Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Art lesson

Miss Scarlet-Blue, the pouting sex-kitten of South London, has sent me some pictures to look at. Not indecent photographs of herself, I should hasten to add. She knows better than to distract a gorilla with fatuous images of that kind. No, the pictures she has forwarded are works of art – created, she assures me, by the great masters of history. It’s part of her high-minded mission to share the finer aspects of human culture with her hairy cousins. I shall reciprocate, in due course, by showing her a few things we gorillas are good at.

Apes are no strangers to the creative use of textures and dyes. Gibbons were doing remarkable things with elephant dung long before your ancestors were daubing the walls of their caves. Had I been a prehistoric cave-dweller, I would have left the walls alone and painted a picture of a hideous monster above the entrance to scare off predators. Art must have a practical side when survival hangs in the balance. Only a species obsessed with impressing visitors would spend so much time on interior decoration. If I want to dazzle my dinner companions, I scratch my face with my toes. Try it yourself before jeering.

I‘m not sure what to think about Miss Scarlet’s exhibits. We gorillas appreciate art in a holistic way, where the personality of the creator is as important as the work. It seems to me that a lot of human maestros had major character flaws: Da Vinci was a know-it-all; Michelangelo was a drama queen; Picasso was a devious weirdo. The ones we esteem most highly are painters like Titian and Reubens – honorary gorillas who preferred their females to have a bit of meat on them.

Strangest of all, to be sure, are the contemporary practitioners who imagine that pickling a dead creature in formaldehyde is a form of artistic expression. Damien Hirst is a name Miss Scarlet has mentioned on a number of occasions, although not necessarily with approval. This piqued my curiosity and inspired me to do a little research. What caught my eye was not the artefacts he has created but a photograph of the man himself. I immediately recognised him as an apprentice clown who had spent a summer with the circus I was in. He went by the name of ‘Daffy Sucks’ and obviously wasn’t cut out for clowning; but he did paint landscapes which he showed to anyone who was interested. I commented on his collection once:

“Master Sucks,” I said, “the market for pretty pictures is saturated. The kind of work you are doing is found on greeting cards which sell for the price of a condom. Consider your fellow humans who pay thousands to go on safari. Do you suppose they part with their cash to see beautiful sunsets and flowers blooming after the first rains? Not on your nelly! What they crave is the sight of lions gorging on dismembered carcasses, their faces reddened with blood, and entrails scattered across the savanna. Treat art collectors like the crowd in a Roman amphitheatre – the more you shock them with offal and gore, the more they will pay for your creations.”

My well-intentioned advice prompted him to walk off in a sulk, and I didn’t expect another viewing. How surprised I was when a few days later he asked me to inspect a new painting. This one depicted a hedgehog. Two halves of a hedgehog, to be precise, for the animal had been bisected with a machete, leaving its internal organs clearly visible. Inside its stomach were the partly-digested head of a mouse, an earthworm and a pickled onion (or something resembling it). Having just eaten breakfast, I felt the bile rising in my throat.

“A overpowering piece of work!” I spluttered. “If you’ll excuse me I have some business to attend to in my trailer.”

He left the circus a short while later and has never looked back. How I wish I’d made an offer for that painting! I believe he called it The Physical Impossibility of Appreciating the True Value of a Hedgehog Autopsy in the Mind of Someone Living.

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Dearie me.

Admittedly, the bile is rising in Topiary's throat also...

I feel educated every time I read this blog.
It's quite hard to type whilst one is scratching one's face with one's toes. But at least now I've tried it, I feel free to jeer.

I find the top painting's tummy strangely comforting.
It's the great gibbon artists that move me the most (sniff!).
"Da Vinci was a know-it-all; Michelangelo was a drama queen; Picasso was a devious weirdo."

That made me laugh.

Damien Hirst. I'm sorry to say, I don't get all the excitement about his work. I'm no art critic so take it for what it's worth.

His circus career sounds like it went in circles!

Bad pun, that.
If only there had been a pickled onion inside that hedgehog; but I fear such an interesting nuance would be beyond the likes of master Sucks.

p.s. I can scratch my toes with my face - does that count?
Oh bloody hell!
Topiary cow: The mark of great art, these days, is its ability to ruin your appetite, Ms Cow.

Papercuts: Thank you, Miss Papercuts. I can't vouch for their 100% accuracy, so be cautious in using the knowledge you have acquired.

Kitty: I hope you impressed you dinner companions... as well as relieving any itches!

Pi: So do I. In fact, I find her whole body strangely comforting.

Chris: A lot of people have only heard of the funky one, but I'm sure you're familiar with all the great gibbon masters.

Trish: You are not alone in pooh-poohing Damien's work, Trish. Many have pooh-poohed before you.

Gadjo: If it wasn't a pickled onion what was it? Any kind of face-to-toe contact is admirable, but you won't know how good you are until you've done it in front of a dinner companion.

Miss Scarlet: I thought you'd be pleased! Everyone will be going to you for art lessons now!
I've moved on to and 'Pubic Topiary' . . . but I suppose this is a kind of hairy art-form . . .
Gibbons were doing remarkable things with elephant dung long before your ancestors were daubing the walls of their caves.

Capt Scot "Scotty" Scott of the Bengal Royal Engineers continued to do remarkable things with elephant dung that involved daubing the walls of maisons d'assignation from Calcutta to Bandar Chod. See Rex vs Scott, Bombay Assizes, 1936-38.
"Gibbons were doing remarkable things with elephant dung long before your ancestors were daubing the walls of their caves."

Chris Ofili, Mr Boyo?

Ofili took over where Scott left off, Scarlet. Especially in the "ordure/blasphemy" department.
It would appear that my manager has employed a company of gibbons to paint the office.
As P.T. Barnum's prophet Andy Warhol said:

"Art is what you can get away with."
Perhaps the topiary challenge Miss Scarlet refers to is Courbet's 'Origin of the World'? Several gentlemen had to excuse themselves from our tutorial group when this slide popped up. They were gone for some time - art moves in mysterious ways.
Well Kate, Courbet's 'Origin of the World' certainly looks in need of 'pubic topiary' . . .
See how Boyo has got me looking everything up again . . .
I should think that looking everything up was a prerequisite for pubic topiary.

Can somebody explain why Nobby Stiles is posing on Damian Hurst's left in the picture?
The art market and what is considered good art is so arbitrary that it is hard to fathom. The reason people buy Hirst's art is not because he is any good but because he has sold so much of his stuff to the highest sucker that he recently made 111 million at Sotheby's selling his own wierd brand of pickled animals. Even more bonkers than the Hirst afficionados are the animal lovers who buy dog art at $2220 a pop!
Art must have a practical side when survival hangs in the balance.

Ah, the justification for socialist realism -- all those paintings of workers in Stalinist Russia, staring grimly ahead.

It's so they didn't have to look at any shit in formaldehyde.
Scarlet: Quite right, Miss Scarlet, cherish the few remaining tufts that the human female retains.

Mr Boyo: I'm glad he stopped at Bander Chod. Those poor monkeys had enough to worry about without elephant dung. Capt Scott was possibly a friend of the simian.

Kyknoord: I hope they do a good job. Expect something abstract with plenty of colour.

XL: And you can get away with most things with pretentious waffle and a rich collector to back you up.

Kate: They excused themselves? Perhaps, after a long day, they were bushed.

Kevin: I never knew Nobby had that many teeth!

Emma: Charles Saatchi is the evil genius behind it all.

Randall: Such paintings surely scared off anyone thinking of emigrating there.
I am now very upset. Miss Scarlet has revealed the subject of my next HNT and I will now have to revert to Plan B this week for fear of far flung elephant dung! Fortunately, I see no way of replicating any of Damien Hirst's work since Ruf is a committed vegan. We could give Tracey Emin's bed a good go though...
will there always be a sufficient supply of the shocking to sate the art appreciating public? Especially as shocking is perpetually redefinend by normality and acceptability shifts. Is shocking taking a corkswew like path and todays acceptable if tomorrows schocking? Or should I turn the Tv on, because I'm getting terribly confused?
Oh, but this is marvellous stuff, Mr Gorilla Bananas! Thank heavens we have such an expert, such a critic, in our midst as Scarlet! I do feel blessed. As you predict, I am sure that everyone will rush to her door baying for Elementary Art History, and the philistines will be lead from the gates of the city.

Art charms and deceives; it is precious and pointless at the same time. It always has been; but may I make just two teeny-weeny little points: men who have to leave the room after seeing L'origine du Monde are obvious homosexualists. It is what we with a mere smattering of knowledge call a Life Study and has none of the erotic charge of Paresse et Luxure, or any of Courbet's signature nudes. Courbet was the first artist ever to take control of his own works and their media exposure. His self-styled Realism Pavilion was established after the outrage he caused to the Paris Salon in the 1850s. Manet, the Impressionists, etc., came after and today's contemporary artists are just the latest in a long line.
Damien Hirst is a paradox, but nothing more sinister than that. He has a conscience about what he does, knowing that price is easily determined, but that value is harder to ascertain. If anything, he is a religious artist for a Godless age. I have met him several times, and I have always been pissed.
Mrs Pouncer you have it exact. Exactement!
I too, did wonder why several men should withdraw at a slide of "Origin of the World". For a mutual wank? Never.
"Sleep" on the other hand, has a warm erotic charm but nothing more surely.

Damian Hirst IS a paradox. I have never met him and I have always been pissed.
Oh God bless you, Dr Maroon! I knew you, of all people, would see sense. And how learned you are! Really, you have the full package. I could just eat you.
I know
Mrs Cake: I am sure Miss Scarlet did not intentionally steal your thunder, Mrs Cake. I think your skin might make a good canvas.

Wendy: I believe that certain things will always be shocking. Putting your fingers in an electric socket, for example.

Mrs Pouncer: A fascinating exposition, ma'am. "Precious and pointless" were indeed the first adjectives I thought of on seeing Picasso's Guernica. It is fortuitous that you were pissed when you met Mr Hirst, if only to give you an excuse for vomiting.

Dr Maroon: I suggested they withdrew because they were tired and needed to sleep, Dr. Sapphic embraces could not have been further from my mind.
Bloody hell . . . !

. . . and sorry Cakes . . . I didn't know. Do it anyway, you've got a big build up now.

Younger I whistled with my toes !!!
Yes! Yes! By scraping me them… dress shield ! My grandmother says to me "Stop making the monkey" !

Vincent van Gogh the ear cuts itself ,Yes! He confused his pencil with a badly sharpened brush !

And -Fernando--Botero- there is a little more meat !?

That to say about the short-lived art Of pseudos artists of sh...which imitate what my dog makes every day ??

I assisted, one day in the zoo ,has an artistic phenomenon ! Cheetah threw against windows its...its excrements ,and with wide movements he spread the material In the style of an abstract painter ( surely fauvism " Matisse, Manguin, Marquet,Vlaminck ),the whole while pushing cries of satisfaction ,finally I believe ?
The veterinarian of service explained me that it was the way the monkeys expressed themselves ?!

The child is innocence and oversight, a new beginning and a game, a wheel which runs on itself, a first movement, one "yes" crowned. Yes for the game of the creation...
A pity that you gorillas have fallen prey to the personal heresy.
I love these type of pictures. Mostly I love how these curvy non-stick women are shown so beautifully. Something this curvy girl can really appreciate.
was the machete in the picture too? otherwise how did you know it was split with a machete? is that just your preferred method of hedgehog splitting? tell me things.
I left a comment here yesterday but it doesn't appear to be up. I hope I wasn't the deleted comment?

or am I in your spam?
Crabtree: You are a true connoisseur, Monsieur.

Ulaca: Well it's better than falling prey to a lion. Africa ain't like Narnia, those cats are bad mo-fo's!

Miss Naughty: Ah yes, Miss Naughty, I remember your curvy flesh.

Kara: There was an Amazon jungle explorer walking away in the background. Artists like to leave these little clues.

Nursemyra: You are certainly not spam, Nursie, and if your comment was deleted it was by accident. A few people had deleted their own comments, which I removed to tidy up the thread.
Sorry GB, but don't slag off 'The Guernica' or I'll start referring to you as a chimp again . . . .

WTF's "The" Guernica? Christ.
Don't know Mrs P. But not Christ.
I mean, is it one of a series? The Guernica, A Guernica, Some Guernica Or Other, One of Those Guernicas? You seem to be very specific, with your definite article. We are here to learn, Scarlet. Do tell us.
Well that's why I put a link up, sweetheart, so you could find out for yourself. I apologise for my poor grammar, but I am a humble prole who didn't go to a major public school like wot you did.
SCARLET!!! It's not grammar; it's just that the work is not called THE Guernica, that's all.

I am going out for a walk, and probably a drink. Or just a drink.
Sorry Mrs P, but you know how confused I get . . . where are you going? I think I need a drink as well . . .
enjoyed your cheetah ghosted autobiography. you beat me to that one jape old boy.
Artistic primates? Now why didn't I think of that? And here I was dabbling in philosophy, if indeed, this is what simians prefer doing on lazy afternoons. :)
Who knows where the gentlemen slipped out to during the Courbet lecture incident ... it was late in the day at the Courtauld, (so it was probably to the bar at the Lyceum), but could have been any of the suggestions from Mrs P and Dr M - Sleeper, Smoker, Wanker, Spy? Now there's a title Mr Le Carre hasn't thought of.
Scarlet: I do apologise for insulting that great painting, Miss Scarlet. I have a weakness for agreeing with hoity-toity ladies, even when they're wrong. There's no need to call me a chimp.

Charlie: I don't remember mailing you a copy. Did you get it from a cheetah? It's not authentic if you did.

Princess Stef: Hello Princess! We primates would never be so affected as to describe ourselves as "artistic", but you may certainly do so!

Kate: Hah, that's a great title for something! Many have been all four, I suspect.
Naked men in pictures is a human taboo GB, men have it easy, artists sigh....
I've never once seen an aroused male nude in art. There are plenty of come-hither odalisques and comely rumped beauties but you don't often seen an aroused male nude. They're usually just loafing or gazing or something.
Yes, that's a puzzler is that. You'd think that with all that gauze wafting round the life studios of the Renaissance a few of them would have caught on such an obvious projection.
"But you don't often seen an aroused male nude. They're usually just loafing or gazing or something."

Now, that problemchildbride mentioned it, I started thinking (dangerous, I realize) and this is true. The male nudes in art are usually loafing and gazing and thinking and what not.

Not so much loafing and gazing in porn, though.

Why, GB? Why?
I defy any woman to eat calamari again after seeing Hokusai's "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife."
Mr Bananas!! You seem to have been responsible for inspiring Damien - if so then you are a true genius!! I to have a Hirst stecked under me bed...
Ms Bananasfk: I support a woman's right to see as many naked men as she wants.

Sam: Perhaps the crucial bit is difficult to draw. How many artists have really tried?

Kevin: Who's obvious projection are you talking about?

Trish: Maybe not many women like the sight of it. If you really admired a man's phallus, Trish, I'm sure he'd give you joint custody.

Lady Daphne: Some women might think eating it was revenge, but they would not be ladies.

Mutely: You've got a Hirst under your bed! It must stink to high heaven!
I meant to say about "sleep" that TODAY it has warm erotic charm,(fuck hark at me, can't draw a ciggy) it has much more obviously, yet when it was first shown it must have been staggering, astounding, breathtaking.
I didn't mean to denigrate it, only I couldn't see it exciting a sexual response today amongst men with internet access.
Oh absolutely, Dr Maroon. Today's palates are sadly jaded and besmirched with the sort of appalling smorgesbord of filth that would have had the Fauvists retching.
Thank goodness you are ready to sheath yourself against the tide of vulgarity.
This is the 2nd time my brother has found me at your site, and both times there were pictures of naked women in compromising poses. So now he's absolutely convinced that i am subsrcibed to some erotic literature web site! LOL!!!
So you are the one who is to blame for encouraging this silly man! Next time, don't miss words -- save us from formaldehyde pigs and sharks; we've had enough of them in biology classes.

Ah, how I've missed this blog. Hope I manage to get this one posted.
I like Hirst, he's a good bloke not a fusty old fuddy duddy stuckist.
Dr Maroon: Yes, the men of today have been desensitised by too much porn.

Mrs Pouncer: Dr Maroon's sheath is as durable as they come.

Sabrina: I hope you explain that the nudity is artistically justified in every case.

Mary: Hello Mary. Well intentioned acts can have regrettable consequences.

Scruples: Do you prefer him to the shark?
I suppose an aroused male has got better things to do than stand around posing.
I like Titian because it begins with "Tit". Huh-huh.
My interest has been peeked by Mrs P's Smorgasbord of Filth
did you once travel on the cut price scandanavian Ramsgate to Dunkirk ferry service Mrs P and experience the Smorgasbord breakfast.....I fancy this is a subconcious reference
Hello Beast, belated, but no, I was a frequenter of the Felixstowe to Amsterdam line, though, where the smorgasbord had to be seen to be believed.
And, oh, the decapitated pineapples, the distant rattle of maracas that could only mean .... Rotterdam.
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