October 11, 2016

The "conceptual art" idea of having a celebrity arrive as an ordinary model for a routine life drawing class.

The traditional art-school drawing from the model — and I've been there, done that a thousand times — becomes a different kind of event — supposedly! — when somebody famous strips down and sits/lies/stands there for the students — who are surprised to find themselves scrutinizing and delineating... Iggy Pop.

You can see the drawings at the Brooklyn Museum... even though the drawings are merely conventional life-class drawings. It's hard to see why they deserve a museum show. The "conceptual art" — such as it was — is lost in the past, the performance of Iggy in the room, surprising people by behaving like an ordinary life-class model, transforming the experience in whatever way it was transformed. You can't see that at the Museum.

The Museum is trying to make up for the shortcoming with additional artwork — "works depicting male bodies from the Museum’s collections... from ancient Egypt, Africa, India, Japan, and Mexico, as well as prints and drawings by Egon Schiele and Max Beckmann, and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge and Robert Mapplethorpe." This way the show will, we are told, "examin[e]the representation of masculinity across a larger international  and historical spectrum."

The museum also portrays the exhibit as part of its "Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum." How does the depiction of the male body fit into reimagining feminism? Well, that's the point, isn't it?, you're supposed to reimagine. But wait, I will help: The male body is designed to fit into the female. The female naturally encompasses the male, both in heterosexual intercourse and in pre-birth existence.

25 comments:

buwaya puti said...

I can see practicing drawing, but this seems a gimmick to appeal to hipsters. Fair enough to take their money I guess.

Also, the idea that there must be an IDEA is straight out of Wolfe's "Painted Word".

buwaya puti said...

Wolfe had his own explanation why art became all about non-art concepts, but I still dont get it. The concept of CONCEPT seems so unnecessary, so unnatural, that it has persisted for so many decades is a puzzlement.

tim in vermont said...

Shortcomings, nude male models. I can't wait to click on this

Mike said...

Now I feel obligated to avoid "encompasses" in any anodyne way.

Paul Snively said...

Screw that Iggy Pop was a life model. He was also one of the sources of inspiration for Weta Digital's Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So just how many people in a random life drawing class would know who Iggy Pop is? I know the name, and that he was ( is? ) a musician. But I wouldn't recognize him, and couldn't name any song he wrote/performed.

rhhardin said...

It can't be conceptual unless there's a woman too.

buwaya puti said...

As for the male body fitting into the female - well, not unless the fellows in question are in a certain condition, which is not usually the way the male nude is depicted, with only a few exceptions.
Keeping a male model in such a condition seems like it would require the tradecraft of a related but entirely separate industry.
Laslo probably could advise.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

At first I was going to say that conceptual art is a stunt, but that denotes difficulty or skill, so I will go with gimmick.

a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.
synonyms: publicity stunt · contrivance · scheme · stratagem · ploy ·
shtick

Henry said...

From a drawing perspective, what is probably more interesting than that the model is Iggy Pop is that the model is an old guy with stringy muscles.

robother said...

When I lived in Brooklyn 40 years ago, the exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum always seemed like desperate attempts of an ugly step sister to get out of the shadows of its Manhattan world class competition. Even though Brooklyn has been discovered by young hipsters, plus ca change.

Ann Althouse said...

"Shortcomings, nude male models. I can't wait to click on this..."

There's no genitalia on display at the link. The drawing you will probably like best is a shoulders-up portrait.

Ann Althouse said...

@buwaya puti

It's true that artistic depictions of masculinity — at least the ones in museums — almost never have the penis erect.

Here's a Wikimedia page with thumbnails of the erect penis in art.

William said...

If a celebrity appears before a life drawing class and no one recognizes him as a celebrity, can he truly be said to be a celebrity. Is that part of the conceptual art? ...... A naked Lady Gaga is not truly Lady Gaga because outlandish clothes are an essential part of her identity. It's the things you cover up and how you cover them up that are truly revelatory of character.

Chuck said...

Did you ever bump into Iggy in Ann Arbor, professor? You may have and not even known it.

Graham Powell said...

Iggy would not be a beautiful model (in the conventional sense, anyway), but man, he's seen some livin'. I bet his body tells an interesting tale.

n.n said...

Equal and complementary.

mikee said...

The Museum is using the name of a celebrity and some amateurish drawings of him to draw crowds.

I recall a Masterpiece Theater episode from the 1970s, can't recall the series name, wherein a young British Duke was convinced to present his own oil paintings in a gallery show. After all his rich friends attended and politely ridiculed his lack of skill, without purchasing a single item, the Duke asks the Gallery owner why he'd done such a dastardly deed. The owner points out that over a dozen paintings by another artist in the gallery had sold. And that the other artist was really good, but was an unkown Hungarian, who deserved attention from the rich guests who came to see their friend, the Duke's, artwork.

In a very, very British example of noblesse oblige, the Duke then buys two of the Hungarian's paintings.

When you watch enough TV you can sometimes see the scams played with celebrity for what they are. Which is scams.

Sam L. said...

I wouldn't recognize Iggy if he were pointed out to me.

Robert Cook said...

One famous Michigan pop star was a life model prior to gaining fame singing; another famous Michigan pop star after decades as a public figure.

We know the latter person is Iggy Pop; can anyone name the first?

Steve said...

Madonna

Steve said...

Iggy is an interesting choice for this project. His storied pan and hyper sexuality along with time spent with Jim Morrison and David Bowie means there are plenty of interesting stories. And he looks like he was built out of testosterone and beef jerky so the images should be interesting too.

Peter said...

"How does the depiction of the male body fit into reimagining feminism?"

The Magazine-Cover Problem: Men's magazines mostly have pictures of women on their covers, and women's magazines ... mostly have pictures of women on their covers.

Maybe the Museum could offer an installation featuring ... magazine covers? Call it "Magazine Madness" and perhaps it'll pay the bills.

EDH said...

It's interesting Althouse used the term "celebrity" rather than "star" to describe Iggy Pop.

This is the point I've been making about Trump, especially back in 2005. While a newsworthy "celebrity" I don't think Trump considered himself a "star".

EDH said...

Did Trump really think of himself as a "star" in 2005? He was a celebrity, but not a star.

"The Apprentice" didn't even start until 2008. I think he was speaking subjunctively to Bush and the "Access Hollywood" crew, as in "I know some 'stars' who can get away with "anything". Bill Clinton, maybe?

And remember, Trump had just recounted how he'd gotten shut-down by Nancy O'Dell. So if Trump considered himself a "star" how did that happen.

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

10/11/16, 6:06 PM


"You," not "me," in the subjunctive.

Robert Cook said...

"Iggy is an interesting choice for this project. His storied pan and hyper sexuality along with time spent with Jim Morrison and David Bowie means there are plenty of interesting stories."

Iggy never spent time with Jim Morrison, although he cites Morrison's stage provocations as an inspiration for his own. Also, Iggy has never been described as "pan" sexual, (although his appeal may be pan sexual); his friendship with Bowie was purely professional and platonic. (Bowie's own supposed bi-sexuality has been exaggerated.)