Erin Farnsworth Studio

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ERIN FARNSWORTH STUDIO

 
Monthly Newsletter

December, 2019

 
 
The Art World has gone BANANAS!
 
 
Comedian, an "artwork" by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan consisting of a ripe banana secured to the wall with duct tape.
 
 
 
There was a big news story in the art world this past week: An Italian artist named Maurizio Cattelan made an "artwork" that consisted of a ripe banana secured to the wall with a strip of duct tape. According to the gallery whose wall the banana was taped to, Gallerie Perotin, two editions of the work were quickly sold to museums for around $120,000 a piece. 
 
Wait, it gets even crazier.
 
First, what is Art Basel? 
Art Basel is an annual international art fair staged in Basel, Switzerland, as well as in Hong Kong and in Miami, Florida.
It's a place for the most currently adored contemporary artists to display their work and for billiionaires to overspend.
 
This year's Art Basel in Miami has been all over the news. In case you haven't seen this story or its updates, here's a quick recap of the insanity:
 
  1.  Gallerie Perotin places Comedian, a ripe banana and a strip of duct tape, on their outer wall space. They say that two editions of the “art” sold to museums. They get lots and lots of press. On Dec 4th the gallery said this through Twitter: “The first edition of Maurizio Cattelan's banana was sold at 1:15PM. Edition two sold at 3:30PM, and we are in discussions regarding edition three with a museum. Maurizio is seriously back."
  2. Saturday, December 7th: Another artist, David Datuna, decides to cash in on the press and take the banana off of the wall and eat it, saying it was “performance art.” The gallery states that he did in fact not destroy the artwork. "The banana is the idea,” said Lucien Terras, director of museum relations.
  3. Sunday, December 8th: the gallery takes down the work (not sure what was there when they “removed” it—had they replaced the eaten banana with another banana?). Anyway, they state that the crowd situation had become out of control, so they removed it out of necessity.
  4. After the “artwork” was removed from the wall on Sunday, another opportunist vandalized the blank wall that people were still flocking to see, messily writing a misspelled “Epstien didn’t kill himself.” in red lipstick on the wall. When he was arrested, his protests were that he was only creating performance art—why could someone eat the banana and not be in trouble, and he had only written on the wall and was getting arrested?
 
Right about now, all sane and regular people are having thoughts like, “Seriously?” “Is this fake?" "Did it really happen?!” “WTH?”
 
Amazingly, though, this kind of thing isn't actually new in the art world.
In fact, it has a well-established historical precedence:
 
Fountain by Marcel DuChamp
 
1917 --Marcel DuChamp (best known today for his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, shown below), displays the most famous of his “readymade” sculptures (existing objects selected by the artist and deemed original artwork). It consists of a porcelain urinal that he scrawled “R. Mutt 1917” on and titled Fountain.
Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali
 
1936-- The famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali combined a fake lobster and a telephone in his aptly titled Lobster Telephone. Like Duchamp’s urinal and other “readymades”, it is still studied, revered, and displayed in museums.
 
Why does this happen?
 
These were just a few examples of bizarre art that doesn't appear to be art.
We seem to have set up a bit of a tradition in the Western art world of this situation. Why?
Unfortunately, I have no definitive answer for you, but here are a few of my thoughts:
- Is it that after reaching a certain level of notoriety, the artist gets bored with previous, more traditional work?
- Or, is the culmination of success of aan artist the abuse of their power and influence? Are they perhaps testing the waters of what they can get away with?
 
To be clear, I haven't any problems with a piece of art selling for $120,000. What I don't like is that the buyer in this case was essentially paying for nothing. Gallerie Perotin explained that the editions of banana/duct tape that had been sold really consisted of a certificate proving ownership--of the idea, I guess? So, theoretically the owners would be authorized to tape a new banana up and call it the original? The whole thing makes my brain hurt.

The biggest problem is this: 
When you make anything art, art becomes nothing.

And where does this leave the scores of hard-working artists in the past and present? Those who are spending thousands of hours to hone their technique and abilities?

And what can we do anyway about how the 1% choose to waste their money? Well, nothing.
All we can do is vote with our website clicks, with who we choose to patronize and 'follow' or 'like' online.
 
I, for one, am going to try to support artists of all kinds who are striving to create something really worthwhile, not just start a conversation about what is worthless.

In the meantime, I’m hungry. I think I’ll go eat a banana.
 
 
--Erin
 
From the Studio
 
 
Winner of last month's contest!
 
Last month's giveaway of a limited-edition Arranged Stones print was won by Brigette Schroader of Utah. Brigette chose Red Jasper and Hematite Circles, shown above. You can still buy prints of a few of my Arranged Stones watercolors at the link below.
 
Online Store
 
UP (Self Portrait at 40)
 
Two watercolor paintings finished this past month were UP (Self Portrait at 40) which was submitted to the American Watercolor Society annual international exhibition (wish me luck)!
 
Instagram
 
Allison Looking Down
 
And Allison Looking Down. You can see more details of both of these paintings on my Instagram feed. Next up is an oil portrait and the start of a new series! Stay tuned.
 
Instragram
 
 

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Erin Farnsworth Studio
Mountain Green, UT
www.erinfarnsworth.com
info@erinfarnsworth.com
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