Andreas Gursky and Massimo Vitali (pictured above). Can’t I just say that I like Massimo Vitali but don’t care much about Gursky? Many happy returns to Mr.Gursky, but still, have I suddenly become French, or something? Do I not like him because he comes from a people who rapes our women and drinks our champagne, indulges in blitztkrieg, pre-cooked sausages and dubious sexual practices. Is it possible that deep inside, I equate German successes with grape shot and pillage. Is it possible that despite our common humanity, I still find myself looking east and wondering when Death Heads will violate our borders and grace us with their raves, chainsaws, black socks and speeches?
Do we really need another German theory of everything? Is it absolutely neccessary? Can’t I just jaywalk in Berlin, at four o’clock in the morning, without wondering if the Politzei will come out and slap me like a bitch? Do I really have to endure another lecture on American foreign policy, while his traveling companion reaches round to borrow my money?: “wir möchten etwas Geld borgen. Herr, wir möchte überwachen unser Kamerad sodomise Geschlechtsklaven….! Run it thru Google translate and see what it means…!!!!! Results may vary.
As for Gursky, have you ever walked up to one of his prints*? Don’t get me wrong, I love large prints, I have been dreaming of enlarging ever since my brother got me into photography, back in the mid seventies; but until recently anything larger than a 16by20 was so expensive that you actually needed to be rich to afford one; let alone two or three. It meant that you could afford to show the Jones that their 4by6s didn’t quite cut it.
Large prints can compete with paintings, if it’s big it’s easier to call it painterly, and that’s what they call it, besides monumental and panoramic. Afterall, color photography did not become respectable until the nineteen seventies, and black and white before that, was not considered an art until the 40s or 50s. In a perfect world, who gives a shit: “Who cares if its black and white, as long as it catches light”**.
I keep being told that Gursky is important in the grand scheme of things but I just don’t get it. For my money, I’ll take Massimo any day. His work is so much more interesting, cohesive and pleasing, it doesn’t feel contrived or labored. Unlike Gursky, Vitali’s images manage to make you feel that maybe, just may be, humanity has some redeeming qualities. Am I partial to Vitali because he’s more stilettoed than jackbooted? Who knows; I’m so over big ideas anyway!
I know fine art, isn’t supposed to be funny but does Gursky really need to remind me. Call me Ishtar but it seems to me that contemporary German art’s schickt is to exploit our need to believe that, if it’s disciplined, dark, tortured and haunted(!), it has to be deep, important and arrestingly ravishing(!), well worth paying with those chocolate coated Prozacs you’ ve been hearing so much about these days. Kinda like Mao and contemporary Chinese art. Without the Great Helmsman***, how the fuck are you supposed to know where it’s made! Afterall, you’re never too happy, as when the passion of your Christ happens to be a canvas, techno, straw and bee’s wax.
Fame is frightening isn’t it, doubly so because it has become so neccesary to achieve, especially when a simple “I love you” from your girlfriend or your kids is all you need to keep you happy. Unfortunately, I would like nothing more than to have enough cash to do as I artfully(!) please; without having to think about market forces, audiences, or the foods and staples that graced the tables where I ate. I’d rather not have to perform financial miracles and multiply the fishes, but just the same, fame too often means that to get what you want often involves bringing attention to yourself, and doing so over and over again. May be someday, after years of repeated efforts, I’ll manage to squirrel enough cash to pay the ransom I’ve put on my head. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining …… it’s just that my piriformis hurts like shit. I hear that at this age, it’s perfectly normal to feel pain in my ass when it pisses down my leg and tells me it’s raining.
* They look like shit.
** Personally adapted from the words of the powerfully diminutive Deng Xiaoping.: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”.
*** Or the “Mao Lisa”, as I like to call it.