When most professional artists begin their careers, they are often lucky not to starve. This general rule, like most rules, does not apply if you are the son of the president of the United States.
“How much of that value is due to the art itself? That’s easy: None of it,” wrote Jeffry Cudlin, professor of art curatorial studies and practice at the Maryland Institute College of Art, in an email to the Washington Examiner. “They’re fine decorative amateur work. Hey, everybody needs a hobby!”
Though Biden’s artwork might raise an eyebrow or two, none of his paintings were particularly memorable, Cudlin said. They might fetch between $850-$3,000 for a buyer “to hang over someone’s couch.”
“If Hunter Biden were applying to school to get a BFA in painting, I think a portfolio with these pieces in it would indicate some sense of the medium, some nascent talent, and encourage anyone reviewing it that with a little training and a little study, Biden might one day make some interesting paintings,” he said.
Cudlin distinguishes “avant-garde gallery culture,” which is filled with people advancing the medium and creating critically acclaimed pieces of art, from “traditional gallery culture,” which is filled with rich people who like to surround themselves with cool stuff.
Judging by their comments about the art in an interview with Artnet, Biden and his curator are in the latter category, Cudlin said.
“I don’t paint from emotion or feeling,” Biden said in the interview. “Which I think are both very ephemeral. For me, painting is much more about kind of trying to bring forth what is, I think, the universal truth.”
“The last time artists said things like this,” according to Cudlin, “was maybe circa 1955. It’s a modernist trope, and modernism at this point is a period style, having effectively ended sometime by the end of the following decade, around 1968.”
The comments of Biden’s dealer Georges Berges are not much better, Cudlin said.
Berges’s gallery is located in SoHo, New York, which was once home to many avant-garde galleries. Beginning around 1980, it started to shift into a haven for traditional galleries, which is its present state.
Biden’s art “has that authenticity that I see in a lot of artists that I personally love, be it [Lucien] Freud or [Francis] Bacon,” Berges said in the interview with Artnet.
“Neither artist has a damn thing to do with Hunter Biden’s work,” Cudlin said.
“I can tell you that Freud and Bacon are the favorite painters of every straight white fraternity guy who took a single art appreciation class in undergrad for giggles. This guy scoffs at most art post-Whistler or Degas, occasionally voicing the opinion ‘That’s not art!’ about something created in, say, 1928.”
He was accused of defrauding an investor of $500,000 in a 2016 lawsuit. In 1998, he served 90 days in jail and 36 months probation for assault with a deadly weapon and making terrorist threats.
Cudlin deemed Biden and his gallerist’s comments part of “a traditional gallery pitch.”
“I don’t say this to be snobbish,” Cudlin said, “or to make pronouncements on his ability to move a brush around. But he’s just not in the game — and there’s only one game in town, and you’re either playing, or you’re not.”
Cudlin likened Biden’s art to a sweater worn by Kurt Cobain or another collectible created or owned by a famous person.
“Things are worth whatever people will pay for things,” he said. “The value a critic, art historian, or curator might see in a work as successfully embodying powerful content, or showing an artist’s sure-footed relationship to the history and possibilities of a medium, may have absolutely nothing to do with whatever investment potential someone sees in an object as a collectible or novelty outside of their importance within the field of contemporary art.”
Other celebrities who are not artists by trade have successfully created and sold paintings.
Sylvester Stallone has also displayed paintings in Berges’s galleries and fancies himself “a much better painter than an actor.” The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood create paintings that are “objectively terrible,” according to Cudlin.
“I don’t begrudge Hunter or Sir Paul or Ronnie Wood [for] having an audience for their work, or whatever odd little shows or publications they’ve appeared in. Good for them, I guess! And good for Mr. Biden,” Cudlin said.
“Everyone should try pushing brushes around. And if someone wants to pay you a half-million for the results: Cash that check.”
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Original Author: Charles Hilu
Original Location: Is Hunter Biden’s art worth $500,000? Here’s what a curator has to say