Friday Ephemera
Happy Meal

And Sometimes This Happens

The gallery says Lee Bul’s famous artwork Majestic Splendor (1991–2018) caught fire while it was being removed from the exhibition. Majestic Splendor is composed of sequin-covered rotting fish. When it was shown in 1997 at New York’s MoMA, it had to be removed as the smell made visitors feel sick. For the Hayward show, the fish were placed in potassium permanganate. Although it is not flammable, the chemical does increase the flammability of other combustible materials. On receiving advice, the gallery decided to withdraw the artwork, but it spontaneously combusted mid-removal.

However, “only minimal damage” was inflicted by the self-destructing art, the pre-destroyed magnificence of which can be savoured in detail here

Via Julia



The Lord moves in mysterious ways.


A great loss of an artifact of human achievement, I am sure.

But if the MoMA is interested I believe I do have an hour or two this weekend during which I could procure for them a replacement, for a small fee of course.


It’s perhaps worth remembering that the director of the Hayward Gallery, Mr Ralph Rugoff, famously explained to the world, and to the taxpayers who subsidise his activities, that “Art is really about ideas. It’s not about looking at things.” Which may explain why so many of his gallery’s offerings have no discernible aesthetic properties.

Hector Drummond, Vile Novelist

>The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Well, yes, he does. He lets tens of thousands of garbage artworks stay in galleries which are not regularly destroyed in earthquakes. Stupid Lord.

Dan Patch

“Art is really about ideas. It’s not about looking at things.”

What I saw before me was the critic-in-chief of The New York Times saying: In looking at a painting today, "to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial." I read it again. It didn't say "something helpful" or "enriching" or even "extremely valuable." No, the word was crucial.

In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can't see a painting.

... All these years, in short, I had assumed that in art, if nowhere else, seeing is believing. Well—how very shortsighted! Now, at last, on April 28, 1974, I could see. I had gotten it backward all along. Not "seeing is believing," you ninny, but "believing is seeing," for Modern Art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text.

Like most sudden revelations, this one left me dizzy. How could such a thing be? How could Modern Art be literary? As every art-history student is told, the Modern movement began about 1900 with a complete rejection of the literary nature of academic art, meaning the sort of realistic art which originated in the Renaissance and which the various national academies still held up as the last word...


Now that I'd pay to see - pretentious twaddle spontaneously combusting. And I bet it made a lovely purple flame too.


Everything about the modern art world can be summed up in one anecdote. Some years ago the British TV programme 'That's Life' invited a selection of art world types on to give their views on a painting. One, the late, great and sadly missed Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell, pronounced it a load of rubbish. The others praised it in Pseuds corner-style.

It had been 'painted' by an elephant.

Hairy Windsor

One of the worst catering jobs I've ever seen. I'm certainly glad I finally persuaded Meghan not to hire him to provision our wedding breakfast. She thought that, given my background dealing with explosives, bangs and suchlike, I would have enjoyed it. No waaaay!


Dan Patch:
I second the recommendation for Tom Wolfe's, The Painted Word... and also recommend his similarly themed "From Bauhaus to Our House", about then-modern architecture.

Captain Nemo

Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

Spiny Norman

David, you have a category "And Then It Caught Fire"?

Oh, I see. It's just now.

LMAO! I sure hope to see more entries.

Spiny Norman

Dan Patch,

From your Wolfe quote:

Modern Art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text.

And now, not quite 45 years on, the "text" has become so inscrutable it needs an explanation.

Captain Nemo

When I first saw the "And Then It Caught Fire" tag, Spiny, I assumed that David's Other Half had finally gotten around to using the kitchen blowtorch...


I assumed that David’s Other Half had finally gotten around to using the kitchen blowtorch...

So far as I can make out, the thing has been moved only once, to be dusted.

Spiny Norman

the thing has been moved only once, to be dusted.

You guys are letting us all down. Florida Man would have used it for something by now, like killing spiders, or clearing weeds in the garden, or something else potentially disastrous... (>_<)


You guys are letting us all down.

I know, we’re bringing shame on the kitchen gadget enthusiast community. At least we’ve established that it’s quite effective at gathering dust.

Mr Ecks

O/T but VERY important. Mr Thompson.

You might want to spread the word.


So far as I can make out, the thing has been moved only once, to be dusted.

You've never used it in the making of creme brulees?

Or in the making of flaming mixed cocktails for a large holiday party?

[shuffles feet]

They were Flaming Boobies...I was bartending my friends' New Year's Florida, where I used to live. There were fireworks too.

Don't look at me like that.

Spiny Norman

Mr Ecks,

"Brexit" doesn't look so foolish now, does it? The European Union is just indispensable! [headdesk]

(I thought the terrible, awful US Republicans had already destroyed the Internet by killing cancelling the implementation of "net neutrality".)

Spiny Norman

(As an aside, being a Seppo, I had no horse in the Brexit race, but I have always held a very dim view of unelected, unaccountable bureaucracies, and the EU is the largest such on the planet. Our absurd 3-letter acronym federal agencies wish they had the power of EU bureaucrats.)

Captain Nemo

So far as I can make out, the thing has been moved only once, to be dusted.

Heh. I'm now imagining an episode of Time Team from the year 3018, where they dig up the Guild of Evil headquarters to find a very dusty and fully functioning (but otherwise unused) blowtorch. My Saturday evenings can be tedious. Don't judge me.

Thomas Fuller


Art world goes wild for chimpanzee's paintings as Warhol work flops

... They were painted in the late 1950s by Congo, a celebrity chimp resident in London Zoo who was hailed as the Cezanne of the ape world.

Picasso acquired one of Congo's 400 works, Miro swapped two of his paintings for one of Congo's, and Salvador Dali was so smitten with the ape's canvases that he declared: ''The hand of the chimpanzee is quasihuman; the hand of Jackson Pollock is totally animal!"

Bidding for Congo's three works together started at £1,000 - they had originally been given an estimated sale price of £600-£800 separately - and ended with two telephone bidders slogging it out. ...

Sam Duncan

“"Brexit" doesn't look so foolish now, does it?”

It certainly does not, and I hope this will make some of the less religiously-committed Remainers think twice about their position. But the trouble is that the entire acquis (the collected body of EU law) will be incorporated into UK domestic law on Brexit day, so it'll come too late. Until we actually leave, we're still in it up to our eyeballs. After that they can do what they like, and I hope it chokes 'em. But right now, this has to be stopped.


This is crazy...


The coming Dark Ages

Ace Reagan

" .... but it spontaneously combusted mid-removal."
So, smart art.

Mr Ecks

S Norman--If you think I am or ever was a supporter of the EU you are sadly mistaken.

I would like the job of hangman for their entire bureaucracy.

I am trying to spread awareness of their attack on the Internet as we have only til 20th June before the POS is voted upon. Everybody email your MEP--and I need a bath after saying that but it is the quickest way to pressure the scumbags.

As leavers from their shithouse little club we should ignore it anyway but with the Fish-Faced Cow on the job small chance of that.

Mr Ecks

While I'm here --this is to make people aware--orig posted on Samizdata:

"On the contrary we appear to be–between the FFC and the EU (and Corbog’s evil still in –hopefully futile–waiting)–experiencing what I would call “Tyranny Wheeze of the Week”.

* Sentencing Council scum want 6 years for criticising the RoP. In effect RoP blasphemy law imposed. Consultation until August.

* Amber Rudd wants you to have 15 years for looking at “far-right” material on the Web–when “far-right” now means anyone who won’t spew or kiss the arse of cultural Marxism. The ugly slug may have fallen but I doubt she took the plan with her.

*The FFC wants us to have the “safest” –ie most controlled– Internet on Earth –“safer” than China. Some pencil-neck BluLabour twat was mouthing about it a few days ago.

*The vile scummers are now tripping over each other. Because if the EU link tax scam comes off there will BE no free or independent Internet for Fishy to control anyway.

* Fishy also plans to criminalise anyone being nasty to political scum. Presumably –so I hope–this means in direct communications with the pork–unless lese majeste is now on the way back. Since there are already laws dealing with threat and harassment, to me this can only mean stuff like: “You Madam, are a disgrace to office you hold. Resign now before you damage and besmirch our once glorious nation further”. That is Gospel truth.

*Tim Worstall also points out how the Plod want powers to take down music related to gang violence off Youtube–Hip Hop etc. The have pestered Youtube to remove some but of course they want the power to compel. And how long before the Bonny Blue Flag and Hoyt Axton and many others are gone as well. “God save our gracious Queen”, “Soldiers of the Queen” too no doubt."

R. Sherman

Mr. Ecks,

Thanks for the links. I hope people in the U.S. take an interest in this issue, because it has the potential to greatly affect our internet usage as well, First Amendment considerations notwithstanding. Aside from a substantial chunk of our own political "elite" desiring undoubtedly to arrogate to itself such power to manipulate information and eliminate dissenting views, the larger companies such as Google and Facebook, will make its decision based on how much revenue they stand to lose in the E.U. if they simply refuse to comply and cease operations in E.U. member states. It may be cost prohibitive to have parallel systems, and if so, the easiest thing to do is have one universal system for everyone. The content producers won't object, of course, but Google and Facebook will have legal cover to eliminate anything which might violate E.U. law, no matter where it's produced.


A long time ago I had a penpal who was a professional artist and spent a lot of time in museums. One day she backed up to get a better look at something and accidentally knocked down a pile of bricks on the floor. She had assumed the bricks were for repairs or something, then when she knocked over the pile she saw a sign that they were Art, so she put them back as best she could and hoped nobody noticed.

Spiny Norman

Mr Ecks,

If you think I am or ever was a supporter of the EU you are sadly mistaken.

Oh, no, I actually didn't. The question was of the "rhetorical" sort. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

(Shit. That's twice in two days I'm made that blunder. Back to lurking...)

R. Sherman

Self-destructing Art

The truth is out there.


When art is deemed too dangerous.


Artistic assessment.

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