abba's way

The Best Art is Artless and Free

Will Ferrell, Larry Gagosian, More Notables at Art Basel Bash for Christian Marclay – The Daily Beast: “The annual artfest draws Will Ferrell, Larry Gagosian and other notables, as Wendi Murdoch, Dasha Zhukova, Tina Brown, and Credit Suisse throw a dinner for ground-breaking artist Christian Marclay. Lloyd Grove reports on the festivities as buyers and collectors celebrate a rebound in the high-end market.”

There was a time when art represented the labor of someone to create an image or representation of something or someone that otherwise might not have been preserved.

Such are the cave drawings in France, the sculptures of Greece and anything else signified in the sentence above.

This art has as much resemblance to the so-called artfest noted above a Truman Capote party to Michelangelo showing people his Sistine ceiling.

In short as art in the sense I have used the term has become less and less necessary, the sort of production we dignify with the name today has become, like some charity, a high end business whose relation to the original purpose of art is far fetched, to be nice about it.

I am aware there is an order of quality in abstractions, found art and whatever else one does these days. But there is something wrong and the wrongness does not diminish over time.

I have maintained elsewhere that museums are largely passe. I regard movies as the successor medium to art in its original sense. And I take the current efforts of persons like Mr. Marclay to be charming perhaps, even beautiful perhaps, but mostly a function of class, social position and things Thorstein Veblen could have described far better than I.

The exclusivity and false market associated with today’s stuff provides grist for those who earn a living as critics or teachers or marketers. But to me the sign evokes Holden Caulfield responses. I can go out on the street and look about and be more edified by what I see and retain as by most anything now being marketed as art.

As for things that might hang well in a condo, chacque un a son gout.

Notables in art seem to me to be players on a stage not long for this world. Perhaps the field will widen and be less stratified in the future. But I am sure that is not the interest or goal of those who brought off the above.


Phony Wealth


It’s the Wall Street Journal’s assessment that we have lost 18 percent of our wealth.

I think it is time to revive Holden Caulfield’s general attitude and call our wealth phony. For each instance of alleged wealth, we have seen an instance of skyrocketing costs.

I can remember my dad, who was a well-to-do lawyer in NYC, telling me that I might expect a magnificent inheritance — at the time it was about one-fifth of what is now being asked, even in a recession, for a studio apartment in Manhattan. My dad lived to see the 2000s and by then had accumulated a good deal of phony wealth.

We all got taken in by it. For a while. I lost faith in it pretty quickly because literally everything I could have bought for $1000 some decades ago now cost many times as much. Houses and cars in particular. I always figured the computer was the new car because they used to cost what I could have bought a VW bug for in the 1960s. Also they were sold with the same lingo-hype.

I am not sure where inflation is in this because my impression is these increases in costs were not counted as inflation. But I surely know that when a restaurant asks $100 for a meal that once cost $15, my money is basically phony. The only thing that saves me is that I never pay close to $15 for a meal today. I feed low on the totem pole with no regrets.

Because, you see, I was NOT a wealthy WS lawyer, I was a quixotic radical semi-free spirit, knew how to get along with very little money and never put that much store in it. The one exception for me was a brief time of online business where I got sucked into believing the hype for a while, only to finally realize that it was just as phony as everything else to do with wealth.

Yes, wealth and phoniness go hand in hand folks. Take it from one who knows. Maybe back in my odd youth there was a wealth that was not phony, but, looking back now, it was pretty shaky even then.

The way the market works, even now, is that when we have valueless money, but less of it, say 18 percent less, we will get by by paying less. Some, the poorest, will get screwed more than the wealthy, but society will not tank. Obama is about making the playing field more level.. I like that. I believe in that.

Otherwise, like Holden Caulfield, I thumb my nose at the WSJ and say it’s all phony.