For reasons known only to the Wall Street Journal, their Speakeasy blog publishes this embarrassing bit of academic foolishness comparing Kim Kardashian to Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol. It’s hard to know who should be more ashamed, the WSJ or the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development which employs an assistant professor who tries to pass this off as scholarship:
There is a subplot running through the careers of Hirst and Koons that can also be found in, say, the careers of people like Kardashian. Hirst and Koons are not simply artists, just as Kardashian is not simply a reality TV star. Hirst’s and Koons’s art openings attract highbrow Art Forum critics, of course. More important to their success, the exhibitions are attended by celebrities, their art is bought and collected by Hollywood stars, and even people who aren’t interested in art have heard their names. What Koons and Hirst seem to know, as does Kardashian, is that there is more money to be made if you can cultivate a public interest in yourself that equals or exceeds interest in your work. That public interest, in turn, can support thousands of jobs in the larger economy. Call it celebrity economics 101.
Andy Warhol, the original celebrity artist (who also painted celebrities) showed the way. His personality was so entangled with his art that Warhol became the equivalent of a brand that could attract prices seemingly beyond the art value of his works. Warhol’s droll persona and celebrity lifestyle still attracts our interest and makes a soup can, a Brillo box or a silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe infinitely more compelling than perhaps it ought to be.
By this logic, Warhol’s art would have been most valuable at the moment he was making guest appearances on The Love Boat.
How Kim Kardashian Turns the Reality Business Into an Art (Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal)