Summer Session

Summer Session – Help Desk: Is It Any Wonder?

This Summer Session we’re talking about celebrity, and today we bring you Bean Gilsdorfs Help Desk arts-advice column and a question about fame. With the art world, the art market, and celebrity so deeply intertwined, what is the difference between being a famous artist and a successful artist, and can it be described by the similarities between Thomas Kinkade and Damien Hirst? This column was originally published on April 16, 2012. david-bowie-fame

How do you become a famous artist? I am an artist and make lots of art (performance, paintings, drawings, etc.) but I never went to art school. What should I do to slowly but surely become better known in the art world?

Fame, huh? Without a doubt, you must already know that there is no way to “surely” become “better known in the art world,” especially if you are going to do it slowly. Fame strikes like lightning, white hot and irrefutably blinding to those in its immediate path. If fame is your goal, why bother trying to climb the ladder, rung by greasy rung? Why not charter a helicopter and get airlifted to the top? Since my job as an advice columnist is to answer the queries set before me, here is a short list of actions that others have tried in pursuit of fame:

• Kiss (with lipstick on) the museum-hung artwork of an already-renowned artist. When you are arrested, explain to the press and the jury that it was a form of homage and that you were simply overcome by the power of the art. Alternately, if you are the fighter-not-a-lover type, you could punch, kick, stab, or otherwise wound an artwork you find objectionable or offensive.

• Sleep with someone powerful. It’s pretty well tested as a means to gain recognition, so why not give your favorite rock star/politician/A-list dealer a bounce? And then he or she can give your career a boost in return.

• Make a complete spectacle of yourself: do buckets of drugs while making art, have sex in the gallery, don’t bathe, etc. Be the wild and crazy guy who publicly justifies all the stereotypes of the tortured artist. Bonus points if you are a.) attractive and b.) from an old-money family.

Two words: reality show.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Guerrilla Girls Talk the History of Art vs. the History of Power

Today for our Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you an interview from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with the feminist art activists the Guerrilla Girls. Colbert and the Guerrilla Girls talk about the ways in which institutional power limits the possibilities for representation in museums and galleries, thereby shaping the narrative of art history and also popular taste. Moreover, the interview itself is an intriguing overlapping of celebrity engagement with feminist activism. This video was originally uploaded on January 14, 2016. 

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Summer Session

Summer Session – The Dark Side of Mickey Mouse: Llyn Foulkes at the New Museum

For this Summer Session topic of celebrity, today we bring you Allegra Kirklands review of the 2013 Llyn Foulkes retrospective at the New Museum. Across all of his multi- and mixed-media works, Foulkes oeuvre holds a special fascination for the hollow promises of fame implicit in American popular figures, like Mickey Mouse and Clark Kent. His heavily textured style viscerally manifests the darkness beneath the saccharine gloss of pop culture, revealing the physical and economic violence that underwrites Americanas most beloved characters. This article was originally published on August 22, 2013. 

Llyn Foulkes. The Lost Frontier, 1997–2005; mixed media; 87 x 96 x 8 in. Courtesy of the artist and The New Museum

Llyn Foulkes. The Lost Frontier, 1997–2005; mixed media; 87 x 96 x 8 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the New Museum.

Llyn Foulkes ranks among that rare cadre of artists for whom fame is an optional extra. Over the course of his fifty-year career, the Los Angeles–based multimedia artist and musician has experienced periods of success—for his monumental Pop-influenced paintings of rocks and, decades later, for his zany, large-scale narrative tableaux. But much of his work has been met with silence from critics and buyers, allowing Foulkes an enduring reputation as an underappreciated art-world outsider. The artist’s retrospective at the New Museum, a traveling exhibition organized by the curators of Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum, positions him squarely in the canon of acclaimed American artists. Yet Foulkes, now seventy-eight, remains stubbornly opposed to the pitfalls and pretensions of the gallery and museum circuit. He is a product of the midcentury American West—a cynical, eccentric figure intent on skewering our national pop culture, political institutions, and military might in equal measure.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – ART THOUGHTZ: How To Be A Successful Artist

For this Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you a video from Hennessy Youngman, creator of the satirical YouTube series ART THOUGHTZ. In this clip, Youngman outlines the core criteria for becoming a commercially successful artist—a short list of requirements that might be funnier if they were not so true. This video was originally uploaded on May 2, 2010.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Art and Film

This Summer Session we’re thinking about celebrity, and today we bring you a piece by celebrity James Franco from our sister publication Art Practical on his role in various art films, especially Spring Breakers (2013)Here, Franco attempts to tease out the intersections of commercial and art film projects from the inside, simultaneously offering a meta-narrative on the self-referentiality of his collaborations while enacting it himself. This article was originally published on July 9, 2014. 

Harmony Korine. Spring Breakers, 2013 (film still); 01:34:00. Courtesy of Spring Breakers LLC and A24 Films.

Harmony Korine. Spring Breakers, 2013 (film still); 01:34:00. Courtesy of Spring Breakers LLC and A24 Films.

Part 1: Alien

What’s in a name, homegirl? What’s in a name?
Everything and nothing that you thought,
When y’all’s mothers and fathers named you
Sarah, or Eve; or yo’ brothers Cain, and Abel.

These be ancient names, like Moses, and Jesus,
And Mohamed, and Pharaoh; but all these names
Be of the earth, be of man; and homegirl,
I be anything but of this earth. I am in it,

But not of it; I’m deep in it, relish it, like vagina;
Like an alligator deep within the swamp water
Who gets to lie about and eat the fishes passing,
Sweet pods of Mother Nature’s love I accept.

But I’m Alien, girl, an alien. The sheikh gathers treasure,
Not because he needs the glitter, but because
That sumofabitch can. I’m a racist, girl, a racist
Against the human race. I’m not of this world.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – The Artist Using Meat to Deform and Deconstruct Celebrity

For this Summer Session were thinking about celebrity, and today were considering the divide between the promise and the reality of celebrity influence. Over at Dazed, Thomas Gorton has penned a review of artist James Ostrers series The Ego System, a set of portraits of famous figures made out of meat and viscera. Ostrer’s work is an attempt to refuse the glamor of celebrity, and to remind himself that there is a real difference between “what we are being sold and what we are actually getting.” The article was originally published on March 22, 2016.

James Ostrer. Emotion Download 213M, 2016, from The Ego System series; photograph; 101 x 67cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

James Ostrer. Emotion Download 213M, 2016, from The Ego System series; photograph; 101 x 67 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

We love celebrities. Seemingly, even if we hate them. Despite invoking endless torrents of “I fucking hate her!” each time she appears on a website, Kim Kardashian was the most Google-searched person in 2015 across 26 countries and heavily clicked on. Similarly, Donald Trump might make mind-blowingly awful, heavily criticized remarks on a daily basis, but he’s by far and away the most searched for U.S. presidential candidate. Like it or not, we’re hooked.

In his latest body of work, The Ego System, artist James Ostrer is seeking to challenge the idea that our modern icons and the very concept of celebrity isn’t what it seems to be. “I am responding to the vast divide between what we are being sold and what we are actually getting. I’ve labeled them “Emotional Downloads,” as in the process of making them I am trying to remove the information in my head that I realize won’t represent value systems that will lead towards my own happiness.”

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870

For today’s Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you Genevieve Quicks review from our sister publication Art Practical of the 2010 SFMOMA exhibition Exposed, a show on the history of photography and the camera. Our contemporary fascination with celebrities is heavily shaped by the photographic medium, and Exposed explored some of the earliest iterations of the iconic paparazzi shot that is a quintessential celebrity experience. This review was originally published on December 10, 2010. 

Alison Jackson. The Queen plays with her Corgies, from the series Confidential, 2007; chromogenic print; 16 x 12 in. Courtesy the Artist and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles. © Alison Jackson.

Alison Jackson. The Queen plays with her Corgies, from the series Confidential, 2007; chromogenic print; 16 x 12 in. Courtesy the Artist and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles. © Alison Jackson.

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, at SFMOMA, is an ambitious exhibition that examines 140 years of photography through five categories: “The Unseen Photographer,” “Voyeurism and Desire,” “Celebrity and the Public Gaze,” “Witnessing Violence,” and “Surveillance.” The exhibition cites 1871, the year the gelatin dry plate was invented, as the onset of the modern photographic era. This development was shortly followed by the emergence of micro cameras small enough to be concealed in unassuming objects of everyday life, such as a shoe or cane. In addition to exploring the power dynamics and privacy issues of voyeurism and surveillance, the exhibition raises questions about a visitor’s relationships to the photograph, viewing, and the socio-historic context in which the images were made and the ways they are viewed today.

Read the full review here.

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