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Jeff Koons, 2003
Photo by Nancy Smith

Tracey Emin, 2000
Photo by Mary Barone

Maurizio Catelan, 2004
Photo by Nancy Smith

Cecily Brown at the opening of "Sensation" at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999
Photo by Paul Laster

Where Are the Outsize Personalities of Yesteryear?
by Charlie Finch

Recently we had occasion to congratulate Banks Violette on the spate of good press hes received recently from New York magazine, Art Review and Artnet Magazine, among others.

Violette, who resembles Kurt Cobain after five years on an Exercycle, sneered dismissively, "That's just what the press does." Such self-effacing sourness caused us to ponder all the low personalities we wretched art hacks have to encounter every day.

The king, of course, is Jeff Koons, whose ugly Howdy Doody smile and soporific clichs have all the charm and lan of a garbage disposal unit.

Then theres press-shy pinhead Matthew Barney, whose main contribution to public discourse is to show up at the Passerby bar every Wednesday with his wife, Bjork, because the DJ there is their pal.

The Brits are no better, of course: sloppy Damien Hirst proclaiming his druggy history or the vindictive, snaggletoothed Tracey Emin.

Remember when Julian Schnabel was universally lambasted for publishing his bombastic autobiography CVJ? Well, Julian is positively Whitmanesque compared to an immature snotpicker like Tom Sachs.

Nowadays, popular proteans Pollock and Picasso have been supplanted by the whimsy of Maurizio Cattelan or the winsomeness of Elizabeth Peyton.

Please God, give us some freaks, like nasty Barnett Newman suing Ad Reinhardt for libel, or Andy Warhol bitchily dishing to Pat Hackett and Stuart Pivar, or Joan Mitchell smoking North Carolina as her face falls off in Paris.

Cecily Brown, transporting steins of beer on her head, used to make good copy until she retired to a succession of boy toys. Otherwise, art lovers suffer through a youngish group of drips and drabs who often make excellent art.

The bottom line, however, is that art is inanimate and the artists who make it are becoming so, too. Will Hollywood make movies about Assume Vivid Astro Focus? Even dynamic world-fuckers like Marina Abramovic or Paul McCarthy are ciphers as personalities.

When the myth goes, so does the raison d'etre, and ultimately creativity itself dies in a thousand pretty patterns.

But what Blakian beast of Jerusalem slouches towards Chelsea to be reborn?

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula(Smart Art Press).