Sunday, February 13, 2005

I was in Central Park today to see The Gates. It's charming; it created a near-giddiness in the crowd. I really want to see it again tomorrow when it's raining.

But over on the right, a cane is being shook in a white-knuckled fist and a voice is croaking, "Get off my lawn!!"

Andy Warhol once remarked that 'art is what you can get away with'. And how. Just ask Christo, the Bulgarian-born entrepreneur who wraps things in cloth, calls it Art and sits back while the money pours into his bank account....

His latest wheeze is 'The Gates' in Central Park, New York.... This visual litter will inconvenience visitors to the park from 12 February to 27 February, when the whole shebang will be rolled up and put into storage somewhere....In the meantime, Christo is drawing furiously, churning out the drawings, the largest of which are fetching $600,000....

This isn't a Rotarian boor, Dennis Prager one of the Limbaughs. This is one of the Right's intellectuals: Roger (Tenured Radicals) Kimball. And that's his critique of the art: It inconveniences Joe Average Man! (It doesn't, actually -- the gates of The Gates are wide and inviting, the saffron curtains billowing overhead; on a sunny Sunday in New York, if you truly want inconvenience, just walk, well, anywhere, and fall in behind a slow-creeping pedestrian gabbing on a cellphone, or try to get past a wall of tourists walking four abreast.) And ... and ... really rich people pay a lot of money to the artists! (Poor dears. Won't somebody save them from themselves, before they spend themselves down to their last hundred or two hundred million?)

This is my favorite Kimball line:

Why should the city let an individual capitalise on public property, possibly compromising the local bird life and foliage, in order to enhance his own notoriety and balance sheet?

Um ... local bird life? Does Kimball mean pigeons? Is he concerned that The Gates is going to harm pigeons?

Would that it were so.

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