28 July 2007

BS At It's Finest...And Worst.

An artist just sent over his biography. I had to read it through several times because I just could not believe I was seeing things correctly. I might have to frame this one. It is a much better work of art than any of his paintings. The art of Bullshit that is.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts..word for word...

On a retrospective journey to his work, his first oil paintings were already endowed with a seal that will remain unalterable in its gestural, the referent genesis of such, reclaims the pre-placed intentionality of national impressionist masters of the early 20th century.

The artist, much like an art analyst, does not discriminate against outside activity: he releases a learned and grounded opinion within the diversity of artistic currents, permitting to enter upon art history and thus to the history of man.

Careful selection of subjects is appraised, entering the frame with clarity, preconceived ideas and structuring the composition with rigorous drawing: the methodology is complimented with a brushing of tonal richness that bathes the plane which holds it. When the genre of still life is incorporated, it stirs the represented concept, allowing for the subject to be immortalized with fragrance and flavor, letting the volume of the color be presented as if extracted from nature more than from his palette. Motion emerges as a leading element in the treatment of flowers, a recurrent theme throughout special moments, showing off his precision with a vigorous brush - result of his dilated craft.

There is two full pages of this. At first I thought it might be a joke. It's not. Maybe it was a poor interpretation. No. He and his agent have a firm grasp of English.

This is the elitist, snobbish side of art that I despise, and we see it more and more.

When an uninformed, potential buyer( this is most people when it comes to art) comes into a gallery and reads a bio like this, they think:

a) They are not smart enough to know what any of it means and they are unwilling to admit it.
b) Because they don't want to admit their ignorance, they accept that the artist must be good.
c) In order to prove to a sales person (someone they have never met and will most likely never see again) that they aren't ignorant, they will buy one of the works. Then, when they get it home they will convince themselves and their friends that the bio means something.

Galleries that do things like this are banking on those ignorant few, and it only takes a few of them.

I can not blame the artist in most cases. They just want to sell their work. Bios like this come from managers and agents. Middlemen. These so called art dealers go to places like South America, Russia, China, counties in turmoil where people live on practically nothing. The dealers buy paintings for a few dollars apiece, create some BS biography like the one I quoted, then mark up the works 500 times. A 20 x 30 inch painting they bought in China for $5.00 they can bring to the US and sell for $2500.

This is the kind of crap that ruins the art world. It is the reason that people assume that I am just trying to rip them off, or that art of any kind has no real value.

Most artists and galleries that I have dealt with would never do these things. But unfortunately it only takes a few of them.

Help me put an end to this kind of shady practice. When shopping for art, or anything for that matter, never be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know something or don't understand something, ask questions. Everything can be researched these days. If you can't get a good answer, there may be a problem.

There is nothing wrong with buying a painting from China or Russia or any where else. Just make sure some middleman isn't ripping you off, and making my life more difficult in the process.


Iron Fist said...

This is part of why I come here -- I know next to nothing about art and appreciate this on-the-fly education I get at your site.

And I don't know if you read the full two pages of that guy's hype or not...just the excerpt gave me a headache.

Sheree Rensel said...

You know William,
In this way, I think we are kindred spirits. I too think all the B.S. that goes into artist statements is part of facade of BS that is inherent to the art world. You can't really blame the artists though. I remember while I was in grad school, my artist friends and I would spend 50% of the time making the art and the other 50% of the time figuring out what we would say about that art when the professors confronted us. Consequently, I refused to do artist statements for years after that. In fact, (now this is weird), I wrote a cryptic, nondescript statement for my web site years ago. I couldn't remember exactly what it said (I actually had to Google myself and that is scary!! It proves no matter what you put online, it will be there forever.) Anyway, I wrote:
"I detest artist statements. A writer does not stand behind you to explain as you read each line. Nor does a composer tell you why she chose each note. I put the work forth for you to ponder. I try to express myself in a way that is important to me. I hope you will find something to consider as you look at my work. If not, create your own."

Needless to say, this statement didn't go over well when entering shows. So, I changed it. The "system" seems to need more. I can understand that. I don't like it, but that seems to be the reality of our world.
Sheree Rensel