Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who stole the Klonopin from the Klonopin Jar?

Since no one can seem to stop talking about Damien Hirst this week (I think it was that "sharktank" article in the Times), I've decided to just go with it.  So here's yet another post about Mr. Hirst:

I was once at a student artshow where a young sculptor created a piece similar to these "medicine cabinets" of Hirst's. The artist laid out a variety of different prescription pills he or she collected from friends on top of a pedestal and tacked labels beneath each drug.  The piece was intended to be about the proliferation of psychotropic drugs, showing just how many powerful medications one could find within even a small group of close friends.  What made this work memorable, however, was that there was one pill missing.  There was an empty slot labelled "Klonopin," leading me to believe that some college student in attendance had stolen that particular pill.  The whole idea behind the work fell away, and with that one empty slot the piece became about 'who the hell stole that tranquilizer?'  The missing pill made the work the star of the show; everyone in attendance was laughing and whispering about it.  As my friends approached me I'd immediately ask, "Oh my god, did you see that someone stole the Klonopin?"

As I recount the experience, I wonder if the artist might have left the Klonopin off the work on purpose.  I guess we'll never know who stole the Klonopin, or if the whole thing was a set up, and that's what made the work interesting.

Jeff Koons or shitty Christmas gift?

My boyfriend likes to tell a story about the worst Christmas gift he ever got: a Chia Pet. All I can tell him is just to be glad he didn't get a Jeff Koons instead.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blood Diamonds: "Damien Hirst Trips Over a Diamond the Size of his Head and Dies"

Here are some things I’d rather do than continue to think about Damien Hirst this week: 

1. Watch more Bloomberg campaign ads

2. Clean my cats’ litter box

3. Look at Ryan Seacrest’s shit-eating face

4. Try to get my health insurance company to provide me with basic services

5. Become friends with the idiot I’m watching get screamed at by Judge Judy

However, when I came across this jewel (pun intended), I just had to continue to expend energy worrying about Mr. Hirst’s rich ass.  The image above is an edition of work by a duo of Dutch artists known as PIEK! and is entitled “Damien Hirst Trips Over a Diamond of his Head and Dies.”  Wouldn't we all love for the only casualty of Hirst's gratuitous use of blood diamonds to have been himself?  

Luck for you, there are still a few available! see more here:

Also check out there series of self portraits (photos taken by people selling mirrors on craigslist. genius).

John McCracken or Cheap Furniture?

In honor of some of our most recent posts (Damien Hirst or Halloween decor, and the "Donald Judd or Cheap Furniture" quiz) I bring you "John McCracken or Cheap Furniture."

Want that mirror? Check it out at cb2:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CAT-alyse Creativity

I think it is safe to say that most artists are characters, some charmingly quirky, others uniquely eccentric, and then there are the select few who are not playing with a full pack of cards. We all joke about the crazy peeps we meet in the field, but this is of course, because we really aren't witnessing the worst of the mental disorders (which is no laughing matter). I am talking about the big ones that get you committed. It is hard to say if any of these creations from within the hospitals are going to count as fine art. There are those who believe that these unbridled expressions of Academically untainted creativity are the purest, truest forms of art (children's pictures also being included here). Then again, there is a difference between an artist, now committed, making work, versus the creations of a non-artist in an art therapy session. It boils down to what is art as a craft and what is art as a product made by a professional who combines mastered technique with creative genius. This is why you normally see mental patient art in outsider art galleries, with one noted exception of Louis Wain

Wain was a Victorian artist, never part of the mainstream British Academy, who specialized in comical cat illustrations. Then he became a schizophrenic and started his 'whooooooaa' cat drawings (like Mittens here, pictured above). Now he is highly collectible and finally counted as a fine artist. Wain was prolific; fabulous, really because I need one of these strangely psychedelic cats. It is really funny to think that these drawings are from the 1930's. They just seem so forward thinking in terms of aesthetic. I feel the same way about William Blake's work. I don't think they are ahead of their time exactly, just unfettered by temporal conventions. I would say that they fit in with more modern work only because it is now mainstream to be 'original' and un-Academic. But who knows, in another 20 years these kitties might go back to being dated misfits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Cute... I'm Getting All Faklempt

I am going to try and keep it under control here, but holy monkeys, I love cute things. I don't think I am alone here. Japan has Kawaii, which is cuteness embraced at the national level, and New York has these simply amazing lottery advertisements. If you haven't seen these commercials, you really should look them up. There are bunnies in people clothes doing people things in miniature environments. I just can't handle all the fluff!

So I figure that it is time to give a shout out to cute art. First of all, it is so smart from a commercial standpoint (kinda important if you want to make rent each month). Cute stuff sells. You can have a cute painting up in your house and not worry what your Great Auntie Mable is going to say when she comes over to visit; don't lie, you know that you have one piece in your collection that is too much of a conversation starter for family viewing. And then cute things are just plain fun. They tap into a childlike mental state we all have where you can just like something without having an intellectual or conceptual justification for it.

Let's take a look at Florentijn Hofman, Dutch artist whose globe trotting, ginormous duckie is pictured above, Rubber Duck In Osaka, 2009. Hofman's work varies in theme (always whimsical but not always cute animals) however, everything is always done on a large scale. I think this is a great strategy to keep things from getting too cloying and also giving just enough of an innovative edge. Still, large works means lots of money--not something an unestablished artist can easily attempt. So let's try at cute on a smaller scale...

Check out Inhae, an artist from Berkley who is now the notorious chronicler of My Milk Toof. The story line goes like this: you loose your baby teeth/milk teeth when you are a kid and they wander off to who knows where (I unfortunately do know; my mom has them in a jar next to old house keys...shudder), then one day Inhae's teeth show up with faces and personality, and now they all live together and Inhae records their misadventures on her blog My Milk Toof. These 'teeth' are made of polymer clay and are essentially props for some rather adorable photography. The artistic innovation here is using the Internet as a gallery and the blog becomes the actual art piece.

But what if you prefer a hermit, bunker style studio with no Internet access? We have you covered!! Amigurumi is the Japanese art of making cute, crocheted, stuffed figurines with anthropomorphic features. Here in the US I guess this is more of an Indie craft thing, but in Japan it is a full on art form. I think Amigurumi is one of those things that could be just a fun decoration, but it has the potential to be flushed out into an interesting installation or creepy/adorable public art project.

Or you could just train cats to dance with each other while wearing bloomers and top hats.

Go and hassle the Hofman:
See Toof on Toof action:
Your daily fiber art:

Silence of the Leaves: Your kid looks like Hannibal Lechter.

One of the things I love most in this world are amateur photography contests. Just like a thrift store, these contests ask you to dig through some ugly crap to get to the good stuff. You find ugly cliches, some lovely images, and the occasional accidentally HILARIOUS picture. You can imagine my excitement this morning when I came across the gem above at's fall photo contest. I can understand how the photographer (who I'm guessing is a loving relative of this child) may have missed the obvious likeness between this adorable child and Hannibal Lechter, but what about the photo editors?

Check it:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

All that glitters is not worth $100 MIL...

Piggybacking off Allie's last post, I thought I'd give ya'll a side-by-side skull comparison. At left is Damien Hirst's "For the love of God, 2007"  valued at $100,000,000; at right is one of Pottery Barn's newest Halloween acessories "Glitter Skull" valued at $19.  Remind you of one of these shitty fashion magazine features entitled "Blow the rent, Pay the rent?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

OOOOO, Sparkles!!

I am not sure if I am a fan of Damien Hirst. Yes, I like most of his ideas, but I am so professionally offended by his art factory and general whoring it up that I have a hard time really appreciating his concepts. For the Love of God was no exception. I can really get behind the inspiration, which was reportedly his mother asking him something along the lines of, "well... what are you going to do now?" Of course, cover a skull with diamonds. Personally, I would have trained hamsters to perform The Rite of Spring but with a post apocalyptic twist (after three martinis, you would totally pay to see this).

The funny thing about this skull is that the idea has to be the artistic genius in this piece as Hirst in no way did this himself. Not that I would necessarily fault him for this as he is not a jeweler, however it is the flawless execution which is the real selling point of this piece. Seriously, if it wasn't flawless it wouldn't be creepy or nearly so emotive. Hearken back to the scandal with Spiritus Callidus #2 by John LeKay; the Pillsbury-esque crystal skulls which is the idea that Hirst allegedly ripped off. The reason why no one really bought into the concept stealing (no matter how likely it was the Hirst did take the idea) was that a professional jeweler doing an amazing job of faceting the skull took the concept to an original place. Bearing this controversy in mind, Hirst can in no way take credit or copyright of this sparkly skull idea otherwise he opens a can of worms all over himself. Well, this is where irony steps in. You can now own your own 'diamond encrusted skull' from Pottery Barn. I heart you karma.

Hey kid... You wanna buy a skull?:

Do you think it is a rip off?: