Monthly Archives: November 2017

HOBBIES: WHERE TO PUT THAT $450 MILLION DA VINCI PAINTING YOU JUST BOUGHT AT AUCTION

Leonardo Dav Vinci’s  painting “Christ the Savior” has just sold at auction for a record $450 million. Just to clarify, savvy reader, that’s $450 MILLION, i.e., nearly HALF a BILLION DOLLARS! For a painting. A bargain, right? We mean … what’s the fuss?

The painting, pictured above in a photo appearing with a New York Times article, has been called “the male Mona Lisa.”

Anyway, say collecting rare and historic art is how you spend your free time, you know, when you not super busy oligarching or browsing the web for new yachts while lounging on your current yacht as it gently rocks anchored off Palma de Mallorca.

Now that you’ve bought this Da Vinci you’ve to figure out where you’re going to put it. Perhaps you have a private gallery or will make it the centerpiece of a new museum you’re going to establish. Perhaps, you’ll hide it away in a basement or in the main room of your dacha south of Moscow. Or imagine the absolute daring cheek of mounting it on a bathroom wall, above the toilet, in your 57th-floor Manhattan condo (the south-facing one with river views, not the one on Central Park South).

Wherever you decide to hang your new Da Vincini, you’ll need to think about it’s maintenance, the temperature and humidity of the locale, sunlight, climate control and security systems.

For sure, these are critical items you need to sort out immediately, but you ay have bigger things to worry about. For example, like whether the painting you just spent half a billion on a fake? And how it’s terribly damaged. And how as recently as 2005, the painting was sold as little as $10,000.

Let’s catch up on the deets as reported by the New York Times

“… many art experts argue that Christie’s used marketing window dressing to mask the baggage that comes with the Leonardo, from its compromised condition to its complicated buying history and said that the auction house put the artwork in a contemporary sale to circumvent the scrutiny of old masters experts, many of whom have questioned the painting’s authenticity and condition.

“The composition doesn’t come from Leonardo,” said Jacques Franck, a Paris-based art historian and Leonardo specialist. “He preferred twisted movement. It’s a good studio work with a little Leonardo at best, and it’s very damaged.

“But Christie’s was also slow to release an official condition report and its authenticity warranty on the Leonardo runs out in five years, as it does on all lots bought at its auctions, according to the small print in the back of its sale catalog.

“The auction house has also played down the painting’s volatile sales history.

“The artwork has been the subject of legal disputes and amassed a price history that ranges from less than $10,000 in 2005, when it was spotted at an estate auction, to $200 million when it was first offered for sale by a consortium of three dealers in 2012. But no institution besides the Dallas Museum of Art, which in 2012 made an undisclosed offer on the painting, showed public interest in buying it. Finally, in 2013, Sotheby’s sold it privately for $80 million to Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer and businessman. Soon afterward, he sold it for $127.5 million, to the family trust of the Russian billionaire collector Dmitry E. Rybolovlev. Mr. Rybolovlev’s family trust was the seller on Wednesday night.”

But many art experts argue that Christie’s used marketing window dressing to mask the baggage that comes with the Leonardo, from its compromised condition to its complicated buying history and said that the auction house put the artwork in a contemporary sale to circumvent the scrutiny of old masters experts, many of whom have questioned the painting’s authenticity and condition.

“The artwork has been the subject of legal disputes and amassed a price history that ranges from less than $10,000 in 2005, when it was spotted at an estate auction, to $200 million when it was first offered for sale by a consortium of three dealers in 2012. But no institution besides the Dallas Museum of Art, which in 2012 made an undisclosed offer on the painting, showed public interest in buying it. Finally, in 2013, Sotheby’s sold it privately for $80 million to Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer and businessman. Soon afterward, he sold it for $127.5 million, to the family trust of the Russian billionaire collector Dmitry E. Rybolovlev. Mr. Rybolovlev’s family trust was the seller on Wednesday night.”

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PINKISH: PORTRAIT OF ROBED ELEPHANT-HUMAN STREET ART BEFUDDLES PASSERSBY

Street art often provides many unanswered questions, not only about the artwork itself, but also who created it. There’s seldom clear authorship for most street art and usually no contextual information about the artwork or artist in the way there is for in a museum of gallery. That can make it difficult to attribute the artist or read the artwork, though that’s also part of the allure of street art.

Much can be open to question and debate about a specific artwork. It’s like a mystery wrapped inside an another mystery, wrapped inside an enigma, firmly tucked inside a conundrum, trapped inside a phenomena, and buried in a Pandora’s box full of yet even more questions.

Take for example, savvy reader, this stenciled wheat-pasted artwork pictured here. It’s mounted in a sealed doorway in the Arts District, near Downtown Los Angeles. The artwork depicts a life-size human figure clad in a monkish robe. The figure’s head is that of an elephant and pink. The word” Rise” appears on the sleeves of the the robe.

We know what you’re thinking, savvy reader! “What the fuck?” Right? That’s what you’re thinking, right?!?!

For passersby who see this piece of mystifying street art — if they notice it at all — there’s probably the same WTF reaction. Or, at very least, a weary-eyed, seen-it-all “Meh.”

But it’s worth examining this work more closely. There are potentially sacred religious iconography involved here, which implies a certain degree of depth and gravitas. 

The elephant reminds us of the Hindu deity Ganesha. Are there esoteric religious readings of this street artwork that only those in the know can understand? Are we missing a clue? Why the word “Rise”?

Like an inquisitive and bored four-year old child who’s newly discovered the deeply satisfying amusement of trolling their parents by repeatedly asking “Why?” … we ask “Why? Why WHY, savvy reader?

These are questions that MUST be answered, savvy readers! We welcome your interpretations.

CAPITALISM 101: STRANGER THINGS APPAREL SPOTTED IN THE WILD

Have you binge watched season two of Stranger Things? If you have then you know how good it is. Some are saying it’s better than season one. Go figure.

We admit we’ve already seen all of season two of the Netflix original series. It lives up to the hype. Yes, that’s right, savvy reader, it’s still “critically acclaimed”! 

Given its critical and popular success, there’s probably going to be a third season. (Netflix doesn’t share viewer numbers and the show is commercial-free so in audience and dollars terms we don’t really know how successful it is.)

But no matter. As long as current subscribers don’t cancel there Netflix accounts, it’s as a good as a hit.

In the meantime, fans of the show can slake their thirst for more by browsing or purchasing some Stranger Things apparel. There’s a whole line of clothing already available at Target stores in the U.S.

We spied some choice ST threads being worn by a “creative type” at an ad agency’s office in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and we experienced something of a momentary catharsis. Suddenly we were seized with a burning desire to run to the nearest Target and pick up some ST fashion for ourselves.

Oh, my god! What’s happening? What’s wrong with us?

Fortunately we got an urgent text that our 10:00am status meeting was cancelled and the spell was broken. We took hold of our senses and got on with our day. But after that moment, nothing quite felt right for the rest of the day.

Like the Demogorgon of the Upside-down World in Stranger Things, lurking beneath the surface, our most base pop-cultural consumer and fashion impulses lie ever present and ready to ensnare us. We are not safe.

Hollywood capitalism is as work here, savvy reader. And why not? Why wouldn’t it be under the circumstances. Licensing and selling ST merch is an invitation to print money. There is much we can learn here.

The recipe is staring us in the eyes:

POLITICAL BORDERS: THE AESTHETICS OF GEOGRAPHIC DIVISION

The New York Times has just published a fascinating article titled “Eight Ways to Build a Border Wall” that looks at various construction prototypes for a new border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. See screenshot above.

The idea of a border wall running the full length of the U.S.-Mexico border is controversial. The construction of a wall was at the core of recent U.S. presidential campaign rhetoric and a promise to supporters on the part of Donald Trump. These prototypes are a result of the U.S. President’s effort to make the wall a reality.

The Times articles examines each of the prototypes, documenting the costs, materials, architecture, pros and cons and design associated with each.

Looking at photos of the prototypes altogether, one can’t help but be aware of the aesthetic and architectural design of each. Each prototype is of a single segment of a would be wall. These are geometric, almost perfectly square objects, as if made to fit the format of Instagram. The colors and tone are mostly neutral, bland and muted — grays and beiges —  and unexpressive in a style typical of U.S. governmental institutions and things made for the most utilitarian of public uses.

These wall prototypes represent what the architecture of geographic and political division looks like. It’s not pretty and there is no motivation or incentive on the part of the architects to express a style, and yet looked at together, a style pattern emerges.

And it kind of creeps us the fuck out.

CONFUSION: “ART-NOT-ART” STREET ART

A funny thing about “art.” Sometimes the happiest of aesthetic accidents happen as a consequence of totally non-artistic impulses.

Take as prima facie example the case of the roller-shutter pictured above. It’s on a warehouse-factory building in the rapidly gentrifying Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood dubbed the Arts District. It’s a beautiful building, a grand structure standing as testament to L.A.’s glorious former industrial past.

The building — and specifically the roller-shutter — has also been the canvas for many a graffiti tagger or street artist. The owners of the building have painted over graffiti on the roller-shutter several times in a Sisyphean effort to stamp out Krylon spraypaint-wielding vandals.

But guess what happened?

They accidentally created a Mark Rothko painting!!! Well, let’s just say “Rothko-esque.” Yes, a post-modern abstract masterpiece has emerged by total fucking accident!

The current “artwork” will be there until the next layer of graffiti lands on it and it gets covered yet again or until real estate developers or investors snap it up and pay for around-the-clock security presence. In the meantime, it’s available in its current state for film production, as the sign reveals.

STYLE: THIS FORMER EURO-AMBULANCE COULD BE YOUR NEW CALIFORNIA CRUISER

Style. It’s important. You know it. We know it.

When it comes to personal transport, the mode of transit you use says something about your personal style. This is true or truer in no place more perhaps than Southern California. A.k.a., SoCal, where the car is like your avatar to the outside world, as telling of your tastes and lifestyle to people in L.A. as the kind of jeans and sneakers you wear would be on the streets of NYC.

There are many ways to travel in style as you drive SoCal’s scenic ocean-hugging highways and byways, its beautiful canyons and deserts, the palm-tree-lined avenues and boulevards of its cities and towns, but perhaps none is more unique or expressive of a style than this newly for sale 1970s-era Mercedes Benz 3070 Sprinter-type Ambulance.

Don’t you just LOVE IT?!?! (It’s ok, it’s ok … This is a safe space. You can admit to such things here, savvy reader.)

This vehicle would make the most perfect surf-mobile or DIY camper, mais non? Look closely at its roof — yes, you see correctly: Those are siren lights. Yes, SIRENS!

This vehicle was once an ambulance somewhere in Europe, we’re guessing France or Germany, in all probability. Imagine the stories this vehicle could tell if it could talk.

The design of this vehicle is so European that it’s obvs perfectly suited to SoCal in its severe un-California-ness. It’s got style. And it’s for sale by owner, somewhere in Malibu for about $1,900. 

Imagine pulling up to the beaches of North San Diego County in this big, red behemoth, your party or brood spilling out of this thing and on to the warm sands of summer. Or cruising up to the curbside valet at Spago in this whip. Imagine the envy of other shoppers at Costco as you easily glide the obscene bulk of your purchases into the cargo hold of this van.

Imagine all the surfboards you could carry in this thing. Imagine dark desert highways, cool wind in your hair, the warm smell of calitas …

Imagine the sound of the klaxons on this things, the siren at full blare, but that European siren, the one that sounds like braying donkeys hee-hawing through synthesizer horns. A sound that brings heady memories of Paris, smoking Gitanes outside a bar in Belleville at 2:00am, old ladies walking tiny dogs, croissants, strong coffee … “Un creme, sil vous plait!” you audibly say to your self.

So different from the sirens of American ambulances and their elongated notes that sound like a wolf-howl fed through a broken Moog. A sound that conjures up the heady smell of  …. an airport Cinnabon.

But we digress.