LOL was sad to learn of the passing of Walter De Maria last week. While he created significant installations like the New York Earth Room and The Lightning Field (that was immortalised on the cover of Robert Hughes’ key tome American Visions), he’s lesser known for his forays into music. Heavily entrenched in all manner of 1960s ‘happenings’ in New York, De Maria played with Lou Reed and John Cale in a band called the Primitives, who later went on to become the Velvet Underground.
In a 1972 interview with the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art De Maria described the tug between art and music: “I could have stayed with that band…it was a beautiful, really great band…And it was very tiring to bring all the drums around, and then after playing all night, you couldn’t do anything during the day. I thought, are you going to play or are you going to do the sculpture? You know, are you going to be an artist or a musician?”
Obviously he chose the former, but for a taste of De Maria’s musical side, have a listen to this 1966 recording of ‘Ostrich’, by the Primitives (above).
There’s a guy called Alec Weitl who spends his time photoshopping images onto sweaters. These sweaters don’t actually exist. Rather, Weitl uploads them to a tumblr site for hipsters the world over to admire. The monstrosity above, of course, is a reproduction of Damien Hirst’s vacuous £50m diamond encrusted skull, ‘For the Love of God’ (2007). With plans to go into production, LOL wonders; who would actually wear this?!
Leg of Lamb has always had a soft spot for Robert Hughes, he was the first art critic I read and enjoyed as a teenager, so I’m sad to learn of his passing. Known for his books The Shock of the New and The Fatal Shore (both later turned into television series featuring Hughes as narrator) the art historian had a reputation for being a tough critic. He said; “You can’t be a critic and not have a harsh side, you know, because otherwise you turn out to be a sort of Pollyanna …become this total arsehole who wanders around the world thinking every sprig of clover is a rose.” Thank you Robert Hughes for keeping it real.
Last night Leg of Lamb watched Robert Hughes’ documentary ‘The Mona Lisa Curse’, that first screened on British television in 2008. The world’s grumpiest art historian is not happy. He despairs of an art world where monetary value usurps critical interpretation and thinks that artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst and collectors including Eli Broad and Alberto Mugrabi have a lot to answer for.
Highlights of the programme include Hughes’ aggressive dressing down of the vacuous Mugrabi, archival footage of Robert Rauschenberg confronting ruthless collector Robert Scull and interviews with animated former Met director, Thomas Hoving. Hughes may be cranky, but he’s on to something – if art is stripped of meaning, if it comes to function purely as a commodity, then – commerce aside – what’s the point in making it?