The unveiling of the ugly “draperies gates” in New York City’s Central Park was the epitome of what I call “Pretentious City Pretend Art.”


Art, as part of its intent and definition, is to inspire and span generations and have the creative sustainability to meet the idea of the eternal.

The Pretentious City Pretend Art masquerading as saffron gates in Central Park proves my point.

Those $21 million draperies will only stand for a couple of weeks and then they will disappear forever. Why bother?

Those draperies gates are nothing more than a “happening” or an “event” to be witnessed and then forgotten because the idea of them is to be brief, disposable and disremembered.

The “artists” never planned for the saffron gates to be anything more than a terribly selfish and self-indulgent pock on Central Park — “We were here. We spent $21 million of our own money. We are forgotten forever.”

The saffron gates would be better if there were no draperies. The saffron metal frames could stand for several lifetimes — one could even leave the draperies to decay before our eyes over time as witness to the flowing eroding of Art while the frames soldier on alone.

Permanence changes landscapes. Those frames could modify the motivation and the preponderance of Central Park over a long period of time.

The saffron gates “artists” would argue the entire point and the limit of permission for the project was its impermanence. I respond “that’s exactly why it is not Art.”

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at Boles.com | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.

10 Comments

  1. I think the idea is that art, in it s usual context of being on a wall or on a floor in a gallery or museum is a temporary event dictated by marketplace and notions of what is “hot”. Christo’s work takes that into account while opening up an extended dialogue of what that whole “gallery system” is. I also believe that this sort of art stays in the memory much longer than a single picture out of thousands seen in traditional settings can hope to achieve.
    Neath

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  2. Neath —
    How does artwork stay “in the memory much longer” when it is only viewable for a limited time and then taken away forever?
    Sure it can live on in images and film and video but the original artwork is lost forever.

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  3. I would say it is the scale and the public nature of it that gets etched in the memory. We see gabillions of images in context at art galleries, magazines, and other media. Perhaps we do forget, but the ones who actually walked through these “gates” may remember it as a strong experience. Of course no one is holding a gun to their heads demanding that they call it “art”.

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  4. Few people actually experienced the gates in person, neath, so that “art experience” dies forever in images only.

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  5. […] Is that truly, unblinking, Panopticonic Eye, passively watching you, actively surveilling your every move, or is it just a dead — but still pretentious — piece of street art? […]

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  6. Lillian Boyington October 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2005-03-04/news/18288257_1_artists-christo-and-jeanne-claude-gates-mayor-bloomberg

    Apparently, for all it’s uselessness, it garnered quite a bit of cash for the local merchants. And the very temporary-ness of the structure became it’s attraction and call.
    I had to look for images of what was described. Apparently it was quite a vision and change from the ordinary landscape.

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    1. Transient and ugly! I don’t care how much it cost or how much money it brought into a brazen city. Legalizing prostitution would bring in millions more that draperies gates — but should we allow that moral monstrosity, too?

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  7. Lillian Boyington October 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    As I was perusing the media coverage of your aforementioned atrocity, I stumbled on this little article from a 7 year old’s point of view. It’s a cute rendition from a child’s perspective rather than an adult’s view that takes in all the associated details instead of just the visual aspect. 🙂
    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2005-02-06/entertainment/18296378_1_christo-and-jeanne-claude-gates-serena

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  8. […] The quickest way to lose any social argument is to hide behind claiming the wellbeing of your children is at risk while not standing in front of them and offering them direct protection.  If you’re truly concerned about the welfare of your offspring, instantly act on their behalf, and don’t slog into the courts to beg a remedy to a simple matter of privacy that could be solved simply by drawing the curtains. […]

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