Curiosities is a column where I preserve for posterity the “you can’t make that up” parts of current art.
Below are some questions asked by the events of the past week …
1) Oh no, are space auctions going to be a thing?
We should be able to uncompromisingly revile the spectacle of the richest men in the world, like the world is collapsing, committed to the most symbolically embarrassing cock measuring competition, all with the noble aim of … selling other rich space tourism.
But if you heard the news of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket last launch last week and released your Gil Scott-Heron LP “Whitey on the moon, well, report the sound “record scratch” because….
As my colleague Sarah Cascone reports, Bezos’ Blue Origin has declared a new art-themed social justice mission for a private space flight, sending into space three paintings by Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo. “Her stunning portraits capture the joy of black people and the kind of common future we hope to create for all of us in space: vibrant, beautiful and full of wonder,” a statement from Blue Origin said.
Happy as I am for Boafo, I am someone who still hopes to build a vibrant and beautiful future here on Earth rather than in space. I’d say tapping “Black joy” and this painter’s cachet to promote millionaire space vacations takes art washing to new heights, but that would be too much on the nose.
Yet nowadays even a PR stunt isn’t just a PR stunt with no other money-making angle. So it turns out that the launch of Boafo was also a promotion for something called Uplift Aerospace’s Art x Space initiative. In a mashup of The extent and Silver plane, Uplift promises the imminent (again, literally, I think?) Launch of the Constellation Chest, “The first multiplanental market” and “a new platform for commercial promotion and exposure in low Earth orbit”.
Uplift CEO is Josh Hanes, whose previous credits include private equity, real estate and ion propulsion systems, and his goal is to be “at the forefront of commerce in space.” Constellation Vault teases “the exclusive opportunity to acquire highly coveted items for private sale and auction in space, delivered upon their return to Earth” – essentially hoping the items gain some fantastic new speculative value upon being drawn in the air and crushed to the ground. Soon the proposed auction platform even hopes to achieve breakout speed: “Uplift’s new platform will later be scaled up to deliver goods to markets in space. “
What, you thought the mega-rich were just going to hide in their climate bunkers and have some fun with sex robot orgies without also burn the last resources of the Earth by projecting their art into space for art auction purposes? How naive you were!
2) Is this MoMA Merch cool… or The coolest?
MoMA has fall his new line of “MoMA team”Clothing, including MoMA Beanies, MoMA sports bras, and MoMA x Yankees children’s caps for that special little Clyfford Still / Gerrit Cole fan in your life. Buy yours and you and your friends can casually hang out on the front steps like this cool, totally laid back group of friends here, just, you know, talking about modernism.
3) How fun is the fight against Basquiat’s blue?
The funniest art quote of the week has to be one from Alexandre Arnault of Tiffany & Co., regarding the sky blue paint by Jean-Michel Basquiat featured in the company’s new Jay-Z / Beyoncé ad. : “The color is so specific that it must be a kind of tribute,” Arnault explained, continuing tenaciously despite any evidence that it was in fact a kind of tribute. Greg Allen has been having fun with this all week on Twitter.
By this logic, Yves Klein’s cobalt blue body paintings must have been a conscious nod to Ikea. In any event, an Instagram user who identified himself as Stephen Torton, a former studio assistant to Basquiat, rejected Arnault’s theory this weekend: “The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied was somehow related to Tiffany Blue is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment.”
(Note: the points of sale of the New York Post To Source reported on this story, calling Basquiat a “renowned anti-capitalist artist”. Not to downplay the sharp messages about race, power, and money that swirl through his art, but calling him a “notorious anti-capitalist” seems to me to be entering Mandela Effect territory. I mean, he walked for Comme des Garçons, painted murals for the Palladium nightclub, and his friend and collaborator was Andy “Making Money Is the Best Art” Warhol! Artist Lorraine O’Grady – who met the guy and would know about it – recently told me he’s best described as a ‘bohemian black bourgeois’.)
4) is this the funniest New York Post Are “today’s children” still afraid?
Not really an art story, but a culture war story. The New York Post had a piece last week about a terrible sounding new book by Jeremy Adams, Hollowed Out: A Warning About America’s Next Generation. He says the eight-second attention span, smartphone addiction and most importantly a lack of religion and family values have destroyed the nation’s youth. Adams is very concerned that Gen Z zombies are vulnerable to “smoking, heavy drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders, and being active.” sexual ”(just so we know what to be afraid of: teenagers are actually less likely than ever having sex, taking drugs or partying, they are just more depressed).
The To post seriously relays the alarming intellectual discoveries of the book:
While only 2% of Americans identified as “atheists” in 1984, that number was 22% in 2020. A university religion professor notes that when he talks about Matthew from the Bible, many students think that he’s talking about Matthew Perry from “Friends.” And Luc? His students assume he’s the guy from “Beverly Hills, 90210”.
To be clear, Luke Perry is deceased, and 90210 is old enough to have spawned a next-gen spin-off. Maybe the “short attention span” isn’t exactly the issue.
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