This is what art says
Eat a bread
Make a fire
Use your umbrella
That is art
That are the laws
That are the things
Art never tells you go voting
Art tells you not to be in parliament and be a politician
Art doesn’t tell you to be religious in a church
Art tells you to play around
Use this, make this, this, this,
Use costumes, buy things, use your underwear
Look at pornography
Play with [indecipherable]
This is what art tells you all the time…
~ Jonathan Meese
Somehow I managed to completely escape Jonathan Meese until I happened on a VICE interview with him yesterday. He’s the type of artist that gets labeled “visionary” and “genius”, or both, and believes it. He squeezes paint directly from the tube. He speaks with passionate zeal. He looks like a madman. And he refers to himself in the third person: “Jonathan Meese likes Matisse”. Given that I’d never heard of him, if someone had shown me a clip and explained that he was a comic character in a mockumentary, I’d have believed it.
Meese strikes me as a German Jean-Michel Basquiat, with a healthy dose of Picasso, and as the poster boy for everything Postmodernism and conceptual art are against. He is the anti-Koons. This sounds like a good thing, at least to me, but Meese merely occupies the other extreme of the ridiculous. He is the incarnation of the myth of the heroic, loner, outsider, genius artist. Where everything Koons does is cerebral, removed, calculated, polished, emotionless, and absolutely perfect, Meese’s work is messy, unpremeditated, hysterical, intense, and a smörgåsbord of mistakes and rough edges.
Meese’s self-absorption and self-referentality are insufferable. Whatever his rhetoric, in his interviews everything comes off as dramatic, urgent, and personal: “I was shouting this into the woods…” He constantly gestures with both arms, and has his eyebrows in a permanent, raised, pleading configuration. He has utter conviction in whatever he says, even if it makes no sense: “Art has to dominate everything. All politicians have to resign, and art has to be empowered. That’s the reason I play and do what I want”.
Some of his art sits on the fence between the sublime and garbage, at least at first sight. Other works are obviously junk. Some paintings straddle beauty and ugliness, and many are just hideous.
There’s a kind of energy to his work though: to using line for dramatic emphasis; words as iconic emblems (even if they are nonsensical); smeared and dripping paint; and childlike scribbles. I wondered about his style as I have wondered about Basquiat’s – if it is indivisible from the presumed passion with which it is rendered, or if it is just another style with its own set of techniques.
I decided to try to make my own Meese, just to see if I could do it. Since I don’t have access to his bottles and tubes of paint, I had to do what I could with just Photoshop (which means trying to imitate his style AND the medium of paint). Mine is the one at the very top, “Die Canary”. Yeah, I just said it was by him to try to pass it off, which would help make the point that the style is a method that can be employed without the overarching passionate intensity about eating a bread, or whatever.
It wasn’t very difficult – I knocked it out in an afternoon – and if I had a studio stocked with similar canvases and paints as he has, and especially if I had a chance to study some of his work in person and watch a few more videos, I think I could pull off some passable approximations of the better ones, though it would be hard to not make them parodies.
I do like some of the loose, wild, messy techniques, and gloppy paint, when they seem to give a sense of immediacy. I think there’s something there I could learn from. However, if I had to choose between master and nutter, I’d pick the latter. If you doubt my choice for even a second, I invite you to watch a minute of the video below, starting at 3:35, when he explains that he only had 10 words at age 12, and supplemented this range with three grimaces, which he reproduces (and as bad as those are, his gibberish words are the cherry on the cake).
Comic protagonist in a mockumentary would, however, be the most persuasive. In fact, I was taking a shower and thinking about all of this and for a moment I was convinced I’d been pranked, and the whole “Jonathan Meese” thing was a sendup. I had to remind myself that there are over 60 gallery shows, dozens of reviews, collaborations with Albert Oehlen, and videos.
I find myself feeling a little bad for being critical of Meese, and it occurs to me that we are all nutters somewhere on the spectrum. Nobody has perfect objectivity, or sees things exactly as they are. We all have our blind spots and areas of distorted vision. There are people right now chopping off other people’s heads in the name of God, who are not aware that their actions are insane. Others are doing everything they can to despoil the environment they live in, in order to turn a profit, when they already have enough money for dozens of lifetimes. To quote a snippet of lyric from The Man of La Mancha, “nutsy cuckoos are in season”. Popular as irrationality and solipsism (living in your own little world) are right now, it’s not a good thing. We need to be aware that we are all looking from our own imperfect vantage points (gender, age, location…), and not mistake our particular niche for all encompassing reality. But, yeah, some of us are a good deal further out on the limb singing in the cuckoo berry tree than are others. It seems almost cruel to encourage Meese in his ridiculous rants about making art with underwear and being the Führer of art.
29 replies on “Jonathan Meese: Master or Nutter?”
Yeah, he’s a nutter with cherry on top. Popes and kings of old would have had him flailed good and proper. Nice article.
I don’t know, man. This just has to be a put-on. I mean, the whole thing is absurd and the guy having shows and collaborations and all the rest doesn’t come close to proving he’s on the level. It’s just horrible all around and even worse if this isn’t a gag.
Your piece is leaps and bounds beyond the real Meese stuff and it goes to show that even a competent artist couldn’t make something as bad as Meese’s work if they tried.
I had to stop watching him and while I genuinely enjoyed the article I wish I’d never read it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well, I’m glad you read it, because your reply made me laugh. Yes, he’s the real deal. I just reread it and laughed again. My girlfriend asked me what I’m laughing about. Also glad you liked my fake Meese!
The thing that really bothers me is that this guy and his work and all of that sort of make me second guess myself in some way. I’ll tell you why: You know that comedian Emo Phillips? The skinny, spastic dude with the bangs and the falsetto voice that talked like no other human being ever? I hated him. There is just no fucking way that routine is buyable. And I have waited for years and years and decades now for him to stop with that voice and break character and drop his bullshit so I can feel internally justified. Just no way that’s his real voice and the guy has to stop with that act sometime. Right? Hell, even Pee Wee broke character after a while [and after getting caught interfering with himself in a Florida porn theater] and so did Bobcat Goldtwhait to some degree. [Enough is enough.]
And you know what? Emo Phillips hasn’t budged. He hasn’t. He stuck to his phony and unfunny act and he and rode it out and is still getting gigs to this day. Proved my suppositions way wrong and I’d have lost money on that bet in a big way. In fact, he took it a step further and even got married to the only other comedian more annoying than he is; Judy Tenuta.
And I’m sure while they’re at home sitting on the toilet or watching Netflix they both talk in their same shrilly voices they use on stage. And if that’s the reality we live in then I must have no idea of what’s possible in the realm of Very Bad Art.
Maybe Meese really is on the level and maybe there are people that find value in him and his work. I don’t and you couldn’t explain it to me if you tried. I’d rather entertain myself with notions that this is a prank of epic proportions that nobody has figured out yet. My money says he’s really Ashton Kutcher after plastic surgery who is trying to shame Shia LeBeouf by going for the Longest Crazyperson Con ever.
You made me remember that I had precisely that suspicion. But before I mention that, I had to look up that Emo guy, and I couldn’t watch more than a couple minutes, and didn’t even crack a smile.
Oh, right, I mentioned it in the article. I took a shower and realized Jonathan Meese was a hoax. Rather satisfied with myself for not being a chump, I did some research and everything point to him being the real deal.
I’ve also briefly wondered if performance artist Paul McCarthy was just putting on an act, but since I had him as a teacher, I guess he’s not.
Looks like Meese is just a whopping cliché, in the flesh. Or maybe we will find out he was punking the art world and our suspicions were well founded.
If the most salient & pertinent question for you is: “is x a master or nutter?” you should maybe walk away from art for the shitty-mythopoeic-german -philology-as-cure of a psychoanaltic clinic, or masturbate Bertrand Russel’s translation of Virgil and Aristophanes. This question betrays your profound inability to experience art openly, and your own liminal anxietes. Unica Zurn, for instance, was actually crazy–but was the artworld also for gobbling up the works of Picabia and Hans Bellmer that were literally stolen from her? What abou Van Gogh? Do you think Sade should be burned? You certainly would have tipped the Hemlock into Socrates mouth–the nutter–with his extreme vantage point of the insufficiency of people’s bifurcated perspectives. Meese is a performance artist and a parodist of extremists. He is deflating the significance of the artist by self-consciously foregrounding every conceivable inhibitory and self-aggrandizing (as well as defamatory) stereotype–the artist as genius (picasso), channeler (Dali, Mondrian), servant to god or some neoplatonic absolute (Michelangelo, Raphael), the supposed significance that Hitler was an artist, the artist as condemne, the artist as havinng some Freudian codependency issues with the mother (he uses his own literal mother as literal character in his performance) or father, as an alien, as a pervert abd voyeur, as liberator, as political change agent. He is overplaying all of these projections onto the artist as a purgative. In the end, only the works themselves remain–until nothing remains–as with Shelley’s Ozymandias (abother trope Meese employs to describe the artist). And what remains after the artist’s historical reputation (which Meese claims again and again to be “so shitty unimportant”) is a body of extant work which will be, just like the iphone I am tapping on and the screen you are reading, as mysterious, possibly beautiful, and completely inexplicable to the people of the far-off future as the trabsmogrifying fluids of a lava lamp. The only “nutter” is the one who tries to find safety in “sanity.” Every dictator, tyrant, and genuine extremist has been more than happy to feed you nutters the illusion of safe, stable, sanity in a universe that is constantly and rapidly changing. Meese is right insofar as he claims that only art can be a truth teller, since it stands for nothing but what it is at any given moment–totally free of your projections, distinctions, question. Given enough time, the work can even morph–as Shelley saw–into no longer being the statue itself as noble synecdoche of kingly power and authoritarian security, but at a later time, for a more poetic mind, a disintegratory, mocking irony of ALL OF OUR (yes! even you!) illusory claims about what “is” or “is not,” by no longer emcompassing the fixed form of a king fashioned by some PERSONAL artist, and inviting and including the entire landscape, the passage of time and its effects–of the universe in which we love itself as the ultimate artist. In other words, depends on your definition of crazy.
I can hear the cuckoo singing In the cuckooberry tree.
Go eat a bread.
Anyway, reddit needs you, and I have better shit to do. And if you didn’t realize the painting on top was by me, well, than, you got punked. Also, why didn’t you include your email? Nobody would see it except me, and only if I made an effort. On, because you are hiding your identity. Right.
Didn’t I ask you to stop stalking me?
Anyway, this seems important to you, “He is deflating the significance of the artist”.
Nihilist bullshit. Booooooriiiiiiing.
OH, shit, did I deflate the deflater? Huh. didn’t even realize it. Seriously, I like to parody art too, but target the overinflated bullshit artists. Ultimately, the real challenge is to try to make real art, not just shoot shit down.
On second thought, at least you are passionate about the stuff you like. You enjoy your Meese. I’m cool with that.
Just realized something. It wasn’t from you nasty comment, oddly enough, but from reading between the lines. You value Meese for anti-art ideas. And there is our great divide. You are anti-art, and anti-artist, and I am pro-art, and pro-artist, just as I am pro-music and pro-musician.
Yes, I think I will explore the rather dray and dreary history of anti-art, anti-aesthetic, anti-skill, anti-image, anti-painting, anti-transcendent, anti-meaning a bit more and try to see what the appeal is, and the rational for hating art and artists. Not that I haven’t already had that shit crammed down my throat, but it’s time to analyze it again.
You’re really fixed on the fact that his pieces are “ugly”. You said it more than once. Who said art has to be good looking? Art does not mean home decor. And so what if you replicated his style. I can replicate many a famous paintings. Being a good artist is not about how easy the painting is for someone to replicate.
Thought this was known throughout the art community but apparently not
LikeLiked by 1 person
glad you like Meese and are passionate about the art you like, however…
His paintings aren’t supposed to be ugly. They are supposed to be aesthetically satisfying in a complex, and Expressionistic way, much like Pollock or Rauschenberg or David Salle’s pieces are supposed to look good. Meese fails because his aesthetic sensibility or finesse just isn’t that well developed. When he succeeds it’s because the results DO look good.
What you are saying is the equivalent of saying music doesn’t have to sound good. Well, it does. Whatever the style, if it doesn’t sound good, it’s like food that doesn’t taste good. The Dead Kennedy’s sound good even if they are Punk.
Shiiiiiiiiiiit. Home decor? You think my idea of something not being ugly is “home decor”? Have a look at my art. I get accused of producing nothing that can be hung in someone’s home.
The thing with me making a knock off was, if you read with a half opened mind, to see if that style can only be done from a hyper-emotional “I was screaming into the woods” mentality, or if it was just a style that anyone could do. My knock off is a bit like if I were to replicate a miracle performed by a fake Guru. This would show it was a simple magic trick, and not divine.
Can you REALLY do a knock off of famous paintings. I don’t mean copying a piece by just copying it the way one would copy anything, I mean doing a new piece in their style. That’s not as easy as you think, or there would be lots more forgers out there. In fact I’m quite sure you can’t make art in the style of most famous artists that are any good, y’know, the ones who’s work demands a certain amount of skill. For example, to give one that might seem not too difficult, can you do a Georges Seurat?
Thanks for your comment?
Just came across this post and I couldn’t help but leave a comment here…
First of all, I’m from Austria so my English might not be the best but I hope I can make my point
I thought this article was kind of unfair. I think it just sounds like your own opinion and is not objective either, no offense
Like the girl above said you always use the word ugly when describing his art. How can art be ugly or beautiful? This is just subjective like the taste for candy or clothes or whatever. And why does art have to be aesthetically satisfying. Art is art, I think That’s the only thing you can say about it.
And if one can paint a painting like meeses in five minutes which looks pretty similar in style so what? I think he would be a great artist too. Creativity and art comes from inside and I think it makes you even more creative if you can paint a painting in a minute, how can any art be more pure than that? By the way, Meese says anyone can be an artist and so think I. He is just lucky because he sold this kind of art before another one did.
Finally, maybe I’m wrong and you are right or the other way round, who knows. Just thought to give this topic another turn. Besides, I like as much of his paintings as I dislike but I think his art is pure and he might not think much about painting something and that is, in my opinion, pure art, just like art brut or whatever. People always have the urge to evaluate something. At the end, It’s always our very own opinion and nothing else. I just don’t like generalization. I think he is just different and a lot of the things he says aren’t meant to be taken serious (I might understand more, because of the same language)
This wasn’t meant to offend you, just had the urge to comment. Interesting topic
LikeLiked by 1 person
By ugly I don’t mean the style or the subject, I just mean he didn’t do his paintings, in his style, very well. For example, even the best artists have some paintings that aren’t so great. In Meese’s case most of his paintings aren’t so great. Perhaps instead of “ugly” I should have just said “bad”.
Yeah, that’s just my opinion based on my experience looking at art and making art. As you argue, if one person thinks Justin Bieber is a superior musician to Beethoven, well, all opinions are equal, so he is right.
Long live Justin Bieber and Jonathan Meese. It’s all just a matter of taste.
But, I’m glad you like Meese. That’s fine. There are far worse artists. But he represents a kind of cliche of the mad, genius artist who “screams in the wilderness” and didn’t even use words until his teens (which I think is most probably bullshit). But, still, I sorta’ like his art, when it isn’t too slapdash and ugly even for what it is
Just sharing my opinion. You are free to agree or not.
I will take a direct stance, and yell, that I dislike him, and his art, on a more personal tone. But I ”read” his interviews which sound sometimes more like mental breakdowns. Yet, wait, lets not jump into conclusions so fast. What about the ”angst” Germans of his age have, about nazi history. I can see the references of this angst in his art.
Bearing in mind, that we tend to see what we want to see in every artwork or person, I cannot help but….
observe the so MANY the swastikas and WW2 refs, all over his work. As if he is fighting the past. By going mad about it.
I dont see anyone reading him this way and I wonder why. I just watched a lecture of his again referring to totalitarianism and nazism. He keeps returning to this, and he is Deutsch.
Joseph Beuys had a similar issue and guilt-ridden artworks sometimes IMHO. I am not an art critic just was once student of çontemporary art context in some uni, but not expert.
And I will continue to say, If his painting per se is ”ugly” or not, I would not judge art with such terms because nobody does these days or the last 100 years or since Duchamp’s rebellion against ”beautiful art”.
The issue here is what is the SUBJECT he works on. It seems to be what I said above, plus some sort of personal angst or mental situation he may have on personal level unrelated to him being German.
And since when our nationality should define our artwork or general work ? I dont understand it. I am Greek so I should be doing art about poverty, economy, and immigrants from Syria? I disagree with such a take but I see already many prominent Greek artists work on these issues maybe because they know these issues are expected by art critics when they want to talk /refer to a Greek contemp. artist. Others though, ignore these issues and do art for the sake art.
Which of the two is right? The artist who works on recent news relating to his nationality (which would bring more promotion in the media world apparently for him/her) or the artist who is continuing his work ín a vacuum of reference? Like Manet (or MOnet?) painted lillies while war was ranging some km off his studio.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for reading and commenting. Your comment was quite interesting to me, and you bring up some good points. First, I’d like to address that beauty in art has been irrelevant since Duchamp. This makes me chuckle because I’ve been taught the same thing, but now I know it’s complete bullshit. If we were to listen to Duchamp, all of painting would be irrelevant to begin with. To say that beauty or ugliness is irrelevant to painting is as ridiculous as it is to say that it doesn’t matter if a song sounds good or not, or if a meal tastes good or not. Here, by ugly, I mean aesthetically ugly, as in it doesn’t look good. Those criteria are real, lots of artists believe in it, and it’s coming back with a vengeance as the copy-cat appropriation of Duchamp has died and its putrid corpse stinks. The whole idea that artists can’t be original, can’t be authentic, can’t paint, and can’t do anything beautiful has finally been unmasked as cynical, self-defeating, and ultimately clinically boring: humanity is incapable of originality, in which case we must just copy banal objects, kitsch, and the worst examples of popular culture for perpetuity. Long live sterility and celebrating the boring, utilitarian, and insipid. So, yes, we can look at whether Meese’s paintings are beautiful or ugly, and we can do the same thing with his other contemporary painters like Daniel Richter and Peter Doig. And it does matter if a painter fails to make an attractive painting.
Next we have the question of whether an artist should address the sociopolitical situation of his or her country, race, gender, and so on. Some say if you don’t you are irrelevant. This should be a red flag. When someone starts saying other kinds of art than what they do are “irrelevant” they are propping their own art up as “important”, which is an extraneous concern. Imagine rock musicians arguing that their music is important because it addresses a political issue, and other rock musician’s music if irrelevant because it’s not specifically about political issues. That type of art tends to be didactic, preach to the choir, and ultimately makes art beneath politics, because it sees art as having no purpose other than as a tool for political change, or enforcing power.
The opposite notion is “art for art’s sake”, which I prefer, but there’s plenty of room in the middle, in fact a full spectrum of possibilities. Minimalist painters and sculptors are in the “art for art’s sake” camp, but someone like Manet is not. His art had social content. He’s painted at least one execution by gun fire. His “Luncheon On the Grass” and “Olympia” were highly controversial for their contemporary portrayal of women, who, among other things, looked back at the viewer, frankly.
We can just think of some of our favorite movies, songs, or novels. They may not be explicitly political, and are not likely to be purely about form, like a written equivalent of lyrical abstraction. The Beatles had political songs, and quirky, playful songs that had no discernible, overt political content.
Unlike those mediums, visual art has been stolen from artists by pseudo-philosophers, critics, and the marketplace. The bullshit theory that surrounds contemporary art disintegrates once you try to apply the same concepts to any other art form. Imagine if musicians preached that the song is dead, it’s impossible to be original or authentic, it didn’t matter if a song sounded good or not, and thus they appropriated sounds from industry and popular culture. Imagine if a sound of a toilet flushing were heralded as the greatest musical composition of the 20th century, which proved that it was impossible to make new music? It would never work because nobody wants to listen to industrial sounds or irritating noises or kitschy music.
So the answer is that Meese’s paintings, a lot of them, fail simply on their own terms, because they are ugly. His politics are cliched. A German doing work about Hitler? How devastatingly original. And what do we learn about Hitler from his art? Nothing that I can think of. Meese is actually kind of borderline for me. Some of his work almost works. If he just did it better I might actually like him. He just doesn’t play his own music in his own style very well. Anselm Kiefer, who deals with similary issues, does it much more persuasively, and successfully.
There’s a tendency for everything to be polarized into simple, extreme opposites. You can see this in politics. Some people believe one thing, and others believe the complete opposite. And so it is also with art. But instead of splashing around in the shallow sides of the spectrum, it’s better to swim out to the deeper middle, where one has to tolerate a bit of cognitive dissonance, be comfortable with not knowing all the answers, but can see both shores and the whole horizon.
I agree that if he is dealing with the past, he is not doing it in a way that is constructive or interesting enough. Not sure why (it was mainly German critics..) in the 90s he got such a support as the genious of the German art scene. I never liked him, as I never really wholly believed in Joseph Beuys. But I put forward a hypothesis about the why, in the end of my comment here.
You say ”pseudophilosophers” I hope you dont mean Lyotard, ha ha ha…
The great man of every ‘fine art school’ in the late 90s and today too. In UK at least.
Anyways, Jonathan Meese is a bit more famous than other German relative young painters and thats because he dabbles betweeen conceptual art / performance art and traditional medium like painting. I find it weird, who else is doing that dancing between entirely different modes of expression and creativity?
So he is a little bit of everything but maybe he should focus on one of expression modes in art. In essence he is a CONCEPTUALIST PAINTER. Kind of unique indeed. But pointless too maybe. Pointless and pessimist/self-deafeating like Pomo theroy.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Anna: By pseudo-philosophers I meant people like Duchamp, who are credited with grand philosophical contributions, but whose comprehensible articulation of it I have not seen. The conceptual artists from Warhol to Koons are considered to have made great philosophical contributions to art, and yet, when they speak, it sounds anything but philosophical, or even articular.
I don’t, myself, consider Meese conceptual at all. He’s way on the other end of the spectrum in a weird, romantic, idealization of the artist, and I’d consider him an extremely narcissistic and self-aggrandizing Expressionist. His performance just seem like an extension of his narcissistic belief in his own significance. It is REALLY hard to distinguish his genuine statements from parody. After my initial exposure to him I became convinced we was pranking the art world, or, I’d been duped by a parody.
I just can’t take him seriously. Maybe I’ll re-evaluate him at some point in the future. I’m actually a fan of Expressionism, but find that few succeed at it, and Meese at his best only seems to succeed for a few seconds after which his work becomes cringe worthy.
But, like I said, I’ll have to re-evaluate him again later. One can always be wrong about art and artists.
Thanks for commenting.
I think this is a terribly written article. This Eric Wayne takes into his consideration his taste and acts like a child to prove he can “imitate” Jonathan Meese. Obviously, he knows nothing else but the video he saw online about the artist and complains on his accomplishments. Is Eric jealous? Or satisfied with his “fake photoshop Meese?” There is a lack of objectivity, research and understanding that is embarrassing. I would recommend Eric to watch the movie Beltrachi (released the same year this article was written). It approaches the theme imitating artists and believing it made art. 😉
good luck, my friend!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sometimes I delete abusive posts, and then sometimes I keep them so that people will believe me when I say how much abuse I get. It’s also good for a laugh. I’m a better artist than Jonathan Meese. How much time have you spent looking at my art? 2 seconds? How can you presume to judge without even spending 5 minutes? A pox upon you.
Heh, of course someone will defend Meese from being ”attacked”. Lets see if someone defends Hirst. Waiting….
LikeLiked by 1 person
On my video I had so many negative and abusive attacks that I removed them so it wouldn’t encourage others, waste my time, and poison my mind.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think the authers misunderstood Meese.
Meese refers to the geman history. He unmasks political ideology, “Führerglaube” (blief in the Führer) and he is questioning modern society. All he does is using all the symptomes, beliefs and values and “reharsh” and “quash” it ’til it becomes something ridiculous. Of course it looks like Basquiat in a way but Basquiat didn’t invent something new. Just look at paintings of Jean Dubuffet, Jeanne-Léonie Paillette or Robert Rauschenberg.
Meese is not just his paintings, it’s the figure “Meese” that he has created. That’s why he is talking in the 3. person about himself.
Don’t take him to serious, he is ironic in many ways.
In the end it’s about the message: Don’t let someone rule your life, let art rule your life.
I think this message is pretty ok, isn’t`!
LikeLiked by 1 person
As I said in the article, I became convinced it was a parody and I fell for it. But it’s not a parody, it’s what we call “cringe worthy”. When you can’t tell if something is a joke or not, it’s not a good sign.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What makes me a bit sad is that members that belong to the middle class or ”the general public”, who will never afford a single Jonathan Meese piece, allow themselves to be totally brainwashed by the articles they read in ”art magazines” and in ”art books”, and actually form a position towards artists that is 100% not what they think as free-thinking humans, but what the art critics think.
I guess forming an opinion of your own and not being affected by what the grande art critics are saying, is so passe…. We live in a culture of aggressive brainwashing.
I am sorry for the ppl who buy Jonathan Meese, and to be fair, I dont like Basquiat either. As Eric pointed any artist can do a Basquiat and a Meese. The art these ”grande” artist produced is not why they were famous and so popular among art critics and wealthy art buyers…
Realize if you will, that art buyers arent ppl who make 50.000 euro/year like most average person does, (or far less actually) but they are the kind of people who make 50.000 /MONTH!!!
If you realize this, you do know that when these ppl buy an artwork, it wont affect much their economic status (since an artwork costing 10.000 is still super cheap for their budget). But it will affect how their friends visiting their home and seeing a Basquiat or Meese hanging in the hallway…. They are now, members of the cultural elite! By merely owning a critical-appraised artwork by a critics-appraised artist.
Try to find me, please, one single person, who wins 50.000 euro or dollars/month, and he or she, collects art he/she LIKES….. Seriously. Find me ONE such person, and then I know that I was wrong.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for sharing your ideas Anna. I don’t think I said anyone could do a Basquiat, but I did put out a fake of my own: https://artoferickuns.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/basquiat-warhol.jpg
Honestly, my biggest problem with Meese is I think a lot of his paintings are ugly. Some almost succeed, and a few I think do. Too few.
I can see his appeal as a wild sort of Expressionist, though he comes of as LARPing (“live action role playing”).
If people genuinely like his art, though, who am I to deny their enjoyment?
I have my take, which I shared (and I do like my parody better than his own works, which says something because there are lots and lots of artists I don’t have the ability to parody), but others are entitled to their views as well, and I did call him a “nutter”.
This article was some of my harsher criticism. I may have softened up a bit since then.
Well Eric, I think it was time to take a look at your aliens who live a domestic human life in oilcolor, so im glad im back at this blog. But why bother painting things with a brush and leaving brushstrokes showing your eye-hand coordination and eventually your innermost thoughts or ideas on 2d surface, why bother to do all that, when you can scream, jump up and down, bite a camera, start talking jibberish while holding a philosophers book, and then announce your innermost thoughts verbally while doodling away with a paint-tube, not paintbrush…Why bother even drawing a straight line to please other people’s need for beauty in the world, when you can just be eccentic and entertaining humorist? Now that i think about this, Meese should have a show on television,but now, thats would be as classy as splatering tubes.
I think I’ve written a lot about why to bother, but I might need to address that very directly. It’s a good idea. Anyway, I appreciate your humor and sarcasm.
Here’s a couple articles where I sorta’ addressed why bother:
And it’s great to have you back.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I like him because he seems mentally ill. I don’t believe artwork has to look that great or always be successful (a clever demonstration of a theory) so much as “Art” is a byproduct of a particular type of thinking. This is why we like outsider art – it encapsulates a metaphysics specific to an individual who has not been exposed to or influenced by widely accepted traditions. That does not always equate to “good looking” art, but seeing work produced in a cultural vacuum is exciting to us because it offers the possibility of freshness, seemingly original IDEAS, as close to “the new” as we can get. Mental illness or simply isolation can generate new grammars, impossible logic, and new rhetorical output. It’s art, not engineering after all.
I think Meese’s thinking is very energizing, ridiculous, if not a bit teenage. My mother and I have been enjoying listening to his rants and then she asked me if I like his work and I said “I don’t know, I haven’t even really looked at it.” And in looking at it, I don’t really care for it, but like… I guess I value his existence as performative, philosophical, etc. It reminds me of Hirschorn’s “Quality No, Energy Yes” attitude (although I’d argue his shit looks great)… I don’t think Meese’s visual output will stand the test of time, but his method of discourse could be valuable to people who haven’t taken LSD or thought about “emancipating the symbol” and things of this sort. I don’t mind your article, I think you make valid points. I just really value the freaks in this world who reeeally can’t help trying to shake up peoples’ thinking, even if it is extreme and comes off as childish to those who think they know better. He knows he’s that way though, “I HAVE NEWBORN BRAIN. I am forty-one and I act like a twelve year old…” I’m glad he exists. Thanks for ur article
LikeLiked by 1 person
OK. That sorta’ works for me. I don’t have a problem with other people liking art or artists that I don’t. I prefer it that way, otherwise there would be 99% less artists in the world.
I definitely prefer a world with Meese and hist art in it. As you say, he’s an extreme. And several of his pieces have a power about them that I quite like, or almost do. I’m for expressionism, but his skills and aesthetic sensibility, by me, aren’t quite there.
Should art look good? I say yes, but it doesn’t need to be polished. Look at it this way. Should food taste good? Should music sound good?
That’s about the least we can ask.
Also, I don’t think outsider art is necessarily any more pure, original, insightful, daring, or what have you than art produced by people who aren’t on the fringes.
It’s always better, IMO, to have a broader, more encompassing perspective. Did you notice that I made the fake Meese at the top of the post? You don’t need to be a nutter to work in his style.
And people who are grounded and educated can also explore the other world of plant entheogens and psychedelic states.
But, yeah, I kinda’ like Meese, but just find him annoying and pretentious as all hell, and, as I said in the piece, I thought I’d been punked.
Thanks for reading and commenting.