The Art Of Politics

What do art and politics have in common?  Well, I would say it is human nature, and basely speaking, it is also money.

Jackson Pollock, No. 5, 1948, oil on fiberboar...

Jackson Pollock, No. 5, 1948, via Wikipedia

My blogging friend Indiana Jen recently posted that even abstract art like that of Jackson Pollock, which is made of layers and swirls of drippings of various liquids, while appearing to some as random and even childish, has been judged by scientists as “incorporating experimentation in fluid dynamics”.   Some people think so highly of it that they pay huge sums for an original.  Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948” was reported sold in 2006 for a record $140 million dollars.  As another example, consider the artist Pablo Picasso.  His “Nu couch’ “ (1932) sold for $10 million dollars, and to me it is hardly distinguishable from some of my grandchildren’s work hanging on my refrigerator.  You can see it in the link.

In this modern era, computerized equipment has made duplication of many forms of art extremely good.  There are web sites that will sell you copies of great works of art, virtually indistinguishable from the original, for pennies

on the dollar.  Mollie and I selected a poster of an admired painting by an Italian artist and had a local studio do a process over it, such that it appears to be an original oil, complete with raised paint strokes.  I am attaching a photo of the painting and a detail shot of it as well.

Italian Lake Country


In our bedroom we have a piece of abstract art, framed under glass, that we thought went well with the bed and room decor.  It is a copy of something expensive, but we paid only a few tens of dollars for it at Walmart.  In my opinion, it is about as good as owning the original, but that’s just me.

Abstract Art over bed.

So why is having originals worth so much to wealthy people when virtually-indistinguishable duplicates can be had?  Well, I guess we all know the answer – it is ego.  Peacocks have their plumage, billionaires have their mansions and yachts, celebrities have pet charities.  It is all about importance and pecking order within one’s tribe, er, social circle.

As we enter the political crazy season I urge you, gentle reader, to consider the backgrounds, character flaws and family histories of the various candidates.  Somewhere in the field, perhaps, there is someone with the decent humility and moral nature of a Harry Truman or an Ike.  Making that value judgement will be a challenge, now that political campaigns are professionally managed by handlers.  Maybe the press should ask them about their art collections.

And, speaking of politicians, what about jewelry and Newt Gingrich?  I’m not sure jewelry can qualify as “art” or not – I suppose its design probably is – but the concept of paying very large sums for subjective qualities would seem to be, well, right on the money here.  Slate magazine concluded this about that:

But the Gingriches spent, at a bare minimum, $750,000 on Tiffany pieces. There is the distinct possibility they paid an amount equivalent to the median American’s salary just on interest to Tiffany’s. That hardly seems frugal.

Hmm.  Does that speak to you, dear Reader, about Mr. G’s personality?  It does to me.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
This entry was posted in Culture, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Art Of Politics

  1. johncerickson says:

    I’d love an Ike or a Truman. Even a Reagan or a 1980 George HW Bush (before he became 2nd banana to Reagan). Unfortunately, I don’t see that level of leadership and clear vision. I think you nailed the comment on the head with the term “peacock”. Too many Palin/Gingrich types trying to feather their own nests (to extend the analogy). I’d also like to see some more experienced talent to assist Obama in bringing some of his numerous promises to reasonable life (rather than, for example, yanking the rug out from under our troops in Afghanistan to meet a political deadline). I’d need to research their economics and politicking skills, but I hold some hope for one of the military leaders becoming available (thinking of Gen. Petraeus in particular). A future Ike? Time will tell, I guess. Or Newsweek, or some other periodical. 😀


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I can understand your reservations about the dangers of withdrawing too quickly from Afghanistan, John. I think accusations of political expediency are inevitable for any timeline before the election. However, I believe we would not be able to make a stable democracy out of that sad country in decades, much less a few years. My wife would like to see all the troops home tomorrow. i’m just hoping for something that looks halfway respectable. Thanks for commenting. — Jim


    • johncerickson says:

      My main reason for suspecting political motives in the withdrawal was the announcement of the major portion of the withdrawal occurring in the summer of 2012 – suspiciously convenient for the fall heavy-campaigning season. I do agree we could stay forever and still not see a stable country. I’d just be happier to see a more gradual drawdown – maybe a couple thousand a month – with some troops first rotating to somewhere in the region (perhaps in Saudi Arabia) as “fire brigades”, before coming home while the next group rotates out. But that’s just one armchair general’s opinion, for what it’s worth. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.