Arcadia Art Auction Results, Mar 2, 2013
Estimate: 3,500-4,000 euros; Price: 1,000 euros
“Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, at a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.”
—Franz Kafka, from a letter to Oskar Pollak dated January 27, 1904.
Kafka’s writing his letter in a time very much like the present. Stanley Kubrick based his last great cinematic masterpiece , Eyes Wide Shut, on a work by a contemporary of Kafka’s, Arthur Schnitzler. The Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed completely in 1918. And Kafka above is writing about the empty culture filled with vapid entertainments on top of a totally financially bankrupt empire awash in unpayable debts and plunging into war. The Italian Futurists were as excited as could be by the mechanized future and agitating for WWI. Glorying in science, thy denounced the art of the past, tanks and airplanes and heroic warfare.
The Dadaists behaved like a pack of morons talking gibberish, just like the dadaists of today. Naturally the art critics revere the early Dadaists, paving way for the total idiocy that fill the high art museums. Brilliant writers of the time, like Stefan Zweig, are no longer read but their work is turned into caricatural, cartoon amusements by the lame-brained Wes Anderson.
Decadence is brilliant. Better that Western Art died in WWI, so that we can replace difficult painting with urinals and Dadaist performances. Is there any other kind of performance art than Dadaist performance? The myriad performers from Ray Johnson and Kaprow in the 70s to Abramovic and McCarthy are all just repeating Dada nihilism. Destroy Culture!
Culture today in our galleries and museums is in effect anti-culture. The Dadaists, Duchamp, Man Ray were not making art. They were making anti-art.
I just paged through the latest piece of art history dreck by Jed Rasula, naturally praised by all the avant-gardists of today. The book’s title is “DestructionWas My Beatrice.” It’s not only a loving portrait of the non-artists of Dada but hailing the genius of the big name artists of today… Basquiat, Rauschenberg, Johns and so on.
So I find myself living in a world just like Kafka’s, except fully technologized, fulfilling the dreams of the Futurist manifestos for destruction.
And of course, Jed Rasula, and all the champions of the thorough destruction of Art naturally are well paid academics and art writers, explaining to everyone why looking at a pile of trash on the floor is a profoundly worthwhile culture experience.
Also, quite naturally, a Warhol silkscreen will sell for tens of millions of dollars, but last I checked one can buy a piece of crap by Richard Huelsenbeck, one of the original Dadaists for a couple thousands bucks. Of course with Rasula pimping Dadaism I imagine that the prices have been getting ginned up. That’s how it works, after all. Anybody ever heard of Richard Huelsenbeck? Any of you artistes go to his work for fresh inspiration? Better get with it! Neo-Neo-Dada is just around the corner! It’s the latest thing! Just as fresh today as it was in 1916!
Our Neo-Dadaists (Andy, Jasper, Bob and Jean-Michel ad infinitum), while not saying anything that Huelsenbeck hadn’t already said back in 1916, use pretty colors. That’s the big American innovation to European Dadaism. And no doubt the reason that American Dadaism has great works of art that sell in the tens millions of dollars for a single work.
It’s also certain those values will only go up and up as our brilliant civilization continues its technological march into the glorious future.
Another Huelsenbeck masterpiece :
Actually, it’s hard to find many Huelsbenbeck’s with a google search. Perhaps Mr. Rasula or one of his colleagues can get a publishing advance from one of the notable artbook houses to compile the catalogue raisonne and a 2-Volume biography of the artist allowing access to the depth of his thinking and life of artistic achievements. It’s a great art historical injustice that the artist who paved the way for the genius of Warhol and Keith Haring should be so shamefully neglected, while his works sell for what wealthy art collectors spend on lunch.