Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Art of Failure: Connelly/Scaboda

http://www.chuckconnelly.com/gallery.php?year=1993http://www.chuckconnelly.com/gallery.php
http://www.chuckconnelly.com/scaboda.php

Oh, the tortured, misunderstood, undiscovered and unappreciated artist.

Except that Chuck Connelly is actually good. Yet while good, he's still mightily derivative, a la Munch, Dali, Van Gogh, Balthus. And he was once both discovered and appreciated commercially, while apparently blowing his chance because of his behavior. (I could care less about his behavior---it's just that all the work that I saw presented on this HBO doc looked like it came straight from Munch, Dali, Van Gogh, or Balthus. It's simultaneously beautiful and daring and bold and disturbing and subtle...but is it original?)

Connelly made a big splash when he first appeared in the early '80s, and then fell out of favor. In his latest incarnation in the "Art of Failure" documentary on HBO, he's hilariously hired someone to pretend to be an artist in 2007 named "Fred Scaboda"---supposedly someone new on the scene, but actually Chuck Connelly, and who's presenting Connelly's work to various galleries as "Scaboda." All with "Scaboda"'s "trademark" Big Black Dot appearing in all of the pictures.

In one scene of the doc, a gallery owner asks the actor playing the fictional Scaboda what the black dot on all of his paintings means: "When I was a kid, I showed my dad one of my paintings, and he put his cigarette out on it." My jaw dropped at how funnily Spinal-Tappish that was, and at how the gallery owner took it completely straight! (Really, how else COULD he take it? The performance was so straight-faced and perfect.)

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