Blackpaint 4


Tried the new method – planning a picture before painting – last night; didn’t work.  I stuck to plan for about 2 mins, and then got fed up and sloshed the paint about as usual.  Result:  I have two messy pink and brownish messes, with a bunch of charcoal lines added this morning to try and impart some structure and integrity – unsuccessful.  I’ll stick to plan though, a couple more times at least, before I give up and go back to my old fashioned, anarchist ways.

The Marxist theory of value says  that a commodity is crystallised labour; it’s worth more or less according to the amount of graft that it contains i.e. that has gone into making it.  Accordingly, the value of a work of art is determined by the amount of time and effort that have gone into it.  Clearly, that can’t work with art – you can spend weeks on something which turns out to be crap.  Similarly, you can do something good in minutes.  You pay for quality of concept and execution and at the top end, and above all, for name; the amount of work involved is way down the list.

Nevertheless, the labour theory of value is very attractive, in that there is something obviously fair and just about it; you hear people say “Look at the detail!  Imagine the amount of work that took!” – or, conversely, “That couldn’t have taken more than 5 minutes to knock out – and look what he’s asking for it!”  So, if something really did take only a couple of hours to do, it never pays to admit to it – people want you to have struggled (reasonable, really).  there was something of that idea in Adrian Searle’s review of Damien Hirst’s new exhibition; he (Searle) was saying that Hirst hadn’t striven and struggled and excavated his images in the same way as Bacon had.  

So I have two elements in mind when I decide what to charge – the state of the market and the size of the picture.  But I’m so desperate to sell – not for the money, but to get the work out – that I grab any reasonable offer.

I wonder how the labour theory of value would work with, say, Martin Creed and his crumpled piece of paper?  The act of screwing it into a ball is labour, so it would be worth more like that than if he’d really been minimalist and exhibited it as a blank, but unscrewed-up bit of paper.  Flippant comment really – they would send different messages.  Screwed-up is discarded, failed, rejected; unscrewed-up is fresh, full of potential, ready to serve…

Writing this has brought to mind the higher art bollocks that you often see accompanying book illustrations and gallery walls.  the best example I know is Luigi Ficacci on Bacon in the Taschen series; stunning pictures, impenetrable prose – for example:  “The pictorial exaltation of this condition of decadence imposes such a capacity of visual purification on the scheme as to vest it with a power and density of expression analogous to what is intrinsic in the figure.”

 I assure the reader that this is not an unusual excerpt – read the book and see if you can understand it.  It’s a pity, because Bacon spoke with great clarity and frankness, if not always consistently and honestly, about his own work.

Anyway – it seems a pity but I do not think I can write any more, today at least.

Listening to Boll Weevil Blues, by Blind Willie McTell and Elevator Blues, by Sonny Boy Williamson (the first).

“Elevate me, Mama, Mama five – six floors on down (*2)

“Y’know everybody tells me, you musta be the elevatin’est woman in town”

Blackpaint

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