November 19, 2013

"We are supposed to be the vandals, but this is the biggest rag and disrespect in the history of graffiti."

The work of 1,500 artists, whited out overnight.

61 comments:

Tank said...

1. Owner paints own building.

2. ????

3. Crime against humanity.

Sam L. said...

Idjits! Ya wanna keep yer stuff, buy yer own canvas!

MadisonMan said...

You want your art preserved? Don't paint someone else's property.

I guess that's the lesson here.

rehajm said...

People with no property rights vandalize a building then demand property rights to the building they vandalized.

Is this some kind of performance art?

jr565 said...

You want your art preserved? Don't paint someone else's property.


The graffiti artists should buy a building and can then add as much grafitti as they want.

n.n said...

This is why we have private property rights. The public area is the domain of a King (e.g. monarchy) or kings (e.g. democracy).

Anyway, they are confusing the order of cause and effect, as well as expressing unhappiness with a consensus argument which disfavors their position.

The solution: reproduction. Just be careful to not let your babies grow up to be...

Real American said...

ha ha! Go paint your own damn property, fucking losers.

Tibore said...

Hmmm... so, the NYTimes chooses to advocate for supposed "culture" over property rights. Ignoring the fact that there are other outlets for artistic expression that don't involve spray-painting all over something you don't own.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but the sheer brazenness displayed by the Times plus the people quoted in the piece is dismaying. If someone spray painted their car or front door, would they be accepting?

Chef Mojo said...

Poser whiners. The whole idea behind graffiti is its non-permanance. I thought there was supposed to be challenge to it! Guerrilla art! Your tag gets tagged and you tag over that tag sort of thing.

But now? The days of sneaking into train yards and tagging boxcars? Well! That could be dangerous!

So now, it's all "respect my art, muthafuckas!"

Sure. And while we're at it, we'll throw in a recording contract for that hot, bangin' pickle bucket drummer down the block on the corner, m'kay?

madAsHell said...

1. The owner had the graffiti painted over.
2. The owner is then quoted as “I cried this morning, I swear to you,” he said.

It's an Obama world. I'll tell you anything you want to hear.

Rob said...

Happily, there's a building in New York City that welcomes all graffiti artists.

Chef Mojo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef Mojo said...

I think the NY Times should do these whiners a solid and offer up their facade for art, don't you think? No conditions.

Don't talk culture, guys. Be a patron of culture! C'mon! shell out the money, Times! Offer your building, first and foremost. But then buy these guys "canvasses" and sponsor them! Y'know? Like CPB and NPR?

"This graffiti is brought to you in part by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and, uh, viewers like you..."

Win-win!

Ralph Hyatt said...

I'm definitely in agreement with Chef Mojo.

If you are going to start whining about people painting over your graffiti you might as well buy a Mini-Van and a 3 bedroom house in the burbs.

WITH AN ATTACHED TWO CAR GARAGE.

Cause you is bougey.

Big Mike said...

Note to the artists: You didn't build that!

lemondog said...

Agree on the private property aspect and graffiti transitory nature, but it appeared a pretty interesting collection inside and outside by many with talent.

pst314 said...

I'll one-up Chef Mojo: People should just walk into the New York Times building and start spray-painting. Better yet, locate and spray-paint the homes of the Times' owner and senior editors. The New York Times has absolutely no moral right to object to that. None. Now doesn't that sound like fun?

Peter said...

So, who gets to decide what's "art"?

Just call what the owner painted art and be done with it.

Michael said...

The building owner made a transgressional statement, something beyond edgy, beyond ultra-urban and the New York Times misses it entirely. The building was white washed!! Get it? White. Washed.

What was Tom Sawyer doing with the fence? Have the editors of the art section of the NYT not read that book, not deconstructed it? For the love of God it could not be any more ironic than eating at the Carnegie Deli.

tim maguire said...

How many of you have actually seen the building? It was one of the most amazing structures in Long Island City, a landmark in practice if not in law. And it was done with the blessing of the owners (Oops! Bet most of you didn't read that far.) Now it's just another wreck of a building.

I know most people here want the world as ugly as it can be if that lets you stick it to the hippies on the internet, but this is a tragedy, maybe not a crime, but a tragedy.

None of you live in the community so you have no reason to care that the community will suffer.

Mountain Maven said...

This is why the NYT is dying

EMD said...

How many of you have actually seen the building? It was one of the most amazing structures in Long Island City, a landmark in practice if not in law. And it was done with the blessing of the owners (Oops! Bet most of you didn't read that far.) Now it's just another wreck of a building.

This tells me Long Island City needs better landmarks.

Respect for property rights >> love of graffiti art.

Crunchy Frog said...

Now it's just another wreck of a building.

It was a wreck of a building before, that the owner wants torn down so the property can be redeveloped. The taggers wanted it left as some sort of loser landmark.

It's his building, not theirs.

David said...

Find a more congenial canvas next time.

New York Times has buildings. A bunch of them.

The Sulzburgers have houses and condos and lots of other stuff with paintable surfaces. Cars maybe.

Have at it. Express yourselves/

rhhardin said...

Vita longa, ars brevis

pst314 said...

In this case:

Vita longa, arse brevis.

MadisonMan said...

It was one of the most amazing structures in Long Island City, a landmark in practice if not in law. And it was done with the blessing of the owners

The owners changed their mind. Are we suddenly supposed to think they're wrong?

Repeat after me: It's their property. They can okay its painting by either "artists" or by "painting companies".

Ambrose said...

I think the artists should reimburse the owner for the cost of the paint job. They are getting off cheap here.

dbp said...

Pro tip: If you think your "art" is worth something, make sure to own the canvas. Or at least take a snap-shot of it just in case.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The owner painted the building in order to tear it down. There's an artistic statement in that too, and an element of poetry.

The whitewashed building could be declared a landmark as an example of post-postmodern expressionism.

That would be poetic justice.

On the other hand, the artistic statement is not fully realized unless the artist can complete the tear down.

Kirk Parker said...

Peter,

"Just call what the owner painted art and be done with it."

Heh.

CWJ said...

Left Bank of the Charles FTW!

Amazing. Intellectually consistent with BOTH sides of the argument.

The building MUST come down. QED

jeff said...

"How many of you have actually seen the building? It was one of the most amazing structures in Long Island City, a landmark in practice if not in law. And it was done with the blessing of the owners (Oops! Bet most of you didn't read that far.) Now it's just another wreck of a building." Wrong, I read the article. How does any of that invalidate the owners property rights? If you enjoyed the free view enough to pony up the money to buy the building, thenknock yourself out. The lesson here for property owners is do NOT allow this on your building because if you ever get the chance to develops the property, Tim is going to be mad at you.

Howard said...

tim maguire I sorta agree... however, isn't the transient nature of our very being and the impermanence of graffiti art all part of the show. The pain of loss is it's final artistic gift. The wailing and rending of garments is the highest possible compliment to the artists. As we say here in NorCal: It's All Good.

pst314 said...

The owners painted over the graffiti to head off an attempt to stop development by having the building declared a landmark and therefore untouchable.

Which shows just how corrupted and oppressive the landmark preserving establishment has become. Buildings are even declared landmarks because they are examples of the worst brutalist ugliness. Owners end up saddled with white elephants. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant

Victor Erimita said...

The grownups ruined my fingerpaints! Waaah!

Kelly said...

I'm guessing the owner allowed the graffiti because it was cheaper than constantly painting over it. I'm sure it was painted over in the dead of night so no one could get a court order to stop it.

cf said...

Impermanence is one of those elements that makes human expression so exquisite.

One delight of graffiti is that it might appear in the white space of a billboard, Perfectly Placed! -- find that kid and hire him as a page designer, Damn! -- that is soon ripped away the next month's paid-for slot.

Blessings to all, artists and owners, viewers and spitters, enjoy your breath. And another. and again. So brief. So exquisite.

William said...

I've seen that building over the years. It was a welcome burst of color, and some of the images were very well done. I don't know this for a fact, but it was my understanding that the images were transient and were only up for a year or two before they were painted over. Their very transience was part of their meaning. The whitewashing just added to the poignancy of their ephemeral nature. The landlord just brought out what was immanent in their art. The nature of graffiti is that, like the people who create it, it will soon be painted over and forgotten.

FullMoon said...

Tim says:
I know most people here want the world as ugly as it can be if that lets you stick it to the hippies on the internet,......

Don't know about "most", but that is an accurate description of me. I want the world ugly, really ugly.

betamax3000 said...

"We are supposed to be the vandals"

Everything I Need to Know About This Story is in Those Words.

A. Shmendrik said...

Q: What is art?

A: Art is a window washer.

Skookum John said...

Art is shit.

Robert Cook said...

"How many of you have actually seen the building? It was one of the most amazing structures in Long Island City, a landmark in practice if not in law. And it was done with the blessing of the owners (Oops! Bet most of you didn't read that far.) Now it's just another wreck of a building."

From 1981 to 1989 I rode the 7 Train past that building twice a day commuting to and from work, and it was always a derelict looking building, hardly a landmark the "community" would suffer for losing. (I don't recall it having become any sort of Mecca for graffiti artists at that time, although the building certainly was not without graffiti then.)

I don't have a reflexive aversion or objection to graffiti art as some here seem to, but part of the point of tagging--as Chef Mojo has pointed out--is that it is transgressive and ephemeral, the fleeting voices of anonymous urban citizens, always subject to being written over or whited out. It seems to seriously miss the point to over-esteem an unused building that became a spray-paint palimpsest simply because the inevitable has finally occurred and the owners have decided to make use of the site.

Move on, taggers, move on and find other canvases.

pst314 said...

"part of the point of tagging...is that it is transgressive"

Ah, transgressive: the barbaric fetish of today's pseudo-intellectual elites.

Robert Cook said...

All art is transgressive, pst314. That's why oppressive societies strive so hard to control it, to codify what "art" is acceptable, and to stamp out that which is deemed not.

Art appeals to the imagination, to that part of us that responds emotionally--irrationally--to beauty, to expressions of ideas, to depictions of the human condition, to confrontations with those aspects of ourselves we are fearful or ashamed of. It inspires us to think outside the boundaries set by the powers that be (in any society or culture).

Mitch H. said...

Pfft. Art is not inherently transgressive. It *can* be, but it also can be a celebration of societal norms, an explication of those norms, or a reactionary critique of the decay of mores which *used* to be norms. And frankly, after a century and a half of epater les bourgeois, I find pretty much any artistic expression *except* the transgressive to be at least of interest, if not actually engaging on a piece-by-piece basis.

Wilbur said...

"That's why oppressive societies strive so hard to control it, to codify what "art" is acceptable, and to stamp out that which is deemed not."

Hey Robert, I want to paint my art on your house or your car, or even better, on your clothes, your best clothes. You wouldn't want to oppress me, or stamp it out as unacceptable, would you?

Hippie moron.

Wilbur said...

"That's why oppressive societies strive so hard to control it, to codify what "art" is acceptable, and to stamp out that which is deemed not."

Hey Robert, I want to paint my art on your house or your car, or even better, on your clothes, your best clothes. You wouldn't want to oppress me, or stamp it out as unacceptable, would you?

Hippie moron.

Robert Cook said...

Uh, Wilbur...maybe you should learn to read before deigning to snark on about art. Nowhere did I offer an apologia for the graffiti artists or criticize the owner of 5 Pointz for whitewashing their tags.

And Mitch H., yes, art is inherently transgressive in that it provokes and appeals to our emotions, to that aspect of ourselves that is irrational.

This, less than any overt content of art, is what frightens those who concern themselves with social norms, particularly those who seek to maintain or control social norms.

This is not to say that all art is or must be or strives to be shocking or offensive, merely that any medium of expression or communication that arouses emotional responses within us is inherently dangerous to our learned notions of propriety or decorum, to our received cultural attitudes and beliefs, and can inspire us to question those notions and beliefs.

This is dangerous to the arbiters of social order.

Crazy Jane said...

According to today's WSJ, the graffiti artists tried to get an injunction stopping the paint-over based on the Visual Artists Right Act; the injunction was denied, and the artists are now seeking damages. The essence of the VARA, passed in1990, seems to be that artists retain some control over the uses of their work, even after the works are sold, if the buyers' uses damage the reputations of the artists.

Strange law, one I'd not known existed. What if someone purchased a heroic painting of Nazi sympathizers and then spray-painted a Star of David on it? Could the painter sue? Would the First Amendment supersede the VARA?

As for the 5Pointz building, the owner was willing to tolerate graffiti until he wasn't. Seems fair to me.

Mike said...

Yes, Mr. Cook, the arbiters of social order. Hmmm. We don't have "final authorities" over social order in these here United States. We do have many people interested in an orderly society. How transgressive is that?

Mitch H. said...

Robert, did you grow up in some horrible iconoclastic church that banned music and dancing as well? I present to you Italian Renaissance art, financed and directed by arbiters of the Roman Catholic social order. Rembrandt, painting his burghers, militia members, and other stalwarts of the Dutch establishment.

The real radicals of the era such as Savonarola *burned* art - remember the "bonfire of the vanities"?

And anyways, "social order" is in no sense synonymous with rationality. Hayek liked to postulate the three ways of knowing - instinct, reason and tradition. Tradition & the social order is neither rational nor irrational - it is that historic accumulation of cultural experience, reasoned and unreasoning alike.

tim in vermont said...

"I don't want to payee,
I don't want to paay,
I don't want to payee
Last years rent!
This year's rent!
Next year's RENT!"

Robert Cook said...

"Robert, did you grow up in some horrible iconoclastic church that banned music and dancing as well?"

No, buy many people in this country have...and do. Such church bans on music and dancing bear out my point.

"I present to you Italian Renaissance art, financed and directed by arbiters of the Roman Catholic social order. Rembrandt, painting his burghers, militia members, and other stalwarts of the Dutch establishment."

Yes, institutional art, commissioned by the wealthy and powerful, meant to aggrandize the patrons and to celebrate the social order of which they were the masters, much as the wealthy today commission portraits of themselves and their families from skilled portrait painters.

Much Renaissance art depicted religious imagery, celebrating and reinforcing the religious dogma and cultural norms of the day.

Such work is successful insofar as it affirms the correctness (one might say the "righteousness") of the cultural and religions norms being glorified. It does this not through logical argument but by appeal to one's emotions, to one's emotional/irrational self.

If art can be marshaled to reinforce cultural norms, it can also can succeed in undermining them, or in reinforcing and celebrating norms contrary to the prevailing culture.

Art is not always transgressive in the particular instance, but it is transgressive in the way it works, in its potential for inspiring heretical feelings or thoughts in the recipient, in allowing us to live by proxy outside ourselves and to imagine other conditions of life, other possibilities.

Mitch H. said...

The Baptist churches that ban dancing are big into music, and imagery. The Muslims who ban imagery are *big* into singing, and some of them into dance. Your argument is self-refuting: art is integral to religious as well as social norms, and can & is employed to reinforce and affirm normative culture *ALL THE TIME*. And anyone who gasses about "institutional art" in a conversation about the didactic classics of Baroque and Renaissance art is being an avant-garde philistine.

And I repeat for emphasis: rationality is at best orthogonal to the subject of societal norms and mores.

Art is not always transgressive in the particular instance, but it is transgressive in the way it works, in its potential for inspiring heretical feelings or thoughts in the recipient, in allowing us to live by proxy outside ourselves and to imagine other conditions of life, other possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago, wasn't the Professor talking about CS Lewis and the negative value of elevation and inspirational thought to the mission objectives of his fictional demons? Will you allow the value of art in establishing culture and elevating moral sense, or do you consider that to be somehow "institutional" as well, and thus not really art?

Robert Cook said...

MItch,

You seem to assume "transgressive" as I'm using it is negative or offensive; it merely refers to going outside or beyond normal boundaries of perception, imagination, or ideation. This certainly can and does serve as an "elevating" function, if this is so important for you to have me concede. In fact, this is why art is so powerful and can be so frightening to societies or to individuals, as we not only tend to want to remain within the familiar as cultures, but also as individuals...we all tend to hew to the comfort of the familiar.

"Establishing a moral sense" is a revolutionary act in an amoral society, as depicted in Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, (or in Spielberg's JAWS), or as seen in virtually every real life case of whistleblowers, who are invariably cast out of their corporate or civic community for their acts of moral courage and repudiation of prevailing immorality.

I think of the transgressive power of art as constructive and positive. One might even argue that art that does not somehow enlarge one's perceptions or imagination is trivial art, not worth the name, but is, instead, mere decoration.

pst314 said...

"All art is transgressive, pst314."

Nonsense. And you go on to spout lots more pretentious nonsense about revolutionary acts in an amoral society. Oh please.

Mitch H. said...

Transgressive: to transgress or trespass. To commit a crime. Even the positive definitions include the word "violation". Your attempted re-definition is invalid, and by that I mean, "uncommunicative".


"Establishing a moral sense" is a revolutionary act in an amoral society

Pernicious horseshit outside of the specific context of a totalitarian state (which by definition is a perpetual war by the State against Society), and until you see that to be the case, there's no hope for you. Ibsen was a sad, childish, foolish man, who play-acted at rebellion in his work, but chased shiny medal baubles of artificial regard like the most vulgar of whores in later life. Seriously, read his section in Paul Johnson's Intellectuals, Ibsen was easily the most foolish of Johnson's subjects. Not the most evil or degraded or wicked, but definitely most foolish.

Robert Cook said...

Yes, but Mitch, what makes "violation" innately negative? That's just another word for breaking boundaries.

The built in dictionary on my Mac defines "transgress" as to "infringe or go beyond the bounds of (a moral principle or other standard of behavior)." Many standards of behavior are objectionable, or simply limiting, and one might infringe them in an attempt to provide the "elevation of a moral sense" you seek, or to expand one's own experience of the world.

"'Establishing a moral sense is a revolutionary act in an amoral society'.

"Pernicious horseshit outside of the specific context of a totalitarian state...."


Sez who?

We are not a totalitarian state--not yet, anyway--but we are certainly an amoral society, we, who depict our loathesome campaigns of terrorism, torture and mass murder abroad as valid and as "in defense" of our nation. That's pernicious horseshit, and a rank lie. Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning transgressed in revealing state crimes, and they are heroes for it, more moral than most of us have the courage to be, yet they're branded as criminals and have been cast out.

And...don't be so pedantic; I have no opinion of Ibsen, having never read him or seen him performed; I refer to the plot of his play, played out in real life so many times, (as above). I don't claim him as an artistic or personal exemplar. I know virtually nothing about him. As to whether he, personally, was foolish and hypocritical...if true, what of it? He was a human, after all. Many great artists are flawed or even vile human beings. I cited his play to illustrate one dramatization of how "transgression" can certainly be in service to "elevating a moral sense."

Beyond matters of morality, which you brought up, "transgressing" one's own perceptions, ideas, or imagination can be exhilarating and terrifying, and art certainly aids in such violation of mental boundaries.

Mitch H. said...

I ask the crowd, is "violation" a potentially positive term? Adding, in support of my position, how "violation" is an occasional synonym for "rape".

what little Ibsen I've read and seen wasn't really "outlaw art" - not really radical but rather middle-class reformist in tone. Carrying within it those Marxian Victorian-era "internal contradictions" which tended towards the eventual self-demolition of the mores of the time, but still very much part and parcel of Society critiquing itself.

There is a difference between analytic art, and creative or prescriptive art. Ibsen was very much an analyst - someone who broke down traditions in order to discover the properties and values underlying those traditions, hopefully in expectation of reassembling the better parts and stronger framing in a new tradition at the end of the day. But having analyzed the tradition - or, using a less bloodless phrase, dissected a living thing upon the laboratory table - how many artists have the capacity to stitch the patient back together anew? Too many like Ibsen leave a trail of disemboweled frogs behind them with nothing living in hand and naught richer but for a few clever lines in a play, or some paint on a wall somewhere.

We have had generations enough of analysis - stitch the broken things back together, and amaze the world!