Kylie Jenner & The Lost Art

Barnett Newman, 1967. National Gallery of Canada. Sure, you could create this painting, but its location and price tag will inform us that your version isn’t art.
Half-trillion dollar da Vinci? The key is the reflection in the glass.
Damien’s dots (one of 300+ damien-dot productions).

Artistic Value Creation

For most of the history of art, the artist uniquely possessed something that most people didn’t: talent. The pagan Greeks considered such talents, such as natural beauty, to be gifts from the gods. Phrene, the rather famous ancient Greek consort and model for Praxiteles’ Aphrodite (the most famous work of art), was — according to one version — charged with and acquitted of corrupting the youth because her beauty must be such a gift. (FYI math was similarly revered by the Greeks). In short, all of these gifts pointed to something beyond the small confines of the mortal coil. In doing so, they were uplifting or instructive or, at least, a respite from the psychic warfare of everyday life. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is worth about $450M more than the same painting by Bob da Vinci precisely because we believe da Vinci possesses a rare gift — Leonardo, and not Bob, was in touch with the universe in ways ordinary people are not.

Phrene’s defense entailed removing her clothes. Not recommended for traffic court.
Damien literally has a work of “art” titled “Golden Calf.” It’s a cow in formaldehyde. Sold for almost $20M. Yeah, those are more dots in the background. It is meaningless to look at such “art.” The only meaning is in buying and selling it.
A banana duct-taped to a wall was sold for $120,000 at 2019 Art Basel Miami. There is a reason why art dealers are oft referred to as “used car dealers in $5000 suits.”

Kylie Jenner as Logical End

Jenner after and before.
If Damien could make himself look like Kylie, we all know he would…
Liberman’s dots. 1950. The Met confirms that this is art.

And one wonders…

Why is the world going mad? We’re enveloped in a value ponzi scheme, and people have the spectral apprehension that narratives of meaning seem to be constructed from meaninglessness, that a sense of genuine value has been lost. The most definitive word on modern art came from Marcel Duchamp. Marcel was rather forlorn about art going into WWI, and he saw the future of dots and butts. So, for his submission for a major NYC exhibit, he bought the following from a plumbing supply store, signed it “R. Mutt” — (a French play on “moneybags urinal”), and submitted it under the title “Fountain.” Marcel then dabbled a bit in art but spent the bulk of his life (he was only in his early 30s) playing chess. There’s a reasonable argument that Goya was the last great master, but I submit that Marcel’s Fountain is the last great masterpiece. It warned us — it’s our problem that we didn’t listen.

Duchamp as prophet. Fountain. 1917. Reproduction in the Tate. Duchamp made only one great work and a few minor ones after this and essentially spent the next four decades playing chess. His rejection wasn’t merely of art but of the entire art world, which he concluded was only worthy of being pissed on.



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