Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Touch of Class VII – $1,000,000 For That?

Readers of my previous fine arts posts (for example, here) have no doubt noticed a pattern: all of the art I’ve highlighted has been quite old. The reason being that modern art tends to be over-priced crap. To prove my point, let’s take a look at some of the offerings from Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale tonight at Rockefeller Center in New York.

For example, consider this untitled piece by Christopher Wool that is estimated to sell for between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000:

If my name happened to be Rund Ogea Tdog, I might consider paying $50 for it and hanging it on my front gate. (For $1,000,000 you could have at least come up with a name for it – I suggest Rund Ogea Tdog)

No modern art auction would be complete without a Warhol painting of a Campbell’s soup can and Christie’s has “Small Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot)” estimated at $10,000,000 to $15,000,000:

The total value of all of Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can paintings has got to be astronomical. Whoever came up with the Campbell’s soup can design must have gone nuts. I assume it is the work of some anonymous graphic designer who maybe got a bonus of a couple hundred bucks and then had to sit and watch Warhol make millions off the design.

At least Warhol’s paintings look like something. Most modern art doesn’t even reach that level. For example, Basquiat’s “M” ($1,500,000 to $2,500,000) looks like the doodlimg of a troubled teenager:

And then there is “Tornado Warning” by Myles ($1,200,000 to $1,500,000) that looks like the work of a talented five year old:

Finally, there’s the genre of geometric shapes, like “Elements V” by Marden ($1,500,000 to $2,000,000):

New York City has got to be full of struggling artists going around saying: “My rectangles are just as rectangular as Marden’s. He makes millions a painting and I can’t sell a single one at $29.95”. Is it any wonder that contemporary artists are all a bunch of commies with no faith in the free market?

Christopher Wool’s Untitled sold for $1,080,000.
Andy Warhol’s “Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot)” sold for $11,776,000.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “M” sold for $2,928,000.
Brice Marden’s “Elements V” sold for $2,984,000.
Myles’ “Tornado Warning” is still available and has been marked down to $999,999.99.


Blogger John said...


1:25 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

Commies? What?

Christies Auction is the freeist of all free market driven institutions.

These modern art auctions have the most in common with the wild speculation that Wall Street and pork futures run away with in capitalist frenzy. Communism theorized about tying price to the value of material and labor.

I don't know what you guys sit around and smoke but you really need to learn history, philosophy and just plain common sense before you go blowing off at the mouth. Where did you go to school? Who were your history teachers?

Under a Communist system they would regulate wild price speculation by greedy art investors and the money changers.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Michelle Joy: he said the artists were the commies, not the capitalists buying and selling this poop at exhorbitant prices. Where did you go to school? Who were your teachers? Who the hell taught you to read?

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under communism, the artists were also regulated as was their expression. It is sophomore stupidity to call post-war New York artists "Commies" just because you happen to disagree with the inflated value of their work. Many of the post-war artists being auctioned at Christies were political exiles from Europe and Russia. Intellectual liberalism, which most of you find revolting in your pigheaded redneck ignorance, and their opposition to communist totalitarianism was ultimately the action that brought communism down beginning with the labor movement in the Polish shipyards. But I suppose all of you idiots want to believe Ronald and Nancy Reagan with fortune-telling whispers from their astrological advisor brought communism down.. Obviously, you all were not educated but, instead, doctrinated with anti-communist drivel.

Communist totalitarians were really bad but your redneck red state ignorance is worse.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

Not to be fooled, “Tornado Warning” by Myles is not really in the Christies post-war catelogue and apparently is Sis' attempts to create a cyber-truth with vitual trickery -- in other words, NEVER TRUST what you read on NIGP !!

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you must have trouble decoding but it is...

Run dog eat dog

You should have your disorder checked out, it's probably an inability of the brain to see abstract ideas clearly as evident in the writing of your other posts.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

Michelle Joy is rapidly becoming my favorite commenter, because, although misguided, you can’t get much past her. “Tornado Warning” is indeed not in the Christie’s auction. It is the work of my nephew and is hanging on my refrigerator – I was just trying to create some buzz. It is available at the quoted price, and if you like Myles’ work, there is more where that came from. But Michelle, that (and the Windows 98 thing – an honest mistake) are the only misinformation anywhere on this blog, I swear.

And, as an anonymous commenter noted, I was probably too quick to denounce New York artists as commies. I have not done any political polling of them and for all I know they’re a right-of-center bunch. The point I was trying to make was that Marxist ideas may be tempting to artists who can’t sell their paintings of triangles while some better known artist makes millions on something very similar.

Also, I don’t condemn anyone who buys modern art. I may not understand why someone would prefer Wool to Courbet anymore than I’d understand why someone would prefer basketball to hockey, but to each his own.

As for the comment about the words in Wool’s painting saying “Run dog eat dog”, I disagree. I know that the Christie’s website says that (don’t pretend you came up with it by yourself) but they and you are wrong. Using the spacing and punctuation conventions of the English language (perhaps you’ve heard of it) it says: “Rund ogtea tdog”. If everyone were to make up their own language conventions we would have chaos. Or in a format you may better understand:

Finally, I will answer the questions from Michelle’s first comment:
1. I don’t smoke
2. I attended Minnesota public schools and the University of Minnesota, so yes my education is very vulnerable to criticism.
3. I’m not comfortable holding my former teachers up to public ridicule, deserving though they may be.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Modern art: The surest sign our civilization is doomed.

Art is anything I can't do. I could paint letters on a canvas. Ergo, not art.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sis, you are a genuine treasure and a real piece of work..

Or maybe it's a genuine piece work treasure; I forget.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Nihilist in Golf Pants said...

Read from top to bottom, the first piece says: Rot U GD Neo Dag. Could he be telling all the Neo-con Dawgs to rot?

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

Prior to Pop Art and Warhol, most of the post-war New York School of artists were selling their work through collectors like Irwin Blum for very little money.

Many of these artists whose work is selling for 10+ million, were shocked and dismayed when they saw work they sold for five hundred or a thousand dollars being "speculated" on and resold as branded commodities for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollar per piece.

Obviously, you cannot appreciate the march of capitalist driven economy of these times and over-simplify but dumbing-down history calling artists "commies."

In your neo-McCarthy knee jerk name calling, you seem to forget a few essential things about America. First, it is a free country. The brillance of the American revolution is that it allowed for free political speech and association.

Second, governments, parties and totalitarian doctrine could not rule over free individuals in our country by defintiion in our Constitution. Therefore, any person has a right to be a Liberal, Democrat, Socialitist, Communist, Anarchist, Libertarian, Republican or whatever their conscious dictated without fear of prosecution by the government, military, or police.

The problem with the tactics of McCarthy, the current Republican knee-jerk conservative reactionaries is that they do not respect the Constitution and are contrary to American values and principles of freedom.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Chad The Elder said...

Campus speech codes, hate speech laws, campaign finance "reform"

Yeah, it's those dissent-crushing reactionaries on the Right that have no respect for free speech.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Chad The Elder said...

By the way, is a "Socialitist" a combination of a socialist and a socialite? Talk about frightening ideology...

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

To Chad the Elder:

In general, I am opposed to placing restrictions on all those things: free speech on campus, "hate speech," and campagin finance reform laws that restrict the right of individuals or groups to speak out against their opponents. I don't know if that makes me a liberal or a conservative.

Generally speaking, freedom to speak, even say bad and obnioxous things has always been the "liberal" position. Allowing free expression is, by defintion, a foundation stone of liberal democracy. If we as Americans are hated anywhere in the world, to be specific by the Taliban, it is for being liberal, open, and allowing for personal freedoms that reactionary conservative and orthodox societies condemn.

Let me repeat, it is because we are LIBERALS in America that these violent and angry militants attack our way of life. Because we live in a LIBERAL society individuals enjoy the rights to express themselves, maintain privacy from the abusive intrusion of government in our lives and we can control the excesses of government (as well as its incompetencies) over the governed.

And there are violent and angry religious fundamentalist groups right here in America who consider themselves the heart and soul of the conservative moment who also hate the freedoms American stands for and represent in the world. They wish to restrict individual freedoms.

You'll find them protesting ouside the funerals of American soldiers, the young men and women who died fighting in Iraq. They are zealots, bigots, narrow-minded and anti-freedom but by making themselves public, we know where the hateful zealots reside and we can keep an eye on them.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Chad The Elder said...


I believe that you're confusing the definition of a classical liberal with the modern day American version. The words may be the same, but the meanings are quite different.

And to say that:

"And there are violent and angry religious fundamentalist groups right here in America who consider themselves the heart and soul of the conservative moment who also hate the freedoms American stands for and represent in the world."

is simply absurd. The number and membership of such groups is infinitesimal and they are in no way part of any conservative movement (I think that's what you meant however ill-defined and meaningless that term is). To pretend otherwise is an insult to conservatives and to the intelligence of the readers of this fine blog.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

Chad the Elder:

I don't think it is an insult to the intellience of anyone reading this blog.

First, you way wish to call my definition of the word liberal to be classical but it is the best and only one I respect and adhere to. If your negative and revisionist view of liberalism is the one you tout and shout about, too bad, it is not mine in principle nor action.

Second, I agree that the number of zealot fundamentalist hatemongers on the right is very small but every word they say is being listened to and adhered with by the Bush administration and the leaders in the Republican Party.

And let it be known that in the realm of politics in America today, the Republican party, George Bush and Tim Pewlenty defy the very definition of classical conservativism. I grew up with and very much respected the goals and aspirations of classical conservatives. And these people where Republicans, many of them in my own family. The gang of corrupt thugs running the government in Washington and St. Paul today should never be confused with being conservatives or Republicans.

First, they are completely corrupt. They are wasteful and do not exercise prudent and wise fiscal management. In Washington, they are running up the largest deficits in the history of the world.

The Texas Republican mafia are exapnsionists, imperialists, and interventionists. They have absolutely no ability to wisely manage the affairs of government nor put forward a plan of action that keeps our troops out of harms way. They have not pursued war under any suitable terms of engagement nor do they have a exit strategy. They have refused to adhere to international conventions of war and longstanding threaties that Republicans from Thomas Woodrow Wilson to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan respected and knew to be important to our nation as well as the world.

The Republicans today are lost, floundering and irresponsible. Incompetitence has no ideology. Incompetitence is not conservative, liberal or anarchistic. If George W. Bush was the CEO of a corporation (an analogy he likes to make) the company would have failed long, long ago.

If you run afoul in making appointments for political and ideological purity, if you employ people who bend and cheat with the truth and military intelligence, for example, what you end up with is incompetitant government -- efforts that fail to achieve the intended results whether it be spreading democracy around the world or rescuing elderly people in hospitals in the path of hurricanes.

The list of incompetent actions with this administration and our current government is endless and mind bloggling really. If you think that is beyond the intelligence of the people reading this blog than we, as a nation, are in far more trouble than ever.

If we as citizens cannot see our duty to understand and hold elected officals responsible for their ineptitude, than we are doomed to get the government we deserve. And suffer with the downfall of our reputation for greatness in the world.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

OK Sisyphus, back the the art, one thing is clear: you are not Will Shortz. Ever heard of word games? Word puzzles? RUNDOGEATDOG [btw, there is not "T" between "O" and "GEA"] or rather:


is simply a word puzzle. Do you get pissed off and offended with "spacing and punctuation conventions of the English language" when you see cryptograms and rebuses in the morning newspaper?

Obviously, or maybe not so obviously for the intellectually disabled and perminently closed-minded, Christopher Wool is playing with the minds desire to make order and sense of abstract symbols that come to represent words from everyday use to form a phrase of whimsical non-sense.

Nobody cares if you can do this in your kitchen refigerator at home with magnets or not and apparently it does not stop someone (with their tax rebate or deduction from the government in their pocket) to pay more than a million dollars for it.

I'm sure Wool had no idea when he was constructing this bit of Favist humor that anyone in their right mind would buy this piece of work for more than a million dollars. I'm sure that the artists involved with Fluxus, Dada, and Favism had little concern for auctions at Christies. Why should he care? They never saw a penny of it.

But irony abounds, does it not?

10:12 AM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

No, I am not offended by cryptograms and rebuses when they appear in the morning newspaper – that is where I think they belong (although newspaper readers tend to demand more challenging puzzles than Christopher Wool’s).

Actually, I have no problem with Christopher Wool painting word games and then selling them. I don’t even have a problem with someone paying a million for it; there are worse ways they could have spent their money – like setting up a PAC to elect commies.

It may well be my lack of education, but what I don’t understand is how seemingly intelligent critics and blog commenters can defend such things as worthwhile art.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Chad The Elder said...

Don't make us start listening in on your calls Michelle. I mean, PLEASE don't make us listen in on your calls. I think I'd rather pluck chickens.

By the way, I believe the key words your were looking for were "Dangerously Incompetent" and "Culture of Corruption." Maybe one of the House Dems will let you borrow some of their swell signs as memory aids.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Tiger McTeague said...

I don't get it... since when does art have to be "worthwhile" and since not much of it is (and that which is worthwhile is depised and boring) who made THE rule?

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Joy said...

I never defended Christopher Wool as worthwhile. I think he is humorous and Dadaist. I think it is whimsy and pokes fun at all the seriousness of art.

But certainly it is not as worthless as the millions and millions and millions of dollars spent on moron-movies like "Anchorman" and "Gigli."

But it is a free country and more power to them all.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

I think we are nearing agreement. I don't know if Wool is intending to be a satarist, but if he is, I applaud him.

Anchorman wasn't a bad movie, but I probably don't want to open that can of worms.

1:56 PM  
Blogger CGHill said...

It's perfectly obvious to me: RUN DOG EAT DOG is a cry for help from a man whose sexuality has been denied for far too long.

Just rearrange the letters and you get OUTRAGED DONG.

I trust this explanation will prove satisfactory.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Jackson Pollack said...

CGHill -- Not only do I agree but I can now say I think, given this added complexity, the painting might be worth $1 million + Before you pointed it out, I would have said it ain't worth more than $500G. Thanks for helping bring reason and rationality to the capitalist art world.

7:20 PM  

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