Part III: Anyone Can Be An Artist
By Steven Goss
At one time it took some effort to be an artist. Initially art making
was considered a trade consisting of an apprentice and a master. Under
careful tutelage, the apprentice would survey the work of the master and
develop a style. Students would stay apprentices until the master deemed
them capable enough to work on their own. During their studies apprentices
had little room to interject personal ideas because they weren't learning
ideas, they were learning skills.
As times changed, skills were no longer needed to be an artist. Marcel
Duchamp took care of that. Let's face it, anyone can be an artist. The
only people who still believe that skills are needed to be an artist are
college professors who teach art and the people stupid enough to believe
they need college to be an artist. Here's some advice: "Save your money."
It is a lot cheaper to buy a color wheel than to finance a college degree.
Besides the only useful skills you might learn in art school are how to
stretch a canvas or turn on an arc welder.
So if artists don't need skills, then what do they need? They need ideas.
But the problem with that is there are no new ideas in art. Remember that?
And the only people who think there are new ideas in art are art school
graduates. Why? It's primarily due to art professors needing new students
so they can keep their jobs. Students go to art school because their professors
tell them they will come to have profound revelations, but instead they
learn how to mix paint. This is what they don't want you to know. Because
if you did, you would save your money and just go and make art without
the hassle of some washed up Abstract Expressionist telling you what looks
good and what doesn't.
If you still want to make a living as an artist then do this, forget
trying to come up with an idea and just copy stuff people like to look
at. If you think that's a bad idea then riddle me this Artman, why is
it that Sylvester Stallone is not only considered an artist, but he is
also respected as a connoisseur of art? Just by buying art and making
paintings that look like other people's art, Stallone has received recognition
as an artist. In fact Sylvester Stallone may be the only reason some people
in this country actually see and hear about contemporary art. Can you
take credit for that? No, I didn't think so college grad. However you
may be skeptical, so let's take a look at some of Sly's shining achievements.
SYLVESTER STALLONE: RENAISSANCE MAN
- During the art boom of the '80s, Stallone hired art consultant Barbara
Guggenheim to help him acquire 19th century bronze work, contemporary
and impressionist painting and the work of younger, unknown artists,
or as he put it, "undiscovered New York artists - you know the things."
When asked about his eye for art, Guggenheim gushed, "His taste is brilliant."
- Showing support for the arts, Stallone modeled for figure drawing
classes at the New York Academy of Art. Later the Academy exhibited
a large sculpture of Stallone created by artist Martine Vaugel, whom
Stallone modeled for at the academy. The piece was originally supposed
to be two life-size sculptures of him and ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen.
But once their divorce took place, Stallone decided to have the extra
clay used to make a bigger sculpture of him. Vaugel entitled the piece,
Age of Steel.
- In 1988 Stallone bought a work from artist Mark Kostabi entitled Lovers,
which featured two women entangled together on a bed. When Kostabi was
asked why he thought Stallone bought the piece, he replied Stallone
likes, "T&A." In response Stallone destroyed the work, along with another
Kostabi piece. Kostabi retaliated and made a painting of Stallone with
the body of a woman. When they next met in public, Stallone and Kostabi
exchanged words and slight punches. After the fight settled, Kostabi
printed a public apology to Stallone, to which, as the consummate gentleman,
he accepted. Stallone's credibility as a collector rises.
- In 1989 Stallone sued Barbara Guggenheim for alleged fraud and breach
of contract. He pointed out that Guggenheim influenced his decision
to buy a work of art by Adolphe William Bouguereau for $1.7 million,
which he later discovered was worth much less because it had been restored.
Other mistakes he blamed on his adviser included the purchase of a work
by Anselm Kiefer for $1.75 million. At the time none of his works had
sold for more than a million. Later when the work began to fall apart
Stallone put it back on the market; but there were no buyers. When he
complained to Kiefer the artist explained, "The work is still evolving."
After the suit is dropped, Guggenheim says of Stallone, "That was an
unfortunate situation… but I have the highest regard for [Stallone]."
- While Stallone was working on Rocky III, he donated the bronze
Rocky victory statue, sculpted by A. Tom Schomberg, to the Philadelphia
Art Museum. The statue sat atop the museum's steps in the Rocky
films, which are the same steps the boxer triumphantly runs to the top
of. After the film completed the museum returned the statue to Stallone.
However the citizens of Philadelphia petitioned to have the work returned.
The situation was resolved by letting the statue stand outside of the
museum for the opening of the movie and then moving it to the Philadelphia
arena, the Spectrum, after the premier. The statue stayed there until
the filming of Rocky V, where once again the statue was placed
atop the steps. Again when it came time to move the statue, the citizens
of Philadelphia once fought for it to stay put. This time Stallone hired
a lawyer to fight for the statue, but to no avail, the statue was removed
and placed back at the Spectrum.
- By the mid '90s Stallone, who always dabbled in painting, began to
become less of a collector and more of an artist. Understanding what
people want Stallone makes abstract canvases and sculptures using various
themes from his movies . An example of his work includes a piece entitled,
Rocky I, which is a mixed media piece constructed in the shape
of man. The work is made of pages from the Rocky script. Stallone
says of his work, "It's one thing when someone lays down six or seven
dollars for a movie ticket. When they lay $30,000 to $40,000 [for a
Stallone painting], it's an amazing validation… It's better than any
feeling I've had in performance."
- In 1998, after several bad purchases and a declining market for art,
Stallone begins to sell off his contemporary collection.
Hey! This says Part III. Where's Part II?
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