Art In Real Life — Mike Tyson

This is some surreal IRL art right here. Mark Zuckerberg in drag conducts one of the best modern day interviews with early heavyweight champion-turned-champion of unexpected likability, Mike Tyson.

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If self-awareness were an art, Mike Tyson would be Pablo Picasso. This man is a genius.

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Evening Scraps, Vol. 5

It’s not because I’m lazy…really…it’s because Artinfo and the New York Times were just on point today with the want-to-know art information. And so without further ado, let’s get ‘er done:

And the art pun of the week goes to…—Artinfo

I call the nipple of the painting—Artinfo

VENice BIENnale PARTICipant LIst ANNOunced—Artinfo

Note to self: If in legal bind don’t call Philip Galanes—New York Times

Sure, Charles. I’m sure the fact that you didn’t really own a painting you sold just slipped your mind—New York Times

Smithsonian’s underwhelming controversial show possibly going to New YorkNew York Times


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How @jamesfranco Is Ruining James Franco

I have mixed feelings regarding posting about James Franco because I’m not sure what I think of him. I’m kind of sick of him, but I’m also a fan. How can a fan also be a hater? After a little bit of thought, I think I figured it out. That is, I think I discovered why this hater’s gonna hate. Let’s go…

Like I said, I became a fan of Franco’s during his pre-“21st-century Renaissance man” days. I thought he was awesome as Daniel Desario on Freaks & Geeks. In fact, I remember thinking this guy was destined for Hollywood’s A-list. What I didn’t know was that Franco would end up on just about every A-list imaginable—Hollywood’s, literature’s, academia’s, art’s, weed’s…the list goes on.

But I was a total supporter. I thought his forays into other cultural spheres were awesome because the man never disappointed; he was good at everything, from poetry to comedy. (“Acting with James Franco” is still one of the all-time best clips on Funny or Die, in my opinion.) In fact, I think it was this—Franco’s seemingly all-encompassing prowess at all there is—that inspired the first wave of haters, the Gawker haters, as it were. This wave of Franco backlash seemed to be inevitable; a gut reaction caused by the evolution of envy and curiosity at this megaman of modern culture. I mean, I, a self-purported fan, even found myself sometimes cursing him for being so good at infinity, when I struggle to maintain expertise in one, maybe two fields. But all the while, the Gawker haters and I couldn’t stop wondering, WWFDN? What would Franco do next?

Franco did Twitter next.


That’s the difficult-to-transliterate sound of the Franco bubble bursting. Why? Because James Franco’s Twitter sucks balls. Really, it’s astounding how shitty his tweets are. I’m assuming he probably looks at them as technology-enabled performance art, which is fine (I wish more people would view Twitter that way, rather than a dumpster for the mundane), but if that’s the case, Franco is doing it wrong. In effect, he’s not even using Twitter. Unlike Stephen Colbert, whose Twitter account is a brilliantly conceived extension of his performance on The Colbert Report, Franco’s doesn’t use words. The fuck? A man on the literary A-list doesn’t fucking use words! Instead, he simply posts links with no descriptions to mostly uninteresting videos and photographs (save for one, at least, which suggested he’s a fan of Rothko) on his own blog, which connects to Facebook, where teenage girls then can leave him a string of emoticon filled comments. (♥♥♥James! OMG!♥) It’s come to the point where, it’s beginning not to matter that the mostly uninteresting videos and photos are by James Franco. More and more, it seems they’re simply by some random asshole whose idiotic bullshit is mucking up my feed.

I think this Twitter turn of events can only be described as “just plain weird.” It just doesn’t seem right that a man so used to making it to the top of legitimate, meaningful A-lists, has managed to find his way to the bottom of my Twitter list. This is the biggest letdown since Pee-Wee Herman discovered the Alamo didn’t have a basement. He’s just so bad at it.

I don’t want to be sick of James Franco, but I’m definitely sick of @jamesfranco. I want to be able to separate the offline persona from the online, but it’s beginning to become a challenge. I’ll see @jamesfranco in @hell for sure, I just hope I don’t see James Franco in hell, too.

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Evening Scraps, Vol. 4

PBS talks Gary Condo—PBS

Julian Schnabel talks shit—Huffington Post

Ben Davis also talks shit—Artinfo

May I suggest the name Visagebinder?—Artinfo

What the fuck’s a 9-year-old doing sawing wood with a cutting board?—Washington Post

Artnet enters the 21st century—Artnet

To file under the “You’re doing it wrong” category: The headline is two characters too long for Twitter—Artinfo



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Auction Envy—Christie’s First Open

It’s Christie’s First Open Post-War and Contemporary, um, right now, which means two things: 1) I’m running late today (sorry!), and 2) I have more than one favorite, and in a first, a favorite page in the catalog.

First, though, let’s get to the things I’d give up a healthy retirement plan to own.

Lot 192/ Ed Ruschka/ Two Books, 2001/ Oil on canvas/ 20 x 18 in./ Est. $150,000-$200,000

This Ed Ruschka painting is definitely my favorite. Obviously, especially if you can read the title, it’s just two books. But it’s more than that, or maybe less. Take the details away (the inscriptions on the books, etc.) and what you have here are two long rectangles. That’s it. Two motherfucking rectangles! But it’s this simplicity that makes it so appealing. It’s constructivism with a twist; an abstract painting within a realist work. It’s amazing. Sold.

Lot 78/ Os Gemeos/ Carnavale, 2005/ Acrylic, latex, spray enamel on canvas/ 72 3/4 x 55 in./ Est. $40,000-$60,000

Next on my get list is this supersized Os Gemeos work. This is street art at its best. Why? Because it’s more than just a stencil (sorry, Shepard Fairey). Os Gemeos means “the twins” in Portuguese. And for once, there’s no metaphor there. Os Gemeos really are twins. Two twin brothers from Brazil to be exact and their work is astonishing. This piece in particular is probably one of the best of theirs I’ve seen on canvas. And here’s where I’ll reinsert the metaphor: It’s two works in one. You see the anarchistic stencil in the background contrasts heavily with the native folk in the foreground. I could stare at this painting for hours…

But I won’t because we have to get to the comic relief of this post, which thanks to the page designer at Christie’s is this page from the auction catalog:

Lot 100/ Jonathan Borofsky/ Flying Molecule Man, 1986/ Acrylic on urethane foam/ 62 x 36 x 27 in./ Est. $20,000-$30,000 AND Lot 101/ Maurizio Cattelan/ Untitled, 2009/ Polyurethanic rubber/ 8 x 4 x 3 in./ Est. $15,000-$20,000

I know these works aren’t related, but if I was into either (by the way, I am not), I’d insist on getting both. They just work so perfectly as a set. It looks like the finger was saying “fuck you” literally to the hole-poked flying man. Weird.


Lot 78: $134,500
Lot 100: $60,000
Lot 101: Bought In (Failed to sell)
Lot 192: $218,500

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Evening Scraps, Vol. 3

Internet-enabled art—JR

This is going to come in very handy at pub trivia one day—Londonist

Art fair scraps—Image Conscious

I can already picture the advert: Beautiful models chasing, a sunny beach pictured in black and white and a breathy voice that slowly whispers, “He who dealt it, smelt it—Refinery29

Mr. Brainwash earns more fans—The Art Newspaper

Aflockalypse Now—Artinfo

Hoarders, you’re doing it wrong!—The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Awesome. I was planning on having nightmares tonight anyway—Juxtapoz

Hey, I think Rothko gets better when you’re high too!—Flavorwire

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Death Is Good

One of the seemingly most melancholic aspects of being an artist is realizing that you’ll probably never be as successful alive as you will be dead. Can you imagine if other industries were like that?

“Yes, Mr. Dyson, we love your invention of the a human-sized Dyson Air Blade that can attach to the outside of your shower to dry someone off instantly as they exit the stall. Seriously, that shit’s awesome. We’ll give you $1,000 for it now or $100 million when you die.”

“Listen, Enema Man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog, the kids love to listen to you whilst walking on their pants with their caps on backwards. We’ll sign you to a multi-hundred dollar music contract now, and then bump it up to a multi-million dollar one when you die.”

“Mr. Depp, I loved you in Edward Scissorhands. I rented it the other day for 99 cents. But please don’t die. I haven’t seen The Tourist yet and that masterpiece is sure to skyrocket to $5.99 per rental!”

Or maybe not. See, the death bump only applies to art that’s considered good in the first place. That is it has to have some value. This means an artwork as awful as The Tourist (or at least The Tourist‘s trailers) would be exempt from the death bump because remember, no matter how weird the rule, mathematics still applies. When you multiply nothing with nothing, you just get more nothing.

But let’s leave math aside for now. Let’s examine why the death bump exists in the first place.

1) Finity: An artist can only produce so much. Whether it be a lot like Picasso or relatively little like Duchamp, the fact remains that once an artist dies, so does his or her ability to produce more. This doesn’t happen in other industries. Even though Kurt Cobain’s death meant Nirvana would no longer produce new music, the average price of an In Utero album is still the same as it was when he was alive. Why? Because there’s an unlimited supply. Anyone who wants it can find it on the Internet and own it. The same rule applies to things like movies, giant imaginary Dyson Air Blades, cookies, toilet paper, really, anything.

2) Uniqueness: Yes, art can be faked. It can be faked. In some cases it can be faked really, really well, but we’ll pretend I didn’t say that so I can say this: Every great artist offers something unique that can’t be replicated. Whether it’s a brush stroke, a signature, or just the intent and idea behind a work, originality counts. This concept can be extended to other artistic fields, as well. Whether a Nirvana disc was purchased in 1994 or 2004 doesn’t matter. But if one of them was signed by Kurt Cobain? Boom. Uniqueness. And he’s dead? Double boom for the collector. Limited supply. Which brings us to reason No. 3 why the death bump exists…

3) Art Is a Collector’s Item: When it comes down to it, in plain, cold marketspeak, art is just a really expensive collector’s item. It’s a cool-looking signed, limited edition CD. It’s a first edition copy of Ulysses. It’s a fancy stamp in a philatelic collection. It’s a lock of Michael Jackson’s hair…or whatever, creepy. The point is, when it comes to collecting anything the above two rules usually apply.

4) But Wait, Art Is Also Special: Think about it, what other single collector’s item has ever sold for $140 million? Not really anything. Art is special. It’s ephemeral, magical, phantasmagorical; it’s arte. It’s not just a painting, a sculpture, a, um, urinal… It’s an idea, a moment in time, a stimulator of parts of the brain that nothing else can touch. Great art takes you places other things can’t. When the people who create the best stuff die, art lovers, patrons and collectors scramble to keep that high in their possession, hence the death bump.

So what does all this mean? There are two ways to look at it, one’s romantic and the other’s cynical.

Let’s start with the uglier view first—the cynical view. As mentioned earlier, the death bump means increased value in the form of cash money. If you’re a collector trying to de-acquisition a deceased great—ka-ching! If you’re a dealer handing a private sale between the de-acquisitioning collector and the collector in search of that mind high—ka-ching, ka-ching! You get the idea…

But let’s not end with an ellipsis and a general feeling of misanthropy. Let’s look at the romantic meaning of the death bump in art. Death isn’t an end for the artist, but a grand, new beginning. Death begets legacy and martyrdom. This view of the bump transcends monetary gain. If you pay attention when speaking with a critic or a serious collector, you’ll probably notice they often still refer to a deceased artist using the present tense: “Francis Bacon is a genius.” “Amadeo Modigliani is great.” “Yves Klein is the best there is.” Through death, artists get the chance to live through their work forever. And as present-day art lovers, we can add the legends to our fantasy dinner parties. I, for one, would invite Giuseppe Archimboldo over to dine on a fruit basket shaped like a human head with me, Audrey Hepburn and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Delicious.

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