Monday, June 06, 2011

Can We Reboot The World?

At the other end of the spectrum is Mr. Koons, who runs his vast, high-ceilinged studio with an efficiency that discourages personal interactions. Everyone has an assigned task, from painting a section of a canvas by following elaborate diagrams to mixing dozens of paints to produce exactly the right color. Large paintings are lifted up a wall by electric hoists; in one room on a recent afternoon, two painters worked silently on a canvas at floor level while two others painted the upper part from a scaffold. There's a hierarchy of supervisors, including a studio manager, a painting supervisor and several assistant managers. It brings to mind an assembly line, but the 56-year-old Mr. Koons, who is married to one of his former assistants, bridles at the analogy of a factory. "People get misconceptions that it's about production, like a machine," he states. "But I've thought for a year about almost everything before starting to make it."

Mr. Koons, whose use of assistants is widely known, says he supervises the work intently: "I'm here Monday through Friday and I try to travel as little as possible. The paintings are as if I made every mark myself." Mr. Koons says he doesn't mentor his artist employees, and they don't bring paintings into the studio to show him. "This is about production of the work," he says. "I want them to stay focused on the work here."

The Art Assembly Line
Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2011

So a few days ago I read that story in the Wall Street Journal about artists in the fine arts world (really, they need to officially change the name of that to the so-called “fine arts” world and make the quotes and prefix permanent) who hire assistants to do the actual painting for them. OMG. And they’re all so shameless about it:

"I prefer not to be involved in actually painting," says Mr. Gorlizki, who adds that it would take him 20 years to develop the skills of his chief Indian painter, Riyaz Uddin. "It liberates me not being encumbered by the technical proficiency," he says.


When I read stuff like that it takes me about a month to get un-depressed.

And today something happened that didn’t help speed the process of getting un-depressed.

I don’t go into libraries very much any more. I’m dumb, but I wasn’t born yesterday.

Anyway. I don’t go into libraries very much any more. But every now and then I want a specific book and I don’t want to buy the book from Amazon so I brace myself and man-up and steel myself and I visit a library.

Sometimes nothing horrible happens. But, usually, something horrible happens.

Today I visited a small suburban library near here. I wanted to get two specific old books. I checked the catalogue on-line so I knew they were on the shelf. Here’s what happened.

I walked into the library and as I walked toward the stacks I noticed that right in the middle of the library some middle age patron was standing there talking on his cell phone. Neither the two librarians at the reference desk a few feet away nor the three staffers at the check-out desk a few feet away in the other direction were saying anything to this guy.

So I sighed and reminded myself that when you visit a library, these days, you see things you don’t want to see. So I just steeled myself more and moved on.

When I got to the stacks and was grabbing the two books I’d come for, I noticed that sitting at a table at the end of the stacks were two teenage girls talking on their cell phones. Nobody was telling them to shut-up, either.

So I sighed, grabbed my books and went to the check-out desk.

As I was checking out my books at the self-checkout machine, I noticed there was another middle age guy sitting right behind me talking on his cell phone. And none of the three staffers working at the check-out desk were saying anything to him even though they were just standing around looking at computer screens and had no patrons to wait on.

So as I checked out my books I asked the three staffers looking at computer screens, “Excuse me, but does this library have a cell phone policy?”

All three of the staffers looked up, then looked at each other. Then one of them—I guess the senior staffer, a beautiful young woman with something like strawberry blonde hair—said, “We usually request that patrons speak quietly on their cell phones.”

I said, “So, patrons are allowed to use their cell phones in the library, they just have to not yell?”

Again all three staffers looked at each other, then the pretty one said, “Well, we used to have a policy of no cell phone use in the library. But that policy proved just impossible to enforce. So now we ask patrons to speak quietly.”

I said, “Wow, I would think—” But I stopped myself. I’m dumb, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I grabbed my books and said, “Thanks for the info. Have a nice week.” And I got out.

When you go to libraries these days you see things you don’t want to see.

Don’t buy any so-called “fine art.”

Don’t go to libraries!

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