Opening up Chapter 6 with the world’s largest rhinestone, “…dazzling us all with its plangent banality,” was an interesting way of introducing the idea of ‘authenticity’ and the way it is created within the context of culture. Hickey brings the comparison of the neon lights of Vegas to the natural sunset, being that one is “honest fakery” and the other “fake honesty.” In actuality, the sunset is no more or less authentic then the neon lights or the rhinestone that has been bona fide by someone, somewhere. This goes back to many of the discussions of taste and subjectivity. “Bad taste is real taste, of course, and good taste is the residue of someone else’s privilege…” Suffice to say that in actuality, the only reason why formalism exists is because somewhere down the line someone sat down and attempted to create rules, limits and definitions for how artwork can be successful. A recipe, so to speak. I’ve seen plenty of examples of these recipes failing. In the case of a classmate I had last quarter, this student was so hard set on using the golden rectangle as a means for compositional directive. At the moment when they finally started to question that method and abandon those supposed ‘perfect dimensions’, the work became that much more effective.
In the later chapters, Hickey speaks in regard to what has developed into the art market, as a result of art becoming a commodity. With regards to the market, art began to adapt the commercial method of “designing visual obsolescence in their products by institutionalizing style change.” Artists today are faced with this issue time and time again; to develop some sort of identifiable style or even worse a brand. At least with style, if an artist is working through their own artistic voice they tend to develop a style naturally, based on overarching interests and material endeavors; but branding or stylizing for the sake of market appeal, that just seems to go against art-making in general. I feel as though it’s a matter of what you want out of your career. If you want fame, fortune and attention – well, you must be hanging out with Damien Hirst. And if you stray away from that and look more toward being truthful to your own work, there are plenty of avenues for exploring that through a career.