Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Grand Gesture

Hollywood mogul David Geffen has sold a Jackson Pollock painting for a reported $140 million. The price, if accurate, is the highest ever paid for a painting, outstripping last year's $135 million acquisition of Gustav Klimt's "Adele Bloch-Bauer I." The New York Times 11/02/06

I recently got around to watching the film Art School Confidential. For those of you that have not yet seen it… I might ruin it for you here and now. The main character is an artist in search of “greatness”, unfortunately, he seems trapped in a world of mediocrity. He finally achieves stardom through an atrocious act of violence that subjects him to life in prison. His anti-social act garners him the love and affection of the general public that he so desperately desires. Ironically, he didn’t actually commit the illegal act, but everyone assumed he did and he just rides with the fame – even though it sends him away.

What is the true price of fame? I’m not even sure what I’m asking here… is it the actual cost of the sacrifice or what one is willing to do to achieve it?

Would we necessarily be on a first-name basis with Vincent if he hadn’t cut-off his ear for the unrequited love of a prostitute and later committed suicide with a starter pistol? What if Pollock hadn’t died while driving drunk with two women that were not his wife? Sure he was a celebrity painter, but would one of his paintings currently sell for $140 million, if he was still alive or had only died from natural causes (face-planting with a tree after being ejected from a convertible doesn’t count as a natural death)?

At about seven o'clock on that Sunday morning, Hemingway, dressed in pajamas and bathrobe, went down to the basement to get the gun and a box of ammunition. But he did not kill himself in that dark vault. Instead, he came upstairs to the foyer, near the gun rack and just inside the main entrance of the house. Knowing that Mary would find him there, he pushed two shells into the twelve-gauge Boss shotgun, put the end of the barrel into his mouth, pulled the trigger and blew out his brains . . . Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway: A Biography, 560, 561.

Hemingway, like Pollock, was a celebrated master of his art form, long before his death. The question, though, is his continuous place in history marked by his suicide. His entire life was carefully constructed around machismo and courting death – was suicide the only final chapter that could have written for this artist? Or was it the best final statement in order for him to achieve immortality?

Every night I labor over my paintings, selling a few along the way. I have encountered innumerable artists along this journey that have also created literally thousands of works in their career. You’ve never heard of them. What grand gesture will it take to plant my work into the everyday lexicon of future generations? – DN

No comments: