Reid Singer March 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I guess that would depend on who you mean by “we.” Reading the heap of negative reviews of the show, it seems that most major critics had no problem with a pop singer having a retrospective in a museum per se — least of all someone like Björk, whose talents are so rich, and so varied, and whose work could so obviously avail itself to a deeper, richer understanding in a museum setting. But as Ben Davis wrote, “It has to be done right,” and the consensus is that it was done painfully, embarrassingly wrong. The setting was awkward, the waiting lines were horrendous, and the commentary (when there was one) said nothing about Björk’s oeuvre that the work couldn’t say for itself. It doesn’t seem likely that a meat-and-potatoes fan — that is, someone who isn’t a critic, or otherwise tasked with cerebrating the work —would react much differently.

What’s really appalling, and which might account for the particular harshness of the reviews, is that Biesenbach doesn’t seem to give a rat’s tush. He seems like a nice guy — smart, talented, charismatic, etc. — but C V-F is hardly the only person out there wondering if a disaster this glaring would have been possible if its curator didn’t operate in such an unchecked, unserious bubble. I don’t know how “the public” really feels, but the “we” I have in mind absolutely demands excellence. Of course we do. The scary part is how utterly unheeded that demand has gone.

Paddy Johnson March 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Well, obviously the critics complaining about this show would like to see something better. But as a profession, I think we accept far too much middling, say-nothing shows and art work. You see that in press releases, the shows themselves, and even their lack of critical reception. That’s not to say that there isn’t good work being done, or that when a museum does a belly flop as big as MoMA, we don’t say anything, but generally speaking I think the bar for what passes mustard in the art world could stand to be raised.

Donald Frazell March 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

There is a difference between art that is influenced by pop culture like Rauschenberg-Johns, and pop culture itself. Which is entertainment.

Art is the Highest Common Denominator. Entertainment the lowest and yin and yang with art, both necessary as a whole, but separate.

Contempt art is retread academic art, about its patrons desire to be separated from the hoi polloi, to be seen as superior and above the rest of humanity. The board did not get that and so felt dirtied by the masses. Neither has to do with arts function within culture.

Paddy Johnson March 26, 2015 at 2:54 pm

My interpretation of Howard Halle’s words, was that if pop culture as a source of inspiration is so important, than it needs to be historicized. Otherwise, the references artists make can’t be properly understood. I agree with that.

Howard Halle March 27, 2015 at 11:13 am

If this is the end of Rico, we’ll know soon enough. As for the notion that art blogs, had they existed at the time, would have negatively impacted the reception of the Tim Burton show in any meaningful way, well, if you agree with current cosmological thinking, that could only happen in an alternative time stream at this point, so there’s no way to know. In any case, should the worse happen, both KB and Lowry would likely land on their feet with extremely well-compensated positions. At the very least, I doubt it would really dent their reputations. Witness the recent Jeffrey Deitch resurrection.

Paddy Johnson March 27, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Yeah, people at the top don’t do anything but bounce up.

Donald Frazell March 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm

What if it is not important but disposable fluff? Pop references in art are fine as good artists are of their time, not behind it like most in academia. Braque had advertisements in his cubist windows, and adds for drinks. Adds a layer to the work, one that by itself is meaningless. Art is about relationships, and references to pop culture, not items of it itself, can be woven in great.
And why of all places would art museums be the place for this enshrinements? If it relies on the pop piece for impact it is bad plagiarism, not art. I do not need to have an absinthe drink or Ballantine can explained to me to fully feel the piece.

Howard Halle March 27, 2015 at 8:52 am

Re Tim Burton: Paddy, I meant that given the result, it was evident he wasn’t phoning it in. My point was that no one I could recall went apeshit over the fact that the show was presented in MoMA’s hallowed halls in the first place. Maybe that’s because MoMA has a film department, so the Burton show seemed like a natural fit. At the Björk press preview (for which, by the way, she made the gathered ink-stain wretches wait in a dark, stuffy gallery until she arrived after half an hour dressed as a cactus), KB said that the show was MoMA’s first foray into music. Well, not really; there was the week-long Kraftwerk “retrospective,” which was, inexplicably, an invite-only event. But it is the case that MoMA doesn’t have a music department, so institutionally, the Björk show seems more obvious as a pander to tourists than if it did. (Maybe they could start one; is Mr. Holland busy these days?) PS: I’ve never been a Burton fan, and have long thought that Hollywood overindulges him as their pet arty, CalArts-trained “genius,” even when his films bomb at the box office. The only movie of his I ever liked was “Ed Wood,” precisely because it was his most realistic.

Paddy Johnson March 27, 2015 at 10:21 am

I wonder whether people would get upset about Burton now, though. It’s hard to imagine a full uproar like this, but then, there weren’t the masses of daily art blogs. Also, this isn’t all about Bjork. It seems like a boiling point has been reached with Klaus and MoMA. If you’re in the business, you’ve probably heard someone who’s worked with him recently complain about it.

I liked Edward Scissorhands, but I agree that most aren’t very good.

Sven March 27, 2015 at 5:13 pm

pee wee’s big adventure & beetlejuice are great. But fu*k giving him a show at MOMA.

Donald Frazell March 27, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Burton was fine out hearer as he is one of their own, the Hollywood crowd are the patrons for the museums and they like their parties and shows about themselves. It was harmless and something far worse could have been shown. But does get used to justify silliness like Bjork. That is an issue.

But back in the day when MoMA was really about Modern art it constantly has jazz concerts, it is musical equivalent. Now that it has gone full PoMo and lost its reason for being, what the hell. Give the college kids what they want, Talking Heads and Devo, already had Patti Smith embarrass the joint. It would be nice if people grew up, but hey, Its Manhattan. Playland for the wealthy and their trust fund kids.

There are a few who grew past 22 years old and matured from pop musics, Dylan, Joni Mitchell(Should have had Herbie Hancock base a show there) Marley from afar, and base art on their mature work. But no. not to be, RIP MoMA.

F. Masefield March 27, 2015 at 10:29 am

According to a well-placed artnet source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, Christian Viveros-Fauné is pissed to be stuck on the celebrity D-list. His resemblance to Jack Osbourne in both physical appearance and cultural relevance has him fuming.

As one anonymous source told us: “Lots of people are unhappy with Viveros-Fauné right now, but can’t pretend that his ethical posturing is a big deal. Change will come about only when anyone actually gives a fuck what he says.”

Paddy Johnson March 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

I see a friend of KB has found the blog.

F. Masefield March 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

Not just a friend – a fan. 😉

But honestly, the nature of my comment was to emulate the salacious, gossipy tone of Viveros-Fauné’s piece. His writing itself was like something straight from the celebrity culture he pretends to critique. And there is a certain irony if one conducts a google image search for him – plenty of glad-handing and posing with the “right” (apparently) famous/influential/wealthy people.

Viveros-Fauné rhetorically constructs an art world that is disingenuous at best, a complete fabrication at worst. You hint at the existence of a similarly fictitious art world as well – one based on “merit” or as you say, “excellence.” Any honest assessment of how the art world industrial complex operates would need to acknowledge that those concepts ring as true as “all natural” or “new improved taste” do in other marketing regimes.

Paddy Johnson March 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Yeah, I figured that, but the entire piece was not over the top—specific passages were though.

Anyway, your comment is very thoughtful—I appreciate that.

Donald Frazell March 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Too much thinking, not enough knowledge. Words get in the way of appreciation of the visual language. It should be to introduce, and then get the hell outta the way. And why all the best art critics have been artists of the written word themselves, they respect their equals instead of trying to explain everything as if the work cannot do it itself. Too many Sadducees, not enough independent researchers and DOERS.

Steve Weinstein April 9, 2015 at 12:46 am

I’d rather not “contextualize” myself, thank you.

Paddy Johnson March 27, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Disposable fluff that influences artists is by definition important. You know that Valesquez painting of The Dead Soldier? It’s not by him, not very good, but is the source for one of the best paintings Manet ever made. Seeing those two paintings together at the Met 13 years ago was one of the best viewing experiences I’ve ever had.

Donald Frazell March 30, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Then you need to get out more, nature would be better as all artists have based their work and discoveries by doing so. Art is but visual work based on their researching, Using the visual language to communicate the world as it is at that moment based on what came before as foundation. Studying history, the sciences and direct observation far more important than being a scribe observing others.

But a creative artists must base it on ALL human art, Not just academic western art which is but one strand. Prefer, Japanese, Byzantine, Islamic, Tribal and pre Colombian between Michelangelo and Goya/Turner myself(a few like Rembrandt and Velasquez but not much else). Western art had something to say, just too blustery and self reverential to get beyond its own foundational fallacies. So Modernism had to discard its failure, the old world died in WW I.

Contempt art being academic has returned to the old ways in new forms. It still caters to the same constituency. To separate them from the hoi polois. That art is based on names and not value makes it a commodity for investment.

Why cannot nameless artists create works just as good as the big guys. Probably inconsistent and so do not get remembered, but many great Modern works were by one hit wonders or whose day was on 15 minutes. Still important whether you know the lineage or not, or is to the rest of us.

But pop art by definition is without nutrition, that a few can rise up is obvious, That therefore the whole genre should be remembered in art is ridiculous. But then that is what Contempt art is based on. Absurdity for the few, not relevance to humanity.

Paddy Johnson March 30, 2015 at 1:33 pm

You’ve stopped making sense.

Donald Frazell March 30, 2015 at 2:28 pm

To an insider. Come on out and breath the fresh air. And start with these three books as well as hiking somewhere for a full day with no amenities. Art must periodically go back to basics, to fundamentals of being human. We have greatly over refined art as its decadent predecessor of the late 19th century.

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Jared Diamond

The Elegant Universe Brian Greene

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam
Reza Aslan

Other artists have claimed they have, they have all lied. After you have started ridding the self of ego, you cannot be consumed by Narcissus, the god of academic art.

Donald Frazell March 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm

By the way, how did THIS get “detected as spam”?

I think poor MoMA committed Sepuku long ago. It has no relevance to
Modern art anymore, which is not dead. witness Kiefer and a few others.
But academics teach that because they cannot teach the visual language
and have no connection to what art is about humanity nature and

Returning to academic ways, those who create for
their Patrons, must be discarded if we are to return to a creative age,
ones that can never be sustained forever, but new Knowledge of our place
in the Universe must trigger it. If artist stopped talking about art
and got into string theory, dark matter and energy and astrophysics it
just might.

If you want to help that into being, you must always
follow truth, and then can support art not explain it, like Apollinaire,
and Leonard Feather in jazz. You must be creative in your own right and
know your place. Instead the scribes think they are prophets.

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