March 22, 2017

"That even the disfigured corpse of a child was not sufficient to move the white gaze from its habitual cold calculation is evident daily and in a myriad of ways..."

"... not least the fact that this painting exists at all."

From the petition to remove the painting of Emmett Till from the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

There's also the tweet that says that the artist — a white woman, Dana Schutz — "should have read Saidiya Hartman before she turned Emmett Till into a bad Francis Bacon painting."

That's quoted here, at the NYT. You can see the painting at both links. The "bad Francis Bacon painting" description is apt (and would be funny if it were not the case that nothing about Emmett Till is funny). Here's what Francis Bacon paintings look like (in case you don't know). And here's a Wikipedia page for Saidya Hartman.

Why did the Whitney include this painting? They're in a position to be awfully choosy, so why pick this?

Schutz is certainly free to make bad paintings in bad taste. She can also use words to speak freely defending herself with dumb banality:
“I don’t know what it is like to be black in America but I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till’s only son. The thought of anything happening to your child is beyond comprehension. Their pain is your pain. My engagement with this image was through empathy with his mother.... Art can be a space for empathy, a vehicle for connection. I don’t believe that people can ever really know what it is like to be someone else (I will never know the fear that black parents may have) but neither are we all completely unknowable.”
But why would the Whitney choose this for its vaunted biennial? You could say that the Whitney should want art that challenges us, but this is simply bad. The historical photograph speaks for itself. What did Schutz contribute with her simplified and smeared paint job?

Unless you view the painting as step 1 in a performance art project that includes the protests, it's just bad.

85 comments:

Brando said...

I'm no fan of the painting itself, but is the criticism here that the painting is no good or that it is no good because the artist is white? Because frankly the discussion should have nothing to do with her race.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Maybe they could get Cecilia Gimenez to fix it for them...

AprilApple said...

What is bad is the headline:

"Protesters Want This Painting of Emmett Till Destroyed—Because the Artist Is White"

Life after 8 years of Obama. We were a colorblind melting pot - now - black people are victims again.

CJ said...

The Whitney is the best building displaying some of the most atrocious "art" in the world.

I suppose the juxtaposition of the two - beautiful, modern architecture that elevates its surroundings filled with boring garbage that corrupts its surroundings - is itself a work of art.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I concur with Brando. Without being told, I could not have discerned what the painting was about. As for why it was chosen, best guess is that the "artist" has connections. Isn't that how all modern "art" is chosen to be elevated? Since actual skill and talent are no longer required, just the desire to shock the bourgeoisie, what other reason could there be? Art in our era has, for the most part, descended into a grift, but the grifters are painfully unaware of it.

As for the objection, I see in the news that a college womens' basketball player was assaulted because she was wearing her hair in braids and another young woman objected. Also, I recall another news item from a while back where a young woman was assaulted while busking because she was playing music that a passer-by insisted she could not because "white people aren't allowed to play that music."

J2 said...

Quentin Tarantino needs to weigh in on this.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm reminded of an "art installation" I read about were a rich Manhattanite paid an "artist" to create a "sculpture" that was simply a large heap of hard, cellophane wrapped candies placed in the entry way to her apartment. Guests would take and consume the candies as they came and went, the home owner was expected to replenish the candies as necessary. My best guess is that the "artist" was a drug dealer and this was a dodge to explain his income to the IRS.

In any event, since modern art is a dodge used to extract money from the government and stupid bourgeoisie, the real objection is basically that a white woman received money and recognition that should have gone to a black.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Got to make some money...easy answer to your question..

Fernandinande said...

"That even the disfigured corpse of a child was not sufficient to move the white gaze from its habitual cold calculation is evident daily and in a myriad of ways..."

Let's translate from Gibberish to English: "White people are bad."

bad Francis Bacon painting.

That's redundant.

"The Whitney" should stick to cotton gins.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Another protester, Hannah Black, a British-born black artist and writer working in Berlin, has written a letter to the biennial’s curators, Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, urging that the painting be not only removed from the show but also destroyed.

Some random thoughts.

1. I keep reading the the Whitney as the Whitey.
2. Isn't Hannah Black appropriating the history and culture of African Americans?
3. These people are insane.
4. These people are true fascists.

JAORE said...

"More than thirty people have signed the petition, which began circulating Facebook on Monday afternoon. ....the white gaze from its habitual cold calculation ....

A number of original signatories’ names were scrubbed on Monday because they were white; ...it was “better to include only black signatories.” .... it is “not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun.”

More than 30? Crap, you could get more than 30 to sign a petition for requiring mayonnaise on pork ribs.

And I am surely to God sick of these self-righteous assholes and their bigotry.

JAORE said...

And, I agree the painting is crap.

Fernandinande said...

The Rootin Tootin' sez: This White Woman’s Painting of Emmett Till Belongs Under the Definition of Whitepeopleing, Not on a Museum Wall

"Definition of Whitepeopleing" - more Gibberish for "White people are bad."

The Root should stick to potatoes...even though, in Trump's America, potatoes stick to you.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I find the "artist's" defense of her painting interesting too.

It amounts to, "I'm not black, but I am a mother and can empathize with a mother's grief at losing her child." Which is irrelevant of course. This is all about power politics in the leftist coalition. And the black identity group is ascended (or seeking to be ascended) over liberal white women who work in the arts. Attempting to profit from something the black identity group perceives as theirs is a major faux paus. That the painting is still hanging and artist is trying any kind of defense instead of a groveling apology shows that she must have serious social connections.

Fernandinande said...

JAORE said...
And, I agree the painting is crap.


It's actually a bit better (the shirt part) than Francis Bacon's paintings, one of which sold for $142 million dollars...because idiots.

Angel-Dyne said...

She can also use words to speak freely defending herself with dumb banality...

Not only banal, but dumb.

I think what we have here is a case of dueling banalities.

Let us interrogate the banalities of Dana Schutz, Saidya Hartman, and the curators of the Whitney Biennial.

Nah, I got a better idea. Let's go interrogate things and people who are non-dumb and non-banal.

David said...

A bunch of fools trying to be edgy.

Amexpat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucien said...

Banal or not the artist's position spoke to the idea that we are people first, and have skin color second, while the protesters' view is the opposite.

Known Unknown said...

"urging that the painting be not only removed from the show but also destroyed."

Maybe we could burn it with some books.

Robert Cook said...

Oh, for fuck's sake.

The painting itself is not particularly memorable, not even particularly bad, (certainly not particularly good). But for any subject matter to be claimed by any specific ethnic or identity group as appropriate and acceptable only for them to write/draw/paint/sculpt/sing/make a movie about is outrageous bullshit of the highest ordure.

Robert Cook said...

"'bad Francis Bacon painting.'

"That's redundant."


No, it's not.

"It's actually a bit better (the shirt part) than Francis Bacon's paintings...."

No, it's not.

Laslo Spatula said...

So is the ultimate argument in this story that we need to renew segregation?

Not that hard to do, if that is what they really want.

Painting subjects as 1950's Southern Water Fountain.


I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

What's offensive here is the demand by Hannah Black that the painting not only be removed, but be destroyed.

Unless the Whitney has bought this painting, it remains the property of the artist. I wonder how Ms. Black would feel if another artist demanded that one of her paintings were removed from a museum show and destroyed?

I'm sure she would not be sanguine about it.

tcrosse said...

Use of a word like Myriad, or Plethora, shows that the writer is in over his/her head.

bagoh20 said...

What does it mean if a piece of art tells you nothing on it's own and needs to be explained in order for anyone to know what it's supposed to represent.

It's getting increasing clear to me that much of modern art has become just a way for some people to say "I'm smarter and more sophisticated than you", which is a pretty unsophisticated thing to do. It's often what the artist is trying to say, and it's what both the critics and admirers are up to. Isn't most of what we discuss here just that. When we discuss politics, art, and culture; don't we come here and simply try to prove that we are smarter, better, more aware than other people, who are for the most part complete strangers who's opinion of us means absolutley nothing to our lives.

See? I just did it right there.

Bill Peschel said...

I'm offended because Hannah Black culturally appropriated her last name. She is the product of a white Mancusian and a Jamaican.

She needs to change her last name to a more culturally sensitive name and destroy everything with her appropriated name on it, including her artwork.

(When I was living in Rock Hill, SC, a new black minister came to town. He ran to the newspaper and demanded that the city change the names of White Street and Black Street, believing it to be a vestige of segregation. The paper ran the story, and someone had to sit him down and explain that two of the leading families that founded the town were ... the Black family and the White family.)

khesanh0802 said...

Maplethorpe and Piss Christ was "art" but this "oh no". The changing "free speech" standards of the left wing. One needs to carefully nurture one's sense of irony.

Laslo Spatula said...

It seems like we are quickly heading to the point where the only Art that will allow blacks and whites to co-exist is Little White Girl / Black Monster Cock Porn.

This is a serious statement.

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

Maplethorpe and Piss Christ was 'art' but this 'oh no.'

Mapplethorpe's work and Piss Christ are art.

Mapplethorpe's work is formally beautiful, and only a part of his oeuvre depicts sexual acts or subjects.

"Piss Christ" is the most beautiful and mysterious rendering of the crucifixion I've ever seen. If the viewer did not know how the image was made, it would not be at all apparent. That the cheap plastic crucifix is immersed in a jar of urine does not intrinsically insult Christ, Christians, or their beliefs, (as I believe Serrano is a Catholic himself). This view comes from our puritanical view of the body as "dirty," of urine as "unclean." That a cheap plastic crucifix immersed in a jar of urine can be transformed into such an ineffable work of art is a testament to the artist's talent.

tcrosse said...

Let's see how "Piss Martin Luther King, Jr" would go over.

Laslo Spatula said...

On the Porn Set...

"What's wrong, Mandongo?"

"I just don't know if I, a Black Performing Artist, should participate in My Art with a White Woman. I mean, what message am I sending?"

"The message you are sending is that Black Men with Black Monster Cocks like to fuck Little White Girls in the ass. And that Little White Girls like to be fucked in the ass by Black Men with Black Monster Cocks. It's about Diversity."

"But I think I am only being used for my Blackness."

"Well, obviously. And there IS the size of your cock..."

"I mean, maybe I should only fuck Little Black Girls in the ass. For the Black Audience."

"Yeah, I don't think too many Whites watch the black-on-black stuff. At least the heterosexuals. Maybe the Gays, do: I don't know."

"But I would at least be providing Art for MY People."

"Actually, most heterosexual Black Men don't watch black-on-black porn, either. Pretty much everyone wants to see a Black Guy fuck a White Chick. In the ass."

"I just don't think the White Viewer can truly understand the Black Experience..."

"Mandongo, that is where you are wrong. A White Man masturbating to a Black Man having sex is the closest he can come to understanding the Black Experience. There should be a Study about that."

"OK, OK: I'll film the scene. What was the scene about...?"

"The scene is it is the 1850's and you are a Southern Slave who is lusted after by the Daughter of the Massah. And you fuck her in the ass..."

I am Laslo.

Darcy said...

Banal or not the artist's position spoke to the idea that we are people first, and have skin color second, while the protesters' view is the opposite.

This. Know your place, white people!

buwaya said...

She made political art and has been criticized politically, though perhaps from an unexpected direction. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

As for "piss Christ" - urine IS unclean, to the whole civilization that Serrano meant to offend. That was the whole point of Serrano's, to be offensive and thus gain notoriety, and, especially, celebrity among those who despise Christians.

And dont tell me no, this situation is as plain as day, in spite of hypocritical quibbling.

And there are all sorts of Catholics, many of which are total swine.

And, bloody hell, I'm a photographer myself, he could have stuck a crucifix in any clear fluid at all, or tinted fluid, (or no fluid at all) and with the same lens with narrow DOF/close focus, and the same printing technique, made the same picture.

"piss" was physically unnecessary, and even if he actually used that, bizarre though it was, it was unnecessary to mention it.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I must admit, I never realized that Robert Cook is a troll.

Richard Dolan said...

It's quite obvious why the Whitney included the painting. Too bad for them that it backfired. Riding the tiger can be hard, especially when you fall off.

Paddy O said...

It's almost certainly not performance art by the artist. It may be performance art by the curators who knew it would spark a reaction and attention.

Isn't the purpose of art to provoke discussion and occasionally even outrage?

And the role of curator as meta-artists is certainly a long growing trend.

buwaya said...

And Mapplethorpe did have an eye for flowers, and excellent technique for studio photography, and was an excellent print maker.

But any talent can be perverted, and so it was.

DKWalser said...

The painting should be judged on its own merits. The color and gender of its creator are irrelevant. It's not a bad painting because it was painted by a white woman. If its a bad painting, its bad and there's no need nor reason to look beyond the thing itself to understand it's badness.

Wilbur said...

I couldn't care less about "Piss Christ" nor all of the various issues surrounding it. Except one - not a penny of my tax money should go towards its creation or display.

If New Yawkers or anyone else want to spend to their tax money on it, or art in general, that's up to them. Just don't knock on anyone else's door, hat in hand, when you can't pay for your pension obligations. Fahgetaboudit.

Laslo Spatula said...

Robert Mapplethorpe used Black Models.

From Wiki:

"The 1986 solo exhibition "Black Males" and the subsequent book The Black Book sparked controversy for their depiction of black men. The images, erotic depictions of black men, were widely criticized for being exploitative.[28][29][30] The work was largely phallocentric and sculptural, focusing on segments of the subject's bodies. His purported intention with these photographs and the use of black men as models was the pursuit of the Platonic ideal.[6] Mapplethorpe's initial interest in the black male form was inspired by films like Mandingo and the interrogation scene in Cruising, in which an unknown black character enters the interrogation room and slaps the protagonist across the face.[31]"

So if he were doing his Art today would he no longer be a darling of the Art World?

Conservatives didn't like him then; Progressives wouldn't like him now.

Art's a Bitch. Best to stick to Cubism.

(And yes, Mapplethorpe gets points in my book for acknowledging the greatness of the film 'Mandingo.')

I am Laslo.

Gahrie said...

It is not acceptable for a British person to transmute American suffering into profit and fun.

Laslo Spatula said...

"buwaya said...
"And Mapplethorpe did have an eye for flowers, and excellent technique for studio photography, and was an excellent print maker."

I was writing my Mapplethorpe comment, then hit Publish and saw buwaya's comment.

The Laslo Synchronicity.

I am Laslo.

Oso Negro said...

Let's see how "I'll Give You Something to Cry About Day" goes over! This would be a new day in which Americans of all races are invited to treat black people with utter and open contempt. This would serve the valuable purpose of helping black Americans cognize what it would really feel like to live in a society where everyone else actually does hate their guts. On this day, blacks would be required to sit quietly at the back of any public transportation, avoid sitting at lunch counters for white people, required to speak deferentially to any white person with whom they interacted, and sit out of any professional sports activities. Mock slave auctions would be held at courthouses, blacks would be hung in effigy in public parks, and the evening would be capped with cross burnings conducted by the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Isn't the purpose of art to provoke discussion and occasionally even outrage?

Nope.

The purpose of art is to elevate the human spirit. The idea that the purpose of art is to provoke discussion and outrage is a shibboleth invented by talentless hacks to excuse their lack of craftsmanship and talent.

When Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel and sculpted David was his purpose to provoke discussion and outrage?

What about the people who created this:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=dfFPkrTE&id=E67C8016FE5D4077A4FD1F496E669DF90C652B90&q=french+cave+drawings+lascaux&simid=608031215761293360&selectedIndex=2&ajaxhist=0

or this:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=Q9jVnEFr&id=A5646AD98CE99D5117D3376EC1141F33B531EC85&q=nevada+rock+art&simid=608047996192491947&selectedIndex=4&ajaxhist=0

or this:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=DwcAqGqC&id=69F411359F5D4934D6F603F057088F040AB0BE8E&q=greek+statues+of+athena&simid=608022363831404471&selectedIndex=1&ajaxhist=0

It certainly true that art can provoke discussion and outrage, but that isn't its purpose and if you are making art with that goal then you are not much of an artist.

The impressionists certainly provoked outrage and discussion, but tell me, do you think that was their primary goal when creating this:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=pVhVSHJ9&id=82F3BF167430202FF0F69420F2C2CFA4C0150298&q=impressionist+paintings&simid=608021715294815626&selectedIndex=7&ajaxhist=0

or this?

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=gqBl%2BqWV&id=D3EDAFD5C4A94C771E426CF31C48D9F2ED351501&q=impressionist+paintings&simid=608054795124345605&selectedindex=9&mode=overlay&first=1&thid=OIP.gqBl-qWVy48x4R7dIGxC2AEsDm

Gahrie said...

"Piss Christ" is the most beautiful and mysterious rendering of the crucifixion I've ever seen.

You need to get out more.....

Bad Lieutenant said...

This view comes from our puritanical view of the body as "dirty," of urine as "unclean."

Robert, if I poured a bucket of water over your head, you might splutter and reach for a towel. If done on a hot day and the water was cold, you might raise your head, open your mouth, say Ahhhh, thank me.

If I poured a bucket of piss over your head, ... ?

Paddy O said...

"When Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel and sculpted David was his purpose to provoke discussion and outrage?"

I said "occasionally" outrage. And yes, Michelangelo was intending to provoke discussion. That was much the purpose of medieval renaissance art. It was a statement. And, yes, Michelangelo even intended occasional outrage through his art. See the response by Cardinal Cesena to The Last Judgment, and Michelangelo's response to Cardinal Cesena in The Last Judgment.

That a lot of hack artists abuse the notion of creating conversation and occasional outrage is true. But so too is it true a lot of hack artists abuse the notion of art "elevating the human spirit." The latter abuse is often called kitsch, with someone like Thomas Kinkade the master-abuser.

Art can serve to elevate the human spirit, but that's not always a direct rise either. Sometimes to rise, people need to be confronted. But, of course, it's not very confrontational to be controversial to people who already are outside the power structures. Art can be abused as propaganda too.

That's why the Modern art movement was powerful 150 years ago. But that was a 150 years ago in a world almost entirely different.

Robert Cook said...

"'Isn't the purpose of art to provoke discussion and occasionally even outrage?'

"Nope.

"The purpose of art is to elevate the human spirit."


Sez who?

Who says there is any one purpose (or meaning) to art? It is simply humankind's expression of its experience of and reaction to life, however that manifests to the artist or culture.

Robert Cook said...

"I must admit, I never realized that Robert Cook is a troll."

For good reason.

Molly said...

I'm afraid that modern art criticism has lost the ability to characterize art as "bad" from an aesthetic standpoint. Modern art can be judged only on whether the artist is properly motivated. That's where the artist here lost her way: she assumed that her art would be acclaimed because she was motivated by a desire to expose and decry oppression of black people by white people; but she overlooked possibility that her motivation would be seen as an example of a different (and newly discovered) form of that oppression -- the exploitation of black suffering by white artists.

Robert Cook said...

"As for 'piss Christ' - urine IS unclean, to the whole civilization that Serrano meant to offend. That was the whole point of Serrano's, to be offensive and thus gain notoriety, and, especially, celebrity among those who despise Christians."

Has Serrano ever expressed this intent? If not, I suggest you are putting words in his mouth with no basis.

Laslo Spatula said...

Lamar Gonna Set You Straight...

I gotta say it: this is one of those times when I don't give a fuck what the White People AND the Black People think. When you got time to obsess over motherfukkin' Museum shit you've missed the REAL Issues of the Black People, understand...?

The only painter that mattered in the last fifty years was Basquiat, and that's because he came up from the graffiti streets and Kept It Real. "The words of the prophets are Written on the subway walls, And tenement halls": Damn, I wish a Brother had wrote that...

If I was a painter, I'd WANT Rich White People to buy my paintings, because it seems they are the only damn fools willing to shell out ridiculous dollar for that shit. And face it: there ain't no painting lately as good as the drawing of TuPac or Biggie you'll find on a Brother's over-sized shirt, you feel me..?

Some of these 'educated' Blacks ain't nothing but White People singing a different tune. How do Black Brothers make money with Rap? By selling it to the White Kids: THAT'S where the money is at. And I'm all for getting as much of the White Man's money as I possibly can: any Black Person who don't see that this is The Game needs to check their shit out...

You think you got Problems? Fuck You.

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

"'This view comes from our puritanical view of the body as "dirty," of urine as "unclean."'

"Robert, if I poured a bucket of water over your head, you might splutter and reach for a towel. If done on a hot day and the water was cold, you might raise your head, open your mouth, say Ahhhh, thank me.

"If I poured a bucket of piss over your head, ... ?"


Don't think I am free of some of these puritanical notions. I would not enjoy having a bucket of urine poured over me. But this does not mean I look at PISS CHRIST and assume it is meant as an insult to Christians. It is simply a medium that was used to arrive at the end result. Serrano did a series of photos using bodily fluids, including blood, and yes, semen. I can't claim to know his intent, but I suspect it was more personal and subtle than just, "I want to gross out and offend the squares!" I might even find his reasons dubious; however, the end results are not.

SukieTawdry said...

Is there ever any point to arguing about art? Personally, I like Robert Mapplethorpe's work--he was an artist and a fine craftsman. I thought Piss Christ was stupid both as concept and as art. Francis Bacon was by turns interesting and grotesque. Like Ann, I don't understand why the Whitney chose this piece of undistinguished art (but I could care less about the artist's race). Hanging in the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris is a large piece of wood painted back with a nail driven in the center. I'm not sure what makes it art (not to mention art worth hanging in a national museum), but I did stand there contemplating it for a while.

Some years back, I rented Mandingo because I couldn't believe I was remembering it accurately. I was. It's one of those films that left me with my mouth hanging open, much like Wonder Bar starring Al Jolson. That one's hard to find, but if you ever come across it, don't miss it.

Paddy O said...

"It is simply humankind's expression of its experience of and reaction to life, however that manifests to the artist or culture."

And isn't it the most human of experiences to discuss their reactions to life? In various ways? Art is communication, and non-verbal communication to a inherently verbal species.

I've not studied Serrano's work or intent, but his work does have the curious effect of re-scandalizing the cross. If you think the cross is beautiful, you don't get the purpose of it. Paul wrote that the cross is a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, but over the centuries it has turned into something entirely else. A portrayal of the cross that evokes scandal and declarations of foolishness is getting back to the original imagery of preaching Christ crucified.

That Serrano puts himself in the place of the mocking Romans, offering him vinegar for his thirst, is certainly the case whether he intended that role or not. But, in its shocking nature, the idea that Jesus himself obediently accepted this mocking and outrage, and told his disciples not to defend him when he was arrested, means that the very scandal of the cross should orient us, should elevate us, to seeing the radical reorientation Christ brings to this world.

He didn't fight Rome by being scandalized or running away from the radical shaming, the depersonalizing message, of the cross. His was the ultimate rebellion. Despite all of Rome's intent to shame and kill him, he didn't stay dead. And that's the way of Christianity in history. It's a long game.

grackle said...

She can also use words to speak freely defending herself with dumb banality …

I think someone needs to point out that if you remove language and words from a language to fit the ridiculous restrictions of political correctness all you are left with is “dumb banality.”

She’s already offended the PC folks. As an artist her livelihood can be immediately cut off by the PC police, probably already has. Her defense has to be devoid of anything that they could possibly gin up fake rage about. What results is a vocal mish mash of blandness. Give me language that has some relation to reality; give me language that is expressive; give me TrumpSpeak.

Angel-Dyne said...

Bad Lieutenant: Robert, if I poured a bucket of water over your head, you might splutter and reach for a towel. If done on a hot day and the water was cold, you might raise your head, open your mouth, say Ahhhh, thank me.

If I poured a bucket of piss over your head, ... ?


It's so very philistine to think people who are obsessed with shit and piss are tedious emotional retards, or perverted.

Think of all the money and effort our puritanical society misallocates on sequestering waste, flush toilets, sewage lines, and purification of drinking water, all because of irrational taboos about "uncleanness".

Robert Cook: This view comes from our puritanical view of the body as "dirty," of urine as "unclean."

Hey, Robert, the '60s called. They want their cheesy psycho-babble about the "hang-ups" back.

Peter said...

"Unless the Whitney has bought this painting, it remains the property of the artist."

And perhaps there's a business opportunity for the artist here: agree to execute the performance art of publicly destroying the painting (at the Whitney?) in return for financial compensation.

What's not to like? The artist gets paid and so does the Whitney (assuming they charge to witness the destruction, or sell videos of it) and the artist may, if she wishes, re-create the painting.

Although she may have difficulty finding anyone willing to display it.


The alternative is to kill this dumb "cultural appropriation" meme. For all successful cultures have and always will steal anything worthwhile they can find from other cultures, and then adapt what they've stolen to suit themselves. And, the world is better off for it.

Of course, black artists of a particular political persuasion are welcome to start a Black Artists Guild, and establish whatever membership requirements they feel are suitable. And who knows, perhaps such a guild would be willing to buy artwork for the pleasure of destroying it and artists would be willing to create art and sell it to them knowing it will be destroyed.

Laslo Spatula said...

SukieTawdry said...
"...Some years back, I rented Mandingo because I couldn't believe I was remembering it accurately. I was. It's one of those films that left me with my mouth hanging open...

'Mandingo' is the Most Honest Film About Racism in the last fifty-plus years. It is to Race relations as 'Schindler's List' was to the Holocaust.

'Mandingo' deserves to be seen through the following constructs:

1. The film that was made.

2. The film the makers thought the audience wanted to see.

3. The film the White Audience saw.

4. The film the Black Audience saw.

5. The film the critics thought the Audiences saw.

6. What the critics thought of the audiences.

7. 1970's Race Relations using the 1860s Race Relations.

8. 1970's Race Relations using Today's Race Relations.

9, Racial Rorschach test.

10. Ken Norton, a professional boxer, as a slave, fighting on behest of The White Man. In both contexts. Extrapolate to Ken Norton having fought Muhammed Ali.

From Wiki:

"Producer Ralphe Serpe said during filming that the movie was:

A human, sociological story that's going to bring about a better understanding between the races... We're faithful to the story of the book but not the spirit. I mean, the book's hackwork, isn't it? It's almost repulsive. A lot of people have read it, but they read it for the wrong reasons. It's really a story of love. We had the script rewritten three times.... I hated that ending in the book where the guy boils the slave down and pours the soup over his wife's grave. I mean, we have the slave boiled but we cut out the part where he pours the soup on his grave. He just... pulls away. And we know that tomorrow there's going to be a lot of trouble. It's really a very beautiful ending.[1]"


I am Laslo.

Michael said...

Robert Cook

Your art and political tastes are complimentary. Just as the creator of piss Christ could not copy a Constable sky given a hundred years so also progressives could not design and build a sewage planet or power line.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Sez who?

Why me, obviously.

It is simply humankind's expression of its experience of and reaction to life, however that manifests to the artist or culture.

Sez you.

Bill said...

I initially misread 'white gaze' as white gauze, and thought it interesting that a painting should be deliberately obscured like that. And then I reread the sentence and decided it had about as much value as PEMBESAR PENIS BOGOR.

And the painting? Overcooked Bacon.

Robert Cook said...

@Paddy O. at 11:19 AM:

Very sharp and intriguing thoughts about Serrano and PISS CHRIST. Thank you.

Laslo Spatula said...

Screw "Birth Of a Nation".

Likewise "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".

Fuck "Precious" and "Moonlight" and whatever the Black Film Du Jour is lately.

Three and only three films are needed to fully understand the Black Experience in White America:

"Gone With The Wind"

"Mandingo"

"Blazing Saddles"

Viewed in conjunction with each other, there is nothing left to be discovered, nothing else that is needed to be said.

"Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies."

"I thought you was better than the white man, Masta. But you is just white!"

"Pleasure me, you ebony wench!"

"Hey, the sheriff is a ni -- [BELL RINGS]."

"Hey, where the white women at?"

You now have your homework.

I am Laslo.

Unknown said...

The SJW are certainly making me think and support my tribe, and not give a crap what they think about it, a lot more than I used to. I'm not sure this is going to work out like they had hoped.

buwaya said...

Mandingo is lurid, but its not more so than quite a lot of Shakespeare.
Pull bits out of Othello, Titus Andronicus (And Titus is way more lurid than Mandingo anyway), and etc. It would probably have been unexceptional as a 17th century revenge tragedy.

Its not Shakespeare of course, but a heck of a lot of devices out of Shakespeare are in there. Or for that matter anywhere in European theater.

There is nudity (but unless I saw the wrong version) not a lot of it, though fairly unusual for the time. There is far more nudity, and more sex, and more lurid sex, in modern critically acclaimed HBO shows.

And it is indeed honest, in a theatrical, over the top manner. Which is fair.

Laslo is right about the complexity of the reaction, which is a very American thing.
Outside of the US its a much more prosaic thing.

Steve said...

I'm trying to figure out the logic of your post.

What I am getting is:

1) People want to destroy a work of art because they don't like who painted it
2) Professor Althouse doesn't like the painting so the Whitney Museum shouldn't display it
3) Fascism is OK if people agree that the work isn't good?

I am old enough to remember when people in your position worried about slippery slopes.

buwaya said...

"I'm trying to figure out the logic of your post. "

Consider it a Tom Wolfe type comment on modern hypocrisies and ironies.

SukieTawdry said...

Sometimes an act of defilement is just an act of defilement.

Ann Althouse said...

I am criticizing the Whitney for picking something so bad. It's bad aesthetically before you even get to the political particularly of a white woman displaying her feelings about the long-ago murder of a black man.

The protesters have some good criticisms but shouldn't be allowed to succeed in getting the Whitney to take the painting down.

The arist has freedom to paint the picture and to argue woth her critics.

SukieTawdry said...

There is nudity (but unless I saw the wrong version) not a lot of it, though fairly unusual for the time.

Well, you did get to see Ken Norton's very fine ass. Mandingo is slavery porn. It's also a hoot. Hard to take it very seriously beyond that.

Laslo Spatula said...

SukieTawdry said...
...Mandingo is slavery porn. It's also a hoot. Hard to take it very seriously beyond that...."

Nooooooo!

You must study harder!

But you do touch on a point I make quite a bit -- Laslo Wisdom: Porn tells us more honestly about a culture than any other form of art.

What we desire, what we fear, what we value, what we vilify etc etc: Transparent. In a way that is easily disavowed, so as to safely believe it can teach us nothing.

Watch two hours of Japanese Porn and tell me you don't have a deeper understanding of their collective psyche. Make sure to include some of that Tentacle Stuff.

The opposite of Porn? Soap Opera.

Modern movies on the Black Experience are Soap Opera.

We need more Black Film with the Honesty of Porn.

Which brings us back to 'Mandingo'.

I am Laslo.






Wilbur said...

From Nevada Smith, the movie:

Father Zaccardi: [referring to a crucifix] Did you ever see Him before?

Nevada Smith: Yeah, once. He was on the end of a little silver chain.

Father Zaccardi: He's the son of God. He came to Earth to teach men love by example.

Nevada Smith:
Well, he must have missed somebody. That looks worse than hangin'!

SukieTawdry said...

I'm not a porn aficionada (too boring, although there are some classics) so I haven't seen any in a long time and must bow to your greater expertise, Laslo. There are some very sexy Japanese films that kinda wave from across the divide at porn, but I can't say I've seen any actual Japanese porn. Do you recommend it? And what does today's Internet porn tell us about ourselves?

n.n said...

The prejudice is peculiar and progressive. Both perspective leave a lot to be desired. Step out of the twilight.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Cookie I wouldn't know Mapplethorpe's work - or piss Christ, for that matter -if I fell over them. I think we agree though, art is essentially in the eye of the beholder. It is no one's place to dictate to me or you what we think "art" is. Certainly not based on the race of the artist.

I think the painting is essentially terrible, but the fact that it makes you think about Till, the times he lived in and the times we live in today gives it some importance.

Paddy O said...

Robert Cook, it comes out of that interesting experience of being offended and realizing that's not inherently a wrong place to be. I still don't like it, and I'm offended by it, but that's actually liturgically fitting, though entirely not ecclesially so. Enjoying the art chat.

buwaya said...

Soap opera the opposite of porn?

No way.

HBO integrates the two seamlessly. Rome and Game of Thrones for instance.
I like Rome a lot better. Polly Walker (Atia) especially.

Crazy Jane said...


Honestly, the Whitney curators could have seen this coming.

I don't sympathize particularly with the people who want the painting destroyed. Emmett Till and his awful death are part of American racial history, just as surely as the Dred Scott case and the shooting of Martin Luther KIng. Emmett Till belongs to all of us, not just African Americans.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Soap opera the opposite of porn?

No way.

HBO integrates the two seamlessly."

They integrate seamlessly because they are Yin and Yang. About and Costello. Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

The commonality is Bad Acting.

I am Laslo.

Ambrose said...

Of course the curators expected this when they selected the painting. Without any good art, controversy is all they have.

JPS said...

Robert Cook:

"outrageous bullshit of the highest ordure."

That one's a keeper. Thanks!

ThreeHeaded Throop said...

There are evidently many blacks who want whites no longer to care what they think, do, have done or have had done to them. I don't see the advantage. But it's working.

Swede said...

It's no "Dogs Playing Poker" but it does have the virtue of sucking on several levels.

Also, it never, EVER, gets old watching leftists argue and devour each other.

The child of unintended consequences eating the parent of liberal stupidity should be an entertainment offering on cable tv.