Juvenile red tailed hawk with clean and pristine feathers

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's alright we know where we've been...

Untitled portrait of Queen Elizabeth by Damien Hirst

There was an interesting article by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times yesterday, Can old masters be relevant again?

It seems that those that have been anointed the titans of painting for the last six or seven hundred years are being largely abandoned in today's modern oriented marketplace, shunted off ignominiously to the dustbins of time.

As I have been saying for years, the millennial generation was destined to forsake the classical. Where it all ends up is anybody's guess. How we got here is another story. No more art or art history in the schools, to go along with no more music instruction, no more physical education, what is it again that they are actually teaching? And a celebration of the naive and infantile as opposed to the craft and tradition of fine art that has been handed down since Michelangelo and Leonardo.

Who do we blame? Wet behind the ears curators swept away in the latest fad or the next best thing? A public shift towards modernism that has lost its power to discriminate between decent and godawful? An aging collecting class that is giving way to, I daresay, an ignorant new generation seemingly without the slightest interest in either history, scholarship or acquisition?

Remember when proficiency in art required one to even know how to handle a brush?

Banksy - keeping it spotless - sold for $1,870,000 2/14/08

Now we are back to the caves, I suppose.

Here is an example of where we are;

Keith Haring (1958-1990) untitled, an acrylic from 1985 sells for $3,749,000 at Christie's in 2014.

Contrast that artistic tour de force with this small drawing by one of the greatest renderers of the human figure of all time, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). This sketch, Study of an anguished woman, for the martyrdom of St. Symphorien brought a mere $13,540 the same year at Sotheby's.

The first artist engages in a conceptual sight gag of sorts, the latter is in  an intimate and sensitive visual relationship with his subject.

The incredible Italian renaissance painter Ghirlandaio has a painting coming up early next year at Sothebys, “The Holy Family With the Annunciation to the Shepherds Beyond, Italian Renaissance” oil on panel, circa 1500, $80,000-$120,000 that probably won't make reserve. His last painting didn't make 57k and it was a beauty.

“They want to be associated with the new and the now,” said Edward Dolman, chairman and chief executive of Phillips auction house, who spent much of his career at Christie’s chasing works by old masters but now focuses on contemporary art.
“We have no intention of selling old masters pictures or 18th-, 19th-century pictures, because these markets are now so small and dwindling,” he added. “The new client base at the auction houses — and the collecting tastes of those clients — have moved away from this veneration of the past.”

Moved away from the veneration of the past? Well, fuck meVery sad indeed.

Eli Broad and friend
As a footnote I should add that I will be in Florence at the end of the month, admiring such has beens and rejects as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Titian, Rembrandt and Raphael.

Don't know how I will be able to stand it really. The world we live in today really being truly divided up as pre and post Scharf.

Stupid shits that we are.


Anonymous said...

Forget about Ghirlandaio, Caravaggio, Titian, or Da Vinci, many kids in schools today have no idea who Franklin Delano Roosevelt was, or care, or want to learn cursive "righting" when two thumb lite is the main preoccupation.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad you have to look at those crappy Michelangelos and Raphaels, not to mention the boring Donatellos....!!

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

Have a great time in Florence. You'll be eating well! I'm sure you're going to buy your tickets to the Uffizi online ahead of time. The lines can be horrible.

tony said...

Definitely an interesting read, unfortunately there is truth to it, in this climate of new millennial art appreciation.
The fact remains that we've had it good for a very long time, we have lived this lifetime where we championed just about everything that was created by human hands , promoted it, exploited it, marketed it, to the extent that alls thats left, is an over inflated market where art is no longer available to the young upstart collector on any entry level. ( oh, Im sorry.. " Giclee prints") , We assume the techies will need art as part of their cultural redemption but its probably never going to happen, they are busy buying the 53 million dollar parcel on the other side of the golden gate bridge. Today, Art has been picked up and retrieved by the soul-less who have transformed it into a backdrop tapestry for the rich & beautiful to take selfies in front of., furthermore its a pop soundtrack to superficial and pretentious banality with high heels and accents who never heard of David or Delacroix. The days when young artists went to museums to explore all the historical possibilities of our struggles, history, angst and civil unrest..
has been replaced by what I refer to as "the Great Dictation" where we have been told what is good, what it is worth, and what belongs in our museums, we never got an opportunity to include a vetting voice, nor was it open to discussion, so now we are left with someone else's idea of what is relevant.

Blue Heron said...

Great points Tony. And to be honest a lot of stuff was seriously overhyped during the boom. I grew up hating Robert Wood for instance, then started to really dig him after I set the world record selling one of them.

Nowadays art is something you stick on your skin with needles and ink.

Anonymous said...


Someone was telling us that a person left a pair of sunglasses purposefully at a modern museum and the visitors thought it was part of the art exhibit and were analyzing its meaning. Sad...Helen

Stutzy said...

The Museum world of big collectors and auction houses might be a rotten money laundering scheme. But street art, temporary art, art integrated into subversive lifestyles, and the creative worlds of social media and technological disruption are more alive than ever. Rapid change requires a rapid response that can elude the middle aged. Don't call a whole generation no nothings- we really are in no position to judge. The old emperor we once believed in might be naked, but the young artists with energy are in wide open revolt.

Show me your instagram to prove you have a clue!

Blue Heron said...

As you are aware, I keep my own counsel in such matters, Stutzy. When I think it's good, I know. Chuck Close, Thiebaud, the great ones will always ring true. I just don't feel it with 99% of the dross being manufactured today.

If I had only known that the way to get instant cred in our brave new world was instagram, I would have done it ages ago!

Stutzy said...

I bet you could do a bitchin instagram- I'ld follow you!