Art For Art’s Sake


I watched a rather good doco on SBS yesterday, made by Peter Rosen, called Who Get’s To Call It Art?(2006) I could attempt to recap it, but someone at great expense bothered to write the following:

A wild ride through the New York City art scene of the ’60s, through the eyes of Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Geldzahler was an unusual curator who lived among the artists, spending all his time in galleries and studios. Geldzahler possessed a rare eye for beauty and an even rarer willingness to discover it in out-of-the-way places. A cornucopia of archival and contemporary footage – featuring a veritable who’s who of painters and sculptors, from Jasper Johns to Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, James Rosenquist and Francesco Clemente – traces Geldzahler’s intersections with the changing New York art scene.

Interviews included Mark Di Suvero, John Chamberlain, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Ivan Karp, Ellsworth Kelly and Calvin Tompkins.

Archival footage was well chosen and plentiful. It included lots of Geldzahler himself as well as material showing Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Naturally there was plenty of Andy Warhol; his penchant for self-documentation turned out to be very useful for projects like this one.

It’s a Warhol moment that provides one of the highlights of the film. If you haven’t seen it before, this segment is a gem. Warhol appears in a commercial for Braniff Airlines with former world heavyweight boxing champ, Sonny Liston. It’s a cleverly done, one shot ad which begins with Warhol talking to Liston about the beauty of soup cans, something which in his opinion, Michelangelo couldn’t have even imagined. A voiceover intones that Warhol and Liston always fly Braniff, because they “like our girls, they like our food, they like our style.”

There’s a little bit more to it but I’ll leave you to suss it out for yourself here or here.

Elevate the Insignificant!

M. Le Triv

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