What does “better art” look like? Is it even a question to be asking? Besides elusive matters of aesthetic taste, perhaps we should focus on the experience and lasting value of art in culture in general. On TRANSCENDING THE TRENDS of the marketplace and getting at deeper issues like how the public interfaces with art, or how art can convey social, political, and historical messages (assuming that’s its preferred role), or how to identify the most effective strategies for artists (as well as curators, institutions, fairs, galleries, critics and collectors) to implement their visions, maybe even leaving room for failure.
The photographer DAVID LACHAPELLE may best be known for his iconic work in fashion portraitures, but increasingly, he’s been using the power of his opulent style to disseminate the messages of social conscience. increasingly, he’s been using the power of his opulent style to disseminate the messages of social conscience. His newest bodies of work depict gas stations and power plants from the retro-futurist petrolium-industrial nightmare- selections of which are on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea. “First came the idea, I didn't know why,” says LaChapelle. “Then later, I started to understand why I was doing them. The single biggest thing to happen in human history was the discovery and use of fossil fuels. It changed the earth. And now they talk about peak oil? We’re at peak everything. Peak porn, peak money, peak population- we are there. We are walking through the pages of REVELATIONS. Al Gore said that! So for anyone to be in denial of that is just not to be conscious. We are all guilty, we all have blood on our hands. Because no matter what religion we are, we all worship at the same temple- the gas station. But if you are conscious, then you realize that we have to do whatever we ca to live the right way, and we know we are not making the right choices. So these gas stations and power plants are made of garbage, made of stuff that’s plastic and cardboard, cheap recycled metals- the stuff we just throw away. At the same time, this work is playful and joyful.
A lot of environmental art is so heavy- handed and accusatory. But this SHIT IS MAGICAL.” And that’s his strategy for making better art: to make work that people will look at. They solve the puzzle and you’ve got their full attention, and that’s when you share your message. “You are competing against bombardment of imagery, you have to figure out how to make people look long enough to think- and then they see it.”