Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen
This week's mail brought forth two detailed, hagiographic and ultimately depressing articles about New York art-world personalities: a piece about Schlumberger oil scion and bohemian artist Dash Snow in New York magazine by Ariel Levy and a profile of ubercollector Ronald Lauder in The New Yorker by Rebecca Mead.
The obsessively chronicled details of each man's life form a one-to-one correspondence with the obsessive materialism of the two brats. Snow is celebrated by his cronies for his ability to shoplift, while consulting with his wealthy grandmother on his esthetic choices. Lauder greasily opines that he has three reactions to a masterpiece he covets: "My!", "Oh My!" and "Oh My God!", the misplacement of such sentiments from the bedroom to the gallery might perhaps account for his separation from Jo Carole Lauder, revealed by Mead.
Writers Levy and Mead struggle mightily to shade these egoists with nuance and magic, but Snow's "art," which consists of masturbating on newspapers, and Lauder's philanthropy, which consists of paying huge wads of cash for Viennese kitsch, comprise the self-gorging of two reactionaries, completely lacking in taste, discipline and empathy.
The case made for Snow's physical beauty is belied by a grotesque snap of the artist emerging, tattooed, from the shower like a leprous river rat, and the case for Lauder's sophistication, buttressed by Colin Powell's praise of Ron's choice of restaurants, is belied by the sheer vulgarity of the man.
New York liberal culture vultures have swallowed these kinds of personalities for too long. Have we no faith in ourselves and our own talents that we should waste valuable time in groveling before such thoroughly obnoxious idols? Not to mention the monied minions who mimic Snow and Lauder in the back alley and the boardroom. The problem with America, and New York, is not as much in Iraq as in the queasy, putrid shekels for which all of us, liberal and conservative, have sold our souls. In the dark light of these soulless times, we are all Donald Trump.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).