The Serpentine Gallery is a curious institution. On the one hand it is stuck in the middle of Hyde Park and gets treated by the weekend hordes as a glorified toilet; while on the other, current co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist is preparing some heavy-weight exhibitions, most notably a Gustav Metzger retrospective that will kick ass from the end of September. But last night it was the opening of the summer show, a silly season special called Popeye Series by Jeff Koons.
Popeye Series doesn’t interest me. Koons makes exactly the sort of art you’d expect from a former Wall Street commodity broker, the visual equivalent of junk bonds, over-priced trash. Just a tad more entertaining from the perspective of morbid curiosity are the idle rich who flock to be seen at the shows Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones puts on for their benefit. These are the people who bankroll the Serpentine as an institution, and exhibitions by the likes of Koons are payback for their support.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the Serpentine was an enormous queue to get in; waiting in line is fine for those who have just spent the afternoon in Harrods buying fake wings for their lap-dogs, but personally I’ve got better things to do with my time. I quickly figured out there was a scam way to beat the queue via a back entrance. When I got into the party area what immediately caught my attention was a very tall and thin woman wearing a pink diaphanous summer dress and no knickers. Given her size zero figure, this off-the-peg garment was a poor fit but it did make her stand out among the identikit millionairesses.
Inside the gallery there were a lot of people getting very excited by the fact that photographers and a diarist from Art Forum were present. The Eurotrash polluting the place were clearly craving attention of a type they’d be more likely to get at a night club, so it beats me why they bother with events like the Serpentine summer show and the Venice Biennial. I saw a good number of people I know and exchanged greetings with Serpentine staff Sally Tallant and Nicola Lees, writer Paul Buck and assorted artists including Clunie Reid, Cedar Lewisohn and Jonathan Allen. Nonetheless, we were completely outnumbered by girls in very high heels with plumbs falling out of their mouths. Said girls were asking inane questions like: “what is Koons trying to say?” Others didn’t know who he was, and I even heard one woman tell another that: “Poons is wonderful”.
On the whole the culture industry types present and the Eurotrash didn’t mix. The most visible exception to this caused a great deal of puzzlement. Some middle-aged artists asked me if I could tell them the name of the man who had more press photographers interested in him than anyone else. I revealed that the geezer in the red jacket and black jeans was Duggie Fields. My acquaintances thought the name rang a bell but couldn’t place it, so I gave them a quick run down of eighties phenomena like ZG Magazine. My guess was that the photographers were more interested in the Eurotrash ‘babes’ Fields was greeting than the artist himself.
As I left an identikit millionairess was using her mobile to tell her daddy how excited she was by the Jeff Koons exhibition: “I’ll have to ask Andrew what it means, he’ll know!” This particular woman had transformed intellectual vacuity into a fine art. I trust that ‘Andrew’ was able to tell her that art no longer has anything to say, if it ever did, and Jeff Koons is the best proof yet that bourgeois culture is utterly bankrupt. That said, there were hundreds of super-rich people present with blank expressions on their faces. They all looked like they needed a harsh does of reality to jolt them out of their self-satisfied stupor, but they’re not going to get that from a Koons exhibition. All I can say is roll on Gustav Metzger!
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Michael K on 2009-07-02 11:02:14 +0000
Home, you’re never gonna marry money at this rate! You’re not supposed to stand around bitching about the rich totty, you’re supposed to chat it up. Get with the programme I gave you or you’ll never be a success in the cultural industry!
Comment by Hunter S. Thompson on 2009-07-02 11:15:30 +0000
Are you on drugs? Whether you are or are not, let me assure you they get even better once you’re dead!
Comment by Victoria Silvstedt on 2009-07-02 11:56:46 +0000
Come here big boy and show me what you’re made of!
Comment by Alex Trocchi on 2009-07-02 12:15:34 +0000
“Cedar”, “Clunie” I miss London, I miss being alive
Comment by Paris Hilton on 2009-07-02 12:31:25 +0000
I want ice cream!
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-02 12:59:04 +0000
Excellent though a Gustav Metzger retrospective would (should) could be, surely there will be nothing left to show… Or maybe that’s the point, the gallery floor will just have small piles of dust, burnt bits and tiny corroded matter.
Onwards to the gift shop for the souvenir postcard!
Comment by Phina on 2009-07-02 14:14:34 +0000
He he, bitching about the rich…excellent!
Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-07-02 16:04:48 +0000
Sounds like my idea of hell… oh but some great overheard dialogue, you can’t beat it (which is why I steal rather than write dialogue myself – and chuckle when people tell me it’s not remotely credible).
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-02 18:10:14 +0000
Alex – not sure why you reiterate the names you do, but it makes me wonder what sort of schooling you had. The secondary modern I went to in the 1970s was very ethnically mixed, which meant you had a wide variety of names – yes, the white English kids tended to be called things like Sharon and Tina, but the Afro-Caribbean pupils had names like Wayne and Darren (now more common as names among white kids than they were then), and of course there were quite a few Mohammads among the many Muslim kids at my school (about 25% of the pupils). A wide variety of names very often indicates ethnic diversity which I see as a good thing, I trust you aren’t mentioning Cedar because you have a problem with this…. Perhaps you should clarify. Certainly then, and my impression is that even today, working class schools like the one I went to are far more ethnically diverse than the expensive private educational establishments attended by the upper classes.
Old Rope. I’ve seen many very interesting Metzger exhibitions, including his last retrospective a decade ago at Modern Art Oxford. You’d be surprised what there is to show… But nothing but ashes in the gallery might be a groove!
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-02 21:43:46 +0000
I’m down with the ashes. Or perhaps the whole gallery could just burn down… Or melt, which seems more likely in the current heat.
I’ve not seen it for years but Ken McMullen’s film ‘Pioneers In Art and Science: Metzger’ was half decent as I recall. The Arts Council part paid for it as I recall.
Need to plan a trip to the Big Smoke anyway, can’t remember the last time. In fact, it was possibly when I swung by an event you spoke at about Trocchi – now that must be going back a couple of years. Nice pub, nice cat too, if memory serves. Ale? I can’t remember.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-03 00:44:17 +0000
Yeah, the Ken McMullen Metzger film was funded by the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at the Arts Council, but that department is now abolished, so Tony White and Bronac Ferran are now elsewhere. Which is a shame, since they even used to bung the odd quid and paid gig my way when they had the budget to do it!
And that 3AM Trocchi event I spoke at was way back when on 12 October 2006 at the Three Kings, Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R ODY. So you definitely need a trip to London if you haven’t been here for three years!
Comment by Sara Lauchlan on 2009-07-03 01:06:42 +0000
Comment by Dave Rimmer on 2009-07-03 01:37:32 +0000
Agree 100% about Koons.
Comment by Lewis Amar on 2009-07-03 01:57:27 +0000
Ha Ha HA, Jeff Poons!
Comment by Simon Evans on 2009-07-03 02:02:46 +0000
Is Jeff Koons the one married to the Italian ‘flick’ star – if thats the man I ‘m thinking of – God I hate his work so much. ..and him and his goddam Missus.
Comment by Rob La Frenais on 2009-07-03 02:17:52 +0000
Thought so. Glad I gave it a miss. Roll on Gustav!
Comment by Jay Clifton on 2009-07-03 02:20:05 +0000
Dug the blog, Stewart– there was an interview with him in G2 this week where the writer was trying to make Koons out as a tragic figure because he didn’t get custody rights for his first child from ‘La Ciccolina’, and that all his art for the last ten years has supposedly been about that one way or another. Kind of a stretch, I thought, and if so, how one-dimensional of him, really, as a so-called important artist making literally millions from his work.
Comment by Taki Theodoracopulos on 2009-07-03 09:40:04 +0000
Not just anyone can be Eurotrash you know. If you’re a man then you have to be stinking rich. Women have to meet the even more stringent 3Ts criteria. Are they tall enough, tanned enough and thin enough. Height 5.11 maybe if you got a lot of dosh, but otherwise 6ft and over; thin means size zero or forget it; and tanned means tanned, no fake tans for us!
Comment by Derek Flint on 2009-07-03 10:19:48 +0000
Show me an identikit millionairess and I’ll show her a good time.
Comment by Kate Robbins on 2009-07-03 10:33:24 +0000
Eurotrash is a new kind of rich scumbag, built on the idea that rich scumbags can be more intuitive and fun. And maybe even useful (n bed anyway). After all, Eurotrash has:
No kikini line!
Unless it’s the male variety, and I can’t imagine anyone having any use for that!
Comment by Identikit Millionairess on 2009-07-03 10:40:44 +0000
This post upset me. You are mean.
Comment by Old Rope on 2009-07-03 21:33:44 +0000
Three years!!!?? That can’t be right! Surely? Ok, maybe it is. Maybe I’ve been since.
Did Tony White work for the Arts Council? Not that I’d know. Although I have to go there for work off and on. Which reminds me I need to finish my shit half-baked piece that vaguely touches on funding.
Either way a Gus retro seems a good excuse to pop down to London.
Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-07-03 22:03:59 +0000
Yeah, 3 years and Tony White worked for the Arts Council but doesn’t any more….
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-07-04 01:37:46 +0000
The woman is very observant right – Poons iz wonderful
Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-07-04 01:51:51 +0000
When I first heard about Koons years ago, I thought his works were an elaborate art prank. I’m still waiting for the reveal … anybody? …. anybody?
Well, I’m off to party with a whole gaggle (or is that a pride? or flock?…) of Identikit millionairesses and Eurotrash. Toot! toot!
Comment by Justin on 2009-07-04 13:41:02 +0000
I guess he ain’t jokin’. I shouldn’t be smokin’. I’m Popeye the sailor man! Toot!Toot!