Saturday, January 14, 2017

"I deny. I denounce. This fake art." (UPDATED)

Richard Prince has disavowed a work of his depicting Ivanka Trump.  It's unclear what his denial, denunciation, and disavowal will mean.  From Randy Kennedy's New York Times story:

"Joshua Holdeman, a Manhattan art adviser and a former vice chairman at Sotheby’s, said he believed Mr. Prince’s excommunication of the work would probably not cause collectors or museums to treat it as illegitimate in the long run and he added that it might indeed increase its value.

"'As far as the market is concerned, if an artist says a work isn’t by him, but it’s clear that he made it and presented it as his work, well it kind of is what it is,' Mr. Holdeman said. 'My intuition about this is that when history plays out, this will probably end up being a more culturally rich object than if this whole episode hasn’t happened.'"

Hyperallergic's Benjamin Sutton agrees "it may have the unintended consequence of making the work more (rather than less) valuable."  Good legal analysis from Nicholas O'Donnell here.  And a very interesting piece from Jerry Saltz on the “aesthetics” of the move.  He points out that there is a long tradition of artists creating work out of thin air:

"This is using language as law, as in 'I now pronounce you man and wife' or 'I sentence you to five years.' ...Whatever else these artists and Prince did they reduced art to some invisible essence, the will of the artist, making the artist primarily a conceptual creator or destroyer of worlds. ... But on Wednesday Prince moved things in the other direction, using that biblical power not to make but to take away — not to bestow but withdraw the art content of the work. This drop-dead simple yet loaded act is actually a quite profound and radical innovation, one that immediately suggests there may be dozens of new conceptual gestures and possibilities in this strange new conceptual universe artists find themselves now living in."

UPDATE:  Kenny Schachter isn't having it.