Artnet‘s resident scribe, Walter Robinson, lets loose on the vulgar rich. In the process, he tells us an interesting fact. Did you know Maybach–we presume that’s Daimler–had a corporate art collection?
Not only is Maybach adding La Chapelle’s elaborate photos — one showing a car surrounded by writhing steroidal nudes, like a latter-day Sodom & Gomorrah — to its growing corporate art collection (1,600 works by 600 artists), but the firm is also providing the Fondation Beyeler in Basel (now headed by former Art Basel director Sam Keller) with cars to chauffeur artists and other visitors around town.
But while La Chapelle may be emblematic of this sort of deliciously kitschy overkill — it seems unlikely that the artist or any of his co-conspirators have any sense of irony about what they’re doing — he is hardly alone. Indeed, much of the “hot” contemporary art of the last decade is characterized by exactly this kind of vulgar pretension.
Especially notable in this regard is Jeff Koons, already dubbed the artist of the century by my colleague Jerry Saltz, who is undoubtedly right. In an odd sort of reaction formation, though, Saltz cites as Exhibit A Koons’ famous topiary Puppy, which is practically his only work that involves something truly alive, in contrast to his usual glossy, machine-made simulacra.
Needless to say, this kind of high-key stuff finds a ready market with the rich, whose authority is felt in the art world as never before. The rise of the art-fair age in this decade — Art Basel Miami Beach really got going in 2002 — is paralleled by the emergence of a new global class of supercollectors and the vulgar kinds of art that suits their tastes, such as they are. It is surely Heaven’s own revenge that “rich” rhymes with “kitsch.”
A Little More About Miami (Artnet)