Bart “the Swede” Johannson, Abstract Painting No. 1.865 (Memories of My Third Acid Trip), oil on something or another, 1977-2017

Meanwhile while I wait for the next Eric Wayne to write in to tell me that I have no followers because I’m an asshole and a maggot, I just thought I’d get back to reading an article by one of the few journalists who isn’t totally nuts or a hack writing for the mainstream media. While it’s a great pleasure to read the material designed to keep the population all worked up about one thing or another, be it Eminem’s rallying cries for the Left Wing Revolution or David Brooks telling us the problem with the economy is lazy white males who are ignorant and lazy and sit around watching imbecilic TV shows, I sometimes like to see what is going on back in reality. David Brooks is quite illuminating when it comes to telling us why the economic problems we’re facing are due to lazy and ignorant white racists and the like who instead of attending NASCAR rallies and watching Bill Maher should be launching innovative internet startups that will get the economy back up and humming along like the sleek machine it was during the dotcom days of Bill Clinton. Ah. Those were the days… of wine and Monica Lewinsky and Madeline Albright keeping Saddam Hussein in line by starving half a million Iraqi children to death.

Madeleine can also be commended for telling women that whichever of them didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for President deserved a special place in hell. Right next to her I imagine. What a sweetheart. Just look. I also imagine Hell looks something like the video below at the moment Madeline gets the rousing response.:

How in the world did Hillary lose with rallies like this and women of the caliber of Madeline Albright supporting her with great campaign admonitions like that one? A Vote for Trump assures you’re going to Hell if you’re a woman casting the ballot. That 53 percent of white women voted for Trump indicates none of them believe in the Hell that Madeline Albright will cast them into.

If only Hillary had won and we could have made America great again as we were during the reign of slick Willie bombing the be-jeepers out of Bosnia. As our political leaders have shown us time and time again there are no problems to intractable that they can’t be solved on dropping as many bombs as possible on the bad guys. Hillary had a great plan to fund all these wars for the liberation of the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya and many other unfortunate countries by getting the lazy sods off their asses and into an Uber driving people around from one place to another in their car. It’s innovations like these that Hillary and her team can get moving again with her inspiring rhetoric, just like Barack Obama before her.

So every once in a while, between talking to nutters (or rather great artists as there’s little difference anymore between the two) like Eric Wayne about the significance of nutters like Andy Warhol and Bruce Nauman I check back in on reality with one of the few journalists that are still connected to it.

Yes, I’m quite aware that Patrick Cockburn’s piece on the Coming Decline of US and UK power and his ludicrous comparisons of Donald Trump to Boris Yeltsin are typical far-left  exaggeration. Not to mention his insinuation that the biggest march in American history against the Washington establishment wearing pink pussy hats last month is lowering our credibility with European, Russian, and Chinese leaders (just to name 3 out of hundreds other other countries where rationality still prevails).

What Cockburn seems to be leaving out is that the glass is not half-empty it is also half-full and that when life hands you lemons you make lemonade and that an optimist is the person who makes the best of things when life hands him the worst of things. And I still have faith that a positive attitude by people with faith in the system, and who are rallying to get Trump impeached will succeed in their heroic efforts to do so.

Just as long as I stay on my anti-depressant medication.

And I’m quite sure that pretty soon in the near future we’ll be witnessing some really fantastic impeachment hearings where we establish this Yeltsin-like buffoon is unfit for the office of Commander in Chief. After all, who knows what he’s doing in the late sleepless evenings besides staring at the nuclear codes wondering who needs to be taught a lesson. This guy has to be sent packing so that a more fit leader like Mike Pence can run the country and put us back on track.

And when the meds start to deflate I sit back in my old chair in front of the computer and cue up a rousing patriotic number to restore my spirits.

If this isn’t a rousing number I don’t know what is. And this by  one of our greatest legal minds of our time, who also turns out to be a talented lyricist and songwriter. Who says America doesn’t got talent to burn? Here he is, ladies and gentlemen and others somewhere in between, Attorney General John Aschcroft singing a piece he wrote himself. Hearing it brings a tear to my eye. I like to alternate between Attorney General Aschcroft and the great Bruce Nauman to experience the full spectrum of American artistic genius, from right to left wing And I let the tears flow. Or in the prophetic words of the mellifluous mentally ill metaphysician Philip K Dick “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.”

Don’t hold back. Sing along with John and keep right on going with Brucie the Clown Nauman.


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We Interrupt this Blogcast

We interrupt this blogcast to bring you the following public service link to Patrick Blanchfield in the Baffler on the New Praetorianism.

“But the New Praetorianism runs even deeper, and is baked into bipartisan dogma of American exceptionalism. It manifests in David Brooks’s arguing for America as the fulfillment of human destiny and freedom like a half-pint Hegel praising Hohenzollern Prussia as God’s gift to man. But it is also revealed in ugly statements that, formally speaking, leave ostensibly #woke liberals looking indistinguishable from unreconstructed reactionary racists. Gasbag-at-large Keith Olbermann rails that “the military apparatus of this country is about to be handed over to scum who are beholden to scum, Russian scum,” “anti-racist educator” Tim Wise pronounces that “when your contribution to the world is Faberge eggs, autocracy and pogroms, no one should much care what you think,” and MSNBC’s Joy Reid invokes the threat of “Comrade Vladimir” and marvels that “for most Americans it’s shocking to see an American presidential candidate openly touting authoritarian, communist Russia” a word-salad, history-free composite of scary ideologies as coherent as any Tea Partier’s jeremiad against “Islamo-Fascism.” If such idiocy is meant to steer us away from Trump’s supposed threat to international peace, we might as well just throw a switch and go to DEFCON 1 already. After all, CNN breathlessly reports, there is a Russian ship “lurking” off the coast of Connecticut right now.

Here’s the hard truth: There is a fundamental synergy between Democratic chauvinist exceptionalism, GOP clash-of-civilizations dogma, and Trump’s grotesque strongman antics. The Democrats may prefer a reboot of Cold War apocalypticism; Trump, for his part, looks eager to tear up global treaties, toss international law aside, and throw American weight around in building a new twenty-first century order of Great Powers. Maybe he will get his way, maybe he won’t. Maybe one of the parties will produce a more telegenic, more reasonable, and more “moderate” leader down the line. Any of these scenarios, though, skirts ever closer to disaster, and all take as unspoken that the essential business of the American state is a fundamental orientation toward war.

This is something other than some enigmatic ancient prophecy. It is an all-too-modern self-fulfilling one. We have already crossed the river with Croesus, and though we may refuse to admit it, our empire is already lost. The question is only whether or how we will burn.”

That’s a summary I’m in whole-hearted agreement with. If the people on both sides, Republican and Democrat, don’t pull back from the political correctness simplifications of complex problems on one side and simplistic authoritarian fascism on the other we’ll go right over the cliff, perhaps taking the entire world down with us.

It’s no joke. It’s no laughing matter. This isn’t late-night comedy and it isn’t reality TV. This and the final destruction of the planet’s resources in a gluttony of corporate avarice in the service of consumer avarice in all countries face us with near certain extinction without a sharp change of course.

That’s the way it is. The entire Neoliberal structure has to come down and we need to enter a new era with an entirely new set of values. Survival of the planet as opposed to survivial of the fittest. Because the fittest in the Neoliberal model are total sociopaths along with the corporations they run.

My prediction is that those who believe in a Deus ex machina that saves us (as we are brought to our senses by the Second Coming or ET and his enlightened alien buddies) are in for a big surprise and the joke is going to be on all of us if, on the single individual level we don’t take some kind of action, any kind at action in whatever way possible, that is in every way counter to all this anger and rage and power lust driving us all to destruction.

As I see it from my lone outpost here we’re either all going to hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately, to quote the words of Ben Franklin.


Posted in Art and Politics | 3 Comments

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World

Richard Heinberg has a pretty good grip on things. He must have stopped reading mainstream news and be doing some independent thinking. It’s really not that hard to understand what is going on, as long as one reads very little clickbait stories and instead sticks to factual accounts, the 10 percent or so available in between the hysterical pundit class and “reliable sources” who always get headline columns for whatever nonsense they’re spouting. From John McCain to David Brooks to Paul Krugman to Joseph Stiglitz ad nauseum. In other words to all the usual authorities be they politicians or pundits or editors in chief who have gotten everything wrong that could possibly have been gotten wrong for the last 4 decades.

Yes. Let’s listen to all the experts at the New Yorker, New York Times, New York Review of Books and so on who lied us into the Iraq War and have foisted this entire rotten Neoliberal disaster on our heads tell us what we should all do now and how to take back our government! The one that is a fully functioning police state with the three branches controlled by Republicans along with everything else one can think of offhand.

Joseph Stiglitz, the brilliant economist who never made an economic prediction that didn’t turn out to be entirely wrong, now tells us “How to survive the Trump era–be vigiliant and resist at every turn”.  Resist what exactly?

I don’t know about you, but I’d strongly recommend you resist reading lamebrains like Stiglitz, Krugman, and the rest of the former and present Wall Street Gang who always know exactly what economic fix is necessary every time we hit a crisis. (Hint: Give the banking class all the money they need and screw everybody else).

Note that he’s a chief economist at the World Bank, just like Bob McNamara was. For you youngsters, Bob was the architect of our Vietnam War strategy. He also ran Ford into the ground before that. A man of immense accomplishments and as savvy and brilliant as ever if you want to watch him interviewed in Errol Morris’ The Fog of War. But never mind. That’s old news. Who needs it? We’ve got even bigger brains than Bob McNamara to tell us what to do (Resist at every turn!)

If I were you, though, I’d stick to people who have some idea of what they’re talking about as well as having a functioning brain in their head, unlike the New York Intellectual class, or much of anybody else on the east coast particularly the “inside the beltway” fantastists who are of the same zombified class as the New York media. Are we fucked beyond all relief? You betcha. But don’t listen to me. I’m just a stupid fucking painter. Not a genius like Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.

I’m ever hopeful that some artist might read some of the material like the link above and I will finally find somebody I can talk to who is not living entirely inside their own narcissistic selfie-strewn psychobubble psychobabbling away with their other art cult (of all stripes) membership. Hope springs eternal.

Oi, mates! Oi ain’t no olde cynick like this geezer!

“This is what we find! This is what we find!

The hope that springs eternal springs right up our behind!”

A sense of humor is required amongst the vacant minds!

Boy, I miss you, Ian. I really miss ya, baby. Play it again/./ Hit m with that rhythm stick.

And one more! This one’s goin out to all the blockheads!


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Is Warhol Pretending?


A couple of entertainers. Anybody recognize them?

Continuing along from Eric’s comment to my last post “Who is the Stupidest?” I want to extemporize on his remark: “Warhol pretends to be completely superficial in the hopes we assume it signifies underlying brilliance, but ends up sounding stupid and boring.” This is for me a key question. Is Warhol pretending to be stupid or is he genuinely stupid. I believe the latter is the case.  Is Warhol a moron (as Gore Vidal asserted in a slighting comment “Warhol is the first genius I ever met with an IQ of 60”, not to mention de Kooning’s slighting reference to him as Andy Asshole) or Rothko (as recounted in the bio when being introduced to Warhol turned on his heel and walked off in the other direction) ? I don’t seen any evidence whatsoever that Warhol was pretending to be stupid. The evidence is all to the contrary.

If one wants to see him as possessing genius is would be that he was smart enough to realize that his stupid (as in stupor-inducing) work and “ideas” were perfectly suited to the art world of the 1960s and forward. In other words, he was the first artist to fully realize, as the reception to his work proved the case, that the hour of the Stupid Artist had arrived.

We might say that Andy was the first artist to capitalize on what thousands of artists in the “fine art” world would capitalize upon in his wake. Banality, infantilism, decadent sex content and so on would replace the kind of serious content that characterized Western Art prior to the ascension of the American businessman collector class. Because it has to be recognized that we were not dealing with art connoisseurs in people like Robert Scull and the numerous investors who sensed there were truckloads of cash to be made on the pop and op and be-bop coming out of NYC alongside Warhol, as the “serious” Abstract Expressionists with their “intellectual” content (such as it was… ie., the pseudo-intellectualism of Greenberg and company) were being being pensioned off with God-like status to their Clyfford Still Museum and Rothko Chapel Valhallas.



Are “artists” like Koons, Hirst, Prince, Baldessari, Nauman, etc genuinely not very bright people? I find it patently obvious watching video material or reading their interviews. There’s nothing put on about Richard Princes’ dumb work and dumb actions (giving back Ivanka Trump his share of the money she paid for one of his dopey paintings). As Warhol himself said, “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” (1967 interview with Kynaston McShine) in the Warhol retrospective MoMA catalog. The real question is why do so many people calling themselves artists believe in all this malarkey.

Why do the artists of today think that Keith Haring and Susan Rothenberg and Julian Schnabel bear more than the vaguest resemblance to real artists like Van Gogh, Courbet and Lautrec? It’s patently obvious to anyone who gives five minutes thought to it that the comparing David Hockney to Ingres is ludicrous. I saw a show of Hockney late watercolor paintings next to a show that featured artists like Girton, Turner and other great watercolorists and Hockney’s work was laughable in comparison. Were the curators aware of what they were doing by juxtaposing the greatness of old master artists vs. the magazine illustration weightlessness of Hockney and Company? I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

Yet nobody says anything. Or perhaps in whispers off stage and sotto voce. But why not admit that the whole thing is absurd?

Take Truman Capote’s remark that Warhol was a sphinx without a secret. That goes for the lot of them right down the line. There are no profound thoughts or social or psychological insights whatsoever in the work of these various “contemporary masters.” Banality and boredom are the very essence of it all. Often combined with simplistic politically correct liberal messages.

Pull up some videos of hundreds or even thousands of other actual thinkers, as opposed to “art thinkers”.  I’ll post one at the bottom to serve as a juxtaposition with Andy. Or if not Andy,  contrast actual thinking to the kind of spaced-out vague ( and invariably self-promoting) nonsense that Bruce Nauman is talking in the rare instances one can even find him talking.

Or read the summary below of what a Rauschenberg interview with Dave Hickey amounts to. Pure self-promotion having nothing to do with anything whatsoever outside of Rauschenberg and his magic circle of Twombly, Duchamp, Johns,  etc. Art for art’s sake totally divorced from the real world. And who in the actual world, pray tell,  particularly in the crisis situation we face on all fronts, has the slightest interest in anything that any of these buffoons thought or made outside of the insular self-admiring echo chamber of the con art world?

Read through the description of Rauschenberg’s various stunts and superficial “events” and see just how much you think it compares to any artist of the past whose work hangs in Art Museums, to the extent they’re even trying to maintain their traditional roles of protecting the cultural works of past civilizations, not only that of the West.

And yet the art world goes on spinning and spinning like a mad dervish with every kind of witless entertainment spectacle as if there is some deep meaning or significance to any of it outside of total cynicism and destructive avant-garde nihilistic antics that are intended to delight the global monied class building underground bunkers to horde their wealth in against the coming collapse.

What it all amounts to is a combination of utter stupidity and complete madness. That’s how I see it anyway. It’s somewhat astonishing to me at this point that no other artists see it this way, as their complete silence on matters of utmost seriousness and consequence is hard not to recognize.

Here’s a podcast of a couple people who are thinking about reality, something that art world people are resolutely opposed to as they insist on living in a world of complete fantasy, all the while dreaming that miles of Robert Rauschenberg and Warhol silk-screened newspapers and slathered on paint will be lasting testaments to our glorious civilization. The only question that I find interesting is just how long they’re going to go on keeping up this absurd pretense while the world Kunstler and San Giorgio are describing in this podcast lurches into being.




Posted in Art and Money | 5 Comments

Who Is the Stupidest?

barry_diller_shankbone_metropolitan_opera_2009Barry Friggin’ Diller, in da house

I really think that these genius-level network guys, whatever their names are…Let’s say Barry Diller… .should be pickin up on what’s happenin in art these days. Barry should really get his ass on the ball before his competitors beat him to this great idea that is surely going to happen at some point. Mark my words! I am always right!

Imagine a Bravo TV show that doesn’t center solely around who the next big art star will be. Instead it could be a combination of that and “Who’s the Biggest Loser?”.  The show could be called… let’s see… How about “Who’s the Stupidest Conceptual Artist?” Or perhaps even a conceptual artist himself can make a youtube show with that title that he submits to the virtual public of the youtube. The competition would, I guarantee you, be intense.

The big question facing everyone at the start of each show would be: “Who can take the bar even lower than the previous nitwit did?” At the end of each season there’d be a final showdown between the winners of each show. (It’s incredibly bad luck that Trump is no longer available to host, as he’d be a natural for this given his masterful performances as himself on The Apprentice.

I think the first couple shows should feature, just like American Idol did, a great pioneering conceptual artist from the past, one who broke so many barriers allowing art to jump forward into the bright future of today! All New!! All the Time!!

I’d also suggest that the first star in the first show of the first season should be Larry Weiner (any relation to Anthony Weiner?, our stellar member of the Democratic Party, with the stellar member… at least in his opinion). Sorry to digress, but this guy cracks me up. What’s he going to do for his next act I wonder. I think that Anthony Weiner, had he gone into conceptual art like his brother (at least in spirit) Lawrence, that he could have no doubt changed the entire course of art history.


(Sorry Larry, if you aren’t related to Anthony my apologies for associating you with another Weiner. You’re a big enough Wiener all by himself as you I can tell listening to your video).

Lately, I like to pop a couple marijuana edibles and watch this great conceptual stuff. It’s so far out, it’s outta site. And really groovy as well. Plus it’s fall out of the chair funny. I foresee that if Larry Weiner is introduced to an audience larger than this Youtube minor league venue, the sky’s the limit on his rise to celebrity status. I imagine his own dais with incense burning as he preaches to the illuminated disciples, backed by go go dancers in cages. Guest appearances on Oprah leading to PBS specials where he dispenses the secrets of Art to the NPR and PBS art lovers? Why not? I’d watch. Hell. I’d pay to watch. I’d even subscribe to HBO just to watch this stuff. He’s sure better than Wayne Dyer in my book. Hal Holbrook too for that matter. Fucking Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. How about David Schwimmer next? Or hey… why not Lawrence Weiner?

Feeling enlightened?

Focus on these kind of gems: “You have to readapt your own logic just to be abler to communicate with somebody else.” Good try anyway, Larry. But could you readapt the logic the next time so that it makes even a modicum of sense?

Or how about this puzzler? “But wood in the end is wood. And I began in the end to realize that if I could determine sculpture by the use of language it would allow itself to move from culture to culture. And the work has no metaphor. And in having no metaphor it leaves it open for people to use the work to make a metaphor to suit their needs..,. ..”

And if their need for the use of metaphor is to have a metaphor for bullshit then they’ll certainly have those needs met in spades by the  “art” work of Larry Weiner.

Stand back kids! And hopefully viewing audiences if Barry or one of his colleagues (Is Al Gore still in the biz?) gets on the stick and gets this unfairly neglected artist into the public eye speaking and talking and making art that will guide us from the perilous path we’ve taken back to the Blissful World of the American Capitalist Cultural Utopia. There have been times when I was really stoned (or in a state similar to Lawrence Weiner’s permanent state) and I could stare at just one of these enlightened “sculptures determined by the use of language” below and feel I was in the presence of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The complexity and incredible visual power of Weiner’s thoughts, made into language sculptures is really mindblowing if one is in the proper receptive mode. So if you’re coked or flipped out on angel or meth  (like the collectors and art critics who were gaga for this stuff when it first arrived) or even in a Pollock-like drunken stupor this stuff will take you to the moon and mars as you sail around the planets with the universe as your playtoy.

And if that doesn’t do it. Just listen to this at the same time you view these language sculptors of yore. Ted Nugent and his Amboy Dukes.

And Ted is still way out there rockin’ it half a century later. I imagine if Lawrence Weiner were to impart his political acumen to audiences it would be somewhere in this territory (but no doubt more political correct.)

And, really, kids… cut back on that stuff. This is a warning I’m sending you.  Don’t think that what happened to Ted Nugent and Lawrence Weiner won’t happen to you. It may be super groovy now, just like it was for them when they were young. But look kids! This kind of brain damage happened to countless poor souls led down the Yellow Brick Road to the Palace of the Wizard.

It had me in its grips back in those long gone days of my fever dream of an adolescence.  Even now when I hear Ted and the Amboys break into their rousing numbers I can’t help but grab my walker and gyrate around the room wearing my Nascar hat and shooting off a few rounds into the ceiling.  But no! This will not stand! Liberals to the Battle Stations! The Reaganite Liberals led by Hillary and Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Gloria Steinem! The Revolution is at hand! Get out the Starbucks mug and Andy Warhol endorsed (see below) Big Whoppers! A Mighty Storm’s a Gatherin’! Onwards to Selma… or where the fuck to now? Point me at the bridge! Take to the Pilot as Elton Sang! Take me to the pilot of your soul! Deep stuff. Note the metaphors.

Speaking of metaphors, what’s Shephard Fairey been up to lately? Let’s see. I just love it when major contemporary artists can capitalize on whatever the latest cause is by cashing in on silkscreened t-shirts. This guy leaves Andy Warhol in the dust as a blatant commercialization of his artwork. But what else is the definition of a great Contemporary Artist?

This kind of stuff makes me laugh so hard it keeps me cheery through much of the day. I’m thinking of getting the We the People Dignity t-shirt as nothing makes me feel more dignified than wearing a politically correct t-shirt just like everyone else is wearing to show that I “honor all types of people” and am looking to “spark conversation surrounding the 2016 political campaign.”

Since so far I have utterly failed in my efforts to spark conversation surrounding the 2016 campaign, I can’t find anyone who has any notion of how to converse about art. “C0nversation surrounding the 2016 political campaign”? Yes. That’s what Shephard or his copywriters say on the website.


And speaking of Warhol, here he is eating a hamburger. Pretty exciting. As far as conceptual art goes, Andy’s one of the more riveting. Just watch.:

The great thing about these videos is that you can experience directly exactly what it would be like to have lunch with the greatest American Artist of the 20th Century. Plus you can also experience what the conversation would have been like.



This next guy is great too. A major figure in Britain. Here he is at the height of his game  giving advice to the next generation of art stars.

“Focus on the work. …Don’t think about anything else. Just think about the work.”…erm… (pause for deep thoughts) “Try and think about the project, rather than the finished work.” (shut eyes. pause. Notice similarity between this guy’s speaking style and Bruce Nauman’s in the previous posts). “So set yourself a project and focus on that.” “And don’t think about the finished art work…. The artwork is the residue of a process…. rather than something you see and then have to realize……. Thereafter.”….”And..and… enjoy being an artist.” “Being an artist is the best life you can have… if you want to be an artist……This is definitely not for everybody that’s for sure.”… Well that’s the first 1:14 minutes of i.

The mind reels at this point. But fear not. In my next post, Ill transcribe the remaining 4 plus minutes. These are the kind of words that artists need to take heed of if we’re going to keep moving forward as a culture.

You can just hear Titian delivering this kind of speech to their students. And Rembrandt  picking up the torch and passing it on down the line to artists of today like David Shrigley, who with the aid of our great cultural institutions and contemporary artists alike have kept it lit and are passing on to the next generation of art geniuses.

I just can’t wait to pick up the next issue of Art Forum and Juxtapoz and Art News!

Peace OUT, ye Groovy Ones. “Hello lampost! What ya knowin’? I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’! Ain’t you got no rhymes for me. Twit n doo doo. Feelin’ Groovy!” Who says white guys don’t have soul? And Paul Simon was robbed of the Nobel Prize for Literature by that faux-poet Dylan. Simon is the poet! Or was it Garfunkel?

“Twit and doo-doo. Feelin’ groovy.” These guys were way ahead of their times.

Posted in Art and Politics | 2 Comments

The Man With No Qualities

“…the life of religion as a whole is mankind’s most important function. –William James

“The essence of education is that it be religious. “– Alfred North Whitehead

“We need the courage as well as the inclination to consult, and profit from, the ‘wisdom traditions of mankind.'” — E.F. Schumacher

“In 1970 I wrote of a ” post-traditional world.” Today I believe that only living traditions make it possible to have a world at all.” — Robert N. Bellah

And what does America have in place of the living tradition Bellah refers to as the lifeblood of any world at all. What kind of religious or spiritual underpinning does America have as represented by its dominant  cultural icons? The Now Men. The eternal Now Man. The empty headed and empty hearted Now of Bruce Nauman, his brother and sister artists,  his admirers, his collectors, his critical apologists, his dealers. The entirety of the mainstream press and art press, all who dwell solely on whatever has the most money and institutional backing attached to it. Nothing else has any merit whatsoever.

And guess what? Bruce Almighty works in a medium that should be called what it actually is: Vapor Ware. Here today. Gone tomorrow. Anybody who thinks that people will be watching Clown Torture 15 years from now. This is the Nowhere Man at the height of his popularity in one of his major works from 1985. Let’s watch it again. As with all art the more you view it the richer it gets. What I wouldn’t give to walk through the Prado tomorrow. I have never gotten tired Bosch or Bruegel for a half decade of continual viewing. Always see something new. As I change they change.

How many times can you view Clown Torture?  How much deeper and more meaning filled does it get as you change and grow?

Note that at the height of Nauman’s popularity today as the dean and leading example of the Concept Art Movement, this youtube vid of one of his greatest artistic masterpiece has all of 151,975 views. With 303 likes and 31 dislikes. Justin Bieber’s Music vid Company  by today’s count gets 318,340, 505 views with 2,610,999 likes  and 158,298 dislikes. Does anyone have any questions why we’re going into Art Museums to see shows of Star Wars Costumes, Bjork, David Bowie and commercial art of the kind attached to Bjork and Bowie. Not to mention shows of Bob Dylan portraits at the Natl Portrait Gallery in London. Again what are the chances that “video art” by any of these conceptual master artists of today that are hardly watched now will even be available 15 years from now.

Take into account that video game art is being considered to be legtimate art (can’t wait for the LACMA or MoMA exhibitions. Not to mention that the current future generation is at the moment stuck inside VR helmets, which are due to replace cinema/video as the go to coolest Art frontier,  I conjecture.

But in 2030 folks imagine there will be big museum displays of the great early conceptualists?  Ever hear of Les Levine? He was one of the giants back in the day. Here he is in 2007. Note the incredibly thought provoking questions along with the fascinating career history summary of Les’s work that introduce him to the (no doubt vast) audience of deep thinking fans of concept art listening to the leacture. . Then see how far you get listening to his answers.

Where is Les Levine now? Who is Les Levine?  Anybody out there ever heard of him? Followed his work since his breakthroughs alongside Bruce Nauman?

Nauman is the truest heir of Marcel Duchamp. But Duchamp could weave all kinds of labyrinthine verbal tangles, spiraling cathedrals of bullshit. But that’s all that’s sustaining visual material that isn’t worth looking at for more than a minute. Or two if you piss longer than a minute and need to keep your eye on what you’re aiming at.

What the entirety of Duchamp amounts to his amanuensis  Namuan has spent a lifetime boringly repeating to all who will listen. In effect, not many if the youtube is any indication. By cosmic coincidence (which I always love when they’re thrown my way), Nauman’s puerile work started it’s repetitive babbling beginning in 1968, the year that Duchamp died, from the looks of what I found on youtube.

Listening to Duchamp is at least interesting. Like listening to Derrida, Lacan or Baudrillard. The French can talk some shit. Give them credit for that. So can I. So can we all. But not so elegantly. Give a listen to Bruce as a prime example.


Now watch it again and see if what you wrote gibes with a second listening. Or don’t write or think at all. Just watch it four times in sequence. No. Ten times. That will approximate the entirety of message resident in his 40 plus years of “art making’.

Shrunky, I’ve Hunned the kids. This ain’t James Joyce, folks. This ain’t even in the ballpark.

Nauman is an example of the classic American Con Artist. Anyone at all (outside the delusional art world habitues) can spot this stuff easily. Why Contempo Artists are so mesmerized by this snake oil, on top of wanting to practice it themselves, is the mystery I’m still trying to understand but it’s clearly contained in Charles Mackay’s Extrarodinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. We Americans, in particular, succumbed to all of it repeatedly over and over again throughout our history but instead of getting better at picking up on it, we apparently have entirely succumbed to it.

I’m fascinated by it, really. So many people ignore everything I write because they’re unwilling to look at the “dark side”, which is in reality their own “dark side”. We’ve pretty much gone over into that dark side lock, stock and barrel… the whole shebang on its way over Niagara Falls with nobody onboard paying the slightest bit of attention as they’re locked in Mortal Kombat to see whether the orange haired guy or the followers of Queen Latifah or whatever her name was will best the other and hold onto or regain control of the hapless and doomed vessel.

And what of the Art World Art Stars? They’re providing the fantastic entertainment. All of them so cool and collected, like Bruce and Marcel. They know the secrets of the Cosmos. They’re above it all. Above the fray Marcel is in Art Heaven looking down on us. But we still get to listen to his Pearls of Wisdom live on youtube. Enjoy! Take Notes. Grow deeply in the Esoteric Secrets embodied in his masterpieces. Be sure to watch the entire 27:50 minutes of it at least three times.

The caliber of this man’s thinking can’t be taken in with only three viewings, of course. One must also get the books and art critical writings and incredible (almost universal at this point) acclamations of other artists. But three viewings will at least have one beginning on the path of Knowledge of Art that only the most serious initiates into the Mysteries that Marcel and Bruce embody. Or did you already give up watching after the first three minutes of the Les Levine video?


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Laugh, Clowns, Laugh (while denying reality)

This one goes out to Diane Keaton and her great service to bringing the hitherto neglected Clown paintings of the past to the attention of art lovers everywhere. She’s an  extraordinary talent and, as I’ve just learned not only a fine art connoisseur of distinguished tastes, but as her publisher Rizzoli tells us, in her latest book Houses she has “doubled down on her outsize reputation as a housing connoisseur.” Her range of aesthetic interests is breathtaking.

Between her groundbreaking work showcased in her coffeetable book Clowns, she and Bruce Nauman have pushed the understanding of the profound social meaning the clown in society and an archetypal symbol going back to Petronius and and further through Ancient Cultures  extending back to the Cave Drawings at Lascaux. And no, I have not forgotten Stephen King! First the artist, as unlike King and his clumsy writings about Clowns, Nauman leaves us unburdened by intelligible language so that we get to the essence of the concept “Clown.”

Other artists must be credited as well, as the Nauman clone Paul McArthy has added his own immense reflections and refinements of the subject. As well as those unwilling to take the plunge into the liveliness of video performance there are photographers like Cindy Sherman pushing total banality to levels seldom imagined anywhere outside the studios of professional  Hollywood costume designers.

First, Bruce, who can be considered the Dean of American Conceptual Art. Nauman is not just an early practitioner of Conceptual Art but an absolute master from his very first videos. Few minds in a field replete with some of the greatest thinkers that American Artists have produced since the founding of the first colony at Jamestown, VA. in 1607. Of course the failings of the artists of earlier centuries when American Artists works can be explained by the obvious fact that there were not yet American Art Critics able to explain why Conceptual Art is vastly superior to mere oil paintings.

Clown Torture (1987)  realizes the potent subtext buried in esoteric early efforts like Art Make-Up (1967). One can see the profound thinking and refinement of his youthful ideas that took place over two decades when viewing the two works one after to the other. I’d also recommend reading a at least half of the 50,000 pages of critical praise written about Nauman’s work by an array of art critics spanning the globe to see just how shatteringly subtle what takes place in the two videos are that to the uniformed ignoramuses wandering around Contemporary Art Museums will no doubt fail to appreciate on their own.

A link one to one of the best books ever written on Nauman by the renowned art connoisseurs doubling down on his outsize reputation,  Peter Plagens, follows the video so you can get an inkling of what I mean when I refer to the kind of profound subtleties an unenlightened public completely miss. And yes, you have to read all of it, or you’re not going to get it and therefore remain a clownish buffoon yourself when it comes to appreciating great American Artists.

As Sifkin notes, Plagens isn’t merely sycophantic gibberish out to shamelessly promote some no-talent lamebrain. He takes a fine critical scalpel that refuses the hagiographical account that middling intellects overwhelmed by artistic geniuses like Nauman often succumb to.

Note the felicitous handling of quotes, page references, and parenthetical phrases woven together to produce the requisite frisson that accompanies all Zen insight. The page notions and numerous quotes all in one paragraphs denote the writings of all serious scholars like Sifkin.

“Yet as Plagens argues, Nauman’s commitment to an almost romantic idea of the artist makes the stakes of his semantic deconstructions less clear-cut than the conventional postmodernist account of his oeuvre might suggest. For instance, Nauman described the work The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (1967)–which consists of the words of light spiraling in read and blue neon lights, and from which Plagens takes the name of his book–as “on the one hand a totally silly idea and yet, on the other hand,” one he “believed.” Nauman claimed that he made the work, in part, to “find out if you believe in it in the  first place…which doesn’t make a fake or anything.” In other words, the overt irrationality of Nauman’s art is pursued as much in the spirit of constructive explorations as critical negations. Taking on the aspects of a “dispassionate scientist” (136) Nauman is described by Plagens as an artist whose interrogative practice is different conventional avant-garde approaches rooted in the desire to break down the barrier between art and life or to destroy art altogether. Nauman asks: “What is an artist supposed to do?” (25) not to destroy the concept of art and with it the function of the artist, but rather to find ways to continue to create art and hone its purpose down to an essential core, perhaps a means of survival within a world increasingly skeptical of established boundaries.”

A “world increasingly skeptical of established boundaries,” (see line above) indeed! By breaking down old boundaries between art and life Nauman continually establishes entirely new boundaries and amazingly is able to once again break the old boundaries he set by establishing new boundaries even farther out and far more intriguing, not to mntion filled with fresh possibility, than the previous farther out and more intriguing work we’d become overly familiar with.

In my next Post in the continuing exploration of The Clown in Post-Post-Modernist Art Theory vis-a-vis Post-Modernist Art Theory I’ll take a look the range and iconological complexity of Cindy Sherman’s explorations of the clown, both reaping the profit (in both senses of the word) from and extending Mr.  Nauman’s earlier groundbreaking insights. Sherman is also looking way cooler and way more cool color. Just cooler in general as she was a lot younger and there was even more cocaine going around than when Nauman was working in the 60s if you can believe that. Well, it’s true. I was there when it happened, drawing and painting it all as it occurred in my own mind’s eye. But enough about me. Let’s get back to the real geniuses.

Ms. Sherman has clearly studied long and hard the paintings of Henri Matisse and Mark Rothko. But it’s Kenneth Noland’s superlative color sense when combined with concentric circles that Sherman evokes in masterpieces like the one below. Note, if you will, the subtle–and clearly sneering– reference to Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture. Here, Ms. Sherman is  implying by the extremely long and firm “erection” symbolized by the balloon dog’s tail, that her “cock” is symbolically bigger than that of Jeff Koon’s actual cock (on full display below below.) Those younger than 21 years of age please scroll no further down. I beg you. Your minds might be forever damaged if you do.


First Koons cool dog. Then his hot dog.

koons-dog jeff-pnsIs that Mr. Koon’s actual member and sacred seed sliding out of Ilona’s ecstatic mouth? What is real? What is fake? Is that a stand in still standing up while being pulled downward? Perhaps the “rod” is the possession of one of Andy Warhol’s aging male idols, as Koons frequently makes nodding winks to his indebtedness to the works of the greatest Master of American Art who ever lived, Andy Warhol faithfully acknowledged? It is rumored that the original title of this work was

Ilonas Lonely Lovesick Licking Indebted to the Master of Nose Picking. Guess who the master is. Then see below for answer. 

These are the kind of burning questions that Post-Modernists like Jeff Koons not only tackled head on but provided solutions to. Pun intended, if you can figure it out art dummies.  Also please note JK’s provocatively blasphemous art reference to Sacred Christian art. In this case Gian LorenzoBernini’s St. Teresa. Brilliant stuff, Mr. Koons! And in keeping with the well-rehearsed and magisterial theme of American Conceptual Art going back to its source in Duchamp’s moustached Mona Lisa of making invariably degrading references to Christianity.)



Above: Andy Warhol painting (1949). Note the incredible precision of the twenty year interval between the masterful piece painted by Warhol as a young man in 1949. And Bruce Nauman in 1969 pulling gauze from his mouth, showing exactly the same precocity as Warhol did during his own artistic training in American Art schools. The awesome and too cool for words Clown Torture appeared after a further 20 year gestation in 1989. We are only two years away from what we can expect to be the latest development of, as Agnes Martin called them,  Nauman’s “scintillating ideas.” Forty years of fully focussed and turbulent creative intelligence beginning with this early masterpiece will be unveiled before the awestruck art audience! There is hope, America! Never fear! While our politics and everything else are totally fucked (as I don’t have to tell you) you can rest assured that our great artists are completely unaffected by any of it. And even now still creating the best work of their entire illustrious careers.

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