Abstract Art Really Stupid, Critic Says

5410429937 -- After Las Meninas

Really good drawing

NEW YORK CITY—One of the top art critics in the United States today said abstract art, from Jackson Pollock to Pablo Picasso to Willem de Kooning, is “just plain dumb” and people are “morons for buying into this crap.”

Richard Bartley, the Richard Colby Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History at Harvard University, whose books are widely considered the gold standard among critics, is raising an outcry with his remarks, which he gave at a gallery opening here.

Bartley called today’s art industry a “total con game” in which people are suckered into buying “meaningless brush strokes of paint” on canvas and other media that have no worth outside of the market that artists, dealers, curators, and investors have created.

“A canvas with paint on it is worth about $10 if it’s small and about $100 if it’s large,” said Bartley. “If you like the colors and if the brush strokes of paint are aesthetically pleasing to you, definitely add another $40 or $50 to the price, about what it costs for a decent dinner in New York City. But anything beyond that is inflation stoked by the art industry, which has managed to spin golden thread out of worthless junk.”

6763620053

Really squiggly lines

It’s not that artists like Picasso aren’t talented, Bartley said. Before he turned to abstraction, Picasso was a fine representational artist. And some forms of abstract art that retain a foothold in representation, like the work of van Gogh and Monet, are “interesting.” But, Bartley says, any work of art that would be passed over as the doodling of a six-year-old if it were found in the gutter is part of what he calls “the purest form of capitalist market that has ever been created: the market for turning “junk into fine art.”

The condemnation of Bartley among artists, art dealers, art curators, and art investors has been swift. “Sadly ignorant and misinformed by a once-respected professor,” said Edgar Belvins, curator of modern art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Saying there’s nothing at the center of abstract art is like saying there’s nothing at the center of religion—that a giant institutional infrastructure has been erected over centuries on an empty core. The idea is so absurd that it’s not even worth commenting on, which is why we’re not commenting on it.”

“Just an unfortunate and pathetic rambling of an academic whose work has been losing relevancy for almost a generation now,” said Rebecca Isaacs, director of curation at the San Francisco Gallery of Art. “The millions of people whose lives have been transformed in small ways and large by an artist like Pollock certainly stand as a correction to the mumblings of a largely forgotten and certainly irrelevant professor.”

6578337829

$30 million or $30?

In fact, it might be Bartley who has the last word in this debate. Christies, the London-based auction house, just announced a delay in an auction it had planned for one of Willem de Kooning’s most famous pieces, “Black and White Rome E,” from 1959. Christies had announced two months ago that bidding would start at $30 million, which would have positioned the piece to be one of the most expensive works of art ever sold. But now it’s not clear when the auction will be held.

Liam Elway, director of fine art at the auction house, said the delay had nothing to do with Bartley’s remarks but rather the continuing weak economies in Europe and the United States. “I’m sure Professor Bartley has been influential to art students over the years but his remarks don’t move markets,” Elway said. “When it comes time for ‘Black and White Rome E’ to be put back on the market, there is every expectation that it will command as much interest among art lovers around the world as it always has, because it stands as one of the great pieces of 20th Century art.”

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: pfa and cc (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image

More stories:

Obama at Coat Hanger Factory Touts America’s Manufacturing Might

ch commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama#/media/File:Obama_Chesh_3.jpg ch2 commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama#/media/File:Obama_Chesh_1.jpg

AKRON, Ohio—Touring a wire coat hanger factory in what was once a blighted industrial area here, President Barack Obama said the United States is returning to its roots as a manufacturing giant and he took a stab at critics who say the country risks losing more manufacturing jobs if a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is passed. “Like this wire coat hanger I have in my hand, the United States is strong,” Obama said, speaking before the 75 employees of the Ace Wire Company. “Anyone who needs evidence that the United States can compete with anyone in the world just needs to look at the factory floor that surrounds me. Every day, more than 10,000 coat hangers are made here and distributed to dry cleaners and hotels throughout the United States and throughout the world. America is back!” More.

‘Utilize’ and ‘Cleanse’ Unceremoniously Removed from the English Language

64018555@N03/8157673934The English Language Institute removed “utilize” and “cleanse” from the English language today as part of the organization’s long-term plan to trim the language of unnecessary words. The words were recommended for removal by the organization’s Word Removal Committee last month and approved for elimination by the board of directors today. “We grow attached to words, so it’s never easy to say goodbye to them, even when they’re unnecessary,” says Nigel Porter, president of the English Language Institute. “But for the long-term good of our language, today’s actions were necessary and long-overdue.” According to the Institute, “utilize” has long been used as a complex variant of “use,” but it was found to have no meaning beyond “use.” More.

‘Q’ Announces Secession from English Alphabet

q-3Saying it’s tired of sitting on the sidelines for the majority of compositions in the English language, the letter Q announced today its secession from the English alphabet and a ban on all uses of the letter Q in subsequent English compositions. The letter Q also says it’s reviewing its ties with French, German, Spanish, and other Indo-European languages, but for now, it’s willing to stay in those Latin-based languages until further notice. “For thousands of years the joke has been on the letter Q,” says the letter Q in its Declaration of Secession, delivered simultaneously to the American Library Association, the British Library, the National Library of Canada, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Webster English Dictionary, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style. “But no more. As of today, the letter Q is not available for your use.” More.

Gays Marry? Let Them Be Miserable, Too

inmyflippiefloppies/8711115493

Saying it shouldn’t just be straight couples who lead lives of bonded servitude and imprisonment, Dave Turner of Indianapolis has come out in support of the right of gays to marry. “Taking out the garbage, withholding sex for some petty reason—sure, if gays want to institutionalize their misery, let them go for it,” says Turner, 42, manager at an auto parts distribution center. Turner says he recognizes that gay couples already have good relationships or bad relationships, just as married straight couples do, but the difference is that married straight coupes have institutionalized their misery, while gay couples are still free, at least in the eyes of the community, or the law, to split whenever they want. “So, if they want to tie their hands in the same way my hands are tied to my wife, they should be free to do that,” he says. More.

Smiling Martian Face Proof of a Cover-up, NASA Critics Say

NASA NASA today released a stunning image of the famous “Martian face” rock formation in which the “mouth” appears to be turned upward, as if smiling. The image was taken about 12 hours after a previous image of the mouth-like crevice is shown expressing no particular emotion in a way that’s similar to thousands of previous pictures of the formation that have been taken. “It’s really a remarkable image sequence,” says Kristin Rogers, NASA chief of geological imaging. “We are starting with the assumption that the change in appearance is simply a change in the angle of light on the surface features. But we’re not prepared to say that with certainty, because it’s a shift we haven’t seen before.” More.

Google to Write Your Emails For You

emailGoogle has launched a service to step in and write your emails for you since it knows what you’re writing about anyway and can do a better job at it. “Having us write your emails is just another way for you to spend more time doing what you like to do and are good at and leaving to us the drudgery of spelling out words and connecting them in sentences in ways that make sense,” says Janna Learner, head of the new service, called Google Ghost Writer, or Google Ghost for short. The service uses the same algorithm the company uses to match ads to the subject matter in your emails. “We’re already tailoring ads to what you’re writing about, so this is just the next logical evolution in that mutually beneficial relationship,” says Learner. “If you’re writing an email about, say, a job you’d like to apply for, imagine how much help our service can be in making sure you say the right things.” More.

Password Protection: Scientists Propose Adding 16 Letters to the Alphabet

letters-2 Alarmed at a rash of high-profile data breaches at big U.S. retailers like Home Depot, a task force of scientists and engineers looking at computer safety and privacy have called on lawmakers to add 16 letters to the English alphabet. They’ve also called for the addition of three numbers to the number scale, but that recommendation was not included in the final report as task force members look at how that could be done, since the number scale is universally understood to be based on the 10-digit system and any change would be difficult to administer. More.

Start-up Takes on Twitter With 5-character Limit on Posts

hhrmp“OMG!” A Silicon Valley web start-up is shifting the micro-blogging movement into hyper gear with its launch this week of hhrmp.com, a “hyper-micro” blogging site that limits posts to just 5 characters. “At this point in the evolution of social media, the 140-character limit of Twitter is just too big,” says Jeremy Gliner, whose title is chief hhrmp’er at hhrmp! Media. “Today’s teenagers have grown up on Twitter, Snapchat, and other micro-blogging platforms and they want their own thing. And they don’t want to compose anything that resembles a sentence. Given the success of our beta site with this critical demographic, we feel we’re giving this up-and-coming generation of word-economizers what they want.” A quick check with a group of 19- and 20-year-olds outside Hillsdale College in College Park, Md., appears to bear out Gliner’s assessment. More.

Advertisements