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This painting of Bea Arthur’s boobs got us booted from Facebook for 24-hours. They said it was a mistake—nude art is allowed, it turns out.
DAILY PIC: Two images care of the punk couture show that previewed today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – and that I just panned on TheDailyBeast.com. In that cranky review, however, I didn’t have room to mention that, among the talentless couturier copycats of punk who dominate the show, there are also a few designers, such as Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela, who are genuine artistic geniuses. The thing is, I think that by including them the curators are guilty of that heinous sin that art historians call pseudomorphism: Imagining that because two artworks look the same, they also mean the same thing and play the same role in our culture. When Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook wore a Union Jack t-shirt in the late 1970s (left) his brash punk gesture meant something utterly different than when Rei Kawakubo, a Japanese intellectual, reworked the British flag (right) into runway fashion in 2006. Ditto for punk’s rebellious repurposing of junk and the Maison Martin Margiela’s thoughtful recycling of consumer goods in the fabulous Artisanal line it launched a few years ago. (Left, courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Dennis Morris; right, courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Catwalking)
DAILY PIC: I think Richard Serra’s “One Ton Prop (House of Cards)”, from 1969, is the summation of his art, and one of the great works of the last 50 years. The piece – four quarter-ton sheets of lead, four-foot square and held in place by their weight – is now on view in David Zwirner’s beautifully Brutalist new gallery in New York. This “Prop” is all about risk: Physical, artistic and aesthetic. And then the product of that risk turns out to be wonder and pleasure, even beauty. The risk is real, so it produces genuine sublimity. In Serra’s more recent, crowd-pleasing works, the risk is all simulation – no one will die and pleasure’s guaranteed – so the effect is that much less potent.
DAILY PIC: I seem to suffer from a new syndrome called “fair blindness”. I find it almost impossible to take anything in at art fairs, or distinguish meaningfully between all the merchandise on view. One exception, at this past weekend’s NADA art fair in Miami, were these giant “paintings” by the English Glaswegian Laura Aldridge, at the booth of Kendall Coppe gallery of Glasgow. Aldridge’s pieces represent, I guess, a new kind of superrealism, since they are hand-made, hand-painted enlargements of real pockets that Aldridge has sourced from secondhand clothes. I like the way they relate to the scale and shape of traditional heroic paintings, and how they re-root a painter’s “canvas” in the textiles of everyday life.
DAILY PIC: This is one of many gorgeous images in a fascinating show of female nudes by Egon Schiele at Galerie St. Etienne in New York – but their gorgeousness may be a problem. The show’s official position is that Schiele has been unfairly caricatured as a misogynist letch, and that in fact in his pictures of naked women (mostly prostitutes or their like, portrayed in the years to either side of World War I) the artist “negates the illusion of passivity that traditionally held in check the nude’s erotic potency” and “visually affirms female sexual autonomy”. His women are said to “own their sexuality; they take pride in their seductive bodies and are empowered by their allure.” Which is awfully close to the argument that Playboy and Penthouse have always made about the “girls” in their magazines. Schiele is such a master of the seductive surface – and I’m talking here about his compositions, not his models – that any social ugliness behind the picture-making moment disappears from sight. Schiele is, if nothing else, an ancestor of the best in long-legged fashion illustration. The elegance of his touch and line “sells” us the women on view, and makes it easy to consume them. I prefer Toulouse Lautrec, whose ugly, awkward whorehouse views make it clear that something’s out of whack in their sexual politics. (Private collection, courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York)
DAILY PIC: In MoMA’s show of the fascinating Polish artist Alina Szapocnikow, who died young in 1973, my favorite works crossed over between art and design - like these “Belly Cushions”, from 1968, that she’d hoped to put into mass production. The “new” MoMA is sometimes accused of having a corporate ethos, but with shows like this, of obscure, neglected figures from far points (from us) on the globe, I think it defeats such accusations. At the moment, the Modern has nothing crowd pleasing and easy on view. Oh, wait. There’s Munch’s “Scream”. (Image © The Estate of Alina Szapocznikow/Piotr Stanisławski/ADAGP, Paris)
TL;DR: “belly cushions”
DAILY PIC: Ai Weiwei goes uncuffed in this still from “Grass Mud Horse Style”, his cover version of the wildly viral “Gangnam Style” music video from Korea. As I argue in my piece on today’s Daily Beast, Ai turns the pop-culture original into an artful readymade, and uses it to speak about unchained creative freedom.
“He’s the avant garde artist of his time, a sculpture, a satirist, a paragon voice for the masses evoking the dregs of social inequities. but god damn is he not a dancer.” - YouTube commenter.
Ai Weiwei, “Neolithic Vase With Coca-Cola Logo” (2010)
If you live in Minneapolis and love cat videos, boy, do we have an event for you:
On Aug. 30, the well-respected Minneapolis institution the Walker Art Center will hold the first-ever film festival of Internet cat videos… It’s “more of a social experiment,” says the organizer and a Walker programming director, Katie Hill. It was started to see whether the online cat community would even go outside, says Hill, who has two cats herself.