Has Elizabeth Peyton-bashing become a sub-genre of art criticism?

July 20, 2009 · Print This Article

You know, like Julian Schnabel-bashing was back in the day, before he started directing? I’m thinking yes. The unkindness of it all aside (and that makes for a very big aside, I know), Peyton does inspire some of the most deliciously evil descriptive sentences among those art critics who dislike her work. The latest example of anti-Peytonism comes from the normally polite Ben Street of Art21 blog. In his latest “Letter from London,” he reviews Live Forever, the Peyton survey that made the rounds in the U.S. last year to mixed reviews (to put a positive spin on it) and is now on view at The Whitechapel Gallery in London. The Brits aren’t taking any greater of a shine to her work than we did, judging from Street’s review:

“I don’t understand why anyone would like Elizabeth Peyton, but I also don’t understand why anyone would like egg whites or Coldplay or The Shawshank Redemption, so maybe I’ll never understand. Her first UK solo show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery is so fey and self-conscious that I had to crush a can of Bud against my forehead and punch the wall out of sheer repressed masculine frustration. The drive to the police station and subsequent waiting around for my lawyer gave me sufficient time to mull over Peyton’s work. If I did like her work, what might I say about it? That its intimate scale and willful prettification of some of the nineties’ butt-ugliest pop stars brings together teenage fandom and the tradition of 18th-century portraiture? That its objectification of sallow Caucasian male beauty strikes a blow for the female gaze? That the breathless swishiness of her paintbrush and contre-jour light effects create poignant elegies to the transience of youth? That Peyton’s reimagining of Delacroix as the drummer in The Strokes and Napoleon as a Lower East Side DJ is somehow a radical reinterpretation of history? In Peyton’s words, Napoleon was “a beautiful man and he had a big vision about life.” Ever seen Elizabeth Peyton and Sasha Baron Cohen in the same room together?”

Yeah, o.k., granted. But what I want to know is, as chroniclers of their respective art scenes, what makes Dash Snow so “subversive” (see round up of Snow’s obit coverage here) while Peyton is the freakin’ devil? Was it Snow’s semen-stained “Fuck the Police” thing? Is that really all it takes??

O, Art World. I will never understand your whimsical ways. At any rate, you can watch video footage from Peyton’s New Museum show at Vernissage TV, to whom credit for the image below is also due.

3040816310_9a61221429

Rant of the Week: Lynn Becker on the demise of a landmark Chicago/Michigan newsstand

July 20, 2009 · Print This Article

I’m back with fresh harangues! I haven’t found any truly worthy candidates in awhile but yesterday the Chicago architecture critic Lynn Becker posted a screed that pleased me greatly in its justifiable outrage. One of Chicago’s last 24-hour newsstands was torn down seemingly overnight by the French firm JCDecaux. Writes Becker:

“It’s another pound of flesh being extracted by JCDecaux S.A., the French firm with which the city signed a 2002, 20 year, $200 million deal for a monopoly on the city’s bus shelters. As with the recent parking meter deal, the Daley administration continues to turn control of Chicago’s streets over to private interests, and now we have things like a new Pritzker Park in the South Loop, where a huge area has been left unlandscaped to provide JCDecaux a place to put one of the food concessions promised them as part of the deal.

Crain’s Ann Saphir reported on Friday that the destruction of the Chicago Michigan newsstand was still another manifestation of JCDecaux’s control, as they will be constructing their own replacement beginning “at the end of the month.”

And, of course, while the city makes sure Decaux is taken care of, the newsstand’s proprietor, Anil Modi, who works long hours to keep his business going, gets screwed. He apparently gets to return, but no matter how long it takes to build Decaux’s stand, he’ll receive not a penny of compensation for all the lost income, no doubt part of the city’s strategy to just make him go away.”

Make sure to read the full post at ArchitectureChicago Plus. UPDATE: The City has erected a new newstand for Mr. Modi in record time. Becker blogs about it in an update post here.

The Untitled Artists’ Project: It’s already getting ugly…

July 20, 2009 · Print This Article

“Let the Televised Bitch-Slapping Begin!” (marshallastor.com).

Friday’s Links Roundup

July 17, 2009 · Print This Article

It has felt like a rather slow week for art news. Here are some of the stories you might have missed this week via our twitter page.  On this weeks roundup you will find Japan’s bad ass million dollar, robot flying Spiderman, the history of the pubic wig, and one young man’s thoughts on the Walker art Center. Hope everyone has a great weekend. Maybe we’ll see you at the Hyde Park Art Center on Saturday.

Food Inc., For Dummies

July 16, 2009 · Print This Article

Food, Inc., by director Robert Kenner, made me feel stupid. It reminded me of every reason why I loved  Our Daily Bread, of 2006. Our Daily Bread exercised subtly and restraint, with very still, bleak vignettes of the monstrous places that produce the food we eat around the world. It does this without commentary, just offering a view of what is. Food, Inc. practices neither restraint nor subtlety. Each segment of the film is broken into segments that are announced with a title. As if we couldn’t catch on that hey, now we’re going to learn about corn.

If you have every seen more than one PETA video, or thought about the fact that high fructose corn syrup is in most processed foods, then this film will basically be a refresher for you. I picked up a few good conversation starters, like, if a cow were allowed to graze on grass for (I don’t remember it exactly…) a whole bunch of E. Coli would be naturally eliminated from its gut. However, instead of letting cows graze, we prefer to wash the processed hamburger meat with chlorine, which also kills the virus. The breakdown of who owns what we eat was also interesting, as well as the fact that there are only three or four commercial slaughterhouses left in the entire United States.

The graphics were too cutesy and glossy for me as well. You would think a film that is focus on questioning how “natural” our food is would have more organic and basic feeling fonts and graphics, instead of super processed looking titles and animation. A lot of it felt very Disney-fied. Or maybe thats just me.

The “experts” were entertaining and knew what they were talking about. However, the selection was seriously limited. There was the bad corporation, the good farmer, the victimized small business owners, the granola hippie who went corporate, the sob story.

In general, the film was well researched, and would be great to show in an elementary or middle school. The issues are important and should definitely be given the space to be discussed. But, just a tip, if you doze off during the entire film, the directors conveniently end the film with a few minutes of bullet points of what you should have picked up during the course of the film. To summarize: buy locally, buy organically, eat seasonally, and try not to get E.Coli.

If you want to check out the trailer, you can see it here. But, if you haven’t already, definitely check out its classier counterpart, Our Daily Bread.