Pretty to look at, pretty stupid

by Yule Heibel on April 20, 2003

A while ago, I wrote a piece comparing Eric Blumrich’s animations to Gericault’s 19th century painting, The Raft of the Medusa. But if there’s a modern-day Gericault, there has to be a modern day Bouguereau: he was one of mid-19th century Paris’s el painters supremo, extremely talented and much revered and hyped by the ruling class, and a real first class one-man schlock-mobile who manipulated sentiment to the point of seemingly forever giving it a bad name. In fact, with today’s simulacra and our fabulous reproduction capabilities, there must be hundreds of Bouguereaus. But the artist who probably deserves the Numero Uno Bouguoh award of the month has got to be Madonna. Her reign of schlock coupled with her ability to retain her status as media darling make her the winner, as does her ability, so lucidly explored by Bouguereau himself, to sanitize reality and meaning out of existence.


Yule Heibel April 26, 2003 at 10:44 pm

Hardly arbitrary. Madonna & Bouguereau work towards the same end insofar as their technique is so seamless and perfect as to leave the consumer speechless, as well as seemingly incapable of figuring out how (technically) she or he did it. Blumrich & Gericault, I would argue, open technique up — sort of in the manner of a kid taking an established set of building blocks, but instead of building the expected, making something completely new with the materials or protocols of that medium. That way of working doesn’t leave this viewer (me) speechless, but rather leaves me wanting to speak. Sort of like the difference between reification and rupture.

Goyo April 26, 2003 at 11:40 pm


Is schlock synonymous with kitsch? It is interesting, albeit somewhat arbitrary, to compare Madonna and Bougereau. But to what avail? The former is insufferable, the latter dead.

Goyo de la Rosa


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