Monday, May 09, 2005

Art is Money

Recently, I've come across the works of Dutch artist Kamiel Proost. Proost paints U.S. one and five dollar bills (physically paints on the bills). I think they're very well done artistically. I also think that they're pretty cool and pleasant to look at. They soothe me. I hope they soothe you too. You can find his work at www.kamielproost.com if you so desire. I'm posting my three favorite works (click on the pictures to see the paintings up close):

"The Gasoline-Station"



"Rasta Abe" (So named by me. Untitled by Proost.)



"Pussy" (You may have seen "Pussy" in Playboy this month (and I'm talking about the artwork pictured below, not the other kind you deviant (although that was also prominately featured this month)))

18 comments:

Circe said...

um..normally I find things on this blog funny.
This isn't one of them.

Repulsive.

NegativeMode said...

Interesting, elaborate please....

Circe said...

George Washington's face on a crotch is patently disgusting.

Respect is due to very few people in this world, but of all people, I would say that Abe Lincoln and George Washington fit in that catagory.

Witty and clever is one thing, profane is quite another.

The Elephant Dung Madonna surrounded by pictures of vaginas in the Brooklyn Museum of Art is disgusting, yet still art...these are art as well...I accept that, but I don't have to like them.

In reality, they are all just pieces of shit not worth anyone's time or money.
(And no, I don't care if you delete this post.)

PositiveMode said...

I would be surprised if NegativeMode removed the previous post. As with his art, he likes his comments to push the limits of our comprehension. And like PositiveMode, although to a slightly lesser degree, he bears a dogged and almost fanatical devotion to Truth.

These are interesting pieces, I think, although the potential scope of dollar-bill-paintings is somewhat more limited than for those painting on blank canvasses.

As for Mr. Washington, I respect his accomplishments but I don't know that he or anyone is so sacred as to be above lampooning (particularly as he is long dead with no close surviving relatives (and alternatively, if certain placements are too sick or disgusting to place him in, this is not one of those situations)).

De gustibus non est disputandum.

Circe said...

But there isn't anything funny about putting George Washington's head on a crotch!!!

Please explain to me how that is funny.

Please explain how it is witty, funny or even particularly thought provoking.

PositiveMode said...

I don't think that it is at all witty, and not very funny, and it doesn't provoke any particularly meaningful thoughts (although the sexual reference that I take to be to Bill Clinton is slightly amusing, and to the extent that suggests our first President's most "intimate" side it's sort of interesting (especially since my casual understanding of G.W.'s private life is that he was something of a stiff, boring prude (but to be honest, I didn't literally "place" George that directly in the scenario until a more extended look at the piece))). But whatever, it just is what it is.

Although I suppose that now, having looked at with a more critical eye than I did originally, I can say that I find the framing and context of the painted image sort of intriguing (that is, the way in which it emerges from the borders of the dollar bill). The interplay between the U.S. Mint-printed portions and the paint is somewhat deceptive to they eye and evokes some challenging visual reconciliation with my long-since-ingrained everyday conception of the dollar bill, and I think anyone with such experience in American currency is likely to experience similar ocular challenges.

NegativeMode said...

George Washington was a dick. If you don't believe me, see what the RowBoat Veterans have to say about him.

Among other facts you probably didn't know about our "first president": George Washington beat his wife with a sturdy oak rod 6 inches wide, when every gentleman knows the “rule of thumb” is to only use a flexible stick 1 inch thick.

Man, what a dick.

PositiveMode said...

His girly fear of covered bridges is especially shameful.

Anonymous said...

Circe, do you think that George Washington didn't like pussy?

Circe said...

Well considering that he was most likely impotent, I don't really think it matters.

The hookah now..he may have been a serious fan of..when we were digging up his home we found more pipe-stems than anything else.

Circe said...

And who didn't have the balls to sign his name when asking me that question?

NegativeMode said...

The anonymous comment was from BrownBear. He meant to sign his name, he just forgot. I offered to delete his comment so he could add his name, but unfortuantely, he is entirely too lazy for that. BrownBear is notoriously lazy, especially when in hiberation....

brownbear said...

Oh I think that it matters. Even if you are impotent there is nothing like a boob hat.

dj skuggs said...

i rather like the art. i don't think it's especially good (i.e. i don't know that it's museum-worthy,) but i know very little about art from a critical perspective. all i can say is that it's pretty cool to look at. for example, i like the way he makes "the united states of america" look like it's on a wooden sign in "the gasoline-station," and the way he includes the quote from lincoln in "rasta abe" so as to make it appear that the writing is part of the bill as minted. nevertheless, i don't know that these bills are much better than the spacescapes you see street artists doing sometimes with spraypaint.

Anonymous said...

"Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in." (Amy Lowell) This guy, Proost, is a virtual hermit who I'm sure rarely (if ever) cares what his critics think. I've looked at some other works by Proost and would agree that he seems to push the envelope along the lines of controversy, but it's not as though he's crossed the figurative "line." Andy Warhol...now there's a man who did not believe in drawing a line anywhere, clearly evident by the display of punching bags with the face of Jesus (as in biblical Jesus, not a Mexican immigrant) on each one in the Warhol Museum. Interesting guy. The point is...these men, these "artists"... live the creative life. Who are we to tell them they're wrong?

Circe said...

Everyone is getting the arguments all wrong. The argument is not over "what is art?" any longer.

I could paint my ass blue and stand naked in Georgetown yelling "Save the ferrets!" and I could call it art. EVERYTHING is art!

However, "who are we to tell they are wrong??" That is the thing, we AREN'T saying it isn't art. We are saying that it is crappy art.

The creator has his right to express himself through art and the rest of us have the right to express to the artist that their art sucks.

PositiveMode said...

I still don't see why it's wrong to make fun of George Washington (am I correct in understanding that criticism as being at the heart of your distate for this work, Circe?)

Isn't it more acceptable to make fun of him or Abe Lincoln then, say, burn victims, or parents of missing children, or Holocaust survivors, or handicapped war veterans? What makes someone beyond parody, satire, or simple image exploitation? Can we know whether we know enough about a person to make that determination?

Is it "wrong" to use an esteemed founding father for purely commercial purposes (e.g., Ben Franklin says go to this bank, not that one)?

Whatever the case, I think most of the commenters here have addressed important aesthetic aspects of the work, not its status as art.

NegativeMode said...

Well, I'm glad this post sparked the intellectual debate that it did (for the most part). As I said in the original post, I thin Proot's art is actually quite good. I wasn't just saying it to cause a rise. The level of detail that he includes in such a tiny canvas is quite impressive as far as I'm concerned. But as we all know by this point, art is art, and opinions are opinions, so take that for what you want.

Also, Kamiel Proost has now changed his website. It's been updated and the address is different. You can find the new site here. On the new site, the 1 and 5 dollar bill art is available for purchase. I think I'll get one....