Posthumous Art Profits
Making a Killing from Dead Artists
By: Morty Headstone – Deceased artist-at-large
Hello, my name was Morty Headstone, and like some of you, I considered myself to be an artist. Or at least I trained to be one. But that was a different time. Now, I base my fame on my experience of being dead. My current posthumous fame is also the result of the fanciful imagination of various art dealers and curators who have decided to brand me.
Upon realizing that I was about to pass away, I was somewhat disturbed and anxious at the prospect. But after having made the transition, I have come to realize that it was a great career move. Not only were my friends—such as they were—and family relieved to be rid of me and my incessant whining and melancholy “artiness,” but it has also been the right step toward becoming famous. I would say rich and famous, but my current condition frees me from the limitations of all the things that money can buy.
In fact, for an artist, being dead can afford success that you might never have had while occupying the material body. For an artist, opportunities abound once you pass away. Take for instance the ability to not get frustrated that your career never took off because of that misused word you once let slip when talking to that ignoramus of an art dealer who just couldn’t see the genius of your work. Or that miserly collector you punched when he tried to talk you down to half your asking price after you’d spent three years working on their commission.
Being dead affords dealers, museum curators, and auction house art promoters the leeway to make up anything they want about you and your work if they feel it will help make a sale. They have staffs of highly-talented gibberish writers who—probably between fits of laughter—can devise fascinating artspeak-type descriptions of your work, regardless of how far off they are from your actual artistic intent. Your collectors will absolutely eat it up and pay large sums of money for the privilege.
And the best part of this? You don’t need a damn Artist’s Statement! No one reads them anyway. And if they bother to do so, they find most statements are unintelligible. It’s far better to get the people with the big money and connections to shamelessly concoct inaccurate descriptions of your work and make it sound very, very important.
As an example of what I am talking about, below are just a few of the comments put out by some of the high-end art dealers and museum curators who now clamor to represent my work. Please note that I do not include any names, as they have specifically requested—through my personal medium—to remain anonymous in order to protect their shady reputations.
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. ~ Mark Twain
“Mr. Headstone’s luminous works are textural inspirations gleaned from watching reruns of daytime television soap operas with the sound turned down and simultaneously listening to Korean language tapes. His work decelerates the process of logical thought, scrambling the sense of making sense, to the extent that his works make absolute sense when viewed from the perspective of monetary value.”
“Headstone’s works contain an oscillation between texture and flatness accomplished by calculation and chance when placed on the road surface in the middle of a busy city intersection during rush hour. Pure genius!”
“Mr. Headstone’s approach to the use of color is quite unique. He applied them according to alphabetical order of the hues he intended to use for any given work. This method of applying colors expresses key elements of the artist’s esoteric symbolism, which offers both a celebration and a critique of the cacophonous onslaught of commercial desire on the subjectivity of a modern man, defined along the axis of sex, money, power, and an overpowering obsession with chickens.”
“The great Russian radical art critic and Beluga caviar salesman, Vladislav Stinsky, once said of Mr. Headstone’s work, ‘His works are the perfect manifestation of post-pseudo-vegan nihilism combined with the design vision of a deranged advertising executive, whereby he creates a brand of himself through the repetitive exploitation of his unique visual idiom.’”
Amazing stuff, eh? Much better than anything I could ever come up with and feel legitimate. I could never in a million years have thought of this kind of supercilious drivel on my own. No, it took great genius to come up with such masterful, albeit, totally inaccurate descriptions of how I worked. But at least it’s bringing in the dough by the bucketful—for the sellers, that is.
As for an artist’s statement? I would probably go for something along the lines of what Colmey Hezitantz, art critic-at-large, recently said about me:
“The most remarkable thing about the artist’s career was that anyone took him seriously in the first place. Let alone seriously enough to pay big bucks for his stuff. It is astonishing how the mundane quality of the artist’s work is more than adequately offset by the genius of his representatives’ marketing ploys. They, like many other professionally seasoned art mongers, realize that some dead artists make for great business. Especially since you get to keep all the money from the sales of their works.”
So—they get the money, yes; but I get the glory!