Tom Ford and Jeff Koons from Iconoclasts
Conversations about art – primarily good vs. bad art – pain me. There is something about those people who most vocally appreciate art that make them (myself included) constantly seek out something special, unique, new, or even worse… underground. Even Banksy, the lord of all street artists, is not immune from the perils of popularity. His book is available at Urban Outfitters. Christina Aguilera and Brad Pitt own his art. That makes it hard for the downtown kid to still maintain devotion. When I see a 100′ x 100′ painting on the side of our building at work, I stand in awe. When I see goofy tourists taking pictures in front of it, I can get annoyed.
But I am totally torn on some levels. All that being said, I love big shit. Pop music. Pop culture. And I love when people do shit really big and high profile. It is so easy to dismiss high-profile art. But I love it. I think it is actually more impressive than the underground. These artists are laying it out there for huge audiences, the media, radio, moviegoers, etc. – way more people than the tiny Brooklyn gallery. Love them or hate them, Jeff Koons, Banksy and Tom Ford are still very much artists. Take Tom Ford… He was labeled a total control freak at Gucci, and I am sure it is the same at his new company. He refused to let anything have his name on it unless he had total control of every aspect. Not only did he design every product, he also led all of the advertising, pr, and other crucial functions. He even re-shot an ad campaign himself, after he wasn’t pleased with the professional photographer hired for the job. As an artist, Tom Ford has sold well over a $1 Billion worth of his art, comes off as totally arrogant and is easy not to like. He wears ultra-expensive suits, frequently fails to button the top 3 or 4 buttons, and admits to using Botox and Propecia. Not quite a hoodie and Red Wings, but he is by all means an artist.
So when my DVR picked up an old episode of Iconoclasts, the best show on television (and it is completely funded by Grey Goose as marketing), featuring Tom Ford and Jeff Koons, I was glued to the television and actually watched it twice. Would the same be true if the show was two emerging artists from Brooklyn? No way. I can hardly watch a 5 minute video interview with Neckface. I simply cannot watch another interview with such visionaries of as A-Ron or a young artists like Charles Hamilton or Kid Cudi. All people who I totally respect. For the same reason I don’t think anyone would want to interview me, because at some point, you have to start doing some shit – not just talk about shit you are gonna do.
Extreme success only makes an artist more interesting in my opinion. Emerging artists are a dime a dozen, as are their messages. If he continues producing art, the insanely rich Banksy will be more interesting than the street kid version. How does he deal with it? How does it impact his message? How does his palette expand, now that he can afford to take his art to a new level? “Fuck a canvas, I want a building. A pop-up store with motorized McNuggets and fishsticks.” Jeff Koons gets to make a 40′ sculpture out of 70,000 flowers. Or a 30′ balloon animal made out of steel. Tom Ford gets to make unique fragrances, apparel, advertising and a brand.
I have loads of respect for emerging artists, and I will continue to highlight them on my blog. But at the same time, I guess for me, size matters.