One of the great mysteries of blogging is why people use it a place to spill out all of their darkest and ugliest mental bile. I rarely read comments sections on blogs, but when I do I am often shocked at how people act out. For instance I came across a post about Catherine Opie’s upcoming show at the Guggenheim on MAO. Several of the comments mentioned her looks, here is a sampling.

Posted by:Art Old Spice |

I know it was a cruel remark, but I just can’t stand obese women…it’s probably something Freudian, but I value them less as human beings…something about having no will power and/or respect from themselves – and it’s unhygienic. So shoot me……Looking at that big Jabba the Hut mound of carved flesh holding the baby is as horrific as any nightmare scene Clive Barker could have come up with

Posted by:Art Old Spice |
In addition to being the most unattractive artist EVER, she has nary an original thought in her head and never acknowledges the work she has stolen from — whether Mark Wyse, Scott Peterman, Brian Finke — the woman has no honor

The guy went so far as to claim her success is based on her sexual orientation. Gee, would someone be comfortable saying, “Wow that guy is only a success because he is a Jewish?” My guess is no, because that would be appalling, hmmm…. Why is it not acceptable to question race or religion, but sexuality is just fine.

If I said she was an acne-scarred golem-like homunculus, but damn is she a GREAT photographer, then I doubt you’d think my critique of her appearance negates my opinion of her art. And I’ll admit, if she looked like Lara Logan I might enjoy her art more (though I’d keep the derivative comments to myself). Mona Kuhn stinks too, but she’s hot! Opie’s mainly gotten a free ride in the art world because she’s an LGTB poster child/fave of other gay/lesbian art critics, curators and boosters such as Tyler Green, etc. But don’t worry, my opinion of her will have no affect on the art world machine that’s already in place. Heck, Jerry Saltz has been trying to kill off Marlene Dumas’ career for years to no avail.

Also fascinating is the claim that she “stole” Brian Finke’s football images. Now nothing against Brian, he is clearly a talented photographer, but his football work is to me a more editorial/commercial project, after all he gets hired to do Nike ads. And let’s be honest, he could easily be accused of ripping off Collier Schorr (who is my personal fav in the group) And while there is a similar idea in all the work, I doubt Nike will be hiring Collier or Catherine anytime soon, but they would probably do amazing campaigns! Brian’s does capture the more romanticized idea of the High School football team.

In the end all of this seems silly, and it is blatant hostility to the idea of a women artist achieving that level of success. How many living female photographers have gotten solo shows at the Guggenheim? Whether you like all of Opie’s work or not, it seems pretty unacceptable to me to say a women is successful because of her looks, or on the flip side that she does not deserve to be successful because of them.

There were also may voices of dissent on the blog, but in the end it makes me sad to see people still thinking that way. It is human nature to be jealous, and everyone has the right to hate work, or to think an artist’s work itself is undeserving, but the personal attack stuff is something else. As bloggers, I guess we must decide which comments we allow, and how much free speech, we want to encourage.

And kudos to the Guggenheim for showing challenging and new work!

Catherine Opie

Brian Finke

Collier Schorr (I apologize for the low quality Gallery 303 has her tiny jpegs restricted, these are screen shots)