Add Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine to the growing list of celebrities showing at high-profile galleries. Pace launched James Franco’s show of Cindy Sherman self-portraits restaged as Franco selfies, loudly panned by Roberta Smith, and last summer provided the set for famed hip-hop artist Jay Z’s Picasso Baby video. This was rightly described by Ben Davis as an anthem of a collector, not a performance artist. Meanwhile, Gagosian debuted new jewelry by Victoire de Castellane, a designer for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, (and a French aristocrat with a family tree that includes princes, bishops, and noblemen), exhibited terrible and derivative paintings by the musician Bob Dylan, and hosted an offensive Madonna performance.
Come May 12th at Gagosian, audiences have a chance to see Korine’s painting exhibition, Shooters. We have higher hopes for Korine than some of these other artists, but not by much. Spring Breakers was a self-knowingly empty film (and arguably corrosive for it), and the press release we’re given for Shooters has Korine labeling the contrived arbitrariness of paintings as if they were movements; there are “elements of ‘mistakism.’” Add to this, our growing reservations about what celebrity shows like this actually mean for the art world—do they represent an increasing lack of mobility for artists within the commercial gallery system? Needless to say, we’re not exactly fans of Korine and the trend he represents.
Still, the art may amount to more than his celeb contemporaries. The release describes the art, which in the case of his lesser known work, is abstract and made with squeegees and brooms. The “better known stuff” is a series of photographs of young people dressed like old people and affixed to canvas he then paints on.
That may not sound like anything extraordinary, but Korine, at least, has a little more background than the average celebrity poser. In 2011 he collaborated with Rita Ackermann at the Swiss Institute and he did write the screenplay for director and photographer Larry Clark’s Kids. That was another movie too bleak for my tastes—sexually active kids in the 90s do drugs, have unprotected sex and pay the price—but in it, Korine at least attempted to explore an issue or two.