Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Monkey Movie Report

Full disclosure: my father and one of my uncles were artists. I have a brother who fancies himself an artist. I make art but I don't consider myself an artist. I consider myself a guy who makes art. The reason I make art is one summer vacation many years ago on our way back from the beach we stayed overnight in Durham, NC and on our way back to our hotel room we stopped in a bookstore and I bought a bunch of modern art magazines and while looking at them and the art that was being produced I said to myself, "I could make stuff that looks just as good as that." So I began to make art. If I like what I make I keep it, if not I toss it. I don't make art to please anyone but me. If someone wants to buy it, that's cool. If not, that's fine too. I make art because I like to do it and making it fills the need I have to create. The internet offers a great opportunity to show my art but I'll keep making it even if no one but me ever sees it. The fact that you may or may not like it doesn't matter to me. It's all about whether I like it or not.

When I began making art I began reading many different art magazines. I read Art Forum, Raw Vision, Art in America, and many others. I also read some of Robert Hughes writings on art and I read several books about the modern art world, including some by Matthew Collings, a British art critic who writes a lot about contemporary art. I read all these things to learn about what others were making and about how they made it. I quickly figured out what I liked (mostly self taught artists, artists who didn't shy away from using color, and politicized artists) and what I didn't (poseurs like Mark Kostabi and Jeff Koons who didn't really make their own art but who employed others to do it for them and shit artists like Thomas Kinkade.)

The past few years I stepped back from making art and from being immersed in the world of modern art but a few month back I got back into making art once more and I finally got to see this film:

This film is a documentary about street artists and the evolving graffiti movement in art. It tells the story of a Frenchman who lives in the USA who manages to befriend well known street artists such as Shepard Fairy and Banksy. The Frenchman uses the guise of making a film about the street art scene to insinuate himself into the worlds of Fairy and Banksy and ultimately he makes street art himself. Once he begins making art he starts to believe his own hype. His art is, in my opinion, awful. It's derivative, schlocky, and overpriced. And yet he's lionized by the art world and by the art related media. His stuff is clearly aimed at those who want to be thought of as avant garde and hip.

I loved this film. It shows exactly what goes wrong when people start to believe what the media says about them. It shows what's wrong with the whole fame whore world of modern art and how artists produce art that's calculated to get them media attention, fame, and piles of cash. It also shows the insufferable asshole modern art collectors who rush around trying to stay on top of who's hot and who's the next top art monkey in the art zoo.

This is one of the few documentaries that made me laugh out loud. It made me hate modern artists while keeping me in love with modern art. There was some speculation that this film might be a hoax, but this article sent to me by a friend says that the story was pretty much true. I highly recommend this film. I suspect that you'll enjoy it even if you're not an artist, don't make art, and aren't into modern art.

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