The Unbearable Banishment: Cringe-worthy art

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cringe-worthy art

Lever House is considered by many architectural purists to be one of the more important buildings in Manhattan. Located at Park Avenue and 49th Street, many of its revolutionary design elements were co-opted by other architects (as is often the case). There's an emphasis placed on the public space and the skin of the building is made of a heat resistant blue/green glass that doesn't have windows you could open and close.

Lever House acquired a fancy art collection and uses its lobby as gallery space to show it off. They have a rotation of pretty interesting exhibits but the one that's on display now is a big, dumb, mess.

Mike Bidlo's Not Warhol (Brillo Boxes, 1964), 2005 is up through September 11. The piece is merely a recreation of Andy Warhol's stacked Brillo boxes. It's a stunning display of laziness and low ambition.

Bidlo "thought it would be interesting to appropriate a work by another appropriator." I've seen Warhol's work. He's no Warhol, if that's what he's trying to imply. Can you imagine? You are given a commission to do a piece in a high profile venue like the Lever House gallery and the best you can come up with is copying Warhol. Shame on you. They try to draw a thread between the original exhibit and this one by displaying a Brillo box from Warhol's exhibit inside a Plexiglas cube.

The exhibit's unintentionally comical bio states that "Bidlo is best known for his incredibly accurate replications of masterworks by important twentieth century artists..." That's just lazy. It doesn't require any original thought. During a 1982 exhibit where Bidlo made replicas of Jackson Pollock's drip paintings, he "re-enacted Pollock’s infamous act of urinating into Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace (which Bidlo finds relevant to Pollock’s painting technique and is related to Bidlo’s later recreations of Warhol’s urine splashed “Oxidation” paintings)." What an idiot. Why do curators fall for this crap? He also has the nerve to claim he comes from the same school of thought as Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger. Yeah, you wish.

The Lever House plaza includes a Noguchi sculpture garden where you'll find this playful Hello Kitty sculpture. It's not Great Art, but it's a hell of a lot more interesting than what's going on inside the lobby.


Blogger dinahmow said...

I have had arguments on this subject before, taking your stance that it displays a lack of originality. Almost, cheating.
Yes, he's a lazy tosser!

August 2, 2010 at 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Sally said...

This has given me a brilliant idea. I'm starting a blog. I'm calling it Sally's Unbearable Banishment. I'm going to copy your posts word for word right after you post them. I think it will be a HIT!

August 2, 2010 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

i think i'd give this a pass, sugar. (thank you for posting this. now i don't feel so bad about not being in the big city!) ;~) xoxoxoxox

August 2, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

DM: I often feel this way about modern art. Perhaps in a few generations it'll seem genius, but not to me. Not right now. And I hate art that's political, as well.

Sally: That is the funniest thing I've read in quite a while. It gave me a good, loud laugh!

Savannah: There is PLENTY not to like about this place! You have to take the good with the bad. But that goes with everyplace, no?

August 2, 2010 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Zen Mama said...

I'm happy to see you are an equal opportunity blogger. You provide us with such beauty, then you let us see the trash - as in, take it out.

Thanks for showing it all!

August 2, 2010 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger JZ said...

So I guess the 2-story dissected pregnant woman is no longer in the courtyard? I could never quite stomach that either. They need a better curator on staff. Their batting average isn't even placing any players on base....

August 2, 2010 at 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Sid said...

Stacked Brillo boxes is considered art? Ppl get paid shit loads of money to stack boxes together and call it art? Is someone smoking something?

August 3, 2010 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

I would be too terrified to enter a building guarded by a giant albino Hello Kitty.

August 3, 2010 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

ZM: I made a diligent effort to not be negative but when you throw something like this in my path, what choice do I have?

JZ: Doesn't it seem like a lot of modern art is horseshit? But I think van Gogh was laughed as way back when, so who knows?

Sid: That's the sad part about art; it's so subjective that practically ANYTHING can be called "art" and be accepted by the masses. Where's the quality control!?

kykn: Everything is bigger in America. Haven't you heard?

August 3, 2010 at 7:35 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Yeah it still rankles with me that Tracey Emin's unmade bed passes for art too.

But Richard Prince..... I LOVE his work. Have you written about him on your blog?

August 3, 2010 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Scarlet Blue said...

So now we need another artist to copy Bidlo - it would all make more sense if this happened.

August 3, 2010 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

What a shame to not show something of your own. "They" say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but I don't agree.

August 3, 2010 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

honestly...warhol's own "original" work is (also) a stunning display of laziness and low ambition all on it's own. i've seen documentaries where warhol himself said as much, if only to be shocking for the camera.

i actaully trekked out to brooklyn to see his last decade exhibition despite my distaste for the guy. still wasn't impressed. if anything i'd say he was (at best!) a mediocre print maker.

and just as a human being, the guy was a horrific leech. he profited off of then dismissed/destroyed a few folks who were far more talented than he ever was, basquiat being just one of them.

his real talents lied in creating celebrities and making celebrity itself an art form way before the lindsays and britneys ever got here.

and as for this guy, who's basically recreating a recreation (and the poor original graphic designer who created the original now iconic brillo box probably never even gets a name check!) i kinda gotta admire his balls for even doing it.

August 3, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger jason quinones said...

p.s. the hello kitty statue is cute. i've seen it myself. this outdoor area usually exhibits really great large statue work. years ago, they had this massive statue of what i could only describe as...well looks as if commentor JZ has already. SHE WAS AWESOME!

August 3, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: I haven't written about Prince and actually know very little about him. I know enough to judge that he's better than this clown.

SB: Wanna bet he'd sue if someone copied him?

TB: Imitation is the greatest indicator of a lack of imagination. To me.

Jason: Yeah, Warhol was a bit of a jerk-off but I still have every intention of catching that exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum. He amuses me.

August 3, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Perhaps I could artfully arrange the pee balls and litter encrusted poops from the cats' litter box and make tons of money! That's what some 'art' is, as far as I am concerned.

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