Today’s pop music seems to be going through the same metamorphosis that the Artworld went through in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I don’t believe I’m alone in observing that today’s popular music is about as bad as it’s ever been. There hasn’t been a major music revolution since rap. None of the new stuff has any sincerity. When there actually is some meat it has the flavor of "Rocking the Suburbs" by the Ben Folds Five or "Too High for the Supermarket" by The Uninvited. Like art, there continues to be a lot of great music being made in the various 20th century genres*. Also pre-twentieth century, most of the best movie themes are classical. Turn on a top 40 station in America and you’ll discover that the deciding spiritual and philosophical theme of our time turns out to be: "Hey, look at me. I’m a rock star. I’m rich, get laid all the time, not like you, man." Remember, the Beatles and Louie Armstrong were the pop music of their time. The super cynical attitude of today’s music reminds me of all those 80’s art stars, the most interesting of which is Jeff Koons.

Jeff Koons was born white and middle-class just outside Philadelphia in 1950. He claims he’s been drawing since he was a kid, but I’ve never seen any of his drawings. Jeff grew up to become a stockbroker, but after a few years he decided to redirect his salesmanship and marketing skills toward the Artworld. His early work was recycled Pop art, ready-mades and easily recognizable objects created by hired craftsmen. The only innovation in art that Koons can be credited for is being one of the first to present what I like to call "science projectsas art." Besides that his work is no great shakes. What makes Koons so interesting and historically important is his celebrity. Sure there had been famous artists before Koons, but they tended to be famous for their art, not visa-versa.

One of Koons' most interesting exploits was marrying the Italian porn star and parliament member, Cicciolina. They made a porn flick together and even had a son, Ludwig. When Koons was going through his porn period he created a body of work entitled "Made in Heaven" and had a huge opening at Sonnebend. The work consisted of large photographic prints of Jeff and Cicciolina doing the wild thing. To the best of my knowledge the largest porcelain in the history of the world depicts Koons having coitus with his ex wife. Yeah, believe it or not this match made in heaven didn’t last. Oddly enough, Koons is actually the good parent, soberly stating that he doesn’t want his son brought up emerged in the bowels of the Italian porn industry. Jeff Koon’s new work consists of large paintings of his PhotoShop collages executed by his factory of employees. Like most of his work these paintings are clean and interesting and totally irrelevant to Koon’s place in art history. In a lot of ways Warhol did the same thing, but he was sincere and, though a lot of people don’t know it, talented. Conceptually, these ideas go all the way back to Duchamp and Dada. There are better conceptual artists than Koons; some even with basically the same shtick. Mark Kostabi was doing the same sort of thing at about the same time. He sold coffee mugs and t-shirts with the Mark Kostabi name, hired people to make his art and even had an employ who he paid a dime for every dozen ideas he could come up with. (Check out Mark Kostabi’s column on But no one really pushed the "look at me, I’m a great artist" routine like Jeff Koons. And he did it naked.

All this talk about naked men reminds me of Jeff Koons. This guy sells big photos of himself in the throws of passion with his ex-wife. I mean, that’s what he does for a living. Did you know that a Jeff Koons creation "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," (one of three casts created entirely by hired craftsmen) sold at auction last year for 5.6 million dollars?

*According to my Oxford Dictionary of Art a genre is a category of art. There’s a million of them. There’s even a genre of painting called "genre painting." Also the authors of this 550 page scholarly book published in 1994 seemed to be unaware of the term "postmodern," which to this day there is no consensus on the spelling of.

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