February 14, 2005

IS IT SAFE? (via David Hill, The Bronx):

HUE AND CRY: WE'VE BEEN HAD BY CON 'ARTISTS' (ANDREA PEYSER, 2/13/05, New York Post)

WAKE me when these hideous things are gone!

It's time to let the truth be known: "The Gates" — that manically promoted, ludicrously expensive sculpture project now infesting Central Park — is the artistic equivalent of a yard that's been strewn with stained toilet paper by juvenile delinquents on Halloween.

It is the defacement of beauty, not its creation — a fraud perpetrated on the people by no-talent hypemasters and their chief cheerleader in City Hall.

Please, make them go away!

Walking into the park yesterday, I was assaulted by thousands of what looked like shower curtains twisting in the wind. I had found "The Gates."

Like a sucker in a game of three-card monte, I'd noticed I was about to be taken for a fool — and I'd ignored them.

The advance buzz had been all-consuming. "The Gates" was presented as the ticket for our stubborn, precious, maddening city to be elevated into something of a quasi-Eurotrash capital (except where the natives bathe regularly).

The artists seemed cute and quirky enough. And the mayor was positively giddy about it. That should have been the kiss of doom.

Now I realize we all were pulled into a kind of mass hysteria orchestrated by a couple of charismatic snake-oil salesmen — also known as the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude — and their pretentious booster, Mayor Bloomberg.

"The Gates" is an abomination. Call me a Philistine, but how can one improve on trees, lakes and rocky outcroppings with miles of plastic-treated cloth?


In light of the accolodes these guys get for environmental degradation, Dick Cheney should commission Christo's next work, The Drill. Erect an enormous oil platform in ANWR and pretend it's art.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2005 11:54 AM
Comments

In a sense Olmstead's plan for Central Park was
a form of public art (a naturalistic sculpture).

This "gates" thing is like drawing sketches on
top the work of a great master.

For a city that prides itself on its sophistication this seems quite an absurd
con.

Posted by: J.H. at February 14, 2005 12:22 PM

Since the end of WWI, the art world has been nothing but a confidence game, with only a few rare exceptions, so rare that one must assume that it has only been by accident that any passable art has been produced since Klimt.

Who paid for this crap anyway?

Posted by: Bart at February 14, 2005 12:27 PM

Supposedly the "artists" paid for it themselves. But just wait til they take it all down and make ridiculously overpriced garments out of the "living art" fabric.

Posted by: John Resnick at February 14, 2005 12:45 PM

Supposedly the "artists" paid for it themselves. But just wait till they take it all down and make ridiculously overpriced garments out of the "living art" fabric.

Posted by: John Resnick at February 14, 2005 12:45 PM

New Yorkers are accustomed to the color at least: it's the same as the "temporary" mesh fencing used to keep us on the paths. Think "traffic cone."

When I was there, the big squares of tent nylon pretty much just hung there, even in a stiff breeze, like a curtain stretched tight, without folds. When they did flap around, it had, as Olmsted might say, a most disagreeable effect on the eye. The whole thing is like something you would expect to see on a highway diverting traffic away from a construction zone.

I do believe, however, the Christos paid for the whole thing. They've been trying to do this since 1979 and it will be gone in three weeks. So maybe Bloomberg was right to relent. Perhaps now they will go away and bother some other city.

Posted by: at February 14, 2005 1:03 PM

I was waiting for Robin Shou and Talisa Soto from Mortal Kombat to show up when I saw it.

Posted by: Bart at February 14, 2005 1:05 PM

New Yorkers are accustomed to the color at least: it's the same as the "temporary" mesh fencing used to keep us on the paths. Think "traffic cone."

When I was there, the big squares of tent nylon pretty much just hung there, even in a stiff breeze, like a curtain stretched tight, without folds. When they did flap around, it had, as Olmsted might say, a most disagreeable effect on the eye. The whole thing is like something you would expect to see on a highway diverting traffic away from a construction zone.

I do believe, however, the Christos paid for the whole thing. They've been trying to do this since 1979 and it will be gone in three weeks. So maybe Bloomberg was right to relent. Perhaps now they will go away and bother some other city.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at February 14, 2005 1:06 PM

Oh, and let's not forget that environmental degradation is the least of our worries with this guy. One poor woman was killed in California after a gust of wind upended a monstrous umbrella from one of his "pieces" which knocked her into a rock.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at February 14, 2005 1:37 PM

Was there. Saw it. It's crap.

Posted by: Morrie at February 14, 2005 1:43 PM

Relax, it could be worse, they will take it down before the trees leaf out. No harm, no foul.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 14, 2005 2:24 PM

One good noreaster' with about two feet of snow should pretty much take care of the exhibit leaving the downed gates either buried under snow until sometime after Easter or (and we can only hope), tearing them away from their supports and sending them flying into the side of the Plaza Hotel, the Time-Warner building and all the multi-million dollar apartment buildings along Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. The art world would no doubt have to revise their high opinion of the exhibit after that, espeically if their big-money patrons were coming after Christo with torches and pitchforks.

Posted by: John at February 14, 2005 3:40 PM

"coming after Christo with torches and pitchforks"

I think in that case he should be much more afraid of them coming after him with their lawyers. Just the thought of that should scare anyone.

How much of a bond did this guy have to post, and who underwrites this sort of stuff anyhow? Did the estate of woman who was killed in California get any sort of compensation?

As for your scenario, let's hope.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 14, 2005 6:11 PM

I guess you'd have to go to Lloyd's, I know we'd never cover it.

As for the attitude of the soi-disant cognoscenti towards the woman who was killed, as Norman Mailer said when his protege , Jack Henry Abbott, knifed the waiter at a Greenwich Village restaurant, 'Sometimes, we just have to make sacrifices for art.'

Posted by: Bart at February 14, 2005 6:47 PM

What a bunch of grumps and curmudgeons! My wife and I visited the park on Saturday and thought The Gates were a delight. Jeanne-Claude and Christo have said it right -- don't try to find great meaning in it, just enjoy it as an experience. Which we did. And we'll go back next weekend.

Central Park is normally fairly deserted on a cold February weekend, but was jammed on Saturday. People were smiling, energized and taking pictures. Lighten up, folks.

Posted by: Jim Siegel at February 14, 2005 9:13 PM

Jim,

Central Park even on a 'cold February weekend' is a delight, a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the City. It does not need to be vandalized by some vulgar Bulgarian, or is that some Bulgar vulgarian.

If the closing scene of Spartacus, where the slaves were crucified along the road between Rome and Padua were re-enacted around Central Park with people nailed to crosses, screaming and bleeding profusely, it would acquire a similar crowd of people 'smiling, energized and taking pictures.' And it would have more artistic value than this monstrosity visited on us by Christo the Charlatan.

What's next? A NASCAR race?

Posted by: Bart at February 15, 2005 7:35 AM

What's next? A NASCAR race?

That's for Staten Island (the Republican part of the city). Maybe when they build the new track Christo can set up rows upon rows of black-and-white checkered fabric gates on the road to the site from the West Shore Expressway.

Posted by: John at February 15, 2005 8:10 AM

Bart,

I too like the Park as is as a quiet refuge in the dead of winter. I cannot compare "The Gates" with the spectacle that you describe and that we would all find repugnant. (As I did with "Piss Christ", which I had no desire to see. Reading about it was enough.

I'm no NASCAR fan, but your comment sounds perilously like something Howard Dean would say.

I'll be interested to read what Hilton Kramer says about "The Gates" in his NY Observer column. Nice of that truly pink sheet to give someone as good as him an outlet. -- Jim

Posted by: at February 15, 2005 9:49 AM

I'd pay to see Christos wrapped in a shower curtain and hung up.

Is this the same guy who wrapped all those buildings in Europe with giant tarps?

Or the guy who cuts animals in half and encases them in lucite?

Never trust an artist with one name.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 17, 2005 4:03 AM

Bart's observation that "the [modernist and postmodernist] art world has been nothing but a confidence game" since World War I ended is, unfortunately, correct -- but I would note that true painters and sculptors (classically-trained realists all, and mostly unkown) have always existed. The first important con game was abstraction. After its invention around 1910, anything was considered art if an "expert" said it was.

I can understand how Jim Siegel has found 'The Gates' a "delight" -- many people have. But is it art? I say no. At best (like abstract painting) it's "decorative art," which can, indeed, give pleasure. It seems that an objective definition of the term "art" is needed. (I live near Central Park, by the way, and will be very happy when 'The Gates' is no more.) -- Louis Torres, Co-Author, 'What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand,' and Co-Editor, 'Aristos,' an online review of the arts.


Posted by: Louis Torres at February 24, 2005 12:12 AM
« MORE FAITHFUL THAN NATIVIST: | Main | COVENIENT PRETEXT: »