Thursday, January 17, 2013

posted elsewhere. the second of two
It amazed me how quickly my annoyance at the YBAs faded the moment my teenage niece in the UK rattled off their names. "Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Antony Gormley, and Damien Hirst. Not to mention Gilbert & George. Which is, to put it bluntly, fucking awesome!" I don't get angry at pop stars; Gilbert and George of course are avowed monarchists. 
Fine art has always functioned as part of the social life of money, but the aristocratic arts in the age of capitalism have been defended as philosophy, as if that rendered them something other than complicit. The "unsustainable contradiction" refers more to Fraser than to Hirst, since both represent the nadir of the same school and both make their living proclaiming the seriousness of art, while of the two she seems most committed, while Hirst is torn, as someone who wants to believe his own con. His best work puts that tension right in front. 
But the YBAs are the younger siblings of the Pictures Generation, a generation envious of film but wracked by guilt at the indulgence. Not for nothing does their mentor Baldessari call himself "a closet formalist". Formalism: from Greenberg, to Baldessari to Fraser. That's why there was no reference to Hitchcock in the Duchamp catalogue: he's neither an artist nor a philosopher. It's also why Art Forum is now a cross between October and Vogue. 
The contradictions of the art market are part and parcel of the art world. If only Nixon could go to China, only oligarchs are capable of making the art world less boring than it is. If Colin de Land was America's answer to Martin Kippenberger, Adam Lindemann is its answer to Maurizio Cattelan.

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