Netflix churns out awful woke content. Every show is woke appropriate. The one refuge seems to be documentaries. Sure, there are plenty of left wing framing and content, but occasionally something can slip through with minimal progressive flavoring. Made You Look is one such documentary. I recommend watching this little window into the world of the rich and their ridiculous patronage of the fine arts.
This documentary checks the boxes for, well, a documentary that our crowd would make. Made You Look covers a multi-decade fraud pulled on oblivious 1% cosmopolitans using the garbage art of the abstract modern painters that the CIA manufactured into the ‘it’ crowd. It was performed by immigrants with no attachment to America, a wealthy Jewish philanthropist with family ties to communism, and the Knoedler art gallery of New York. At the end of the day, the rich get off without any prison sentence, this is swept under the rug and the art world is shaken as now everyone worries about forgeries in galleries.
The key from an art perspective here is that the modern abstract painters were producing garbage that laymen knew was crap, yet the in crowd said it was high art. This fraud in its own right was exposed over fifty years ago with the Pierre Brassau hoax when a primate painted, fooling art critics who when confronted with the hoax doubled down on their praise. We have known for decades that it is all a joke they pull to consider themselves the enlightened insiders while plebeians do not understand or get the fantastic garbage.
That garbage itself was all a CIA creation. Frances Saunders book The Cultural Cold War is a must read for how the CIA funded and molded nearly all art (visual and written) in the fight against the Soviet system. America was so free that it would allow this type of creativity to flourish. All of the Mockingbird assets were used, as even in this documentary they show how TIME magazine was calling Pollock the most famous living American artist alive. They memed Pollock into fame. The regular Joe Sixpack sees it as swirling chaos. The BFA knows the right words to say to appreciate it and justify the multi-million auction prices.
That’s what comes into play here. An immigrant out of Long Island waltzes into Knoedler and starts to spin a tale. It is a great con, worthy of a movie script. She knows exactly what to say to play up the idea that she has an heir to a rich, dead private owner who has an unknown until today collection of abstract paintings to unload. This immigrant has another immigrant, a Chinese painter, who manufactures these forgeries in his garage in Queens. The right words are said. The right names are dropped. The style of the paintings look close enough to fit.
The real hinge is the star of the show Ann Freedman who deserves an Oscar for her performance. She is either the dumbest woman in America or the best actress. She denies anything was fake, and she claims to not be involved with the con. Her interview segments are the best, especially when they come back to her after a man or woman has described an event and she contradicts it. Maybe a he said-she said is believable once, but she does it with so many people that the constant is her faulty memory.
Within her stories though, one sees how the modern art crowd has their head up their ass. Galleries accept these forgeries as legit and show them. Art experts look at these and claim they are originals, and some even write strong letters of authentication. Others do not. Some did not fall for this con, so the question of money is in play. Were those other experts paid off to sign off on them? This is important as the money involved is staggering. The sales of these forgeries kept Knoedler afloat, Hammer’s pockets fattened and Freedman earned tens of millions in commissions. Even after taxes, Hammer enjoyed 200% to 800% profits on the sales.
There was also the prestige of these finds and sales. They had uncovered hidden gems for the rest of the art world. This was a huge draw for these experts to flex their knowledge of the long dead artists. This was the draw for buyers, too. These buyers were hedge fundies, GoldmanSachs executives, and the elite of NYC. They wanted these paintings, and surprisingly, never asked why they were getting them so cheap if they were real.
The con fell apart though once one buyer asked for forensic analysis of a purchase. The data came back with proof that paints used in these were first made years, even decades, after artists died. Other bits started to come out like the paintings signed with misspellings. Experts claimed they could not imagine one forger could copy these artists styles, but seriously, when it is Pollock’s mess or Rothko’s blocks, how hard would it to be to fake? Simple financial auditing proved no money was going back to the original collector.
No one serves a day in jail because the prime target was a small fish who got time served. The Chinese forger hopped on a flight to China and is untouchable. The mastermind who had committed similar frauds in the past is chilling in his home country (Spain). America is an economic zone to do business and crime. Freedman and Hammer were never brought to justice because the federal prosecutors felt it would be too tough to convince beyond a reasonable doubt fraud occurred.
Therein lies the big fraud. These modern abstract artists were a giant con played on the art world and society. These paintings get swapped, millions change hands, and the rich get to feel elite. This is their racket. Besides real estate, art sales are the only good that is exempt from money laundering rules. It is all a racket, and you are not allowed into it. The photographs from swanky parties of buyers, sellers and the art crowd hammer the point home that we have an elite that is not an elite. This is an aristocracy larping as aristocracies of old. The old aristocracies were patrons of the arts. These people try to do the same. All they can do is patronize what they are told, which is pathetic modern art. Even within that framework, they are merely there for fashion and cannot prevent their patronage from falling into the muck. Their art is the same as their rule, fraudulent and disconnected from the masses they supposedly serve as stewards.
5 Comments Add yours
Get AcornTV and then BritBox. Then only watch shows over 5-years old. Sure they have Trump jokes, but they are funny. And while the Leftist stuff is there it is not in your face.
For American TV you have to go back at least 15 years to avoid the Leftist crap.
Thank God for streaming.
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My weebery will continue until the West improves.
Mr She stands no chance against Mr Xi.
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Just smash your TV, pick up a real book (paper), visit a historical site or park and leave your FiretrUCKING cell phone at home. They do make cameras that don’t come with a phone.
Rothko has been particularly amusing for me. Here’s a hilarious Youtube comment on the “Made You Look” documentary:
“That first Rothko @ 8:24 has a square corner both middle left and middle right. the smug between the different colors for transition are way way to thin. Rothko would never leave the sharp edge on the outside edge of transition color. The center of the painting is like nothing Rothko ever did. The colors are way too blotchy and defined in the orange/red and the dark main color… Bottom left edge is nowhere to be found on any other Rothko… even the best part, the pale dark yellow is all wrong, and I know very little about Rothko. My point is that everything is about money. The people that bought this painting were buying it to sell it and obviously knew less than I.”
I’ll double down. I’m not a philistine and Rothko, the real one not the fake, was itself a hilarious con. That a critic actually discusses the “transition color” of a Rothko painting is itself hilarious. It’s a “Dad joke” – one could replace “Rothko” with “my three year old’s fridge drawing” and it would work the same.
There are plenty of rock music fans that would obsess over some particular show, or LP printing, or whatever. Or what about the comic book collectors? Or Beanie babies? This one missing a ear so it’s worth triple.
One can imagine a more primitive tribe discussing the intricacies of chicken entrails using much the same language.
The basic cognitive trick here is the same as in gambling. Gambling games are designed to work via probabilities that are not intuitive to humans, they are all more or less variations on the gambler’s fallacy.
In this case, it was people with more money than status so someone came along, invented a status system, then sold status to the people who lacked status but had money. You can hack someone’s cognition to accept an otherwise ridiculous status system – think, every teenage fad ever. “This year, green hair and facial piercings are in.”
If you think about it, Bitcoin is a similar thing.
Why so bitter? The article sounds more like sour grapes from a socialist. If rich people want to throw their money away so what? Do you want Social Realism? If so, what kind? Boating parties or tractor factory workers?
Anyway, you don’t think you aren’t despised by your mass culture overlords do you? Oh, but if the masses are suckered (yet again) by a pop culture shill, politician or sport entertainer of the moment that’s different? LOL. I have an idea: Why not sell various stars’ underwear – washed, $500; unwashed, $1,000. You could get a lot of money for a jockstrap.