Someone asked me this question. He meant no harm and surely trusted me not to take offense, but I was dismayed that anyone at all familiar with me would think that was a possibility. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why they would. I’m not the jealous type, probably because I’m too practical for that (I’ll explain), but if I were to be jealous or more accurately envious, it wouldn’t be of Koons or Hirst.
The reason readers might think I’m envious is because I’ve launched full-scale rhetorical war against the richest and most popular living American artist, Jeff Koons. At the same time I’ve compared my art to his, even going so far as to make a faux Koons painting that I think is better than his originals. I forget, knowing myself for so long, that people wouldn’t see the trend in my personal history of parodying authoritative individuals whom I despise in some way. My art criticism is no more fueled by jealousy than are my political rants.
I savaged Bush during his presidency, and even after it, recently improving his fledgling attempts at painting. I also did caricatures and impersonations of him. I still go around saying, “A Commander and Chief does what he has to do” for no particular reason, and everyone who knows me at all has heard me say that.
But I wasn’t envious of Bush. I hated his policies and the effect he was having on my country, the world, and my future.
But I am human and I can detect an inkling of envy towards some artists, but it’s not for their success, but rather for the magnitude of their artistic achievement. I think Koons’ work is mind-numbingly boring, and in a word – “sucks”. I no more envy his wealth or fame than I do Bill Gates’. I don’t even live in the same reality. I’m not selling any of my art for a profit of more than $50 above material production costs. I’d have to be in the same ballpark as a Koons to be envious. I’d be more likely to envy another artist who sells more cheap prints than I do, because that’s something within my grasp that I haven’t gotten, and it’s partly my own fault. Koons’ or Hirst’s success is the stuff of luck and fantasy. I no more envy them than I do someone who won the lottery.
I am more envious of Gerhard Richter than Koons, and it’s simply because his work actually impresses me. I don’t give a shit about how much it sells for. The base emotion of envy would largely be overshadowed by admiration, inspiration, and gratefulness for art I enjoy and which contributes to the richness of my existence. The envious part would be that I hadn’t done as much with my talent, and to the degree which that was my own fault. This is why my envy is practical. It has to be towards something that is within my grasp that I haven’t lived up to. And that’s why I’m taking a year off to make art.
You may say it’s pretentious of me to think I could create work to rival Koons or Richter. I’d agree about Richter, but Koons is mostly just appropriation and boring-ass crap in my mind. But I am not really comparing my actual work to that of Richter, but rather it’s significance to me in relation to the significance of his work to me. In other words, I can make work that speaks to me as loudly as his does. I don’t imagine I would ever get the recognition he has. The chances of me having the time or resources to create a body of work to rival his are slim to nonexistent. Though, I do think if I had even five years I could make some pieces that would be worth hanging in the same room as his, or more likely on the same webpage.
Probably the main reason another blogger raised the question of if I might be “jealous” of the richly famous artists is because I include myself in my Art Prank Criticism of their work. I am the artist foil who makes ginormous sculptures to dwarf Paul McCarthy’s 50 foot inflatable dog shit pile, spray paints my own stencils over Banksy’s, and sells mall sculpture as fine art for millions. The reasons I use myself are mainly because of convenience, and to get more audience.
The reason I want audience is not for the attention, which I rather don’t want (which is why I was virtually invisible online until I decided to try to sell work), but because without the audience I don’t have the buyers, and without them I can’t support myself making art, in which case I will have to go back to spending most my time working for someone else for sustenance wages. A little notoriety for witty pranks theoretically could help build my reputation. It hasn’t so far. I’m only a blip on the art radar if you look at the console with a microscope and a vivid imagination. That isn’t as important to me as is making the work itself.
So there you have it. My attacks on Koons or future savaging of Hirst (if I get to it) are not out of jealousy, but rather because I think they are over-inflated, and the art sphere as well as the paradigm that supports it are as distorted and corrupted by big money as are politics.