Many great artists led a life that was as far from holiness, as the Holy See was from ophthalmology. Yet, many of them got away with a psychic confession that their artistic development was guided by a divine force manifesting itself as a semi-transparent winged creature in primarily (though not exclusively) white robes.
Edgard Tytgat, The Artist and His Muse
Some great artists claimed divine interventions into their careers was perpetrated by an Ephemeral Muse, who was as good as an angel but with properly developed breasts and sensual lips. Surprisingly, they were not locked up, even though there were even fewer people who believed in this paganish concept.
A divine force? A God-sent pair of tits embodying inspiration? I can buy it only if artists who entertain such fantasies are also famous for distributing most of their artworks to charities, and living off alms and what is left after art critics vacuum-cleaned snacks provided during opening nights at art galleries. I am yet to meet a non-selfish genius sporting a divine nimbus.
What I can believe in, is a beautiful young lady in flesh and bone with a dialable telephone number and hourly modelling rates which artists would love to have dropped, along with the rule to never share bed with artists for whom she is doing the modelling job.
Most great artists are known to be very conscious about sex, very conscientious about money, and always open to an opportunity to show other artists who is the boss.
Sex, money, power, and sometimes a bitter envy of tall men: these 3.5 wishes (the 0.5 extra is the wish tall men are never photographed to look taller than the artist in a group picture) have been essential assistants to successful creators of empires, masterpieces, and self-help bestsellers since 3000 BC. That’s when the concept of currency emerged in what today is known as Iraq, and the self-help idea manifested itself in the tradition of burying wives with their pharaohs in what today is known as Egypt. Thou shalt not rely on others – however divine – to provide for thee, take thy life after death in thine owen hands.
Don’t take me wrong! I don’t mean a poor artist is necessarily a great one. If no one is buying their art, it is very likely they are not, actually, artists. Ninety five percent of them are pretenders who can convincingly imagine Roman Abramovich queueing to buy artworks they dream to have created. Non-winged creatures of mostly the opposite sex wearing primarily nothing are also known to have frequent cameo appearances in those dreams, along with other artists and taller men groveling in the distance.
The remaining five percent? That’ll be a few good chaps who do decent art but lack marketing neurons in the cortex of their brains. If those marketers who succeed in selling hair-strengthening shampoo to bald men had one tenth of the lowliest artistic talent these five percent of artistic population selfishly keep to themselves, this world would be different at least in the aspect of alien presence. Given that contemporary ufologists believe the flying saucers stashed away in Hangar 18 belonged to unlucky guys who had run out of fuel searching for a decent souvenir to take home, we’d have extraterrestrial lifeforms crawling all over the place brokering art export deals to their planets.
Life (and the principle by which the marketing gland is distributed among the living) is unfair. Our existence won’t have as much fun and crazy dictators in it, were it otherwise.
It would also have no concept of fashion.
Fashion, advanced by luxury brands and retail banks trigger-happy to have you hooked on a loan, is doing a pretty good job of mixing power, sex, and money into marketable items.
We don’t have ETs swarming in on Milano Fashion Week shows not because they find next season ideas insufficiently alien (some of them look convincingly outlandish).
We are simply parsecs off alien sizing.
Fashion is not simpler to make than most contemporary art. The success secret of fashion is that it is much easier to appreciate than, say, a painting of an artist you’ve never heard of before. If you look sexy, powerful, and rich (at least one of these boxes should be ticked), and don’t itch after wearing for an hour the item you are wearing, the thing is good for you. Recognition of what’s good for them comes easily and naturally to most people, excluding teenagers, Finns, Russians, the girl who sits next to you in the office, and smarty pants who hire stylists (see Disclaimer at the bottom).
Logically, the moment a man has achieved the ideals of money, sex, power, and tall men never photographed to look taller than himself in group pictures, he should stop caring about art and fashion, unless it is a portrait in royal garb or shoes with hidden heels.
Bill Gateses of this world can afford to not care about fashion any more, and the only power they need is electricity to charge their iPads.
Somehow, this logic doesn’t always work.
Take Mr Medvedev, who spent four years as the country’s President before being slightly demoted to Prime Minister (it is still being debated if his presidenship was a promotion in the first place).
He donned Panthère de Cartier, priced at $900. It is a model for women (men’s model has glasses of a different shape).
What is the message behind him having two panthers on the bow? I can’t think of something that won’t need the age limit of 21 and a strictly supervised therapy course with prescription pills. Not enough sex, power, money, and mirrors? People can’t see themselves through the eyes of other people, it’s a fact known to any girl who has ever put on red boots with a mini-skirt, gone out, and started agonising over lewd leers instead of theatre invitations. But the second most important man representing a country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council!? I would like to file a protest.
I can understand Elton John, who was wearing the same shades (but the men’s version) when he met Medvedev. He obviously made quite an impression on the semi-royal couple.
Folks, my national pride is seriously bruised by the PM standing for the women’s line of shades intended for pop-stars and Playboy bunnies. The top minister of a country that has produced more than its fair share of great artists and crazy dictators should know better.
I am also a bit surprised to see Mr Medvedev shaking hands with Sir Elton as homosexuality is believed to be a communicable disease in Russia. It is either a show of enviable courage, or he has been vaccinated against it. I am also mildly surprised to see Sir Elton shaking hands with someone who heads a political party which members believe the hearts of gay people should be burned, posthumously, to prevent spreading the virus. Some radical elements believe posthumously is way too late.
I can’t imagine that Sex or Power motivated Sir Elton to undergo the shaking ceremony. It must have been Money. If it was neither, I may lose faith in the 3.5-wish principle that has been so far an invaluable tool in analysing motivations of contemporary artists. What a loss it would be to art criticism, and to my coming post about Isaac Brodsky!
Disclaimer at the bottom:
In one sentence I seem to have offended a lot of people.
Dear Russians: I am one of you, that is, us.
Dear Finns: Helsinki is not a fashion capital of the world. I am sorry to break it out to you, but it’s time to admit the obvious. You have better things to offer though. You brought Angry Birds into this world!
Dear girl who sits next to someone else in the office: you are the other girl, I meant the girl who sits next to YOU, so don’t get offended. Honest.
People who hire stylists: just don’t get hooked on it. Read my blog on art, develop your art appreciation skills, clean your own mess, make your own choices. Yes, you can!
Teenagers: go ahead, get offended. You’d grow out of it. I mean, out of what you are wearing. At least it is what we, your parents, hope for.
Disclaimer at the very bottom: I know this is not the kind of post my readers expect from me, but sometimes, just as anyone, I need to vent out my frustration, and walking the dog doesn’t help. Tell me if I should stop!