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March 16, 2007

Some Pearls of Wisdom from Duane Michals

Duane_michals_self_portrait If you've not picked up a copy of Duane Michals hilarious and totally bitchy witty book.. Foto Follies, How Photography Lost It's Virginity on the way to the Bank get one ASAP!!

Actually, they're still on pre-order at amazon and BarnesandNoble.com but, finally it's in a few bookstores...I found that Dashwood Books had some copies..
The entire book, is a MUST read for photographers, Art dealers, and EVERY crazy photo obsessed collector.

Here's just one of my favorite parts from the book.. Duane gave us his..
Tattle-Tales From The Land of Fauxtography

  1. Photography has never been about money, it had always been about photography. Now that the Haute Kunsters have deemed it art, it's all about money and not about photography.
  2. Foxy photographers who call themselves "artists" who take photographs and not photographers, are moron oxys. If a photograph is labeled a mere photograph it is only worth $3,000; if a photograph is labeled a conceptual piece, it fetches $300,000 - semantic sleight of hand.
  3. Never trust any photograph so large that it can only fit inside a museum.
  4. Color is the new black and white.
  5. HOW CRITICS FLUFF THEIR FEATHERS AND PREEN WITH IRONIC AND ICONIC JARGON: One intuits that one has experienced highfalutin cultural hyperbole when one has read one or more of the following brand philosopher's names bandied about in one or more sentences of an art speak critique review: Wittgenstein's Tractatus-Logicics-Philosophicus, Nietzsche's Ubermensch, Darrida's deconstructivist construct, Cartesian logic, Lacan's lexicon, and the epigrammatic phenomenology of Husserl and Marceau-Ponty.
  6. The announced demise of the decisive moment is premature.
  7. Bill Brandt's nudes give me an art-on.
  8. "Kitsch Ray The Wonder Weimaraner Bites William Wegman's Ass" - headline from The Onion.
  9. Photographers whose next three books will look like their last three-books should quit.
  10. The Bechers are the godfathers of the Dusseldorfer Avant-Garde Photo Kunst Academie of Derriere-Garde Photography mafia.
  11. GEORGE W. BUSH IS ASS-HOLIER THAN THOU.
  12. Art is never boring. Andy Warhol was boring.
  13. Gary Winogrand was a snapshooter. A snapshooter is a voyeur who loves the act of taking pictures but doesn't necessarily care about the photographs. He left seven thousand rolls of undeveloped films.
  14. This is the era of foto fast food. Too many Tillmans will give you heartburn, high cholesterol and a fat ass.
  15. Diane Arbus is authentic; Cindy Sherman is inauthentic.
  16. Museums should never exhibit photographs of visitors looking as art in museums to visitors who are looking at art in museums.
  17. The Menage-a-trois of the symbiotic relationship between dealers, critics and museum defines contemporary art. The imprimatur of this art-industrial complex informs the hedge fund arrivistes how to decorate their walls with trendy conspicuous consumption.
  18. Mapplethorpe was not a poete maudit. He was an old fashion fairy who unwittingly legitimized Leviticus by describing homosexuals as terminally hedonistic queers. Jerry Falwell would agree.

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That line taking a dig at Struth is hilarious. (I don't hate the guy's work but I don't love it either.) Reminds me of this article on artnet from a year or so ago by a rather bitter sounding codgy old critic mr. Finch.
http://www.artnet.com/Magazine/features/finch/finch5-21-02.asp

I also love how this guy takes a jab at Opie for ripping off Scott Peterman, his are better in my opinon but of course she had the name recognition and Peterman? Haven't heard much about him since. And I think he's absurdly harsh on Gregory Crewdson but of course Crewdson isn't for everybody. Especially old codgy crtics.

OMG! This is almost as funny as your blog. Can't wait to get a copy.

What a good way to start a day.Duane is witty and a few years ago there was an exhibition based on some of these observation.If you ever have a chance do attend a lecture or discussion with Duane you will leave happy .What he says about growing old will be worth the price of admission.He was one of the artists that inspired me to start collecting over 40 years ago.

Y'know, I am very relieved to find that I am not alone in thinking that Warhol is boring. You've just sold me on the book.

What's really sort of unintentionally funny is to read down from your Duane Michaels post to your next fawning post about the ICP award winners (especially boy wonder McGinley). I don't mean to be cruel, but reading from one to the other demonstrates perfectly that if Michaels does manage to touch a nerve, it is because we are the ones propping up (and proving out) his satire.

Michaels is right about everything EXCEPT Andy (who was amny things but never boring.) I suspect non-professional jealousy in that they shared the same taste in men.

OMG! WTF! I agreed everything he says! I got an art-on!

Although he does make some interesting points, it all sounds much more bitter than insightful to me.

Definitely bitter.

While Duane Michals work would look pretentious too big, Andreas Gursky’s work would loose it’s meaning small. The whole thing that large prints are last season, or small prints are more “confident” somehow is pointlelss. I guess the obsession about photography and size comes from the fact that we’re so used to seeing the medium as 5x7 snapshots or pages in books, and as with everything (think bell bottoms or men with long hair in the 60s), when somebody breaks the rule it becomes sensational, then fashionable, then unfashionable and then it becomes just what it is-- an option. Does anyone ever complain about huge painting or sculpture? There’s a right presentation for every intention.

Generalizing photography is pointless. Gary Wonogrand or Diane Arbus were observers. Cindy Sherman is a performance artist. James Casebere and Thomas Demand are sculptors/installation artists. Gregory Crewdson a story teller/stage designer. Gursky and Thomas Struth a minimalists/abstractionists. Comparing Cindy Sherman with Diane Arbus is as useless as comparing Alexander Calder with Damien Hirst.

Photography is simply a medium to create. What Duane refers to as photographs labeled “simply photographs” vs. “Conceptual pieces” would in the painting world be comparable to “photorealistic ‘mall-art’ painting” vs. contemporary conceptual painting. One requires technical skills only. The other one requires creativity and unique thought. Anyone can take an unintentionally great photograph, but few can use the medium to communicate something profound. Anyone can make a white on white painting, but only Robert Ryman has done so profoundly. Not anyone can create a forest out of paper, and only Thomas Demand has done so with meaning and technical perfection. When art is good, it’s good, weather it’s a poetic blinking light bulb (presently at display at MOMA) or an intricate crazy natural stage set with butterflies attached to braids of human hair (Gregory Crewdson’s “Natural Wonder” series).

Just reading these nuggets (there are 14 more) from Michal's 'Tattle-Tales From The Land of Fauxtography" takes them out of the context of a very funny and very serious book, which will give you a lot of pleasure.

I'm not sure if "Foto Follies" is just "The Emperor has No Clothes" or the art world equivalent of Martin Luther's posting his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, but it certainly is a shot across the bows of what he calls " art-industrial complex" of dealers, critics and museums who are defining art these days. And comes from someone who is an insider.

As a working artist I found it liberating and inspiring.

Very amusing! Athough I like some of the art --- er photos --- by some of the people he side-swipes, I have to admit that he's rather accurate. Hilarious.

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