September 9, 2013

A new Van Gogh. Declared "100 percent genuine" now.

Back in 1908 it was declared a fake and stuck up in an attic.

Hey, if it's really a Van Gogh — from the "mature" period, no less — why wouldn't it be something you'd hang in full view even if you believed it was fake?

Let's contemplate the importance of authenticity. But don't start — as I tried — by Googling that phrase. You'll get bullshit about personal relationships, not art. I wanted bullshit about art.

Being who you really are. That seems like an old-fashioned subject. Something we talked about in the 60s, right?

This topic of personal authenticity took me back to "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes, specifically "Genuine, Imitation Life" (audio at link):
Chameleons changing colors,
While a crocodile cries.
People rubbing elbows,
But never touching eyes.
Taking off their masks,
Revealing still another guise.
Genuine, imitation life.
That was not a joke, but 100% genuine in 1967. Or... I'm reading the Jake Holmes article at Wikipedia and I'm now not sure that it wasn't a joke. Was he making fun of serious folksingers, making fun of authenticity? A picture from that article raises questions:

What's going on here? Caption: "Jim Connell, Jake Holmes and Joan Rivers when they worked as the team: 'Jim, Jake & Joan.'"

Holmes also wrote the song "Dazed and Confused" (recorded by Led Zeppelin) and many famous advertising jingles, notably "Be a Pepper" and "Be all that you can be." This is blowing my mind. Just that the same guy urged us to "Be all that you can be" (in the Army) and to "Be a Pepper." I'll bet the Army kicked you out back then if they found out you were a Pepper. That's weird. But that he also wrote "Dazed and Confused." And worked with Joan Rivers (and looked like he looked working with Joan Rivers).

Now, I'm questioning the authenticity of that Wikipedia article. But here's a 2010 NYT article about Holmes suing Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement.

Anyway, back to Van Gogh. Think that's a real Van Gogh?

What do you think of that "Van Gogh"? free polls 

ADDED: I found — on YouTube, not in my attic — some Jim, Jake & Joan (from a 1964 movie called "Once Upon A Coffee House"):


Lyssa said...

In the words of George Costanza, "I don't get art." I really do not understand what makes it "good." The painting here is pleasant enough to look at, I guess, but I don't see what would set it apart from anything anyone else could paint.

We visited the Smithsonian art museum in DC last week, where they had a large collection of sculptures by Degas. They were fine, I guess, I know that I certainly couldn't have sculpted anything like them. But it seems like plenty of people that I've known, who were artistically gifted but not extraordinary, could have. I was watching "Face Off" last night, and the sculptures the contestants were creating were far richer and more detailed, and appeared to take much greater talent, yet won't be in a museum.

I'm sure that I'm missing something here, but I don't understand what it is.

Julie C said...

The only thing I can think of right now is, "THAT's Joan Rivers?"

Lance said...

We have the impression of van Gogh as a very modern painter, but here he’s working in the tradition of 19th century landscape painting...

...said the former museum curator and independent art historian.

I think this painting says more about art experts than it does about the artist. Note especially the responsibility-shifting "We".

Tank said...

I'm no art expert and there is a relatively limited range of art that I enjoy. Having said that, I do think that looking at a painting on your computer is not the same experience as standing right in front of (or to the side of) the real thing.

Looking at a Van Gogh in a book, or on your computer, is not the same as seeing the original in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris (PS: That is the best museum in the world, if you like the impressionists).

Another reason in favor of travel, seeing original artwork in person.

CWJ said...

Quick! Sell it before another set of experts declare it fake again. In fact, I wonder on what basis and by whom it was declared fake in the first place. Being owned by Theo, you'd think the provenance was pretty strong with which to begin.

As to good or bad, I couldn't say. I didn't vote as I've learned over the years that even the best art prints (much less a digital file viewed on a tablet) can't convey the emotional impact of the originals.

dustbunny said...

Lyssa, Art on a serious level is not easy or simple to understand. Sometimes the art in museums is highly regarded because it was indicative of a change in how we see things, or how the culture was changing. If you look at a lot of art, you begin to see how the better stuff stands out from the mediocre.

Jeff Gee said...

I went with ‘Authentic and Bad’ for the Van Gogh, although I’m going by a crappy jpeg. But I can’t imagine lingering in front of that thing on a class trip unless I’m afraid of getting the stink eye from Mrs. Ruthkoff.

‘Authentic and Bad’ for the Jake Holmes song, too, although it surely is the same song. Given that the songs have the same unique bass line, same melody, and the same title, and that Holmes copyrighted and recorded his a good year before the LZ, couldn’t this have been easily resolved with a phone call to Atlantic Records a week after the LZ album came out? Even employing the world’s lamest copyright attorney? I understand there were various lawyer-less attempts at catching LZ’s eye over the decades, apparently along the lines of ‘hey, you guys, aw come on…’ He waited a heck of a long time to go to Plan B. I’m glad he had an interesting and successful career and didn’t spend 40 years in a SRO hotel eating cold beans while this played out.

William said...

At the present moment, Joan Rivers is not good looking, but she looks like she had been very good looking when she was young. I get that with Roseanne Barr too. Plastic surgery can't make you good looking, but it can create the illusion that you were formerly good looking......At any rate, if not a looker, Joan Rivers certainly looked like she was fun to be around when she was young. I think with a few wrinkles and sags she might look more attractive than the current wax dummy representation that she uses.

Crunchy Frog said...

Imagine "Dazed and Confused" sung "Be a Pepper"-style as an advertising jingle.

It's easy if you try.

The Godfather said...

I like Van Gogh's paintings, but what makes them so valuable is that he broke new ground as an artist. If a collector has a genuine Van Gogh he has a piece of art history. Some people who have a lot of money will pay a lot to have a piece of art history. Just as others will pay a lot for a signature of George Washington on a mundane letter.

But ONLY something that is genuine gives you that connection with history.

Mitch H. said...

It may very well be authentic, but it's still an uninspired van Gogh-ish landscape that looks a bit like a blurry Kinkade. Genius isn't always genius, sometimes it just phones it in.

CWJ said...

Tank, I second your comment. Second best for impressionists, Art Institute of Chicago. Perhaps you have been there already.

ironrailsironweights said...

Van Gogh found a whore who would lay
And accept a small painting as pay.
"Vive l'art!" cried Van Gogh,
"But it's so goddamn slow!
I wish I could paint ten per day!"


Hagar said...

Is that a real Joan Rivers?

Indigo Red said...

Vince only signed the paintings he liked. He didn't like this painting and wrote to Theo he had done several paintings during those weeks he didn't like, so they weren't signed. He often scraped away the paint to reuse the canvas. Vince would work non-stop through the night painting dozens of canvases many of which didn't survive his own critique. Some did survive, but unsigned. Art experts are well known for being very bad at determining authenticity.