Two major national magazines have ‘Art Issues’ this month. VF was nearly disqualified in round one for punching below the belt by using a Brad Pitt cover image without Pitt’s permission. While VF tried to put up a good fight with Todd Eberle’s portraits of artists, W won in a landslide. The contemporary art world is so closely tied to the fashion world that a more general magazine like VF really doesn’t have a fighting chance.
Great things get lost through the cycles of the art market. Take Anselm Keifer, who in the late 80’s was probably the most desired artist of that generation in the art market. Nowadays, one is even cautious about putting up a major Kiefer at auction because you don’t know if there will be enough people there to buy it. So a major, major Kiefer might be well sold at a million dollars, whereas Lisa Yuskavage [a 44-year-old painter whose provocative works toy with soft-core porn] might get the same price.
Sex sells. People want sexy images. This goes back to the old masters, to French 19th-century academic painting. You know, Cabanel, or 18th-century painters like Fragonard, Boucher. They’re sort of excuses for people to have high-class pornography in their homes. This is nothing new. Go back to the Italian Renaissance with the nude male and female figures. They’re religious subjects but have lots of prurient interest, too – for people who are in circles where they cannot have Playboy calendars pinned up to their walls.