The Art of Failure

I just watched a great art documentary on HBO called The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale. It follows the rise and fall of a major art talent from the 1980s art world. Connelly was a contemporary of Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Though he was extremely talented with a profitable collection of work, he ended up alienating every collector and gallery owner he worked with. The documentary was shot over the course of six years and explores a painter’s passion for his work, despite being his own worst enemy.

One of the parts that I found most interesting was how Connelly rages against what he sees as profit-hungry tactics of dealers and gallery owners, who buy paintings in bulk to get the greatest return on their investment. With over 3,000 paintings in storage, Connelly could be paid a huge sum to clear out his studio and sell his entire collection. Though this would make him rich, Connelly would never agree to sell in bulk because each individual painting would be priced "dirt cheap."

The documentary also touches on how Martin Scorsese was looking for an artist who could be a model for his film, New York Stories: Life Lessons. (1989)The artist played by Nick Nolte was based on Connelly and all of the artwork shown in the film was his own works. I think that will be added to my Netflix queue quite soon.

Chuck Connelly, Self Portrait 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.

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