October 22, 2012

It's a problem, making "political or philosophical" art when the market is "about hyper-capitalism" and the art is "poker chips for billionaires."

Nate Lowman is "bummed out" that "other people’s gambling habits change the meaning of paintings." Contemplate the pain of artistic success when the high prices paid "dictate how people perceive art."
Lowman’s work takes the shape of smiley faces, magnetized bullet holes, and Arbre Magique air fresheners. The images he gathers often come from the news cycle or the crime blotter (distressed blondes in general, among them Nicole Brown, murdered former wife of O. J. Simpson; “More or Less,” a 2003 show at Apex Art, featured bearded men such as John Walker Lindh, Jim Morrison, and Che Guevara), and he re-purposes “found” language that lies awkwardly between personal and impersonal, like the bumper sticker Jesus would use the turn signal, asshole.
ADDED: The linked Vanity Fair text is written by Edward Helmore, and he seems unaware of the political (and moral) incorrectness of referring to a murdered woman as a "distressed blonde."


traditionalguy said...

Links not there yet, but what an intriguing article.

EMD said...

Whiners gonna whine.

(Full disclosure: no working link means I didn't read the article ... but the guy is just whining.)

BarrySanders20 said...

I saw this bumper sticker and laughed:

"Jesus loves you. The rest of us think you're an asshole."

Ann Althouse said...

Link added.


Paul Zrimsek said...

Art imitates, well, Atlas Shrugged:

"Culture should be taken out of the hands of the dollar-chasers. We need a national subsidy for literature. It is disgraceful that artists are treated like peddlers and that art works have to be sold like soap."

"You mean, your complaint is that they don't sell like soap?"

Drago said...

AA: "ADDED: The linked Vanity Fair text is written by Edward Helmore, and he seems unaware of the political (and moral) incorrectness of referring to a murdered woman as a "distressed blonde."

If there is one thing we've learned over these last 40 years it is that no one on the left/liberal side of the spectrum need worry too much about saying anything "politically incorrect".

That unwritten "rule", like so many others, was designed by the left to be used solely as a bludgeoun against the right.

edutcher said...

What Drago said.

Unless they're registered Republicans, no artist could be politically incorrect.

karrde said...


back when Art was funded by wealthy patricians (or the riches of the Church, that really liked evocative images done in bright colors to help tell stories about the Faith to illiterate believers), was art just poker chips for wealthy few?

How is the current age any different?

As long as wealthy people/organizations/governments will pay lots of money for artwork, there will always be artists who sell out to those influences.

Unless he's talking about the late Thomas Kincade, who didn't sell out to wealthy billionaires. He figured if he could sell reproductions by the boatload to thousands of common people, he could make more money than by selling a few copies to billionaires.

I don't know whether Kincade was a good artist or a bad artist, but I note that his art was not "poker chips for bilionaires".

What does Nate Lowman mean when he wants art that is not a plaything of the wealthy?

Henry said...

It's hard to be sympathetic to an artist indulging in hyper-pop-culture complaining about hyper-capitalism.

Palladian said...

Everything you need to know about Nate Lowman and his work can be summed up by the fact that 98% of the results returned from a Google image search for "Nate Lowman" are pictures of Nate Lowman, not pictures of his work.

Also telling is that about half of the results returned from that same search involve pictures of one of the Olsen twins, with and without Nate Lowman.

Askance said...

The world of art is stuck in a pre-industrial paradigm of wealth, exclusivity and patronage.

Art is made by patrons. Artists are just tools used to craft the art.

Mary Beth said...

I might have more sympathy for his point of view if they had believed in the value of his art enough to have included a slideshow of some of it.

Crunchy Frog said...

A murdered woman is not optimal.

Peter said...

“It’s a shame when other people’s gambling habits change the meaning of paintings,”

It's a shame that so much art is nihilist trash.

But in an industrial age, the concept of "original artwork" seems dated. After all, most of us listen to far more music reproduced from machines than we will ever hear at an actual concert.

And so, if you don't want your work to be used as "poker chips for billionaires," the alternative is to produce artworks in a form/media that can be mechanically/electronically reproduced, so your works can be experienced and appreciated by multitudes.

Thomas Smith said...

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Sigivald said...

I'm with EMD and Mr. Zrimsek.

Artists that complain about how money is corrupting the cultural marketplace get negative sympathy from me.

Want to be a Fiercely Independent Artist Making Meaningful Art That Nobody Wants To Buy?

Fine. Nobody buys it.

Want to make money?

Make art people like.

Demand subsidies? You're a rent-seeking parasite.

(And further you're giving the State the ability to control your message - who pays the piper, calls the tune.

Can anyone name Vital And Important Cultural Heritage produced by a faceless State subsidy? I can't think of any.

I can think of lots of 'em produced by old-fashioned individual patronage, though.)

Sigivald said...

Karrde said/asked: I don't know whether Kincade was a good artist or a bad artist, but I note that his art was not "poker chips for bilionaires".

Kincade had great technical skill.

And made paintings I find ghastly.

More power to him, for people liking them, I say.

Sam L. said...

Sounds to me like this guy's "art" is more like items for a dollar store. Maybe he can work his way up to WalMart.

ricpic said...

I love language, and I love the failure of language.

--Nate Lowman

You've gotta love a first rate grifter.

By the way, if an artist is virulently anti-evil capitalism, as Lowman claims to be, and the gallery owner, after selling his work, turns around and says "You didn't build that. And furthermore I spread it around to the deserving poor. Now get outta here and don't darken my door again!" What recourse does the anti-property now depropertied Loman type artist have?