An excerpt from Beautiful Losers

by , under FOUND

For those who are unfamiliar with the documentary Beautiful Losers, it used to be on Netflix instant and it’s a real tragedy that it isn’t anymore. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. It’s an incredible movie and has a killer book that goes with it as well. And, as sometimes it is easy to do, I have skipped over the introduction of the book component and only recently really read the thing cover to cover. (Sometimes I forget how much I love my books. Man, I really love my books.) Point being – here’s a real gem from the intro that i’d like to share with everyone. These artists are using form, color, and content to convey their messages through illegal and guerrilla methods, plowing forward fearlessly and embracing their craft in the process.

And here:

“The fine arts are in need of genetic infusion. The field is struggling, and it is littered with ailing institutions and anemic programs. The recent economic downturn and the re-direction of funding priorities away from the arts to more tangible causes have contributed to the field’s overall poor health. However, financial distribution alone does not explain it’s current malaise. The field is failing precisely because of a certain kind of success. The modernist enterprise has run it’s course and we have won our acres of perfect white cubes in theme park-like museum enclosures. And into these high culture biospheres, we place art that has little meaning in the wild, outside of these artificial environments. We have established a system of art academies that produce trained professionals whose artwork has become increasingly too mannered, too removed from connection with the everyday and too encoded with self-referential knowledge. These works are failing to compete with the compelling raw energy, imagination, and speed of material culture. At the moment, the visual arts are in grave danger of becoming something like ballet.”

— Thom Collins and Rene de Guzman

And, it’s to be argued that some of the most important movements came out of the mid 1980’s- the birth of zines, skateboard graphics, t-shirts, album artwork, break-dancing, graffiti, punk/hardcore music.. the list goes on. I have to remind myself that the work that I make doesn’t have to be so serious to put on a wall. The imagery coming out of these cut and paste amateur creations are so rich and captivating. Sometimes, it’s best, in the infamous words of Satoh, to just vomit it out.

*Side note- if you love type, check out Margaret Kilgallen. Her ideas of how the world is a place “grotesquely oversaturated with information and images” and how her solution was to create her own personal “info-babble” is just the tip of the iceberg for her stunning visual confusion that is just truly spectacular.

  1. Brandon

    Just watched beautiful losers. Great documentary. Thanks for the suggestion. It’s free if you have amazon prime. To me it was interesting because I had a conversation with my cousin about how most art documentaries (at least the ones I find) are about street art. I’m always conflicting on how to feel because when I do random searches for artist it appears that street artists are way more glorified than the formal and commercial artists. Also in movies and on tv shows formal artists are seen as fake or sell outs. However many formal and commercial artist make a lot of money so my feelings are all over the place on this issue. This documentary did do a better job than most on connecting street art with commercial art. So I really enjoyed that. And there is definitely a lot to admire about street artists. The attention to form. The inner motivation. And what I envy most, The Fearlessness. One thing I hope to achieve in probably all areas of my life is that level of fearlessness coupled with so level of responsibility. Also, in art specifically, I hope to achieve Arnholm’s level of confident and sense of achievement in which I know people are going to love my shit and also I have nothing to prove. The level in which when ask a simple question in my field of expertise without hesitation I answer “I don’t know”. As well as dismissing a class by just walking out (what I consider the equivalent to dropping the mic and walking off stage). Again thanks for the post and suggestion. There is a lot to learn from that documentary.

  2. Andrea Gottardy

    Also, Brandon, I just watched “Our City Dreams” that has your girl Swoon in it! You should watch that too- it’s free on netflix instant :)