Tag Archives: contemporary art

The Mainstreaming of Contemporary Art: Is Jay-Z Dumbing Down Smart Art?

14 Jul

Picasso & JayZ

When the celebs start infiltrating the art world I have to say “no”! They’ve already ruined fashion (JLo, Rihanna, Jessica Simpson and even Beyonce!). Now they are slowly trying to enter into contemporary art.

The current rap-god, Jay-Z…also married to pop queen Beyonce, was performing at NYC’s Pace Gallery this past week. He posted on twitter that he will be delivering 6 pieces of art following the release of his new album and this was his first. The initial coverage I saw of the event seemed to indicate it had some relation to performance artist Marina Abramović. Apparently Jay-Z was presenting his own take on Abramović’s piece she did at the the Museum of Modern Art, where she sat for 750 hours in stillness while visitors viewed her. At Pace Gallery Jay-Z was rapping his new song “Picasso Baby” for six hours in front various art world and hipster VIPs. With Mr. Z’s new album coming out, he was using this time to shoot his video for the latest single, directed by Mark Romanek. Having worked on many music videos, a 6 hour shoot is nothing compare to the usual 12+hour days of a video shoot…that’s a lucky production crew.

It bugs me that Jay-Z is using Marina Abramović as an access point into the art world. When the contemporary art world succumbs to the glitz of celebrity I find it disappointing. I’m glad for Pace Gallery to get a lot of coverage and maybe some sales, but it all appears to be a silly publicity stunt. Jay-Z is obviously a smart man and an great opportunist. He is super successful. Is he taking “art” and making it accessible to his audience? Kinda. I think what he’s doing is replacing the Gucci-Prada-Louis Vuitton element, which is so prevalent in rap… which is the element that gives rappers the sense of being rich and sophisticated, and is replacing it with big art names. Before the fashion brands were the signifying status symbols, it was expensive drinks like Cristal and Courvoisier to show clout and cultivation. In his new song “Picasso Baby” he raps the names of Picasso, Rothko, Warhol, Koons, Condo, Bacon, DaVinci and Basquiat. Well it seems he took an art history class. He’s using very well known/text book names in art and I guess to the common man it would seem very cultured to know them. It would be different and maybe more interesting if he rapped about Lari Pittman and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
Ok, maybe he’s not quite ruining contemporary art. It makes me laugh at Jay-Z and Pace Gallery for trying so hard – and yes I can laugh at myself for taking art so seriously sometimes. It’s good that he’s bringing awareness of art to a new audience, but it still bugs me a little because I’m an art snob.


Jay-Z & Marina


Rosemary Trockel at the Serpentine…what?

24 Mar

I have admired the work of Rosemary Trockel for many years so I was excited to see her show at the Serpentine Gallery. I really enjoy her approach to feminist ideas.  Rosemary Trockel-A Cosmos felt lacking, probably because the audience at the Serpentine seems to be either the wealthy collector looking for a name, or the ignorant tourist walking through the park. I also thought it failed in its curatorial aspects through the needless addition of other artists or the lack of taking that idea to the right level.  It was a few of her strong pieces & then some other filler work. The show incorporated a few other artists work alongside Trockel’s and I’m still perplexed as to why..or who thought it would work, and also, was this a mini retrospective because the work spanned a few years?

Trockel’s work is juxtaposed with various pieces from “self taught” artists that “provide models of dedication to their chosen field that, for Trockel, are exemplary and inspiring”.”Many of the objects and artworks, selected by Trockel in dialogue with curator Lynne Cooke, produce a context for the artist’s work within other fields of inquiry, such as the natural sciences and natural history.” All these quotes can be found in the Serpentine Gallery write up. These other artists & the natural museum-esque display seems to be an attempt to further play on Trockel’s tension of art & craft. I think the art/craft dialogue is already accepted as part of Trockel’s oeuvre. If the curator wanted to use this display/juxtapositioning as a key idea in the show they should have taken a page out of Damian Hirst’s book – oh lord, I can’t believe I’m referencing him…but he is a master of presentation for his audience. The curator could also have better used the idea of incorporating the environment like for instance Jason Rhoades (maybe and extreme example) who made experiencing the whole room/gallery part of the art with his clustered mishmash of items. I just felt like the show was incohesive & this made the work look random & dated.

Maybe I just don’t understand. In reading the other reviews of the show I found one that I can relate to from Waldemar Januszczak at The Times. He writes: “A Cosmos is so uncommunicative, so inconsequential, so horrible, that no words of mine can do it justice“. Meow! He does suggest going to see for yourself…& I did, & I agree, but I much rather have a bad reaction to a show than none at all. Touche Rosemary.

Rosemary TrockelRosemary Trockel