May 22, 2008
Get ready people, 'cause this week is movie time for me - I am keeping my promise to unwind and do stuff for me - and I have three reviews. First movie review post? Who the Fuck is Jackson Pollock.
Picture this. Please, follow me on this one, don't think of anything else... You walk in a thrift shop. You have almost no idea of art whatsoever, all your artwork buying ideals are: if it looks decent enough, you buy it. You know the basics. Picasso, Van Gogh, that's it. Deal? Ok. So anyway, you're there and you are thinking of buying a painting for a friend. You look at the available paintings and the woman in the store, without flinching, offers you an abstract piece for 5 bucks. You say, hey, I'll take the damn thing. Yeah, it looks kind of funny... but hey, what the hell.
Cut to a couple of days later. Someone tells you... Um. You might have a Jackson Pollock on your hands. Um. Wait. It's not signed. In Dennis Hopper fashion, the question hops in your mind: Pop quiz, Hot shot. What do you do?
This documentary tells the story of Teri Horton, a 73 year old former long-haul truck driver from Texas with almost no art experience who suddenly found herself battling the artwork for almost a decade over the authenticity of her $5 piece. With a potential 50 million dollar price tag, the life of this woman got... even more complicated.
How do you prove that someone made a piece if you have lost any evidence of it? How does the art world deal with pieces like this? Logic would tell you: you hire experts to study the piece and give their opinions. But what happens when ego and "the way things are done" get in the way? What happens when you don't fit the profile of an artwork owner? What happens when you are not an experienced collector... and you are a normal human being... like her... like you... or me?
Teri, when the documentary people find her, is in the middle of this battle. Expert comes. Expert sees the piece. Expert says, no way. This is not Pollock. Besides. How the fuck did you find a Pollock in a thrift shop? It just can't be? Why the fuck not, asks Teri. It just can't, sorry old lady.
Another expert comes in. A fingerprint is found in the back of the painting. Whoops. Matches Pollock's. Um... Um... Lady. I don't care. You are not experienced in the "arts". You cannot come in and tell me that I was wrong, expert by expert retorts. Now, it becomes a fight over who's right and who's wrong, even if the evidence is overwhelming. Confirmed by scientists, matching paint swatches, the fingerprint and Pollock's drunken behavior of throwing pieces he didn't like in the trash... the story becomes even more interesting.
Something is rotten in the state of the art world. And Teri is tired of smelling shit all around her. I agree with her.
I have always thought that the way art is sold is simply offensive. The rules stink. To sell a piece, you have to have provenance. Provenance is the story of owners, the direct line from the artist to the current owner. So if you don't have that, and your piece isn't signed, you're screwed. Second, it is considered art if the artist is considered, sorry for repeating myself, an artist.
Who the fuck is an artist and who isn't? Is it based on talent? But... isn't talent and creativity something completely relative???
Take TravisFckr and myself. We don't always agree on stuff. Put us at any decent museum and tell each of us to pick our favorite pieces. Chances are, he will pick stuff way different than I will. Yup, we both studied art. In fact, we had the same teacher who, in fact, was crazy filled with knowledge of the art world. His exams were brutal. How so? This is how it went. You studied with the dude for a semester, he introduced us to every damn painter, sculptor, illustrator... any man and woman available who is currently considered an "artist" in the world. Style by style and movement by movement, we learned. At the end of the year, our final exam was... Jesus. Brutal.
He just stood there with about 70 pieces, all placed in a black board. He didn't say a word. You just looked at the painting and waited for the question. He would ask in one piece: tell me the name and the year. You had almost 2 minutes by piece to look at it, write your answer down. Another piece was shown. The question: tell me the name of the style and the place of origin of the painter. It was exhausting. You wanted to smoke something after it was done. It took almost 2 and a half hours to finish.
So take that. We know our shit, right? Supposedly, we are now at the MoMa. So Travis will walk one side and I will walk another. Will we choose based on history and knowledge or will we choose on what WE consider what is truly art? Think about it. Who in your book do you consider a true master? You will choose on your own terms. That is the beauty of art. That is the beauty of creativity. It is like an ad, for God's sake. Some people consider some pieces as amazing examples of creativity and some pick others. Period.
Granted there are some, and I repeat, some artists who should be regarded as masters. Not only because of skill, mainly because somewhere in their work they delivered something that marked a period, created a movement. But... again. This is relative. Take the Beatles and Beethoven. You cannot compare them both, but you can say that they, in their own right, are masters of music and sound. Both gave something back to society. But who lays down the rule? And how? Food for thought.
Who the Fuck is Jackson Pollock shines, like "My Kid could paint that", a shitty light to the "art people" and business. Like advertising, it is a world filled with stupid people who don't like it when you tell them they are wrong, people who bend the rules to their advantage, people who will manipulate information just to make a buck and a name for themselves. It is a shitty world, and we all live by their rules.
Ok let's talk homicide. Yey. Ok this is for giving you my final point. Suppose you are working in your advertising agency. Your shitty CEO comes in, Friday, just as you are packing your shit to leave. He tells you: you have to work this weekend. But, you say, my daughter is getting married this weekend and I told you months ago about it. He smiles and says: well, this hot dog account needs 50 pieces for Monday. Sorry. You take a knife and kill him. Police come in. Your fingerprint is on the weapon. It matches, perfectly. Well, if homicide was ruled by art collectors and experts... you didn't kill the bastard... maybe.
How about them apples?
(L-R) Teri Horton's disputed Pollock piece (66 3/4" x 47 5/8") alongside David Geffen's Jackson Pollock No. 5 (48" X 96"), which recently sold at auction for $140 million. Yeah. You do the math.
Posted by Me at 8:39 PM