Copy of a copy of a copy of a rosebud.

Haven’t written much about art, lately, as I’ve had my ostrich headphones on too much, maybe. But, before I head out to look at some art, here’s what I’m thinking about right now.

One of my favourite Chicago residents posted this link on her blog, and I’m stealing it, or appropriating it, to buzzword as it were.

Last semester, one of my classmates (see emetic medic link  to the right) made a few portfolio pieces using Marlboro man images coupled with perfume ads. So, knowing of Richard Prince’s appropriation of the Marlboro man image (taken by Jim Krantz, or some other togue-out-of-cheek *serious* photographer), and appropriating this icon, rather than some other manly icon (Tony the Tiger, Captain Morgan, one of those clean shaven cologne models, I don’t know), does that make the piece about the original intention (selling cigarettes) or the appropriated intention (selling Advertising as Art, among many arguable others) or something completely different? Can we disregard the past uses of images, or do we rest on past laurels?

When we get into that kind of tunnel vision reflection on a copy of a copy of a copy, how much credit do we give others to *get* it, or is art just for art students?

I wonder if Orson knew we would get to this.


  1. ali said:

    I’ve been mulling this question over. Except, in my head the question is not “is it art just for art students?” but rather, “is art just for the art world?”

    Really, REALLY, what is reasoning behind the things we put into the white cube. I think the white cube space is a contributor to a sort of sectioned-off haughtiness, and cultural delusion. What we seem to end up with is a split between (legitimate?)geniune reaction, feeling, commentary, originality and creativity and a sort of self referential post-modern downward spiral.

    Not everything one way or another, but a bunch of both, and a lot of confusion surrounding how we talk about it, where we place it, who and how we will look at it.

    All the big crazy stumbling blocks seem to start with an art-cultural-ly reinforced illusion that you shouldn’t weigh in unless you “get it” and that somehow, the reaction you have after you read the text on the wall is the right one, and the one you have without a compendium of knowledge that follows the history of art from then B.C. till now is the wrong one. Or if not wrong, then ignorant, and therefore not useful.

    The puzzle piece in the middle of this is that despite an adamate belief on my part that you shouldn’t (and don’t!) need a degree to view and enjoy, what you do need is visual literacy. Like knowing how to add, like knowing how to read street sign words. Knowing the basic lexicon of the visual (including everything those ads are using to trick you) should be molded into the base of our fundamental edumacation.

    Different types of knowledge of different types of things from different types of places is good. Looking into something and contributing to a cultural dialogue is great, but cultural dialogue in the art world somehow seems to stay as a bunch of parents talking about things that are in “the best interest” of their kids, who themselves are just looming around waiting for an opportunity to untuck their shirts, go outside, and play.

    Maybe that’s why the general consensus is that Europe values artistic production (says the girls who has not been there, but has heard, and heard and heard…) Because (in my opinion) it’s not about “getting it”. It’s about making it, and just enjoying the playfulness that is part of that. For those who aren’t “into it”, a general acceptance of “it”, and a more passive acknowledgement of the value of the visual.

    related question:
    Why do you think people are willing to continually support and boost the power of film by giving it so much creedence and by consuming it? Is it through a general exposure to film and video language that people grow to appreciate it, even if they don’t take an interest in it as an art form? Is it because the tv tells us stories?

  2. ali said:


    I went to see the Richard Prince exhibition that has sparked some controversy, including a law suit against Prince by the original maker of the Marlboro images.

    While I understand the cultural creedence attributed to this artist, I wonder if his work is not in fact held up as a giant symbol of the widening chasm that is a disconnect of cultures. High and low, as they are sometimes described. And if so, is that his doing, or is his art’s cultural significance being manufactured by curators and critics and a desire to spark debate?

    His work reinterprets the first hand imagery that is most generally just consumed. Ads, but lovely looking ones, that successfully build cultural symbols that people love to consume, and even love to embody.

    Should Prince be lauded for calling our attention to the use of the iconic cowboy, to the repetition of the naked lady on the motor bike..?

    What are his paintings- beautiful in their own right, but a sort of non-specific critique of abstract minimalist art and sculpture and it’s sort of cheap beauty? Are they also just beautiful, caught in a critical vortex of attributed meaning that makes them more valuable because of when they were made?

    I don’t have answers to this.. but I can’t help but feel there are shady dealings going on here. The Guggenheim had an ENORMOUS advertisement on the front of the museum recycling the old marlboro ads as a new ad, with a “new” meaning.. .. or were they just garnering attention based on the recognition of the original?

    Good questions to be asking, I think.

  3. i had a dream where i replied to your awesome comments, ali. when i remember it, i’ll jot it down 🙂
    it had something to do with this exhibit that i saw called ‘black cube/white horse’, well, more specifically the artists’ talk involving the installation. i knew someone would ask if it was a critique of the white cube space, and i was not disappointed. but it wasn’t about that. i think it was about horses and mix tapes and making forts and the ridiculousness that can arise from all those things. but maybe i didn’t ‘get it’ 😉

    i went to the sfmoma with paul when i was visiting over the break and it was the first time i went there on not free-tuesday, so it was an actual paying crowd that surrounded us.
    made me think about the whole ‘getting it’ deal.
    there was an entire floor of olafur eliasson (sp), which was all kinds of amazing, but lots of fairly boring too.
    but people were lovin it. i think that big kind of art is what gets people, right now. it seems smart, so it must be. its about science and math and form, so it must be.
    the floor below was filled with a jeff wall retrospective (my reason for wanting to go), and people seemed less enthused, less into it.

    i think, even though they are beautiful and big… his photos are also kind of depressing and everyday in some manners. photographs have lost that excitement factor that installation and sciencey mathy labour intensive art seems to hold right now.

    sadly, “if you can’t make it good, make it big” doesn’t even apply anymore.

    more later, mon art chica.

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