Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cher, she is so perfect. Her transformations lead the way. Here's some commentary on two of her photographs: The first picture is Cher from the 60's. Notice how her lips were thinner. Now, look at the other Cher photo. Sure she's older, but the plastic surgery does not enhance her looks. There's too much lip collagen in her lips and for some odd reason she tweaked her nose.

As I said before, she is the poster girl: Cher's fondness for the rejuvenation that nips and tucks can bring is well known, and she openly admits she has become "the plastic surgery poster girl".

But moving beyond the surgery, how is Cher considered in feminist discourse? After viewing and analyzing the film Clueless, I feel that females can learn from the issues and characters in the plot. Self-improvement and self-esteem are great things for women to strive for. However, there are some negative things that a woman could pick up on after watching the film. Too much attention to the physical aspects of life can be wicked to a person's well being.

How aging comes to be criticized: Are diverse ethnic and racial styles of beauty asserting their "differences" through surgery? Far from it.... Cher is typical l here; her various surgeries have gradually replaced a strong, decidedly (if indeterminately) "ethnic" look with a much more symmetrical, delicate, Anglo-Saxon version of beauty. She also looks much younger at forty-six than she did at forty, as do most actresses of her generation, for whom face-lifts are virtually routine.

No matter how much Cher changes, it's safe to say that most people still relate her to her early days. Although that may not be true for the younger generation of fans. I like the fact she was hooking up with two guys and was dating a lot, including sports stars like Ron Duguay. Dating a lot of men and moving on may have to do with her father leaving her at a young age. But who am I to judge? All one can say is that she likes to date, a lot. And in that she takes her power, even if feminists critique her for perpetrating certain stereotypes of beauty according to the male gaze.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Andy was not a social climber: He was a working man, a social climber, a person who liked to build things, an acquirer of goods, and a known homosexual. These attributes all contributed to the interesting and complicated nature of his art.

It bothered Andy to be called a social climber because this was not true: An adroit self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal, even vacuous, figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber.

It simply was not true, he was a hard working man: By the time of his death in 1987 he was ranked on the same level with Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock as one of the three most important artists of this century. He was a working man, a social climber, a person who liked to build things, an acquirer of goods, and a known homosexual. These attributes all contributed to the interesting and complicated nature of his art.

He was shallow, but not a social climber: He was — and is — a fascinating, frustrating bundle of contradictions: dandy, provocateur, lifelong Catholic; painfully shy and somehow life of the party; obsessed with money; a social climber; shallow but deep.

It's simply not true that he was a social climber. It is not true and that is why it bothered him. It's all lies: Each interview includes an introduction to put the conversations in historical perspective. Readers witness Warhol’s evolution from cocky and elusive underground pop artist in the ’60s to high society social climber and mass-culture icon through the ’70s and ’80s.

Not true--even Fran Lebowits, Fred Hughes's buddy agrees: Hughes' friend, writer Fran Lebowitz, writes in the auction catalogue, "He was a social climber from an Edith Wharton novel. He did it so well." And Andy was worried about one book labeling him as a social climber.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Beatiful models came to be defined by Photography. Let the mechanical dictate how the body is to be mediated. Who's who today. How the fashion model is defined according to a somewhat conservative position: Supermodels are celebrities who may appear in advertisements endorsing products, and often parlay their fame into acting careers. "Runway modeling," also known as "catwalk modeling," is displaying fashion, and is generally performed by "fashion models." "Glamour modeling" usually includes elements of nudity or eroticism, while "nude modeling" describes any kind of modeling that is performed without clothes.

Beauty and modeling go hand in hand as marketing tools. "One [model] more beautiful than the other" (to use Andy's own words) may be the best way to define the aesthetics of Fashion. Can never have enough. How the supermodel is defined can be loosely understood with a collection of searches. Let's start with an abstract collage of definitions: An assemblage or graces or properties pleasing to the eye, the ear, the intellect, the aesthetic faculty, or the moral sense. "Beauty consists of a certain composition of colour and figure, causing delight in the beholder." (Locke) "The production of beauty by a multiplicity of symmetrical parts uniting in a consistent whole." (Wordsworth) "The old definition of beauty, in the Roman school, was, "multitude in unity;" and there is no doubt that such is the principle of beauty." (Coleridge)

How is beauty negotiated by those considered beautiful: What is your idea of beauty? What would you change about yourself if you could? When I began my career with Christian Dior in Paris at age 19, my idea of beauty was what others thought about me. If people approved of me and wanted to book me for a modeling job, then I concluded that I must be pretty. My logic was that if I was successful and working then I must be beautiful. It was a dangerous thought-pattern because I was placing my self-esteem in the hands of others and what they thought about me.

But what is the subtext of such notions? Let Barbie do the job (which will help us understand why North Americans have an obsession with being young): Barbie appeared at a time when the term "teenager" was a "new and rather sexy one"(Wolff 24). The country had been through two world wars and a depression, and the fifties presented a time for young adults to come into the limelight. But it was questionable whether or not the American public was ready for a doll with a woman's figure. At her debut she received mixed reviews. Some condemned Barbie and her black- and-white swimsuit for being too "scary, sleazy, and spellbinding"(; the facial paint on the earliest dolls was very heavy, and her almond-shaped, sharp, sideglances that were not suitable to join the cute, baby-faced Ginny dolls or appropriate alongside the fragile, refined Madame Alexander doll market. Others, however, saw her as "sunshine, Tomorrowland, the future made plastic"(Lord 43) with a fresh face and fashions to fit every girl's daydreams. Over the next few years, these healthy fantasies would prove to be increasingly attractive to parents.

Let the signifier run...

One better than the other: Model parents, model children, the idea is the same and has been so for generations. What is it that makes one better than the other if not the perception of the rest? What is the media or the ruler against which we compare and judge what each of us is and should be?

One better than the other: Now when I pass some Adonis on the street, it just doesn't affect me as much, because I've come to realize that just because people are different doesn't make one better than the other. (Of course, pop culture and the media say otherwise, but screw that. I refuse to be assimilated into that crap.)... Or you could hunt her for sport. Whatever works. :)

One better than the other: Yes, Jenny was human, and Samantha a chimeric cyborg, but Daddy had made them both, hadn’t he? Why was one better than the other? Jenny had soft shining hair that he liked to stroke, but Samantha had a beautiful soft pelt that Jenny petted all the time. It was hard to understand. And it hurt to think about.

One better than the other: La lalallalalalalaaa - which airport at Orlando should one use? There are two but if you ain't being picked up by a coach, is one better than the other. What do you know about Miami as well please? Am looking at 2 weeks in Miami at the end fo the month, possibly, but we are also possibly going to fly up to New Orleans for a few days in the middle of it, because it's there and because we can. Nah! [...] ha! Where you staying? We're thinking about doing 'DisneyLand, Graceland and DollyWood' (so obviously will be tracking back and forth across the place a bit). Also fancy a night's clubbing in New Orleans. Is everyone fat in Orlando? Will we look like supermodels (considering HC's F Cup)? We quite fancy Miami as well - how far away is Miami? Is Orlando *really* like Cancun?

The other: Sotto and I wanted to go into the sex industry, but Playboy Corporation had monopolized the cloning of supermodels and playmates. Besides, it cost a lot to buy the original persona— all the good-looking girls seemed to be booked with upscale agencies. So instead we decided to clone someone ordinary, in a deliberate imitation of reality shows' participants, aiming for the masses.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Here comes the Midnight Express. If Christopher Reeves was marked with his role as Superman, then Brad Davis was marked with his role as a sexual object. He plays bottoms on both Midnight Express and Querelle: His two famous roles, this one and Querelle, have him shirtless and sexual a lot of the time, struggling to survive in an s&m prison, and stabbing and fucking guys at a homoerotic sea-port. Not incidentally, he plays objectified bottom in both, stripped, spreadeagled and ogled then repeatedly raped and beaten here, but taking control and aggressively bending over in Querelle. Here's how the book After Midnight was adapted to fit a more digestable Hollywood flick: In his book, Hayes outlines how he sought to escape, but also how he grew and evolved while behind bars, having a loving sexual relationship with another man, and reinterpreting his existence. [...] These elements are excised from the film, which uses the basics of Hayes’ imprisonment as the starting point only for a quasi-horror film that shows off American xenophobia and sickly hypocritical morals like few other movies ever have.

On Querelle we have: The abominating critical response to Fassbinder's Querelle seems to me a prime instantiation of the hypocrisy that can take hold when empty liberal rhetoric is confronted with the direct images of what it pretends to embrace. Though certainly Rainer Werner Fassbinder was never everyone's cup of tea, many of the same writers who praised the investigations into heterosexual and lesbian eroticism in movies such as The Marriage of Maria Braun and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant quailed loudly over Querelle, which takes as its theme the explicit homoeroticism that dominates all sorts of social networks and relationships: among soldiers and sailors, criminals and protectors, commanders and laborers, even between brothers.

Sounds like both movies pushed the envelope in liberal rhetoric. A gaze on Davis: Midnight Express, of course, was a big hit that was seen by just about everyone in the solar system. On the other hand, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's bizarre and kinky adaptation of Jean Genet's Querelle, received scathing reviews and was seen by very few people during it's brief theatrical run. Naturally, we have to recommend it even though we've seen only a badly dubbed English-language version on videotape. Fortunately, Querelle is the kind of film you can watch with the sound turned off -- and you can consider yourself lucky that you don't know what all those odd people are saying. But visually it really is a beautiful film. You can't get much more visual than Brad Davis, Franco Nero, and Jeanne Moreau when they're really horny.

He died of AIDS: Davis contracted AIDS in 1979 apparently from his one-time cocaine addiction, but in response to the anti-AIDS hysteria in Hollywood, Davis kept his illness a secret for a number of years and continued to act. His later years had him finally revealing that he had AIDS and he became an AIDS activist in bashing the Hollywood industry and US government for ignoring and shunning victims suffering from the hideous disease. Davis died in 1991 at age 41. His widow, Susan Bluestein, continues his activist work in the fight against AIDS.

One may wonder how a "heterosexual" actor had such great charisma playing gay roles in Hollywood, add to that the fact that he played bottoms on his two major films, which are the only ones people really remember.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dollar sign paintings, dollar sign paintings. Why did Andy do so many of them? Why did he give them away? What could they stand for? Questions, questions. This is how the eighties stood economically: The nation (U.S.) endured a deep recession throughout 1982. Business bankruptcies rose 50 percent over the previous year. Farmers were especially hard hit, as agricultural exports declined, crop prices fell, and interest rates rose. Hmm... Alas, it was not just Idaho loggers and miners who suffered in the economic downturn of the early 1980s. Agriculture bled too, and many people complained that 1985 was the worst year for farmers since the Great Depression. More hmm... A recession marked the early years of Reagan's presidency, hitting almost all sections of the country. Real gross national product (GNP) fell by 2.5 percent in 1982, as the unemployment rate rose above 10 percent and almost one-third of America's industrial plants lay idle. Throughout the Midwest, major firms like General Electric and International Harvester released workers. The oil crisis contributed to the decline. As gains in U.S. productivity slowed, economic rivals such as Germany and Japan won a greater share of world trade. American consumption of goods produced by other countries rose sharply.

But how about the artworld? No doubt about it, the arts today are a hard sell. This is a problem because, despite all protestations against commercialism and "selling out," art has always had a tendency to follow the money. To an extent still far greater than many critics are willing to concede, all of the arts are economically determined, and their failure can be described in simple economic terms. There has been no problem with the supply of art (leaving aside arguments over its quality), what has been lacking is the demand. Look at literature. More poetry is being written, and published, today than at any time in human history. Unfortunately, no one is reading it. While the audience for literature may or may not be duller than ever, as Philip Roth recently suggested, there is no denying it is smaller. And if the reports of rising "aliteracy" (people who can read but simply choose not to) are any indication, there is little reason to think this is going to change. Among culture commentators and critics this is what is known as the problem of the "disappearing audience."

What the left appeared to be doing: The 1980s was a sort of golden age of artists’ groups. Genuine self-described producing collectives emerged, groups which made of their coherence a point of principle and purpose, and in the process greatly refined the models of artistic collectivity. With the rise of conservative governments under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the left went on the defensive.

So back to that dollar bill, how Andy's bills were considered: According to one account, the idea of the dollar bill as subject matter was generated during a meeting Warhol had with Emile de Antonio, a personal friend, and Eleanor Ward, owner of the Stable Gallery. As Warhol later recalled: "She took out her wallet and looked through the bill compartment and said, 'Andy, if you paint me this, I'll give you a show.' She did, in the fall of 1962, after Warhol had produced a series of dollar bill paintings" (Quoted in C. Ratcliff, Andy Warhol, New York, 1983, p. 26). So, Andy's dollar bill paintings go back to the 1960s; these, however, took on a radical subtext in the economy of the 1980s.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Koch and Leo in one post. What else can one ask for? I've heard from influential people in the "artworld" that if one is interested in politics, art is not the place to focus one's energy... I think Andy's post proves this to be wrong. How this is so, I don't need to attest to, as his whole diary is proof of how art and politics are intertwined. To be more specific though...

Koch has a particular relationship to the artworld, let's start with public art:


Strong winds gusted through the treetops in Prospect Park yesterday, rippling across the red, white and blue of miniature French and American flags held by students who joined Mayor Koch and a host of international dignitaries to unveil the newly restored Lafayette Memorial at Ninth Street and Prospect Park West, Brooklyn. The monument was refurbished at a cost of $11,000.

Henry Stern by justifying his position exposes the politics of public art during the Mayor's tenure: I support public art in New York City parks. When I was commissioner under Mayor Koch, we had a great exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures at the pond in the southeast corner of Central Park. At another time, we held a citywide festival of outdoor art and sculpture. However, the art we chose complemented the landscape. It did not dominate it. Five or 10 of Christo’s gates would be fine in Central Park, but no man’s ego should be rewarded with 7,500 polyps on the city’s finest natural landscape.

Graffiti, which came to be accepted at a form of high art in the eighties, had a different position for Koch: Some of my first memories of New York -- from TV and the movies -- included graffiti-laced subway cars and elevated tracks, in some mythical place called Brooklyn. Upon seeing the subways in person, however, I was surprised to find the cars shiny clean (for the most part) and free of graffiti. The stations were not "tagged" with gang signs and cryptic, spray-painted messages. This was a result of Mayor Koch's crackdown on graffiti. The art form followed a now-familiar pop-culture trajectory. The media picked up on it (late as usual); it was adopted by the art world, appearing in toney galleries in SoHo; then the authorities picked up on its popularity (again, too late), and sought to get rid of it.

I was not sure, but now I know that Castelli has passed away (1907-1999), and it was because of politics why Castelli and his wife to move to NYC: Fleeing the war in Europe, Castelli and his wife, Ileana Sonnabend, came to New York from Paris in 1941. In 1943 he joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to military intelligence in Europe. Castelli took cared of his gallery stable no matter how their work was received. This is something that is much talked about these days, but which is not done by any gallerist, at least in the LA scene: Castelli introduced an innovative stipend system into the New York gallery world, putting the artists he represented on his payroll regardless of whether their work sold. Today artists are more like freelancers, who get a show here and there not hoping to have a steady gallery. This is not clear cut, of course, which makes an artist's career all the more uncertain.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Andy was frustrated after his opening at Castelli on January 9, 1982. I did not write up that entry in Andy's log but I will reproduce it here, as I now realize it is worth keeping a record of it for the blog:

Another Big opening of mine--a double--Dollar Signs at the Castelli on Greene Street and Reversals at the Castelli on West Broadway.

Bob Rauschenberg was at the opening and Joseph Beuys and Hans Namuth and it was like a busy sixties day. and I forget how attractive artists are. They really are attractive.

The stairs were the best place to stand to see peole and sign things. Then went over to the Green Street thing, and the heavy weights were there. Rosenquist didn't know what to say so he told me he loved the photograph of me.

After an opening like that I guess it is understandable to feel down when nobody calls the next day. I am no authority on such subject so I will not speculate further. One thing that I do recall from the Brockis biography of Andy was that Andy was obsessed with Castelli to represent him, and that even when Castelli accepted him as part of his gallery stable, Andy was not considered among his top artists. This is not gossip, this is what is in Andy's biography. I wonder if Castelli would deny this today. It probably is a non-issue because Andy sells so well no matter what.


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