05 January 2006

My take: Art and Celebrity

This is the cover of John A. Walker’s Art and Celebrity, which I really expected to be a worthwhile book. Amazon’s description of the book includes the following:

The uneasy crossover between art and celebrity has been much discussed in recent years. Artists as celebrities is hardly a new phenomenon, but the growing cult of celebrity in contemporary culture is throwing up paradoxical ideas about the contradictions between "high" art and mass appeal and blurring the already unstable boundaries between art, commodity and popular culture.

This is a lively and accessible study of . . . the glitzy world where art and celebrity meet -- informed by a fundamentally serious look at what happens when the "serious" world of art collides with celebrity.

Even as I reread the description, I am struck with the desire to read what they have described, but Walker’s book isn’t that. Instead of a study of the phenomenon and its various incarnations and its problematic implications for artists, art, and the rest of us, Walker’s book is the precursor to such a study. The book contains an introduction, five chapters and a conclusion. Each chapter has a brief setting-of-the-stage and then artists, celebrities, and others are given their own little sub-heading followed by a description of what they did to merit inclusion in Walker’s book. In other words, the book is a series of loosely connected case studies. It lacks cohesive analysis and depth.

Anyway, my take on the book is that it is more fluff than substance, and definitely more celebrity than art.


Matthew said...

Sounds like a chance for a bit of authorship... =)

katperkins said...

Why is Arnold on the cover?

Mary Ann said...

The book contains the following paragraph that mentions the cover art:

A curious and amusing development in Russian art during the 1990s was evident in the collaborative paintings of Vladimir Dubosarsky (b. 1964, Moscow) and Alexander Vinogradov (b. 1963, Moscow). Perversely, they applied the academic skills and compulsory optimism of socialist realism to western popular cultural icons such as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Austrian-American movie start Arnold Schwarenegger (b. 1947), who, incidentally, was one of the few actors to refuse to change his foreign name. In their 1995 canvas En Plein Air, the action-hero posed in a bucolic rural setting and flexed his bicep for the benefit of admiring children while nearby an impressionist painter toiled at his easel.