Lady Gaga’s Burgeoning Art Market

by Art Fag City on November 18, 2009 · 36 comments Newswire + Reviews

POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
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Back in 2008 the New York Post ran a profile on Lady Gaga, a pop star set out to prove she’s the next Britney Spears. Nobody knows what will come of these ambitions, but whatever it is will look very different than the chameleon qualities of Ms. Spears who like photographer Richard Kern’s model Jade (NSFW), is literally transformed by the camera. Gaga’s productions are of a different ilk, her stated objectives at the time, published in the Post,

“The way that Andy Warhol attempted to make commercial art that was taken seriously as fine art, is the way I want to make pop music, pop art performance and pop fashion that’s taken seriously as high fashion and highbrow.”

Given the amount of schlock out there produced by super star artist Damien Hirst, this doesn’t seem like such an unattainable goal. Certainly her performance at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art suggests she’s making strides towards achieving this end. But is this significant?

From my perspective, no. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as happy as the next person to listen to a catchy Gaga tune, but let’s not get confused: she’s not doing anything particularly innovative. As FourFour wisely put it last year, the star’s “entire existence [can] be summed up as reminiscent” (think Gwen Stefani, Miss Kittin and Róisín Murphy).  Ditto for any fashion she’s worn, or video direction she’s taken. The whole package feels like an expensive Pulse Art Fair production.

Assuming Ms. Gaga more regularly collaborates with art world stars, Deitch Projects undoubtedly offers the closest gallery match for the musician, already hosting pre-existing stable of artists reaching a variety of commercial markets. We’re talking Vanessa Beecroft/Kanye West collaborations, Stephen Sprouse, and Kehinde Wiley to name a few. Notably this genre of art — if that’s what it can be called — is defined by its hopelessly mindless production.

  • http://seancapone.com Sean

    Wow, this does sound like a Britney Spears song.

    You didn’t mention the obvious similarity to art/pop crossover uber-Deitch act, Fischerspooner; they seemed to have their moment of mainstream crossover, or whatever passes for ‘mainstream’ these days..

    The pop-up ad in the Youtube window was for ‘Art Basel Hotels’, so there u go… artworld tested, Google approved.

  • http://seancapone.com Sean

    Wow, this does sound like a Britney Spears song.

    You didn’t mention the obvious similarity to art/pop crossover uber-Deitch act, Fischerspooner; they seemed to have their moment of mainstream crossover, or whatever passes for ‘mainstream’ these days..

    The pop-up ad in the Youtube window was for ‘Art Basel Hotels’, so there u go… artworld tested, Google approved.

  • http://jesseedwards.net Jesse Edwards

    Love her music!

  • http://jesseedwards.net Jesse Edwards

    Love her music!

  • http://peterandjoan.blogs.wm.edu/ Peter Zimmerman

    One thing that has separated Gaga apart from even pop icons such as Madonna these days is her unabashed “honesty” and frankness in interview– it almost comes off as brusque at points, but the reason so is that we’re just not used to hearing current pop luminaries discussing things like raw sexuality, power dynamics and current political controversies. Her aim, as she has stated, is to challenge the patriarchal and heterosexual music business by not cowering but instead acting and presenting herself as a strong, intelligent and sexual being that doesn’t need men to succeed. I mean, that’s the claim at least, but in terms of being a role model for feminism AND middle-America, I think she does a pretty fantastic job.

    In regards to the art cred of her stuff– I think we’ll really have to key into the Monster Ball tour that launches in a couple of weeks. I think she referred to it as a electro-pop opera or something or the sort, and it’s support to act as part fashion installation, part pop music and part theatre.

  • http://peterandjoan.blogs.wm.edu/ Peter Zimmerman

    One thing that has separated Gaga apart from even pop icons such as Madonna these days is her unabashed “honesty” and frankness in interview– it almost comes off as brusque at points, but the reason so is that we’re just not used to hearing current pop luminaries discussing things like raw sexuality, power dynamics and current political controversies. Her aim, as she has stated, is to challenge the patriarchal and heterosexual music business by not cowering but instead acting and presenting herself as a strong, intelligent and sexual being that doesn’t need men to succeed. I mean, that’s the claim at least, but in terms of being a role model for feminism AND middle-America, I think she does a pretty fantastic job.

    In regards to the art cred of her stuff– I think we’ll really have to key into the Monster Ball tour that launches in a couple of weeks. I think she referred to it as a electro-pop opera or something or the sort, and it’s support to act as part fashion installation, part pop music and part theatre.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I’ve thought the feminist read of the work is fairly successful as well, though I find it a little grating that merely having a say in your own career has been considered a feminist position within the pop music industry for years now.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I’ve thought the feminist read of the work is fairly successful as well, though I find it a little grating that merely having a say in your own career has been considered a feminist position within the pop music industry for years now.

  • http://www.qianamestrich.com Qiana

    I agree that Gaga’s work is “reminiscent” and not at all innovative.

    Her pop music influences are resoundingly clear and aesthetically she’s stolen/borrowed from other psycho, macabre, glam rockers that have come before like Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor plus artists of the strange like Hans Bellmer and Joel Peter-Witkin, just to name a FEW.

    Somehow I find myself enjoying the music/spectacle she produces, then again I’m not sure if it’s genuine feeling or just a result of her successful marketing.

    I’m also questioning the (artistic?) significance of her “whole package”.

  • http://www.qianamestrich.com Qiana

    I agree that Gaga’s work is “reminiscent” and not at all innovative.

    Her pop music influences are resoundingly clear and aesthetically she’s stolen/borrowed from other psycho, macabre, glam rockers that have come before like Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor plus artists of the strange like Hans Bellmer and Joel Peter-Witkin, just to name a FEW.

    Somehow I find myself enjoying the music/spectacle she produces, then again I’m not sure if it’s genuine feeling or just a result of her successful marketing.

    I’m also questioning the (artistic?) significance of her “whole package”.

  • matt

    deitch records #1 – split chicks on speed / gaga 7″?

    anyway, that video is pretty middle of the road for what you’d see on russian mtv at any brighton beach cafe. It even has the vodka product placement to prove it!

  • http://mattlucas@gmail.com matt

    deitch records #1 – split chicks on speed / gaga 7″?

    anyway, that video is pretty middle of the road for what you’d see on russian mtv at any brighton beach cafe. It even has the vodka product placement to prove it!

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I’m not sure this is entirely relevant, but I think Poker Face is a far superior single to Bad Romance.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I’m not sure this is entirely relevant, but I think Poker Face is a far superior single to Bad Romance.

  • Lisa S

    I think she is far more innovative than Miley, Christina or Britney. For god sake she is what 23 years old? I think she is quite amazing and has far more of a feminist stance than most in the music world. I really do not care about her “artistic” significance or that she may have been influenced by others….we all have. I only wish I was so advanced at her age. In the age of Gossip Girl, the OC..etc, I think she is fucking awesome. I wish more women of her generation were as fierce. I do not think that it is only that she has a say in her career Paddy that makes her powerful, her work does have a message of female empowerment…..the work I have seen anyway. As Peter said, her aim is to
    “challenge the patriarchal and heterosexual music business”
    bravo for her… how many pop tarts have you heard say that?

  • Lisa S

    I think she is far more innovative than Miley, Christina or Britney. For god sake she is what 23 years old? I think she is quite amazing and has far more of a feminist stance than most in the music world. I really do not care about her “artistic” significance or that she may have been influenced by others….we all have. I only wish I was so advanced at her age. In the age of Gossip Girl, the OC..etc, I think she is fucking awesome. I wish more women of her generation were as fierce. I do not think that it is only that she has a say in her career Paddy that makes her powerful, her work does have a message of female empowerment…..the work I have seen anyway. As Peter said, her aim is to
    “challenge the patriarchal and heterosexual music business”
    bravo for her… how many pop tarts have you heard say that?

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I don’t understand the tone of comment. I never said the woman’s production was useless, I’m just not that interested in it in the context of art.

    As I mentioned before I do enjoy the music. I guess I feel like this is the difference between Spears and Gaga is akin to liking Kern’s model Jade or Kern himself. Are you interested in the medium or the creative force behind the medium? Typically I chose the latter, but Gaga’s a notable exception relative to Spears. Britney is endlessly maleable, her face representing a massive production team. Their work is amazing. Past this, ultimately I’d rather invest my time in Spears, because at least that music doesn’t try to be anything other than it is. Like Madonna, Gaga tends to simplify complex messages, which can be very annoying

    As for the feminist stance, I never said her work wasn’t included in “having a say” in her career. I merely meant to point out that the existing music business feminist rhetoric wasn’t saying much of anything.

    Lady Gaga is 22.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    I don’t understand the tone of comment. I never said the woman’s production was useless, I’m just not that interested in it in the context of art.

    As I mentioned before I do enjoy the music. I guess I feel like this is the difference between Spears and Gaga is akin to liking Kern’s model Jade or Kern himself. Are you interested in the medium or the creative force behind the medium? Typically I chose the latter, but Gaga’s a notable exception relative to Spears. Britney is endlessly maleable, her face representing a massive production team. Their work is amazing. Past this, ultimately I’d rather invest my time in Spears, because at least that music doesn’t try to be anything other than it is. Like Madonna, Gaga tends to simplify complex messages, which can be very annoying

    As for the feminist stance, I never said her work wasn’t included in “having a say” in her career. I merely meant to point out that the existing music business feminist rhetoric wasn’t saying much of anything.

    Lady Gaga is 22.

  • Mark

    Lady Gaga is 23.

  • Mark

    Lady Gaga is 23.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    My mistake – the article I linked to said she was 22, but I forgot that was a year ago.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

    My mistake – the article I linked to said she was 22, but I forgot that was a year ago.

  • Vinness

    I want to like Gaga but there is something insincere and soulless about her that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s the pre-fab popstar thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out she’s actually a robot inhabiting a 30 year old’s body.

  • Vinness

    I want to like Gaga but there is something insincere and soulless about her that I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s the pre-fab popstar thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out she’s actually a robot inhabiting a 30 year old’s body.

  • Frank

    I love her stuff but won’t try to work too hard to get a read on the significance of it being out there. Feminist? I don’t know that I would struggle to make that noodle-strong argument stand up. She’s is sexy and milking the moment. She sings well and does what she is payed to do. Some might say produce sexy music and videos. The production value is way-high on this type of video but so what? Am I top assume a pixelcam would produce a more sincere video? I think debating much of this in light of the obvious market savvy and teen-driven music industry is sort of like trying to argue a strong case that Diet Coke is more relevant than Diet Pepsi.

  • Frank

    I love her stuff but won’t try to work too hard to get a read on the significance of it being out there. Feminist? I don’t know that I would struggle to make that noodle-strong argument stand up. She’s is sexy and milking the moment. She sings well and does what she is payed to do. Some might say produce sexy music and videos. The production value is way-high on this type of video but so what? Am I top assume a pixelcam would produce a more sincere video? I think debating much of this in light of the obvious market savvy and teen-driven music industry is sort of like trying to argue a strong case that Diet Coke is more relevant than Diet Pepsi.

  • Jaye

    I agree with your comment about oversimplifying a complex code. It bothers me when people do something akin to reading a wiki (on Warhol for example) and think they are able to throw around statements like the impact of Warhol’s work in the world. Watching this video, I didn’t even think the production quality was that good. Surprising, because before this I didn’t know who she was, but I heard her name all the time. You would think they could muster up something better than this conceptually weak and corny video with all the money they have.. Well, I guess having funding like that doesn’t mean s**t in the end in terms of producing real art, so better for the rest of us =)

  • Jaye

    I agree with your comment about oversimplifying a complex code. It bothers me when people do something akin to reading a wiki (on Warhol for example) and think they are able to throw around statements like the impact of Warhol’s work in the world. Watching this video, I didn’t even think the production quality was that good. Surprising, because before this I didn’t know who she was, but I heard her name all the time. You would think they could muster up something better than this conceptually weak and corny video with all the money they have.. Well, I guess having funding like that doesn’t mean s**t in the end in terms of producing real art, so better for the rest of us =)

  • Patty

    I get the fame of Spears, Manson, and Madonna. Gaga on the other hand is a mind bender. She looks like a glossy show poodle owned by one of the characters on Coronation Street. And her music resembles Euro-club, one-hit, cellphone ring-tone tracks that reek of too much designer cologne. Though her persona is contrived, I am sure her staged views have influenced certain people in a “positive” way. Art is “cooler” now than ever. It has witnessed countless filters of abuse including this one. Let culture take its course as it will inspire more ways of thinking.

  • Patty

    I get the fame of Spears, Manson, and Madonna. Gaga on the other hand is a mind bender. She looks like a glossy show poodle owned by one of the characters on Coronation Street. And her music resembles Euro-club, one-hit, cellphone ring-tone tracks that reek of too much designer cologne. Though her persona is contrived, I am sure her staged views have influenced certain people in a “positive” way. Art is “cooler” now than ever. It has witnessed countless filters of abuse including this one. Let culture take its course as it will inspire more ways of thinking.

  • Patty

    Try to keep a straight face at 0:13.

  • Patty

    Try to keep a straight face at 0:13.

  • http://trytobegood.com Fei

    I don’t get what the concept of this video is. Seems to be just sensational. Dead animals, full body nylon suits. Although, the ending frame is sort of awesome.

  • http://trytobegood.com Fei

    I don’t get what the concept of this video is. Seems to be just sensational. Dead animals, full body nylon suits. Although, the ending frame is sort of awesome.

  • Gerald

    I had high hopes that Gaga’s music would be innovative, exciting and different than than the bubble gum electro pop that unfortunately is all over the airwaves already.nnProblem is her music is just as bad as the most schlocky Spears songs out there.

  • Gerald

    I had high hopes that Gaga’s music would be innovative, exciting and different than than the bubble gum electro pop that unfortunately is all over the airwaves already.\n\nProblem is her music is just as bad as the most schlocky Spears songs out there.

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