spitting teeth!!!

4/17/2010 7:52 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>And here we are.<<<

Did you have a point you were trying to make?

Trick number one in debating (from my junior high debating team)...Don't ever ask someone to abandon the point you are making to go look up your references. That's why the skilled writer introduces direct quotations.

But don't feel alone, Kev. Most people torpedo their own debating points.

4/17/2010 3:39 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>hardly anti-establishment anymore is it ?<<< Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Cubism and a plethora of other modern and contemporary art movements have been with us long enough to have lost any strangeness...except to a group of reactionaries for whom the pinnacle of all art is to emulate a camera, except deostrating free hand brush work, from a Gen-You-Wine live model (photos are cheating according to the International Art Olympics Committee). This Koons faker is just more pointy-headed intellectualoid stuff made for, well...pointy-headed intellectualoids.

Fortuantely for the fans of The Good Old Days, when people thought alike and smelled really bad, there is an Internet where they and millions of other collectors of The Best Of Hallmark can congregate, define Really, Really great art and dismiss an entire culture...even an entire century out of hand. The only difference between them and the book-burners is a match and fear of leaving a big carbon footprint.

Miniver Cheevy
Bemoans his fate
For he was born
Four hundred years too late

4/17/2010 3:51 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>And on the topic of logical fallacies, "because Koons art makes vast sums of money you hate him/his art" is non sequitur.<<<

Little Dicky, what on earth are you talking about? Do you even know or did you simply have to walk in here and divest yourself of yet another brain fart?

4/17/2010 3:54 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

Tim, anyone using a Bulldog as his avatar has revealed himself to be a fine human being. I love my Bullies.

4/17/2010 3:58 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"Did you have a point you were trying to make?"

i got it clearly Rob, even without looking up the references. if you didn't it's because you're evading the issue (as is your usual tactic).

4/17/2010 4:40 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Exactly Laurence.

At this point I can't tell whether Rob is just getting his jollies off trolling or whether he's just an insane windbag. (If you think about it, there may not be a difference between the mental state of someone who enjoys being a troll, and someone who can't help being a troll.)

I mean, is it really worth responding to this idea that if we don't like Koons, we must like Hallmark card art -- Since everybody here is on an illustration art blog and so is he?

4/17/2010 5:37 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev,I'm just off to bed here in Merrie Olde Englande but I fear that I will not get to sleep chuckling as I am with that last post of yours.

4/17/2010 7:47 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Rob Howard said...
"Little Dicky, what on earth are you talking about? Do you even know...."

Nope. Just trying to create a foil that will further showcase your brilliance. Pity you could only parlay it into third rate illustration, though; what happened there?

4/17/2010 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Know-it-All Slob How-turd said...

Slob How-turd has 19 of the 95 posts here, or 1 out of 5.

Seems the never-has-been has plenty of time to troll the net, making the lie of his supposed "lucrative" and "busy" career.

Let me sum up Slob How-turd's views here so his fat fingers won't get so tired.

1) I'm smarter than you.
2) I have more money than you
3) I'm better at painting than you
4) You are inferior to me, so shut up

Every single one of these claims is completely false, mind you. But somehow, in repeating this mantra, Slob thinks the magic will work.

Slob, you are:

1) fat
2) stupid
3) a liar
4) a photcopier
5) a fraud/scam-scateer
6) uneducated
7) stupid
8) self-centerd
9) mentally ill

Believe me, I could go on an on with this list of your superior qualities, but words do not properly describe your true greatness in these areas.

Have another nice, lonely day at home, pretending to be somthing you are not, and stalking the intenet like the mental patient you are.

Bye.

4/18/2010 3:24 PM  
Blogger Richard J. Luschek II said...

Jeff Koons is to art, what Larry Flint is to literature.

4/21/2010 9:12 PM  
Blogger Laura Spencer said...

point number 4.
His carbon-dioxide-rich "hot air" exhalation allows the plants to live.

5/01/2010 8:35 AM  
Blogger DB Dowd said...

Haven't stopped by in a while, David. While I have moments of affection for snippets of Koons (the stainless steel balloon dog does seem a perfect summation of technocratic emptiness, and a cool looking object to boot) I confess to a bit of boredom with the enterprise. I enjoyed your arch tone on this one: disapproving, but positive! cunningly, knowingly.

5/11/2010 12:04 AM  
Blogger Linda Warner Constantino said...

The Emperor is wearing no clothes.

9/17/2011 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen some of Koons work (produced by Koons employees under his 'direction' as you all know ) It was the kind of work that might get £300 - £1500 at a town level gallery. It was o.k. stuff but that is all, and nothing the workers could not have dreamed up themselves, so why didn't they ? I hope they are being very well paid but perhaps they don't deserve to be, but it would be better if the system devalued artists that did not do their own stuff. Also his big level sales are all plagiarised.(Hirst never did anything that was not, is that
true of Koons? probably so.)

Think of each years tens of thousands of graduates - there is not room at the top for more than a handful yet the education system treats them like cannon fodder. Everyone studies how to produce work that anyone could do. I had my own agenda that aimed at a small steady income using discrete skills and knowledge and it's going o.k.

Regarding Koons/Hirsts and their agents and buyers - The love of money is the root of all
evil plus whoever loves money never has money enough.
Regarding us all - money will destroy a fool. Maybe it's best I stay on the bottom rung.

2/18/2012 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ran across this article on your blog this morning, and it jump-started my day like no "consumer-driven-society-mandated-grande-soy-latte-extra-foam-in-a-venti-cup-hold-the-sprinkles" consumer-driven society could. I'll be back for more.

2/29/2012 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Koons is like the guy, I won't call him an artist, who put his own shit into cans and had the hyde to call it art.

That guy was given a small fortune for his brand of crap. Koons makes a fortune from his brand of crap, while real artists, people who are worthy of the name, go begging because white walled galleries are not interested in real art, just sensational shit of one kind or another. The 'Piss Christ' is yet another example of smelly excreta being passed as art. No pun intended.

All that being said, I do admire any con man who can suck money from pockets of the rich and tasteless.

Art Lover

6/03/2012 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to disappoint you all, but Koons is one of the greatest artist that ever lived. Go knows what you lot think is good art?

12/26/2013 7:14 AM  

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