24 October 2014

The Pictures Generation

In a recent bluntly-titled post at Artnet News, Paddy Johnson declares what some people have either known or suspected for years by proclaiming that Richard Prince is a cretinous douchebag. The verdict comes in response to the exhibition of Prince's latest round of work currently up on display at Gagosian NY, which consists of blown-up inkjet prints of Prince's Instagram likes, including the artist's accompanying inane captions and comments. Clap clap clap.

More pointedly, Johnson calls critic Jerry Saltz out on the carpet for his own review of the show, charging him with hypocrisy and art-starstruck obsequiance. The Saltz piece isn't worth reading, but the brief Peter Schjeldahl review that Johnson cites cites is. Highlights:

"[Prince's] show at Gagosian...feels fated. The logic of artifying non-art images that Andy Warhol inaugurated half a century ago could hardly skip a burgeoning mass medium of individual self-exposure. ...Is it art? Of course it’s art, though by a well-worn Warholian formula: the subjective objectified and the ephemeral iconized, in forms that appear to insult but actually conserve conventions of fine art. [...]

Possible cogent responses to the show include naughty delight and sincere abhorrence. My own was something like a wish to be dead — which, say what you want about it, is the surest defense against assaults of postmodernist attitude. Come to think of it, death provides an apt metaphor for the pictures: memento mori of perishing vanity. Another is celestial: a meteor shower of privacies being burnt to cinders in the atmosphere of publicity. They fall into contemporary fame — a sea that is a millimetre deep and horizon-wide."

If anything, it seems like a better and more fitting title for the exhibition would've been "New Portraits: Losing My Edge."

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