The color blue was sold for $43.8 million. In 2013, anonymous bidding called off a war. No blood was drawn, except for blue blood. An investor phoned it in. I would disguise myself, too. It’s one thing to get royalties every time the color blue, if not just royal blue, appears in the world. You recover the expense in no time. Our dialer didn’t get exclusivity rights. Sotheby’s auctioned a 1953 canvas entitled, “Onement VI.” It looks like a baseline at the 2012 Madrid Masters.
If color field painting had a yearbook, the superlative for this one would be ‘most likely to be repurposed into a ping pong table.’ Onement VI is oil on an 8.5 x 10 ft. canvas. Barnett Newman materialized a bevy of like studies in his 40-year odyssey. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know anything about art, but isn’t that the first step in understanding it? For me, a major part of what makes a work of art great is you couldn’t do it yourself. Not so much that you just wouldn’t.
I’m sure this painting is great for all kinds of reasons I don’t remember from Art History. I didn’t major in it, but it was a major pain in the butt. I think philosophy is kind of a fake permit to think about any subject, if not, again, to understand it. Maybe not a fake, but a Learner. That’s the idea for this entire site. If I hadn’t majored in philosophy, I certainly wouldn’t have such a vague sense of what I’m doing. I’d have less. More or less.
Nonsense! Nietzsche, for example, had plenty to say about art. “Art is the proper task of life.” More specifically, he prided himself on chipping away at the imperfection of being. “In art man enjoys himself as perfection.” You should treat yourself like an art project, if not just treat yourself. “Live your life as a work of art.” Art is the work of life or life is a work of art, if not a science. Witness “the world as a work of art that gives birth to itself.”
Sometimes I can’t tell if philosophy is boring when it hides behind a lot of complicated words. If there’s a quote, you have to decide whether another person is tedious instead. Nietzsche’s aphoristic mien is a prosaic mosaic. He’s forthcoming, but not straightforward. It calls its own bluff. If it’s boring, you’ll know. I’m going to go ahead and quote a passage from Aphorism 290, The Gay Science. Feel free to skip or examine as you’ll end up in the same place afterwards:
“One thing is needful.– To ‘give style’ to one’s character––a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye. Here a large mass of second nature has been added; there a piece of original nature has been removed––both times through long practice and daily work at it. Here the ugly that could not be removed is concealed; there it has been reinterpreted and made sublime. Much that is vague and resisted shaping has been saved and exploited for distant views; it is meant to beckon toward the far and immeasurable. In the end, when the work is finished, it becomes evident how the constraint of a single taste governed and formed everything large and small. Whether this taste was good or bad is less important than one might suppose, if only it was a single taste!”
This entire aphorism is obviously about growing a sick mustache. Nietzsche is difficult to classify. Prosaic poetry or poetic prose? The work of life is poietic, if not just poetic. In some circles, Friedrich is known for his poetry. In those same circles, he is better known for prose. La Gaya Scienza implies merriment. Songs of Prince Vogelfrei exemplifies whimsy. “Die fröliche Wissenschaft” is well sang if you have a good voice. The mountaintops are due for avalanche.
“From Lofty Mountains” is misled, if not my sled. This epode to, if not itself Beyond Good and Evil is a sad yarn about a party where no one shows up except for Zarathustra. This is not surprising because Z is the only one who already lives in the mountains. Everyone else would have to climb, which they can’t. I think that’s the point. It would be sad if he insisted on solicitude instead of solitude. He’s too witty for my pity.
Nietzsche is a character. A real character. He could almost be fictional if he wasn’t real. Unreal, yet so. If you don’t connect with him, he offers the noble Zarathustra. He is Zarathustra, if not just a normal guy. “Behold, I teach you the übermensch!” “I don’t know about you, man, but I’m just trying to get through the winter.” “I would rather be the protagonist in my own story than a supporting character in someone else’s.” “I’ll just call myself an Uber, man.”
Build character, if not a character. Nieztsche uses a lot of intonation. He has the philosophical range of Mariah Carey. In other words, intellect equivalent to five octaves. Forget it, you get it. My point is he really puts it out there. He’s like the Kanye West of late 19th-century philosophy. Untimely Meditations is 808s & Heartbreak. 808s & Heartbreak is the Yeezy Untimely Meditations. How’s that for a shot in the dark?
“Print: literary autotune. I see it.” “I thought you said it was dark?” “I see it in the eye of my mind.” “What else do you see?” “Zarathustra is the name of an eminent art dealer.” “Z could be.” “In fact, Zarathustra is a name provided by an anonymous investor investigating art likened to table tennis.” “What a piece of work!” Chilly-oop? “What a piece of work is man!” In turn, I turn on Nietzsche as license to divulge artfully, if not art. “I’m too real to deal.”
All I’m saying is Barnett missed out on income. I don’t know if the painting would be valuable, not just comparably so, if he unveiled its true nature in a paddle. We prefer vivid likeness. Vivid is deep, if not unidealized. Is a vivid picture better than its likeness? Than likeness? Do you want a good picture of a ping pong table or a good picture of blue with a line through it? Would it matter if the artist told you it was one or the other? Before or after dying?
Whatever it is, Onement VI is nowhere near as egregious as Yves Klein. In 1957, he built an exhibition of “11 identical blue canvases, using ultramarine pigment suspended in a synthetic resin.” This blue is identified as “International Klein Blue,” which can be observed in Google Images. You may have seen his hue on a color wheel. I find shades of it in the sky and even bodies of water. Look closely and you might espy a bit in the mirror.
To be sure, blue is nowhere near as pure in nature where it was not constructed for the express purpose of being blue. True blue. Klein may sell for millions of dollars to a person. One person. I bet the IKB invites a following. Are millions looking to buy it, if not just into it? For one thing, there aren’t enough Klein paintings to satisfy millions. If it only takes one, the audience is self-selecting. Most of those who can’t afford one don’t want it, let alone more than one.
In some cases, however, demand increases in fewer people. The small few can and are willing to pay a lot more than the rest of the population, if not just more than the latter would. Fascination banks on a slight balance of supply and demand. If everyone wants something, you’ve got to have it. If everyone has something, who wants it? If you have it, the want is redundant. You may want for wanting.
The art world is different. Insofar as there is an original, one has it. Everybody else likes it. “There is something pedestrian about global validation. If the few acclaim, there is a chance it’s because only they are equipped to do so. When civilization enjoys art, it speaks, if not to the art. To me, a picture is worth a thousand words, not a thousand words. If we all like something, it isn’t elite. It doesn’t have the ‘Je ne sais quoi’ that puzzles even the greatest minds.”
If it’s limited, it may not be cool to others, but it’s cool to you and your small circle of sycophants. In 1957, Klein illustrated the Occam’s razor of critical and communal compliment and complement: if everybody likes a thing, it must be good. The monochromatic collage was called “Proposte Monochrome, Epoca Blu,” or, for those of us who took nine years of French and still can’t speak it, “Proposition Monochrome; Blue Epoch.”
I’m not sure how you promote that because if you tease a piece, you’ve seen the whole thing. Maybe there is something about 8.5 x 11…x 11 that is greater than the sum of its parts. Klein may have taken the scenic route and left excitement to the imagination. Nobody knows what they’re getting into. His work could be anything; it could be as good as Michelangelo or as bad as if it hadn’t been painted at all. It’s out of the blue or into the wild blue yonder.
This guy followed up a successful spectrum of distinguished yet indistinguishable monochromes with the only thing that could be and could only be less complicated. He called it “The Void” or “La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée,” for short, which means bullshit or “The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility.” As a mediate, if not intermediate scholar, I quoth Wikipedia:
“For his next exhibition at the Iris Clert Gallery (April 1958), Klein chose to show nothing whatsoever.” Instead, “he removed everything in the gallery space except a large cabinet, painted every surface white, and then staged an elaborate entrance procedure for the opening night; The gallery’s window was painted blue, and a blue curtain was hung in the entrance lobby, accompanied by republican guards and blue cocktails. Thanks to an enormous publicity drive, 3000 people were forced to queue up, waiting to be let into an empty room.”
‘For my next trick, I’m going to make stuff disappear. The trick isn’t the disappearing, but that the stuff isn’t there to begin with.’ Here’s what he said: “Recently my work with color has led me, in spite of myself, to search little by little, with some assistance (from the observer, from the translator), for the realization of matter, and I have decided to end the battle. My paintings are now invisible and I would like to show them in a clear and positive manner.”
He’s like one of those trolls with blue hair. My post is a little silly because art is, if not just literally, in the eye or hand of the beholder. Blue is nothing new. Then again, “there is nothing new under the sun.” “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again.” That should be a motto, if not a justification. I see $46.5 million in a Rothko multimillion times more than in a Newman, in which I see it 0 times.
I’m getting way too cute with this. They had singular vision and effort, if nothing else, goes a long way. Many sensitive people enjoy them, so I hold little claim, if not just little acclaim. The vast number are far more informed than I am by virtue of having seen these paintings more frequently. I appreciate beauty, but I’ve never been much of an aesthete. You don’t have to travel to see the world. Google Maps, Google Earth; it’s just outside or inside your window.
I can see many things in my browser that are off limits. If you’re at the Louvre, Mona Lisa is behind a screen. On the internet, she’s in your screen. Just drag her to your desktop and look whenever you want. Print a few copies. How many people can, if not would say they’ve got the real Mona Lisa as their wallpaper? That’s pretty special. I feel like an artist. You put your soul into something and sell it, if not just to yourself. Are you selling your soul?
If you can’t buy your own immortality, you buy someone else’s. Everybody pays top dollar for the next best thing. Or, the next next best (best) thing. They will always pay more for this than immortal industry. In other words, the Mona Lisa is priceless. Immortality isn’t for sale. Investors carry speculation. If you can’t estimate invaluable, you value estimates instead. The future of art appreciation, if not the future of art. Who has a crystal ball? The world may never know.
Maybe you do, but it doesn’t work. Fantasy is a paper weight, if not the weight of paper. Old adage: outlast the past. Favor is a flavor of the weak. Revival, if not Renaissance. Carry on and carry it out. Nobody is younger. Few stay young for longer. In my analogy, however, popularity lasts. Youth is extended. In vogue, but rogue. Fading faintly. Is this apt? On one level, everything gets better with age. Given technology, even age gets better with age.
If you allow any item several thousand years, it will be worth more, if not just something to someone. Vintage. I turn this to my colleague, future Bad Cop:
“Hi, BC. I haven’t seen you since “Cinema 9 ¾.”
Future BC: “I’ve been busy.”
bolo: “Right. You look like our BC, so I forget there are…or were two of you.”
F BC: “No, I’m definitely BC from a few months in the future.”
bolo: “Good. I’m never certain. I heard you were instrumental in finishing the Spectre post.”
F BC: “BC was going through a hard time, so I chipped in.”
F BC: “I told him to see the movie, so I felt responsible.”
bolo: “I’m sure he appreciates courtesy, wherever he is.”
F BC: “Judging his timing, I have a pretty good idea where.”
bolo: “Speaking of which, how is your time travel?”
F BC: “Well, considering I’m still here, it hasn’t really gone anywhere, if not well.”
bolo: “So you haven’t made any progress?”
F BC: “Each moment is one closer to the day I left, except in your dimension.”
bolo: “It’s something, isn’t it?”
F BC: “It’s also equal moments farther in my own dimension, so it balances out.”
bolo: “Are you fitting in? Every day you’re here feels like one less that you weren’t.”
F BC: “I was very upset for a while, but then BC disappeared, too. I ended up finishing the Spectre article, which was the one I was doing when I teleported here or what have you.”
bolo: “If The Big Short came out on December 11th, wouldn’t you have finished it already?”
F BC: “Yes, but I was going back in to add memes and clips.”
bolo: “So you’re feeling a bit more like yourself?”
F BC: “Now that we’ve caught up to where I left off, it’s pretty seamless. I just have to convince myself I’m not an imposter every day.”
bolo: “Well, that’s why I’ve brought you here. At present, I’m talking about the future, which is kind of your thing.”
F BC: “It certainly was.”
bolo: “I don’t want to make this an interview, but I’d love your ideas on aging.”
F BC: “In the future, civilization has harnessed clean energy. Fossil fuel is left in the dust. More preciously, fossil fuels have become fossils. In the same way that old feces are of value to Coprologists, fuel is a collector’s item. There is a niche market for harvesting fossil fuels to power old machinery.”
bolo: “Interesting. Is that because it’s vintage or people remember the old days?”
F BC: “Eventually, enough time will pass that everybody remembering is just remembering remembering the old days. It’ll be secondhand smoking instead of firsthand inferno.”
bolo: “Closing thoughts? Art?”
F BC: “Art? Why?”
bolo: “I always get stuck with the weird or academic posts.”
F BC: “How will investors pay artists after robots do it well?”
Instead of continuing for a thousand words, I’ll leave his inquiry for just as long. That’s my new strategy for keeping posts shorter: if I’m about to write a thousand words, wait for a thousand. Then see if I feel like writing them. Speculation is chaotic. It’s a shady enterprise. Art in the dark, if not a dark art. In the present, critics might pay tribute to artwork, if not pay for it. After a thousand words or even years, the same people or their descendants feel different.
We have new methods of viewing or making it. On Quora, a comment: “You wouldn’t judge a book by the film version, so why would you judge paintings from photographs.” A picture of a painting isn’t in motion, if not in situ. In Harry Potter, for example, the original image has to be moving in order to tell a difference. Otherwise, it’s a moving image of a still. That said, if you had a feature-length video of this image, we’d be having a different conversation.
Buying art is like getting a tattoo, except it hangs from your nails. I’ve never been much into the latter because I don’t know what the future holds or hangs in the balance. Speculating on art is kind of like trying to figure out what tattoos everybody is going to like when they’re older. Only you know how to adorn yourself and if that’s with maybe a ping pong table, so be it. What I would say is that having an original doesn’t necessarily make you original.
As such, some people are better off making art out of themselves than outside, if not indoors. I can see someone telling Yves Klein he might grow a mustache like Newman, Rothko, or Nietzsche instead of growing his body of work. Some manage to do both. I have a different perspective: everyone has a different perspective. They are qualified by qualification. Some people are color-blind. You like blue, I like yellow and blue. Royale blue with cheese.