December 19, 2007

Brit Crit Makes Your Kid's Artwork Into His Artwork, Sells It Back To You For $260

kinbotes_critique.jpgThere's a populist sentiment afoot in Great Britain that considers the entire contemporary art world to be a giant joke perpetrated on culture generally and rich people with more money than sense in particular.

Without that setting, artist/writer Dan Crowe's pompous-and-inept-criticism-for-pay project, Kinbote's Bespoke Art Commentary Service would make even less sense than it already does.

For £130-190, Crowe will write a 300-500 word critique of your kid's artwork. As the name implies, it's supposed to be in the voice of a delusional, self-important critic like Charles Kinbote, the narrator of Vladimir Nabokov's awesome annotated poem/novel, Pale Fire. Unfortunately, the examples published so far come off sounding more like a slightly overenthusiastic Sister Wendy impersonator.

Gawker sees the whole thing as a prank, while the Times of London appears to take Kinbote's very seriously on its face. But the key to Crowe's project lies in his description of the finished product:

The essay will be forwarded to you within two weeks on Smythson's paper, in a splendid gift box, with which you will probably be quite impressed. It will bear my signature placed regally at the end of the essay. The essay itself is a work of art and should be treated as such. [emphasis added]
Whatever else it is, Kinbote's is the product of an artist who works in the medium of children's art and analytical text instead of oil and canvas. If you're cool with that, then it doesn't really matter how simple-minded the faux critiques are. If you're a fan of both Pale Fire and art & art writing, though, you may have a hard time seeing the Kinbote conceit as anything more than a flimsy excuse for some trite writing.

Is this a Matisse? Er, no, it’s Mattie’s [timesonline.co.uk via gawker]
Kinbote's Bespoke Art Commentary Service kinbotescommentary.com]

2 Comments

kind of makes me want to vomit, unlike this guy who refines children's drawings of monsters into fully realized illustrations which are pretty danged awesome.

Probably worth pointing out that the creator of Kinbote's Commentary is using the voice of Charles Kinbote from Pale Fire -- a voice which was known for its arrogance. He doesn't really think he's making art. He's making heirlooms. But other people (in the Times, etc) have seen the potential for the next big art movement.

[arrogance and intensifying delusion. At first, I did not agree with ther Gawker POV that it was making fun of kids in any way. But the more I think about it, the more I suspect the dude's certainly deriving pleasure from people taking it at face value--whichever face that may be. Ultimately, though, the tone and the writing seem to miss the mark for me. When you decide to compare yourself to Nabakov, you better bring your A-game. -ed.]

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