Notes of an Artistic Mad Man: Art & Celebrity

Above: Guests at James Franco's 'New Film Stills' exhibit at Pace Gallery.
Photo credit: Ella M ; @ellamm12 

…Art and celebrity… The latest newsbreak is Kim Kardasion’s greasy ass is art, as is her daughter’s use of a Hermes bag as a finger-painting canvass and of course everything father, Kanye, does is art after all he is a self-declared artist-god. It’s here to stay whether you like it or not the celebrity’s desire to actually make art whether it be putting a paper bag over your head or playing the kazoo.   It’s all-good, there’s plenty of room for imagination and artistic endeavor to fail or succeed…

…Another celebrity. James Franco, who makes art and other things with facile energy, has recently received a double dose of criticism for his recent show at the Pace gallery. The tag team bullying critics Roberta Smith of the New York Times and Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine, who are also husband and wife, took out their mighty pens not to review Franco’s show but to attack him viciously. Jerry Saltz’s active imagination could come up with nothing more than: “George W. Bush is actually a better artist than James Franco.”? What is sad is I’ve been reading Saltz’s reviews since the Eighties when he worked at the Village Voice. He usually makes sense, enlightening his reader not tearing down the artist, but it seems he has fallen into a brewing caldron of outrageous cynicism that the New York Times critical art staff led by Roberta Smith seems to dabble in. The great Roberta, who I have also been reading since the Eighties is plagued by jealousy fueled by her mediocre appeal. She blows up on Franco conjuring her great critical mind by declaring: “Someone or something make him stop!”    Funny, that’s what I think when I read one of her reviews.   She goes on to one liner us with a final epitaph that Franco is “clueless”. I always thought critics were usually talking about themselves and she hit it on the head with that blast. I’m wondering how those two decided to review Franco? I can see it now: them laying in bed re-reading their tweets to themselves, chortling in their superiority. Saltz says –“I’ll take his head.” Roberta answers – “Good, because I got his balls”…

…Something to look forward to by another celebrity artist is Tim Burton’s movie, Big Eyes, about the painter Margaret Keane, whose paintings of women and children are recognizable by you guessed it, big eyes, really, really big eyes. Her story is fascinating.  Her husband claimed that he was the painter of the “big eyes” phenomenon that had become so popular and valuable. So it was off to court to battle for artistic rights. After much kvetching the judge ordered them both to paint a painting in the courtroom in front of him. Margaret agreed, her husband refused, end of story. Oh for a judge like that on the Supreme Court…

…Finally, after starting this missive with a greasy ass, I’ll leave you with greasy palms as the art world is all a tizzy about record breaking sales at this years auctions, over a billion dollars paid for mostly dead artists’ work. It’s good to be alive for most people but for artists it’s better to be dead…

-C.C. Long (Artistic Mad Man)

C.C. Long: A professional artist and writer for over 20 years. Has been published both in England and the United States. Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, Art Nouveau Magazine, The Village Voice, The Thompkins Park Literary Review and the Boston Literary Magazine are just a few of the magazines and literary reviews that has published his works. 

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