A few posts back, I commented on an art show that displayed works which were not for sale, works that exist for artists in an acommercialized arena. It reminded me of Turtle Rock and where my own sympathies overlapped with those of the curator.
And then there was an article last week about the great abstract expressionist Clyfford Still. I did not know it but it seems that he spent a great deal of effort fighting against the commercialization of his art. He managed to posthumously succeed, if only in an incredibly egotistical way – his last will and testament decreed that his thousands of stored away works (only 150 were ever sold) may ever only be shown in an entire museum dedicated to him with no other artist’s work alongside. And now that a celebrity architect has signed on, Denver, CO will be the recipient of Still’s legacy. Egotism and intrigue aside, how fascinating. I mean really.
And then I found myself in a southern room at the Met the other day, a room full of Still’s paintings. It was breathtaking. Paul Klee, Arshile Gorky, and Mark Rothko often get the most praise for their distinctive color palettes, but never have I been this taken with the combinations. (The only exception, maybe, was a Dan Flavin show at the Smithsonian a few years ago, but that’s 3D and so entirely different.)
The colors are dark and brooding, full of movement and emotion. Like a plush velvet curtain and maroon walls. I don’t really know what it was that grabbed me the most, but it was certainly a memorable experience. I personally can’t wait for that Denver museum. Still may have had a high opinion of himself, but in the end I think there will be plenty of people who will find themselves in accord.
But what does any of this have to do with Turtle Rock and free music? Well, maybe an interesting lesson. Maybe you can sell a little bit in pursuit of something much bigger. Maybe you have to, even if you’re kicking and screaming.