Is it just me, or does the contemporary art world leave you wondering as well, just how far can the definition of towering, mind numbing stupidity, in concert with almost total cognitive, visual ignorance, intellectual/ esthetic bankruptcy (not to mention plain old specious vapidity and complete and utter venality) be pushed? I ask this question, as it is quickly becoming what's most cogent and, compelling when considering the International/ Chelsea based art scene.....
I'm sure Marlene Dumas is a fine, lovely person: however, she does not possess the skills (if her lightweight, watery- technically limited canvases are any indication,) to be a studio assistant to The Shark -or for that matter any number of good painters I know. Plop almost any of the million dollar apiece artists down here in Chicago -and..stand back and watch the market adjust.
Yes, one of the more fascinating phenomenon going on today is the huge discrepancy in prices -between your average NYC painter and say, your average Chicago painter. Dumas, Peyton, Currin, Yuskayvage -to name a few...I'm not begrudging them what they can get for their work, but lets not confuse that with their actual skill as say god forbid, painters! Anyway, I think we need to let collectors know they could fly their Lear jets in to Midway and come get some at least equal work for pennies on the dollar! Or maybe they just think its somehow sexy paying stupid money for completely forgettable work.
Perhaps this is the best indication of a societal malaise: people are so non-conversant in the language of painting, so uninterested in the actual qualities a work of art might have. So glued to 'value ' as prescribed by the market, that the only sensibility left is the kind that needs to be put in a room with a big pile of well lit sticks of dynamite...........sheeeeesh!
One last thing: not one of the painters I mention above attempts in anyway to exploit the visual territory gained in the last century. Not one of them considers design in any but the most mundane terms. Currin's answer to little things like modernism for instance, is to go hide his head in the crotch of some poorly painted Norman Rockwellesque piece of sand -the others aren't any better...consider this; modern architecture, contemporary furniture design.....noticed how much more visually challenging, forward looking and innovative both disciplines are than so much of whats going on in the visual arts? Its interesting....
I began as a painter because I wanted to make things to look at -today, I continue in this vein. I know this may sound hopelessly romantic and/or naive, but I always feel pretty damned lucky when I sell a painting for 25k.....I still (foolishly I'm sure,) see this as a fairly large amount of cash...-my point being, I want to make a couple of good paintings in my life; I'm not trying to win the art lotto......maybe my argument -ongoing as it is, has a larger purpose. I know this: when I think of my heroes -Ad Rhinehardt, Willem de Kooning -Malcom Morely -Joan Mitchell, I feel ashamed of what the art world has become...perhaps here in Chicago, my hope is, we can find something slightly more substantial to believe in.