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Sturgeon

Art Appreciation Thread

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No, this is real Dutch art:

Frans_Hals_-_Regents_of_the_St_Elizabeth

 

I saw this painting at an exhibition last week, along with several other selections from the Old Dutch Masters.  Screw your post-impressionistic nonsense; these guys are where it's at.  They're not called the masters for nothing.

If you look closely, several of Vermeer's paintings have depth of focus effects.  In a painting.  A painting painted in the mid 1600s.

 

Dutch art in the golden age was a wholesale rejection of traditional European concepts of subject matter; that is that religious and historical scenes should predominate.  They painted portraits of the rich, middle class, even of the poor at work.  They painted women composing letters, trustees of a hospital discussing finances, and herring boats working the shoals.  If this sounds utterly prosaic and boring it's because you are living in the world they created.  Before them art wasn't considered interesting unless it was the five thousandth portrayal of the martyrdom of Saint Whatever or some siege.

 

Portrait_of_Andries_de_Graeff_%E2%80%93_

 

Technically they were absolutely a match for any contemporary painters, even the Italians.  Stylistically they were better, being far more capable of using subtle cues of conveying intent to the viewer.  Take mister Andries de Graeff above.  Look at all the hints in his posture and the framing of the picture that this man was powerful and self-assured.  The composition is both stylized and naturalistic; the light is falling on his face so we can see his features clearly, but it is also falling on his clothing in a consistent manner that shows the texture of the cloth.  This is another cue; he's wearing an extremely well-made and expensive outfit; one that flaunts his wealth and importance even within the monochromatic restraints of Calvinist decency.  The point of view is important as well.  We're looking up at him from the ground.

 

This painting is also gigantic.  Seriously, it's like two meters tall.

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https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/03/the-declining-taste-of-the-global-super-rich
 

 

The design philosophy is one of overt aesthetic and utilitarian offense—it is ugly, it is useless, and that is all on purpose, with none of the cheek that could even give it a campy appeal. I cannot stress this enough; it’s just terrible, ugly fucking furniture.

15-1968-radical-italian-furniture-yatzer

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I missed this when it was posted, but it fully accords with my theory that money emits some sort of strange radiation which damages the part of the brain governing good taste.

 

Edit: on a more serious note, I remember reading a theory that art markets presently function as a means of transferring wealth between tax havens rather than being linked to any intrinsic value of the work itself. This is based on the idea that a Picasso, which is very common (because he churned the out), is nonetheless going to keep its value. This is odd if you think of artworks as goods, but perfectly sensible if you think of them as a sort of currency. Picasso is well known (which provides a guarantee of minimum value) and there are enough of his works around to use as a medium of exchange. Finally, a painting represents a relatively compact but dense form of wealth that is easy to transfer across borders.

 

Which is all to say that one of the reason rich people like art so much is that it is a good investment for people who are rich enough to dabble in it.

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More on this concept:

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/the-shady-world-of-art-auctions-how-can-a-picasso-be-truly-worth-140-million-when-the-art-market-is-10242802.html

 

https://www.icij.org/offshore/mega-rich-use-tax-havens-buy-and-sell-masterpieces

 

http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/culture/art/214699-guide-to-laundering-money-art

 

The last one is the most damning, I think.

 

Also:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/12/why-this-picasso-sold-for-180-million-and-what-it-tells-us-about-the-worlds-super-rich/

 

Finally, I should mention that I know one very successful artist (and a lot of less-successful ones) and she follows the following rules:

 

- Make a lot of works (multiple per day - she actually has a full-time staff on hand who just make canvases)

- Make them abstract*

- Put the majority of your effort into name brand recognition and marketing (including installation pieces and publicity stunts)

- Hire/marry a full-time publicist and run your practice like a business

 

All of the above are exactly what you'd expect to work well if you expect your art to be treated like a tradeable commodity and optimise your practices accordingly. The first rule is what you'd expect if the commodity you were producing was a currency rather than a luxury good.

 

 

* Her explanation here was that she gets the majority of her sales from businesses or rich buyers who want something that can hang on an office wall and not take up too much attention

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Jesus: "Hey man. You should totally let go of that rope and hit Simon the Shit Shoveler in the head with that bucket!"

 

Guy on Left: "Quiet Jesus. He's right underneath us!"

 

Guy in Middle: "Wait until I get my I-Phone ready. I gotta get this shit on YouTube."

 

Guy on right. "Hahahhaha! We live in a pre-industrial society which doesn't even understand how electricity works. That's just a sandstone block."

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