As I’ve often mentioned, I love going to art fairs in Paris (or anywhere else for that matter. I went to the art fair to end all art fairs, the most illustrious one, in Basel, Switzerland last year. And have gone to fairs in London, New York, San Francisco, and LA. I thoroughly enjoy them all). I went to three this past weekend, in Paris, one of which is very respected and highly regarded and I go every year and enjoy it. And the other two are smaller and lesser known. I enjoy the smaller art fairs a lot too. One of my passions is art, and since I still miss my art gallery, which I closed a few years ago, I love seeing what’s happening in the art world. And I still curate one show a year for a wonderful gallery in San Francisco, who very generously has me curate a show for them every year. It keeps my hand in the art world. There is an art fair in Paris in the spring that I particularly love, but the one I just went to is a great one too.
I really like contemporary art. I like abstract work and figurative, I love bright colors (I love red!!), and things with a touch of humor to them. I’m not good with very edgy art, or dark, depressing colors. I want art to make me feel good, and preferably happy!!! So I’m not very ‘avant garde’ in my tastes, and I am not a fan of ultra edgy art. Buying a heap of sand as a conceptual installation always feels like the Emperor’s New Clothes to me (the children’s book where a tailor makes the Emperor an invisible suit, and he strolls down the street naked, while everyone pretends he’s wearing clothes…..oops!!). I always figure that if I want a heap of sand in my house, I don’t need to go conceptual, I can just haul it in off the beach. (And my kids used to do a fairly good job of that at our beach house). Similarly, I once went to an art exhibit with all white canvases with nothing else on them, blank in other words, and everyone was oohhh and ahhing about how “witty” the artist was, and how ‘profound’ his statement…..uhhh……excuse me, I just can’t play that game. I love abstract art, but staring at a blank white canvas leaves me flat, and doesn’t seem ‘witty’ to me. (Although I can conceive of the artist laughing at all the people talking about how ‘witty’ he is for showing a blank canvas) Okay, so I’m a drip. I want to see something a little more fun than that, and if I’m going to buy it, I want a lot more than a blank canvas.
So inevitably, my naughty kid side was activated at the art fair I went to this weekend, over three particularly challenging (for me) pieces of art. One looked like the contents of my bathroom cabinet, with bottles, medicines, and all the ordinary everyday stuff I jam in there. I know it must have been done by a famous artist, but it still looked like my bathroom cabinet at home (mine is possibly a little messier….but still….). And the price tag on that sample of everyday life was just under two million dollars. Oh. It gave new meaning to my Band-Aids and Tylenol. I went with a friend, and we muttered about that one, as we walked along, enjoying the art fair. It was a big fair, so we had a lot to see and enjoy. The other ‘aw come on’, was a bunch of fresh bananas sitting on a pedestal with a small color chart next to it, so you could see how yellow they were. Yes, okay. They were yellow. And looked exactly like the ones in my fruit bowl in the kitchen. At first I thought they were only made to look real, but nope, they were real (I touched). The price tag on that was the equivalent of $15,000, if I remember correctly—-or maybe $20,000? Gulp. Now what happens when the bananas turn black next week, and go mushy, and you have to throw them away? Fifteen or twenty thousand out the window? Okay, I know its art, but please…….$15,000 for a bunch of fresh bananas that are not going to make it past next week? I’m sorry, I used to be an art dealer, but I still don’t understand. I’m sure it was witty, and the thought profound, and the artist respected and well known, but bananas are bananas. (It gave serious new meaning to the contents of my refrigerator). And the last piece I saw that provoked the same reaction in me was a stack of garbage bags in boxes, in that same price range. I make that kind of art every night in my kitchen. It is indeed using what you have on hand to make art. And I saw lots and lots of other works of art that were fascinating, intriguing, and that I would even like to own. But works of art like the ones I just mentioned always seem to me like they are pushing us—-for me anyway, buying a bunch of bananas at an art fair, at those prices, even with a color chart, is more than a stretch!!!! That, to me, is a definite “Awwwww, come on!!!” I’m sure there must have been some deep meaning to those pieces that I missed, or maybe not. Maybe it’s a sense of humor, or sensibility that I just don’t have. In any case, I did not buy the bananas, the garbage bags, nor the medicine chest.
The other two art fairs were much smaller, but fun too. They were both in tents, with many stalls of interesting art, at more reasonable prices than at the bigger art fair. And I succumbed to a miniature pair of blue jeans, in royal blue, under a plexiglass cover. They were inspired by an artist named Yves Klein, who is famous for the pigment he uses, in a brilliant royal blue. He uses models of famous sculptures, like the Venus de Milo, does them in varying smaller sizes, and covers them in a powdery royal blue pigment. I have always loved the color, but his prices are way out of my budget in the several hundred thousand dollar range, and he is a very famous, very respected artist. He uses primarily famous classical statues as his models and base for the blue color. In this case, the artist used something modern, the jeans, and did them in that gorgeous royal blue color—-and it was in my budget—–way way less than the bananas and the garbage bags, which I already have at home anyway. So I’m happy with my new sculpture, and had a great time looking at a lot of art….and I even got a chuckle out of some very incongruous pieces of art. That’s what art is all about, having fun with it, talking about it, and commenting on it…..and if you’re feeling artistic, head for your kitchen and see what you find!!! Maybe you too can create a work of art with a head of lettuce, a cauliflower, or some brussels sprouts…..awwww come on!!!!!