July 11, 2003

DIA BEACON: An Image of Nothing

In an old Nabisco plant Warhol's shadows fall.

Dia Beacon, like an elephants' burying ground of contemporary art that was mercifully too large to be shown, squats next to the Hudson River north of Manhattan. Within rooms of dirt vie with rooms of trash in a silent contest to see which installation can be the most meaningless. Chief among these are 122 large Warhol paintings of shadows. Lynne Cooke, working in the long and strong tradition of curatorial gibberish sums these large daubs and Dia Beacon up in her Andy Warhol Essay

The shadow, which holds a seminal role in the originary accounts of both painting and photography as art forms, assumes in Warhol's depictions a paradigmatic identity: devoid of identifiable source, detached from its maker or creator, it exists in and of itself, a purposefully made image of "nothing."
Richard Kimball, in The New Criterion makes the subtext in this statement plain text in "Minimalist Fantasies"
Where is Evelyn Waugh when you need him? I mean, where is the satirist with a boot big and swift and hard enough for the collective backside of todays art world? The hour is come, Sir Walter Scott indited gloomily, but not the man. I share that gloom. There is plenty of good art being made now, but most of it goes unnoticed, all but. The big press and the big money tend to line up behind transgressive crap (the blasphemy, kinky sex, bodily effluvia brigade) or utterly vacuous crap (the blank canvas, exhibit-my-old-sneaker, I-can-count-to-three-million-and-make-you-watch-me-do-it company). I apologize, by the way, for the word crap. I think its undignified, too. I looked around for an alternative that was equally accurate, blunt, and printable. I considered merde, but it seemed a bit pretentious for the matter at hand, and besides, its French. Crap at least is short, sharp, and expressive. It has the added advantage of being apt: CRAP, n. 3. a. Worthless nonsense, The American Heritage Dictionary.

Doubtless you have heard of the Dia Arts Foundation, though probably it is not in the forefront of your consciousness. It hadnt been in the news much lately. Dia was one of the many potty ideas with roots in the 1960s that didnt get going until the 1970s, and now, like eczema or PCBs, is almost impossible to extirpate. Why Dia? Its Greek for through, as in Cant you see through this ridiculous sham? Dia was started in 1974 by a German art dealer named Heiner Friedrich and his wife, Philippa de Menil. Herr Friedrich supplied the pretension, most of it; Miss de Menila daughter of the art collectors Dominique and John de Menil, and hence an heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortunesupplied the money, lots of it. According to Kimmelman, by the mid-1980s, Dia had spent $40 million on 1,000 works of art.

Posted by Vanderleun at July 11, 2003 9:35 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Nothing? A little bit of it is under every carpet!
0 = A symbol for what is not there, an emptiness that increases any number it's added to, an inexhaustible and indispensable paradox.

Posted by: Thomas Eberle at July 11, 2003 12:45 PM

Since its foundation, Dia (as typical American invention) has mistaken Art with Investment, Inspiration with Fantasy, and meaning of a work of art with snobism. Behold one more time Americans commanding to hold a smiling mask of pure gold over the sad face of reality...

Posted by: Nobody son of Nobody at September 27, 2003 1:35 AM