Why Banksy’s Shredded Painting Gimmick Isn’t Actually Art

A Cunning Stunt: Banksy Strips 

 

There’s been a strange pantomime playing out over the news for the last couple of weeks. It’s brought rare mass audience attention to the bloated and corrupt establishment art market.

I’ve written about Banksy before, one the elite’s mascots. As stated in the previous article:

Perhaps English media figure Charlie Brooker summed it up best: Banksy gained such art world stature because “…his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots. And apparently that’ll do.”

 

So this anonymous artist supposedly pulls a prank at a glitzy auction, and partially shreds a work. We are meant to believe this was set up years before, and a blue chip auction house which specializes in archival handling of very expensive and fragile works of art managed to overlook a shredder embedded in a frame. Seems legit.

The picture itself is achingly banal. Finally, a work of art less insightful than an emoji.

She has a sadz 

It’s not even drawn well. It’s like she’s got a stubby little Tyrannosaurus claw right arm.

Due to the publicity stunt of the shredding, now this piece is worth even more than the final purchase price of over a million pounds. Almost as if the “surprise” maneuver was a calculated bid to drive up prices, and everyone was in on it:

 

“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art Alex Branczik wrote. “Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled ‘Love is in the Bin,’ the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”

The anonymous buyer felt similarly, based on a quote given to Sotheby’s.

“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked,” the buyer said, “but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”

I would suggest that, while the buyer has purchased a curiosity produced in this particular historical era, it’s not actually art history we’re talking about here. Art did not partake in this gag.

To misquote a decent 1990s scifi action movie:

What if I told you everything you’ve been told about about art by the establishment is a lie?

Whoa 

The Postmodern elites don’t want people to have the experience of genuine art. Real art could incite individuals to manifest pesky traits like free will, idealism, and spiritual awakening. So a false version of art is hyped by the powerful, something that will keep the people befuddled and indoctrinated. Banksy is one of their henchmen, a willing cog in the disinformation machinery.

I wonder if Banksy is a mere individual, or more of a group effort. His pictures and shenanigans all have an odor of decision by committee about them. It would probably take a lot a groupthink to come up with such insipid offerings

With the fawning collusion of the media and establishment art world, Banksy gets to have his cake and eat it too. He gets to play anti-capitalist activist while selling shoddy products for millions. His globe trotting graffitied works are supposed to impart street cred, and conceptual anti-commercialism. But the same generic stencils are easily put onto canvases and sold off to the highest bidders. What is being bought isn’t the art, but a perverse species of ostentatious prestige.

Banksy’s content is the same old leftist slant that already monopolizes government, the media, technology companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the culture industries. How is Banksy supposed to be a rebel when he does nothing but echo the party line? His stuff is graceless propaganda, less nuanced than an editorial cartoon.

Banksy socks it to the running dog imperialist orange man!

Just like absolutely everyone else who is allowed to share opinions on a public platform. 

Banksy is a Non Player Character entity who  disseminates mindless graphics  instead of mindless chants. His followers claim he is speaking truth to power when all he does is reinforce the typical establishment narratives. He’s made himself rich while pretending to be down with the proletariat. It takes a deep coating of cognitive dissonance to be able overlook that festering mass of doublethink.

But most of all, Banksy is a name brand selling a product that has the psychical characteristics of art, but is not really art at all. He offers artifice, an approximation of art  that does not actually deliver on art’s most important aspects. He simply does not provide a credible artistic experience.

Banksy’s mock art displays no personality. It does not display advanced achievements in craftsmanship. It does not suggest a meaningful philosophy. It is not unique. It lacks real emotional resonance, spiritual awareness, a sense of contemplation. There is no awe, no sustainable experience at all, just a one liner summary of social engineering tropes. This type of empty, soulless junk is what the elitists have propped up to act as a decoy away from actual creative efforts.

The time has come, when our ruling class tries to shove an inert narrative down our throats and tells us it is art, that we shred their presumptive authority.

In my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I describe how contemporary art has been weaponized into an assault on the culture:

“Unfortunately, a substantial disconnect exists between the widely held respect for art, and the alienation most serious contemporary art evokes when actually encountered.

Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. Officially sanctioned art is all too often based on theoretical formal matters and sociological notions designed to exclude, rather than engage, the general public.

Practically no one is paying attention to contemporary art other than a small bubble of artists, academics, cultural institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in presumed sophistication.

Any art from outside this tight little cabal is treated as non-existent. Through their powers of finance and institutional control, this self-serving, out-of-touch elite presume to dictate art matters for the entire world.”

 

Banksy’s shredded painting is not art, but a con game, just another sting operation of the Big Store swindle.

It does, however, make for a nifty topical Halloween costume.

 

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STUDIO: Knowing When to Reuse a Canvas

Richard Bledsoe”Each in Their Garden” 30″ x 30″ 

Working as an intuitive artist carries risks. I paint directly onto the canvas from out of my imagination. I don’t work out problems in advance with preparatory sketches. I don’t cheat by letting a projector make my discoveries for me, and be a substitute for my own draftsmanship. I work to coordinate my mind, my hand, and my eye, to communicate the subtlety of inner vision.

The risk is I don’t always succeed in producing an effective image. This is okay, because I always have multiple paintings going at the same time. I put the unsatisfactory canvas aside.

I mentioned the Room of Shame in a previous post. It’s where the unfinished paintings wait. Some I will pull out and bring to proper resolution. But some are past saving. Case in point: Each in Their Garden. 

The title is a reference to a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve had a vision of the prehistoric monumental chaos he describes in his mythos. I attempted to depict it on this 30″ x 30″ canvas. It ended up murky and congested. The more I tried to fix it the less cohesive it became.

The seething image I can see in my mind didn’t make it into this picture. It’s become too overworked to repair.

I am so unsatisfied with it I’m going to start an entirely new image on the canvas. It is still a vision of chaos, but in a much more tangible form. I’m excited to get to work on it.

I did want to give Each in Their Garden this one acknowledgement, because parts of it I really enjoy-mostly in the upper half of it. I will take what I learned from this, and move on.

 

“The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.”

-The Remodernist Manifesto

 

 

 

PAINTINGS: The Evolution of “Hollowsaurus”

 

Richard Bledsoe “Hollowsaurus” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 36″ 

On September 1, 2018, I finished Hollowsaurus, an epic painting 6 months in the making. It was an ambitious expansion of an image I first played with on a small canvas:

 

Richard Bledsoe “Table for Two” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16″ 

 

I was so intrigued by this vision I was presented with that it inspired a whole series of images in my mind.  These pieces are the beginning of a new body of work for me. I have already started the next one. I feel the powerful symbolism flowing through these pictures. They speak to me without being reduced to mere words.

While I was making Hollowsaurus, I took pictures of its development. I think these photos give insight on how I build a painting, and how the works evolve.

Barely Begun 

 

 

Defining the elements 

 

 

Building Details 

“Spiritual art is not about fairyland. It is about taking hold of the rough texture of life. It is about addressing the shadow and making friends with wild dogs. Spirituality is the awareness that everything in life is for a higher purpose.”

-The Remodernism Manifesto 

STUDIO: “Night’s Forces” Emerges from the Room of Shame

Richard Bledsoe “Night’s Forces” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″ 

Let me tell you about the room of shame.

The room of shame is the place where unfinished paintings are stacked, faces to the wall. It must have close to a dozen residents right now, some as large as 30″ x 36″. Some have been in there for many years.

These are paintings which I began, and then at some point in their development, I lost the plot, and the point, and my ability to finish them. This happens sometimes when working intuitively. The inspiration dries up before the work is complete.

I always have multiple works going. For example, right now, I have 4 unfinished paintings pending, 2 of which are practically done. So it’s no great blow to my productivity if I have to put something aside temporarily, or not so temporarily.

Some incomplete works are unsalvageable. I will paint over them, and create a whole new image.

But the paintings in the room of shame are worth completing. I still believe in them, and am waiting for their moment to return. They say the way you do something is the way you do everything. I may be slow, but I am persistent.

Case in point: Night’s Forces.

I began this painting in 2015. It was far advanced when I had to put it away. I’d had a series of studio sessions on it where instead of improving it, I was making it less effective, less resolved. It was a complex composition. I couldn’t get the colors and definitions to function. Off it went to the room of shame, where it lingered for years. Until a few weeks ago, when I brought it out again. I made some big moves on it, because at that point I had nothing to lose. The work would either crash, or crash through. Fortunately, it was the latter.

Night’s Forces is now finished, and I’m ready to move on with additional new projects. My wife Michele Bledsoe created a video of me working on it as it entered it final phases. See the video here:

Video-Remodern America: Renew the Arts and Renew the Civilization

As I state in my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts will change the Course of western Civilization:

“Remodernism reboots the culture. Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation.”

Sometimes a painting needs a time out followed by an assertive jump start. This return is driven by Remodernist motivation: I need to show you what I saw, so we will better understand each other, and life as a whole.

BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 

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“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:

 

I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.

 

 

COMMENTARY: Jeff Koons and the Establishment Art World’s Condescending Cult

 

Play D’oh! A Jeff Koons Pile of “Art” 

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“It’s a commercial world, and morality is based generally around economics, and that’s taking place in the art gallery.”

-Jeff Koons

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Part of what I want this blog to do is expose certain notorious figures of the commercialized contemporary art world to a new audience.

I’d like to help educate all you good people who, up until now, have been uninterested, alienated, or even hostile to the efforts of today’s networked creative classes, and their deep-pocketed supporters.

From what I see, the potential audience of the disengaged is practically everyone in entire world.

Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. Practically no one is paying attention to contemporary art other than a small bubble of artists, academics, institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in their presumed sophistication.

Since most people have tuned out the shenanigans of this arrogant, decadent band of charlatans, you might be unaware of what the art world racket has been producing. You haven’t been missing much.

In this example, we have a major perpetrator of the corrupt art world status quo: Jeff Koons.

What’s up Doc? A Long Eared Galoot, and one of his Sculptures  

Throughout his career, Jeff Koons has racked up approximately $765 million dollars in sales. He does not make the pieces sold under his brand name. The actual work is done by anonymous skilled craftsmen. Koons contributes “concepts” that others execute.

And what kind of ideas has this mogul graced us with that have generated such windfalls? Treasures such as these:

Jeff Koons, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” 

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Awww

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Jeff Koons, Poseur 

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Koons may be best known for a series of giant stainless steel replicas of balloon animals. An orange version of one sold for over $58 million. 

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Over inflated: Wiener Dog Art 

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Then there was the era in the 1990s when Koons married Cicciolina, an Italian XXX film performer. Koons commissioned a whole series of artworks featuring the couple engaging in hardcore sexytime action  (Warning: link is definitely NSFW). They were divorced in 1998; I can’t imagine why.

 

A PG-13 Version of Koons and His Porn Star Wife 

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Not everything is coming up inflatable tulips for the crafty con artist, however. Koons graciously offered to donate a monument to France for the victims of the  2015 terrorist attack: a 35 foot tall hand holding balloon flowers. He graciously expected them to install it next to the Eiffel Tower. The French not so graciously rejected this blatant attempt at product placement. Negotiations are ongoing.

 

An Indecent Proposal

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One of the top selling artists of this era of art specializes in obscenely expensive replicas of cheap toys, gimmicks, and smut. So what is the significance of this?

To understand, you need to look at one of the foundational conceits of art world elitism: the Marxist tinged struggle between the avant-gard and kitsch.

These terms rose to prominence in a 1939 essay by art critic Clement Greenberg. A devotee of the leftist Frankfurt School, Greenberg propounded his contempt for popular American culture. In my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I explain Greenberg’s assertions:

“…he claimed the cultural world could be divided in two. The avant-garde (a military term referring to strike force troops, who go ahead of the main army) were forward-thinking sophisticates, whose radical creations were driven by a contempt for the tacky tastes of the general public.

“To Greenberg, the common people were too ignorant to appreciate the rarefied efforts of the avant-garde; these backwards types could only appreciate kitsch (a German word used for low quality art), a phony vision of art which tugged at middle class sensations like beauty, patriotism, and sentimental feelings. A Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of a popular magazine was the kind of thing that could make an intellectual like Greenberg retch.

“Greenberg declared, ‘…part of Western bourgeois society has produced something unheard of heretofore: avant-garde culture. A superior consciousness of history—more precisely, the appearance of a new kind of criticism of society, an historical criticism—made this possible.’ The consciousness Greenberg refers to as ‘superior’ just happens to be his own, as he proceeded over the next few decades presumptively acting as the ultimate authority on art.”

So how did the art world move from rejecting the tawdry stylings of disposable popular culture to glorifying them?

The secret is the art world cosmopolitans are still dripping with contempt towards most of humanity. What has been added is the soul sucking Postmodern gambit of irony. By celebrating the tacky, elitists are actually mocking their straw man version of what “ordinary” people are capable of. Our New Aristocracy of the Well Connected disrespect the intelligence and capacities of all those whose lives don’t revolve around relentless elitist status signalling contests.

They assume that all we can appreciate is tawdry junk, and so they are having a patronizing laugh at us by spending millions on art that carefully reproduces…tawdry junk. Now it’s avant garde to clone kitsch, which makes it totally different because of reasons. Isn’t it ironic?

If you think that sounds dumb, you would be right. Welcome to the inverse values of the nasty Postmodern world, where our betters try to force us to accept that bad is good and stupid is clever.

This isn’t about the money. The finances are just a side show for most art world participants. Big league art deals are exercises in money laundering, tax evasion, and insider trading, but not that many get into that high roller category. What is most concerning is what it says about those controlling our cultural expressions.

The real perk for most establishment art types is a sense of superiority. Supporting a hoax substitute for art gets converted into the gold of social prestige through the alchemy of Postmodern dogma. It’s yet another proof that our current crop of cultural elitists are really not advanced at all.

Elitists hype outsourced and infantile art because of their own limitations. They lack depth and real achievement themselves, so they can’t tell the difference. They embrace this failure of character as a badge of honor, and mandatory for admission to their tribe.

What Postmodern charlatans have been pushing for decades isn’t even art at all. It’s artifice, an empty mimicry of the outer appearances and gestures of art, without partaking of any of its true substance and significance.

The good news is Postmodernism is dead. It no longer captures the new dynamic spirit of the age. As I state in the upcoming Remodern America Manifesto:

“Postmodernism shows the folly which erupts when the spiritual center of life is denied. Shifting focus away from the soul gave rise to an art world floundering in obscurity, destruction, pornography, propaganda, excrement and carrion. Contemporary establishment art is treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes, and a decadent toy for the wealthy.”

The art done in the name of Jeff Koons typifies this hostile positioning. Its cuteness is a sneer at what suckers we are. The species of cultural rot inspired by Marcel Duchamp has become such a tired trope.

Remodern art restores respect for the general audience, and their abilities to have profound experiences. Remodernists understand art is for everyone. We can all be stirred by beauty, moved by emotional expressions, and gratified by the experience of truth. Western civilization used to understand how art provided those uplifting states. Our current cultural institutions largely fail to produce these positive outcomes; instead they want to pretend a multi-million dollar imitation of a party trick is good enough for us dolts. They are wrong.

The Remodern age will be the story of the dismantling of centralized power. An arts establishment which claims a sarcastic marketing scheme is a major artistic achievement is a juicy target for serious reforms.

Jeff Koons: Having a Ball 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit others posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 4, Completion

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe “Tusk”

acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 6″ 

 

“The Remodernist artist formulates expressions of personal liberty in pursuit of higher meaning and significance.”

The Remodern America Manifesto 

Our first collaborative painting has been completed, and actually has been displayed in two shows so far.

Michele and I both created our own painting in our own unique style, but allowed a dialogue to form by the interaction of our individual efforts.

Michele compared it to having a conversation.

The process of working on a piece together was so enjoyable that we will continue to collaborate. We hope to someday have a show of just our shared pieces. Watch this space for future updates.

 

Read the series:

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 1

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STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 2

 

STUDIO: Collaborative Painting with Richard and Michele-Part 3