[intro]After a Week of Hagiography Comes the Dash Snow Takedown[/intro]
Stephen Marche writes for Esquire but he published this puncturing of the Dash Snow myth in the Toronto Star. The gist of it is that Snow didn’t create much in the way of art but seemed to have inspired the hipster fascination with bad behavior:
They usually begin by identifying him as an artist but nobody really wants to talk about his art. He was a fascinating muse for other artists, but his lifestyle is the most interesting thing about him, involving as it did a devotion to every kind of hedonism possible when a person has no respect for taboos and pots and pots of money. The style of his death also represents the end of a particular moment in the life of American art, the logical conclusion of its utter submission to the glut of money fuelled by fraudulent financial instruments pumping through the world’s major cities before the crash. He was an icon of a nasty and empty art so cynical it amounted nearly to nihilism.Snow was also, in a very direct way, one of the most influential forces on popular culture. Gavin McInnes, the founder of the hipster bible Vice magazine, literally used to follow Snow around recording the smallest detail of his life. The fact is you’ve seen Dash Snow. You can see him on Ossington tonight if you want. He’s the trucker-hat-donning, skinny-jeans-wearing, Pabst-Blue-Ribbon-drinking, Converse-shoe-stepping trustafarian hipster of the past decade who thinks that the good life is staying up until eight in the morning snorting blow in the toilet stalls at after-hours clubs. […]
Even the hedonism seems joyless and cynical, fuelled by only the shallowest spirit of rebellion. Because, of course, Dash Snow was rich. He was a de Menil, a member of a family regularly featured on Forbes’ list of the richest families in America and one of the greatest art collecting dynasties in history. How else could he have maintained his lifestyle if he were not a scion of one of America’s great fortunes? How could he have called himself an artist if he were not a descendant of some of the greatest patrons the world has ever known? His brother has dated Mary-Kate Olsen. His grandmother commissioned the Rothko chapel in Houston. His family sponsored Walter de Maria’s “Lightning Field” in New Mexico. Art was simply the most comprehensible and easiest – the laziest – way to rebel against a family that had supported and nourished art’s grand rebellion over the previous 50 years.
Snow was much more successful as a muse, with his gorgeous long blond hair and beard and his tattoo of Saddam Hussein. An image of him tagging on a New York building ledge was one of the most famous photographs from Ryan McGinley’s show at the Whitney “The Kids Are Alright” (this title is now an unfortunate irony; the kid isn’t all right, the kid is dead). The art that resulted from Snow’s life, the table scraps of his orgies, gave the pleasant shiver of possibility that all the indulgence and self-destruction was something more than a nasty good time. But Snow himself, and the amanuenses of his self-destruction, were also able to convert his antics into a highly profitable commodity. His parentage, which provided a stabilizing connection to the Establishment, and his subversiveness, which stamped him with authenticity, turned out to be a valuable combination.
Messy Life, Clichéed Death for Prince of Hipsters (Toronto Star)