Friday, October 14, 2016

the rubells and the arthoodication of oscar murillo

Oscar Murillo
aLfrEdo trRifF

the spanish paper el país publishes this article entitled: a new basquiat or a new bluff?

the article, by miguel ángel garcía vega, briefly speculates the meteoric rise of colombian/english artist oscar murillo, an unknown a year ago who now sells paintings for $400,000.

what happened?
(...) Until a couple of months ago very few people had heard of Oscar Murillo. He was one of the thousands of young artists trying to make an art career in London. A native of La Paila, Colombia, Murillo moved to London when he was ten years of age. Passionate about art, he graduated, without honors at the Royal College of Art. 
Drawing off the Wall, 2012
On June 26 an unidentified buyer paid at Christie's auction no less than $391,475 (about 290,000 euros) for a large mixed media painted by Murillo in 2011.** A week ago, another work of Murillo, Drawing off the wall, reached a record $401,000 (297,000 euros) @ Phillips de Pury's. The buyer, after a bitter succession of bids (the piece started at $ 30,000) was actor and collector Leonardo DiCaprio. Suddenly, Murillo's art fetched the same value of two of the most celebrated Colombian and Latin American artists: Botero and Doris Salcedo. Yet, Murillo's professional curriculum achievements are still limited.
"curriculum achievements still limited?"

that's the wrong lead. garcía vega is thinking of the "received" model of art success:

i.e., a slower, arduous trajectory of legitimation, 
i.e., being shown, being collected, being published & being "talked about."

as far as anyone can see, artistic success, being a process in time takes time.


1- murillo's works don't appear in temporary or permanent exhibitions of any great museum. he had a brief presence at the Serpentine Gallery in London, where had a performance, and also @ the London Institute of Contemporary Arts (LICA).
2- before june 26, murillo didn't have a single published monograph about his work.
3- most significantly, he didn't have the support of curators or critics.

unless someone powerful can change all of that suddenly.

Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan (1962)

murillo's art is not breaking ground, in fact it's derivative.

but that's not the point.  his work has the artblicity factor!

that is to say, it's marketable, with strong influences from twombly (above), the 1980s graffiti artists, particularly basquiat. in the end his art is what i call "derivative"contemporary." he is young & proficient, comes from a good art school and has a latin american background.

art is not what matters here. it never did.

in fact, contra garcía-vega, murillo is not the "bluff," someone else is.

since the 2008 financial crisis, we've learned that "bluffing" the market is just the market's NORMAL.
it reflects the market's irrational appetite for profit accumulation (the scorpion will sting the frog even at the risk of drowning, that's it's nature).

what we have here is ready-made mechanism of the art/star phenomenon which artblicity endlessly presents and represents.

collectors like dicaprio have to have art advisers to advise him of an "unknown" like murillo. if the bid started at $30,000, how come it ended up fetching more than 10 times its original value? a phantom bidder? a last minute phone call to miami? we'll never know (phantom-bidders?).

murillo is famous now good or him. but this being christie's (an epicenter of the art market) the murillo auction points at something else.


where is the magic if people realize that what makes art "art" is just a market strategy?

contemporary "art" is defined by "how" and "when" and "where" and by "whom" it is presented. 

the Saatchi The Rubells factor

murillo's unbelievable ascension is a result of a deliberate and well-planned strategy.

i'll take the rubells' side of the connection.

the question is, how does arthoodication work?

1- commission an in situ production of 50 pieces!
2- print a catalog (with an interview by hans ulrich obrist, wuderkind, starcurator maximus & master of interviews —a predominant arthoodication trampoline—and essays by liam gillick, jonathan p. watts and nicola lees).
3- devise a media blitz, which includes articles written by prestigious reviewers and critics in some of the art market's favorite outlets.
4- sit and wait for murillo's auction.

coming back to the "received" slower model of art success explored above: if  murillo was seriously lacking in that department, the rubells' miami "commission" took care of it in one single coup.

the financial times: 
Colombian-born London-based artist Oscar Murillo is just 27 years old, and the hottest market darling around. Prices for his large abstract canvases, which incorporate dirt and other media, have rocketed from a few thousand pounds just a couple of years ago to a stunning $401,000, made at auction at Phillips New York on September 19, over an estimate of just $30,000-$40,000. Murillo hit the headlines in Florida last year. The Rubell foundation gave him a residency where he made 50 works, all of which they acquired. 
50 works right before the price explosion at christie's. question: what percent did the rubells paid for the 50-piece lot compared to what dicaprio paid for the piece above @ christie's?

a view of the murillo exhibit @ the rubells

the art newspaper, whose subtitle reads: The 26-year-old artist on what it was like to live and work at the Miami collectors' private museum this summer.

it bids "candid-while-paradoxical" murillo excerpts:
1- They saw a solo project I did with Stuart Shave/Modern Art at the Independent fair last March in New York, and they were curious to know more about what I do. 2- It’s a kind of residency but it’s not something that [the Rubells] do as collectors—they did it to facilitate my project. 3- It wasn’t like a commissionI was never told “we want this type of work”, but I knew I was going to have a show in that space and there were certain things I wanted to focus on.
BOMB (with interview by legacy russell):
My gallery called, “Don and Mera want to come to your studio.” And I said, “Well, I don’t have any work in the studio.” The gallery said, “We’ll get some work from storage and bring it over.” I thought, Bringing paintings back to the studio, what’s the point? For me it was an opportunity to show my work in process because the process is very important. Finished paintings they could see in the gallery. So before the Rubells visited, I stayed up all night and made a couple of paintings. Making these works created a residue of the process. And the Rubells understood that. (...) This year they invited me to do something there. They suggested this incredibly large room—I mean, it’s overwhelming! 
why is legacy using interview format here? great vehicle to sell: it sounds intimate, revealing, kind of unfiltered, almost honest. get it?

art in america, (a regurgitation of BOMB)

kaleidoscope, (with a sort of "serious" parlance by isobel arbison)
In its attempted integration of the physical and public with the pictorial and personal, Murillo’s practice might echo many earlier performative approaches, from the Japanese artists in the Gutai Group — in which painting was performed on the horizontal, floor-bound canvas by bodies swinging, sweeping or crawling across its surface (a notable example being Kazuo Shiraga’s use of his feet to paint, in the mid1950s) — to the rambunctious strokes of Yves Klein’s blued-up female nudes moving over blank canvases in front of awe-struck bourgeois crowds in the early days of Art Informel (IKB, 1959).
"integration of the physical and public with the pictorial and personal ... from the japanese artists of the gutai group to yves klein?"

arbison's hyberbolic paragraph is just a sales pitch playing hired hand to the system (i wonder is she actually saw murillo's work, or if this is review-at-a-distance, like i know reviewers do today, with digital photos, showing on an iphone).

the art observer, (much of the same cacophony)

bloomberg: obviously partisan in its there's-a-lot-of-cash-on-the-sidelines mantra:
He’s had the quickest upward trajectory for his age of any artist I’ve seen in 25 years,” said Kenny Schachter, a London-based dealer, curator and writer. There’s a lot of money to be made trading Oscar Murillo at this point.
that's seven media outlets i found selling murillo's commission and exhibit @ the rubells!

murillo's work is arthoodicated. 

yet, one cannot help marveling at the speed and synchronicity of the system to get things done! 

and as if by pure coincidence the rubells own 50 murillos!


Unknown said...

exelente , como siempre, mantente ahi M.B, el arte mantiene embrujado a un publico zombie bajo "el hechizo de la mercancia,es el signo de los tiempos.

Feminista said...

Great post Triff.

Alfredo Triff said...

thanks, unknown & feminista.

Malagodi said...

Well written and points well made.

But is the point that the market is fabricated, or to demonstrate the fabrication?

It seems to me that, like politics, we should understand that the system is corrupt and then ask "what is the response?"

All of art, regardless of discipline, is immediately part of the entertainment industry as soon as it is offered in exchange for money. Thus everything is in vulgar completion for mind-share, shelf space and market position. That's the world we live in. To suppose that "art" as product (or bs about 'the process') is any different than a piece of decor, an item of furniture, is to desperately hold on to delusional hope in a Santa Claus, or free love.

One cannot - cannot - serve both God and mammon. One is the realm of Caesar and the other the realm of the saints. They are incompatible universes and have no use for each other. That's how the Devil runs his business, by filling in the gap.

Robert Linsley said...

Good piece. But kind of an.ordinary artist. I don't wish him any harm, but his work is not exceptional.

Alfredo Triff said...

It seems to me that, like politics, we should understand that the system is corrupt and then ask "what is the response?"

Good point Malagodi, only that art is not exactly politics. Art as opposed to politics (which could be seen as a realm means-to-end) presents itself to the public as "aesthetic," a realm of taste and beauty, with artworks separated from the sphere of utility. When people go to Art Basel in Miami Beach they believe they see representations of CULTURE (though there's a price tag attached to each painting). Tx for reading,

Alfredo Triff said...

Well, Robert obviously your opinion doesn't matter to DiCaprio and the Rubells and Saatchi, et. al. (not that I don't agree with it). ;)