Legitimate art that makes me UNCOMFORTABLE

Kinokuniya Books is an independent bookstore located on 6th Avenue across from Bryant Park. [Remember independent bookstores? May Jeff Bezos rot in Hades for slaughtering them.] There’s a healthy dose of mainstream literature on the ground floor but the basement and second floor are devoted to Japanese books, Manga and Anime—their specialty.

On the second floor, there’s a glass case that contains delicate porcelain statuettes of characters, mainly female, culled from anime books and films. They’re priced at around $80-$100 each. They are, in my humble opinion, beautiful works of art. But there’s something disconcerting about them.

statue5To my aged eyes, they look to be very young girls who are highly sexualized. The common threads that run through each piece are large, oversized eyes, flowing, windswept hair, young, cherubic faces and robust, mature bodies. With 0% body fat, I might add.

statue4You have to see these in person to appreciate the artistry. These photos don’t do them justice. They don’t capture the soft, almost blurry texture of the skin, the vibrant colors and dramatic flow and movement.

statue1Some of the figures are warriors, but some of them have hints of bondage and girls in peril. I don’t mind admitting that when I’m standing there looking at these (not to mention snapping pictures with my iPhone) I feel a bit like the dirty old office drone looking for a cheap lunchtime thrill.

statue3What’s the appropriate age for a girl to wear knee-highs and garters? Does she seem a bit young to you guys for that? I’m conflicted because I think it’s beautiful.

statue7Does finding artistic merit in these make me a lecherous old fool? Because I feel like one. Is there, in fact, NO artistic merit whatsoever? Am I just using high-minded art and design concepts to rationalize my discomfort away? Can someone please let me off the hook here? Or am I stuck with this thorny crown?


SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s a government program for low-income individuals that focuses on proper eating. Putting healthy food within reach!

SNAP1So what am I to think when the deli on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue displays the ‘we accept SNAP’ tag here?

SNAP2Does this mean you can use your SNAP benefits to buy a York Peppermint Patty? Or are they trying to send a message? That there are healthier choices than this crap? Honestly, I can’t decide what the intent is here.

Bluetooth hands free New York City style, bitches.

hands free

Art auction addendum: A piece that disgusts me

Typically, I don’t do back-to-back auction posts but there are extenuating circumstances. Some of the galleries at Christie’s were vacated after an auction last week so they put more pieces on display from this week’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction. Here are a few more high (low?) lights and one piece that I found deeply offensive and depressing.

This frivolity is by Maurizio Cattelan.


Frank and Jamie. $1,500,000–2,500,000
Sold for $965,000. What a deal!

This was good for a laugh but, again, I have to wonder about the practicality of a piece like this. Where would you put it? In the foyer? The estimate may provide the biggest laugh.

But this isn’t the one that offended me.

This beauty is by British bad boy (no, not Banksy) Damian Hirst


Inviolability. $900,000–1,200,000
Sold for $1,205,000

I saw one of these in the Cleveland Museum of Art over the summer. A security guard yelled at me for taking a picture of it. You know what is is made of, don’t you? Butterfly wings.


Thousands and thousands of butterfly wings. He breeds them specifically for these pieces. Here’s the center.


The materials used are listed as “…butterflies and household gloss on canvas mounted on panel.” Here’s another piece that’s smaller.


Psalm 28: Ad Te, Domine. $150,000–200,000
Sold for $305,000

And the detail.


They’re beautiful but cruel. Yet, they didn’t offended me.

This sculpture is by Antony Gormley and I loved it.


Domain LXVI. $400,000–600,000
Sold for $545,000

There’s something about the way it stood in a pool of light and glistened when you walked by that really worked for me. It somehow manages the trick of being both slight and powerful at the same time. Obviously, this isn’t the one that offended me.

I was offended by this.


3-Meter Girl. $2,000,000–3,000,000
DID NOT SELL. Of course, it didn’t.

Horrible. This ugly objectification of women is courtesy of Takashi Murakami. Do you know how you’re supposed to respect other cultures and not criticize what they might consider art? That it’s okay to not like something, but to condemn is it in poor taste? Well, in the words of Le Clown, fuck that noise. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with Japanese men? They seem to have a proclivity towards sex-up little girls. Do they feel threatened and intimidated by adult women?


All I kept thinking was that I’ve got two beautiful daughters at home and how, no matter what age, I wouldn’t want them looking at this. I wondered what it would do to their body image and self esteem.


Or, do I just need to lighten up? Go ahead. You can tell me. I can take it. I do like how this last photo came out, though. Good composition and shadowing.