Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Posted by Sam at 6:58 AM
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Last night was chilly! I've been late this season to think about a new Fall look-book and from where to draw dressing inspiration. I'll get on it post-haste, promise. Anyway, I went out drinking in JP with Riss and Von, at Alchemist (overrated) and then at Brendan Behan's Pub (charming). My liberty-loving heart celebrated independence from la Republique de Banane. Work is vulgar. Retail is a light tyranny.
Posted by Sam at 12:13 PM
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
In my life, I've made no secret of the fact that I enjoy the CW network's hour-long teen drama Gossip Girl. I obsess over it a little bit, honestly. This upfront admission has mostly felt risky, retrograde, adolescent, like everything I really go for. Gossip Girl fandom sits on a thin edge separating cliche and irony, the vantage point I most prefer. The area where everyone can sincerely and simply agree on pleasure, however prosaic or untasteful. I think pleasure should inform taste and not the other way around, mostly.
Primetime televistion is quotidian, and as such, Gossip Girl is a completely middle class vision of the New York upper class. It is great fiction because it claims somehow to have been inspired by the real thing (says young adult fiction author Cecily von Ziegasar, the show's inspiration). Gossip Girl's allure ostensively relies on exclusivity, privilege, its access to worlds of power, money, elitism with attendant sex appeal, influence, youth, glamour and real estate. The show narrator's opening line and most basic premise is also great marketing copy: "your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite." Watching old money flaunt itself is usually the only premise I need. I am an aesthetic creature through and through, and artistic poverty sucks.
Which leads me to my point; I absolutely love Lily Bass's art collection. She's the mom on the show, played by Kelly Rutherford, an heiress and billionaire widow, intermittenly romantic with single father Rufus Humphrey (Matthew Settle), the lower class former rock star and current Brooklyn gallerist. Lily has a chic UES apartment decorated with artworks by Marilyn Minter, Jessica Craig-Martin, Ryan McGinley, Kiki Smith, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, to name a few. To me this is smart, edgy and a fun sub-narrative to follow. When else has a popular TV show showcased such incredibly relevant contemporary art? Nothing comes to mind.
The artworks aren't only chic background to signify taste and buying power, they're handpicked to enhance and illuminate the show's aesthetic themes of power, celebrity and glamour. The artists represented on set share those themes as starting points for their own conceptual/stylistic interests. Serena's (Blake Lively) foot in a gem-studded high-heel shoe could easily be the one painted by Marilyn Minter, hanging near the living room. Especially considering her mother Lily experienced some embarrassment during an episode during season two when it was revealed that she once posed nude for Robert Mapplethorpe in the 70's. Ridiculous, I know, but still...
The works on the walls do not sit quietly. Often enough and to much delight, the characters discuss or mention their artworks in off-the-cuff asides. Lily Bass considers purchasing an erotically charged Cecily Brown abstract canvas for over the bed, a guest compliments a ravishingly slick and seedy Craig-Martin, the Bass family hosts a cocktail party for painter Richard Phillips, to unveil their new 60's pop-art glamour-girl portrait hanging above the grand staircase. Phillips is the toast of the party and in attendance making a cameo appearance playing himself, with two or three throwaway lines (like Andy Warhol on the Love Boat!).
The famous images seen on the show pose an interesting question: do these very recognizeable paintings constitute a kind of fantasy public art installation, or are they just extremely high-end product placements? Gossip Girl is no stranger to product placement. Vitamin Water alone seems to have paid for season two, enjoyed throughout nearly every scenario. Does Jessica Craig-Martin feel an increase in demand after her name is quoted and works are featured? I doubt it, but I don't doubt that Dior sells a few more handbags when Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) carries one on her arm. At least one young emerging artist has been reported to benefit directly from lending paintings to the show, painter Rene Smith.
Or is this phenomenon more akin to, say, the artists' video installations in Times Square, fine art available on-screen for millions to enjoy for free? I'll never really decide.
In conclusion, I came to Gossip Girl for Ed Westwick, his impeccable wardrobe, hair and pouty stare, I stayed for the allusions to William Shakespeare, Edith Wharton, George Bernard Shaw and Larry Clark. Now I'm absolutely hooked, if for nothing else than to see who might be Gossip Girl's next acquisition.
Posted by Sam at 9:00 AM
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Now that thats out of the way, my sister Katherine and best friend Marissa have been visiting since Thursday, to join me for the opening of "Casual Males" at BU, but also just to catch up. Lovely. Last night after dinner we had drinks on Pennie's sprawling balcony, overlooking vast, wild countryside (Somerville). This porch is destined certainly for great things.
two gentlemen: Jeremy, Max.
Posted by Sam at 10:25 AM
Friday, September 18, 2009
Casual Males opened last night at Boston University. Its a good group and I'm thrilled about it. Its like a dream special topics show about guys doing guy stuff. Steve Locke is delightful. The show is on view through October 25th, with a panel discussion on October 8th.
All of my pictures from last night are piss-poor, so, its amazing anybody wants to hang out with me at all when I'm tips and wielding a camera.
Posted by Sam at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Yesterday I went to the Caribbean Carnival in Cambridge all afternoon. Brian and I met up at Ellen and Jamie's house and sat on the curb sipping rum drinks, watching the hottest men and women on earth dance by to soca. Flatbed trucks with enormous sound systems blasting afro-caribbean dance music are totally beautiful as works of interactive kinetic sculpture. Democratic use of means and materials, resulting in joy for a large amount of regular people on public streets. I think they are formally very beautiful and exciting, reminiscent of a lot of very useless contemporary installation.
I don't mean to shove every experience through the conventional vices of contemporary fine art, but everyone has his or her point of reference, don't they.
Posted by Sam at 12:20 PM