Friday, November 14, 2008

Hold the Bacon

A Francis Bacon self-portrait failed to sell at auction in New York this past Wednesday, in what many in the art world says is another sign the souring economy is having a crushing effect on fall season art sales.

Bacon’s 1964 “Study for Self Portrait”—billed as a highlight of Christie’s contemporary art auction—was estimated to take in some $40 million. But when the bidding stopped at $27.4 million the esteemed auction house halted the proceedings, to a chorus of gasps.

Seventy-five contemporary works were on sale Wednesday. Among the most important lots was a Jean-Michel Basquiat painter of a boxer, owned by Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich, which fetched just over $13.5 million but short of the record $14.6 million for a Basquiat.

Experts claim that the global financial tsunami has not spared the art market, and sales of impressionist, modern and contemporary works since the fall season kicked off November 3 have been well below previous levels.

The number of unsold works has often exceeded 30 or 40 percent of lots this month, and barring a few notable exceptions the sales prices are on the whole lower than the estimates for the majority of pieces.

I don’t know. Is it just me? Could it be the reason the painting didn’t go for more was the fact that it is absolutely ugly! Who, in their right mind, would want to hang that painting on display? I’d have nightmares if I had to look at that painting all the time!

Okay Mr., Mrs., or Miss “Art Critics”, tell me what you think. Am I missing something here?


  1. Ok so call me non-cultured but I just never understood the whole spend-your-money-on-a-painting thing anyway. I get as much pleasure as a picture by jack Terry (see About me at my blog) and they are miniscule in cost compared to this...aaaahhhh painting. What really turns my crank is my grandson's art on my refrigerator.

  2. Okay, Bill you are non-cultured!


    Then again...I'm in the same boat!

  3. I think it is junk. How people throw paint on canvass, call it art, and sell it for millions of dollars is beyond me. Honestly, I think your son could paint that well. If you want me to spend millions of dollars on paintings (which I don't have and never will) you have to actually show me some talent. Make it life like. It needs to look like it took you 3 weeks to paint it, not 30 minutes.

  4. I kid you not... I went to the Gallery Hop in Columbus, Oh (a fav thing to do when I lived there) and I saw a series of "art" pieces made out of cigarette butts selling for thousands of dollars. Not only was it ugly and tasteless, but it stunk (literally) too. Imagine paying $200,000 for cigarette butts glued to canvas!!! Morons!!

    I love to look at art. I will never buy anything that can't be sold in Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


  5. Well, here in Oklahoma, the cultural (and ambulance siren) center of the universe we would mostly laugh at "art" like this and the people who would buy it.

    At first glance, I thought it was a Doberman hanging off a bed. Second glace told me it was some sort of demon-dream. I had to look at it about three times before I saw the person.

    I'd rather spend my money on BBQ and fishing equipment.

    But then again, I'm just a hick from the sticks.

  6. wife and I went a few years ago to the Birmingham Museum of Art (yes, we are cultured here)...the artwork was unbelievable...I'm just glad they had nameplates on most of them so I would know what it was!

    Thrown paint...dots on canvass...lines, curves, etc., don't make art...they make a good preschool presentation!

  7. Rick...Now, you are talking culture...ambulance siren capital of the world! I'd visit that one!

  8.'ve got to be kidding? Cig butts? I guess that means that the lane where I turn to take my son to daycare is an art display? Considering how many butts have thrown their cigs there!

  9. I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary "Art" back in the mid 80's. One piece was an aquarium with three basketballs floating (stationary) in it. Another was 6 Igloo ice chests and 6 lava lamps arranged in some sort of fashion.


  10. Maybe I could call my garage a museum and get a tax credit or something...I have many of the same things in there!

  11. So I'll admit - I'm a bit artsy-fartsy, thanks to the influences of my bride. We went over to the Kimball Art Museum in Ft. Worth a few weeks back. They had been loaned an large collection of the Impressionist painters from the Art institute of Chicago, which was undergoing renovations. It included - Monet, Manet, Renior, Gaugin, Van Gogh and several others, including VanGoh's famous self portait and others. My daughter has been taking Art101, drawing, and I've been learning about focus point, perspective, and texturing, so going to see these paintings was perfect timing. My favorite was Paris Street, Rainy Day - it was huge, about 10 feet wide by 8 feet tall. The picture does not do it justice, because the shimmering of the rain between the cobblestones, and the people are much more clear. My second favorite was this one by Renoir (her eyes were painted SO bright and clear, while the rest had a slight haze, so you were really drwan to their brilliant blue), and third favorite was one of the many Monet paintings (the house can only be seen in the reflection).

    The Impressionists focused on lighting and capturing the effects, like the fuzziness of the light pole in the Rainy Day painting, or the house reflection in the river.

    I'm not sure what "period" Bacon's self portait would be classified, but it masterfully captures the texturing of his garments (very difficult in any medium), but the perspective is mis-aligned in several places, pushing focus away. The distorted head, and arms that don't reveal a lot of detail and appear to be shorter than normal, combined with the line from his arms down to his perfectly vertical leg, pushes your attention to his highly detailed shoe. To me, that equals low self-esteem.

    I looked him up on WiKi and after reading his bio and seeing some of the other, more disturbing works, it is easy to see that he was a pretty messed up individual, and it was clearly reflected in his painting.

    Now you can say you had your dose of culture today. (You can browse through the Art Institute collection on-line, too, if this wasn't enough)

  12. I think, after reading Will's post, I need a good nap...

  13. Are you guys familiar with the "Piss Christ"? I know I have talked about it before, but I'm not sure if it was here or a lesser blog. If you aren't familiar with it, google it. It aint art either!

  14. Yeah, and you're definitely right - shouldn't be called art, let alone worth storing out on the Internet. Wasted bits.

  15. I can see some technical things that would make this painting "good," but, overall, it doesn't do anything to me.

    I've seen a lot of photographs (since that is my "medium") from famous, high dollar people that made me go, "Whatever." AFter you achieve "your name," you can do anything, act like it was on purpose, and people will find the good in it.

    Reminds me of a story I heard once. A famous art critic was doing a guest lecture for an art class. He arrives in the class, opens a locked brief case, puts on a pair of spotless white gloves and carefully takes a framed print out of the case.

    None of the students will even touch it. They do, however, ooo and ahhh over it. Suddenly, he turns throws it in a corner and removes the gloves.

    He then turns to the class and says something to the effect of, "People will perceive the quality of your work based on how you project the quality of your work. That was not one of my pieces of "art," that was a picture cut out of a magazine. Because I treated it as if it were "good," you treated it as if it were good."

    He then turned and left the class.

    "Quality" of art is so very objective, and like the cliche says, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

    Now, if you all want to buy some high quality, one day to be collectible pieces of photography, let me know, and I'll give you a couple of links. :)

  16. Very nice story, Karma! Very true, and can apply to how we treat others, in a way. If you show kindness to someone, and others see it, they, too, might show more kindness to others. There was a recent Liberty Mutual commercial has that "pay it forward" theme.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.