Utter nonsense

This film forms part of the cannon of BMW vanity projects. The notion is that you commission an eminent artists to 'paint' the shell of the car. It is described as a 'difficult and demanding job'. The rationale given by the artists is at best flimsy: 'I wanted it to look good in the daytime' for instance. It flags up an inability to describe the structure in thinking, the reason for the selected imagery seems arbitrary/random, perhaps with the exeption of David Hockney who wanted to take away the surface and see the inside of the car on the outside, an indication of his mawkish sentimentality about cubism and Pablo perhaps? These artists were commissioned because of their fame and renown at the time, a shrewd investment by the motoring giant no doubt. Beyond this the reason for the work is sketchy. Style over communication?


charlie cameron said...

i saw a new one the other day with a guy called theo jansen a dutch desighner who has made these kentic sclutures, hes refers to them as living creatrues, i dunno if u ve seen them? they are really quite amazing, im not to sure what bmw's movtive is but i think his ideas are incredible. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=b694exl_oZo

David Hockney said...

Talking of "Utter Nonsense" - looking "GOOD AT NIGHT" is actually what was said (which even ticks a few more 'Design' safety boxes) and, I'd also like to point out: When does a sound-bite do anything justice? Do you know what The Client requested? Why did all these artists say YES to this highly corporate, quite highly paid - VERY high profile commission?

I think THE POINT is missed in the original post... I'm not known for daubing cars with house paint am I - ever wondered why?...

Calm down dear it's just a commercial [job]

Darryl Clifton said...

Hello David

I think that I need to shed some light on the context for the initial post. We are trying to build up a bank of opinion/ideas/conjecture relating to larger themes that impact upon design subjects [including Illustration]. This post relates to the subject of style versus communication. This, within the context of design related subjects particularly, is a hot potato and one worthy of discussion I think?
You are correct, I misquoted Jenny Holzer, but I think that she said that she wanted the car to look distinctive during the day, apologies and yes, from the films we are not made aware of the brief for the project either which does make my comments seem churlish, again apologies. However I/we are really interested in opening this discussion up, my point really relates to rationale and structure in thinking, the process that builds to decision making in respect of images and more obvious design work. The logic that supports a kind of visual communication. I would really like to know why you and these other artists said yes to the commission and I think that it would be great to discuss the point of the project?

Darryl Clifton said...

I should also add that the purpose of posting comments that are a bit contentious/inflammatory is to elicit debate and discussion.

johnny said...

Well now...

Far from wanting to discourage artists as diverse as Holzer, Hockney and Warhol (Mr Warhol is perhaps beyond encouragement) from engaging with the vanity projects of corporate paymasters, I would urge them to do so more.
It's an orthodox stance now to declare corporate engagement in the arts as somehow distasteful.
It's what the arts accepts blindly, unthinking, as a given.
Time then, surely, for a backlash?
In my view, arts engagement with seemingly vulgar mass-media corporate patronage is thrilling. It is the bleeding edge. Imagine what one can do when one is invited to reinterpret industrial product. What could one do to this product and what would it mean? A thrill only for the brave.
These corporations are our unelected political masters now. They are forcibly our patrons. So when we engage with them, when we engage with BMW, a company literally born out of warfare, a company that sells momentarily beautiful mirages of 'luxury', 'status', 'elitism' in the angular physical shape of geometric aggression, what would one, as an artist, do?
When one 'collaborates' with Naomi Klein's enemy, what would one do? Subvert or celebrate, destroy or adore?

Mr Warhol painted one, and then signed it.
Ms Holzer signed one with a painted slogan.
Mr Hockney painted one. Maybe he signed it.

These 'works' in no way had to be utter nonsense. But they do seem to be weak.
The visual responses featured in the film smack of needlessly 'guilty' fine artists engaging with a cash cow they feel to be deeply distasteful just as fast as they can, much as one might hungrily but guiltily engage in a dirty sex act: One wants it badly, but oh the shame!
But why be ashamed? 'Mr Hockney' does a good job of bravely standing firm (curiously referencing Michael Winner as he does so), brazenly embracing commerce and assuming the mantle of the designer as a possibly valid means of justification / excuse.
Yet in my view his painted car in no way does his significant talent justice. This is not the response of the great designer / artist. Surely Mr Hockney would not be content to just knock it out, as it were? It's not just 'a commercial', is it? It's a missed opportunity.

I think the truth is that the fine artists featured are captive to their own commercial value. They can't be seen to do these things, and perhaps that's why Holzer seems embarrassed, evasive and sketchy, despite having painted with delicious irony 'Protect Me From What I Want' on a dangerous, expensive and innately obsolete commodity.

So what would a great designer have done with these cars?

In fairness to Mr Clifton, the danger of painting cars for money in high-profile ad campaigns is that younger generations only know you as the guy who daubs cars with house paint.

In passing, Mr Hockney and Mr Clifton, I've all too often found that if you feel ashamed, being enigmatic means never having to say you're sorry.

Jennifer Crouch said...

This is interesting?
Here are a few thoughts (-tangents not points!)

1) Even if an artist does not do commercial work, if such is the case that they make a living from it, it is because they are capitalizing on themselves. The world of art IS commercial although perhaps not so much in the sense that it is mediocre. But to an extent it depends on WHO has the money and on their personal influence. Although all that depends on weather the artist in question is a good leader ( I think most artists are leaders but not all of them can tell people to follow- not that this is in all cases necessary for their goals). Comparing this with artists creating/working for corporate/commercial causes I find both sides are analogous, although they are very different.

This is a case where an established artist is given commercial work, so I am a bit off topic but I think its worth considering.

2) Filling the world with interesting, encouraging and clever visual (and/or sound) work, weather off your own back or via corporate is better than vacuous, wearisome, witless, sub-intelligent nonsense that is present in the majority of advertisements/ campaigns. (I like to think it can drive viewers some how away from the passionless.)

3) However perhaps its persuasion? The extent to which what we see/experience can manipulate and drive opinions or emotions during viewing is something that is extremely interesting, powerful and parallel to reality (ie general life). This is what most artists live off- the reaction. Another possible tangent but relevant in illustrating a point would be thinking about propaganda and how extended exposure to violence (for example) changes/effects the brain physically and emotionally.

4) There are lots of artists creating mediocre work and pasting it up, getting it published everywhere and lots of "samey" work that seems to be making money. Similarly lots of exceptional work not being noticed. If more high quality, thought provoking work is exposed maybe the higher we can raise the bar, the more 'normal' exceptional is and the tougher the competition. Therefor encouraging people to try harder and think more about what they are making or experiencing. Perhaps the better the outcome?

5) Maybe its all about what you can get away with/ take advantage of?

With regards to the original post I have two points.

1) This looks like a stunt, an obvious one and I assume the motive is vain.

2) HOWEVER any opportunity to make something quite ordinary * into something extra-ordinary is worth endorsing. Platforms etc......

I enjoy these comments.

* Ordinary: (Note to referring to cars a ordinary) Cars are not that exceptional to me in my daily life (although I am NOT a connoisseur) because I see them everywhere and they often look similar, do the similar thing and get in my way when crossing the road. Nonetheless I appreciate the engineering more than you would think! (Which could be potentially EXTRA-Ordinary, but in reality not what it could be) .....Yet another digression for another time.

Q: Did the painted cars do any racing? They should!

Jennifer Crouch said...

Note: Most companies start with creativity, invention and innovation. Good ideas, like the BMW and even the internet are creative and experimental and then eventually become entrepreneurial investments.

Its good to question who has the control then. I think that hard to answer, the people who demand, invest or create?