Originality as Original Sin

In my seventh grade social studies class we learned about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses what is now available on Wikipedia, that the nailing criticized the selling of indulgences as a financial transaction taking the place of original forgiveness of original sin of a Christianity that had been absorbed by the the economics of the times.

It’s easy to imagine a contemporary artist-monk nailing an anti-establishment manifesto to several pillars (thank God for photo copiers!) out crying with distaste the obscenities of art-as-high-value-commodities, art-spaces-as-business-centers practices along with the useless romanticism of auction house rituals and mega galleries. The original intentions and ethics of art have been lost with its life and use structured in the global marketplace.

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“I love you madly”

When I was in Germany I was invited by an Austrian friend to drink wine with him and a German at his apartment. We smoked Lucky Strikes in the small, one room studio near Offenbach. My friend showed us the scans on his computer of a book of portraits he had found in his Viennese art school. The faces of the people being represented were rendered in a post Picasso, gestural, expressionistic way, deformed by the accidents of paint. They stood on familiar ground between what is beauty and not beauty in the accidental, the representative, the abstract – old, familiar conflicts making old, familiar pictures.

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