‘Would you be happier being a stupid but happy pig, or an intelligent but unhappy person?’ The question was thrown into the dark room, its source unrecognisable in my stupor.
‘Pigs are actually very clever,’ someone replied. ‘The average pig is as intelligent as a three year old child’.
‘Yes, but they are still ignorant of their own existence,’ said the voice again. A long haired guy next to me was drooling, but I don’t think he realised. A television was making noise somewhere, and I realised I had gone too far.
‘Fuck you. Fuck all of you!’
A horrible fear was kicking in – everything was moving too fast, too many thoughts, none of them satisfying. Time rolled on, and I realised I had no idea how long we’d been sat there in the dark silence in our New York hotel room. Continue reading
First and foremost, I offer my apologies for the lack of an Arty Bit last week (Editor’s note: Plus this week’s being late). This is the fault primarily of the editor, mainly because he doesn’t pay us enough or respect us enough, but secondly because he is generally an arse. Hence, I took it upon myself to have a well earned break, probably due to the fact that I was lost very deep inside the strange and twisted world of Hunter S. Thompson. And it was my birthday. Anyway, off with you naysayers, and let us resume our tour of the fascinating world of art. Last time I left you with my good friend Egon Schiele; this week however I have found myself looking up an artist far more recent, yet as interesting and tragic as Schiele.
As many of you may have noticed, my past few articles have mainly been concerned with the Young British Artist’s movement. However, dear readers, this week I find myself awake at some dark hour between one and two a.m. on the night of the daylight savings time changeover – a time, it appears, that does not truly exist. Instead I have travelled fantastically and inconceivably through time, beginning at one, and somehow instantly arriving at two with no real idea of how I got there, and feeling slightly bemused at the fact that my watch has not joined me in my adventure through time, and remains at around two minutes past one. I therefore feel the need for a rare indulgent pleasure. Sarah Lucas and Tracy Emin begone! There is no place for you here. This is a moment to reflect upon a true master of his craft – nevertheless equally if not more controversial in his day. I could be talking about a vast multitude of artists of course, Van Gogh perhaps, maybe even the great Picasso. But tonight it so happens that I am going to enlighten you lucky souls with a tale both great and tragic, for this is the story of Egon Schiele…
I was busy preparing a soufflé last Thursday when my mind found itself meandering towards the Hashmark in a particularly round-about way, and I realised with a shock I had yet to come to a decision about what this week’s Arty Bit should be about. It had to be someone exciting, of course, controversial, preferably a bit naughty (we all know sex sells), and ideally someone hated by millions. Ah yes. The Chapman Brothers.
Dinos and Jake Chapman were born in
London in the 1960s, and both studied Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, where they worked as assistants of the famous Gilbert and George (the gay blokes who like flying poo). The brothers are essentially contemporary sculptors, with the majority of their famous works being plastic of fibreglass models of people. One of their earliest pieces, ‘Great Deeds Against the Dead’, was based on Goya’s etchings ‘Disasters of War’, and within their work they have also referenced Auguste Rodin, Nicolas Poussin and Edward Landseer. These guys know their Art History, and from the start of their career people began to notice their talent for sculpting.
We continue The Arty Bit this week with another contemporary artist. He studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and is one of the ‘Young British Artists’ (think Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume). The fellow in question is Chris Ofili, and his work has been decribed by Wikipedia as ‘more controversial than Myra’, referring to the giant portrait of moors murderer Myra Hindley made out of children’s handprints by fellow YBA associate Marcus Harvey.
In 1994 Matthew Barney exploded onto the contemporary art scene with a video piece named ‘Cremaster 4’, named after the male cremaster muscle, which ‘controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli’. The series continued with another 4 ‘Cremaster’ pieces, supported by sculpture (generally made from his ‘signature materials’ plastic, metal and Vaseline) and drawings (in graphite and Vaseline). Yes, Vaseline. Just to make this entirely clear when I use the word Vaseline I am referring to the petroleum jelly rugby players rub on their own thighs, and football players rub on each others thighs. The Guggenheim refers to Barney’s work as ‘rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation’, and indeed sexual development seems to be a key theme within the majority of his pieces.
Landscapes in painting have only been insubordinate from objects since the sixteenth century and to some, it may seem that current values in art and post-modernism have rendered the genre irrelevant. But exploring today’s prominent artists leads me to believe otherwise; while most avante garde artists might only have to concern themselves with the ‘new’, modern landscape, painters have to be especially aware of the history of the genre while developing their own style and influences and expressing the constantly changing nature in which we are aware of our environment.