Wow, anybody know this guy?

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
12,368
Reaction score
17,991
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
I ran across this article in "The New Yorker" magazine from a couple of days ago. It's very weird. Artist apparently uses live bonsai and bronze sculpture to construct compositions (that apparently go for $5,000-$100,000). The "bonsai guys won't talk to me" stuff he spouts seems to be bullshit and he offers no proof, just says he's offered to work for $20 an hour to clean up, sent goodies to Jim Doyle and taken Ryan Neal's Zoom class..


These are the best photos of his work I can find online--

Then there's this :rolleyes: :

"All these trees are replaceable,” he continued. “So if this piece is sixteen thousand dollars, if you bought the work and the tree didn’t survive I would send you three or four different trees and you could pick one and we would come and reinstall the tree.”

Uh, thanks?
 

MaciekA

Mame
Messages
165
Reaction score
236
Location
Northwest Oregon
USDA Zone
8
Often I feel like there are basically two completely separate bonsai worlds that have essentially nothing in common with one another except for a two syllable word

1. Bonsai - what most people on this forum are interested in. Trees we develop over long periods of time
2. Disposable Bonsai - Trees with questionable potting that die indoors and rarely live long. Some can be transformed into Bonsai with a capital B.

By his own words, this man's work potentially adds to the second set. Kind of a shame. Combining bronze sculpture with competent long-term bonsai would be very cool though.
 

Cajunrider

Masterpiece
Messages
3,722
Reaction score
5,666
Location
Louisiana
USDA Zone
9A
I ran across this article in "The New Yorker" magazine from a couple of days ago. It's very weird. Artist apparently uses live bonsai and bronze sculpture to construct compositions (that apparently go for $5,000-$100,000). The "bonsai guys won't talk to me" stuff he spouts seems to be bullshit and he offers no proof, just says he's offered to work for $20 an hour to clean up, sent goodies to Jim Doyle and taken Ryan Neal's Zoom class..


These are the best photos of his work I can find online--

Then there's this :rolleyes: :

"All these trees are replaceable,” he continued. “So if this piece is sixteen thousand dollars, if you bought the work and the tree didn’t survive I would send you three or four different trees and you could pick one and we would come and reinstall the tree.”

Uh, thanks?
With his attitude, no wonder the "bonsai guys" don't want to talk to him.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
12,368
Reaction score
17,991
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
With his attitude, no wonder the "bonsai guys" don't want to talk to him.
I don't think the "bonsai guys" gave him the silent treatment. Sounds like they talked a lot to him, but this guy seems to be weaving some sort of mystical BS tale to sell sculpture to unknowing folks in the Hamptons and hipster Brooklyn. I have a very very hard time believing Jim Doyle and Andy Smith did not talk. Both are pretty sociable and will talk endlessly about bonsai.

This artist is basically selling EXTREMELY high end display tables for what look like Walmart bonsai.
 
Messages
101
Reaction score
184
Location
Southeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5b
I’m usually first in line to take a dump on arrogant bastards in the art world, but the lion’s share of Keating’s sculptural work is evocative and haunting. But the whole concept of the series with tiny trees seems a slapdash appropriation of bonsai for high art spectacle. His attitude about the whole thing is pretty shitty to boot 😂 if I were Ryan Neil I wouldn’t sell to him either. It’s not an issue of money — the issue is that you don’t get to take someone else’s art and then make it your art.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
12,368
Reaction score
17,991
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Often I feel like there are basically two completely separate bonsai worlds that have essentially nothing in common with one another except for a two syllable word

1. Bonsai - what most people on this forum are interested in. Trees we develop over long periods of time
2. Disposable Bonsai - Trees with questionable potting that die indoors and rarely live long. Some can be transformed into Bonsai with a capital B.

By his own words, this man's work potentially adds to the second set. Kind of a shame. Combining bronze sculpture with competent long-term bonsai would be very cool though.
The larger "Art" community (particularly the "avante guard" brigade) has long been in love with bonsai, but have no real idea of what it entails, for the most part. Trees become only pieces of a larger composition or are sacrificed as a silly "statement." That statement or display typically costs the tree its life.

FWIW, bronze display elements for bonsai have been around a while. Okimono (bronze sculpture) are traditional elements in formal Japanese display. More modern applications include the angular display benches built by Ryan Neal. There are others as well.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,472
Reaction score
8,811
Location
Netherlands
"All these trees are replaceable,” he continued. “So if this piece is sixteen thousand dollars, if you bought the work and the tree didn’t survive I would send you three or four different trees and you could pick one and we would come and reinstall the tree.”
Dang, sounds like the kind of people that slap down 8000 dollars for a collected 400 year old tree and have it die because they know jack about horticulture.
Yeah, I wouldn't want to talk either. That's poor humanship.

I know some celebrities do stuff like that with fish tanks and exotic animals. But at least they don't complain about zoos and conservationists.
 

HorseloverFat

Squarepants with Conkers
Messages
10,465
Reaction score
14,856
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
When traditional pieces were traded amongst the wealthy (who most often had no experience or interest in horticulture beyond aesthetic), in bonsai's Japanese "HayDay"...

Didn't the pieces come with caretakers, factored into the price? Or SOMETHING like that?

(I know more of CHINESE mini-tree history)

🤓
 

LanceMac10

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,795
Reaction score
17,107
Location
Nashua, NH U.S.A.
USDA Zone
5
Some stuff looks familiar......


:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

I've worked in a non-ferrous sand-casting foundry for thirty years, this junk worth about $50....scorn of the actual practice of bonsai is pretty telling.

Copyright infringement is the only thing "giving me a rise" here.....
 
Messages
101
Reaction score
184
Location
Southeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5b
The work and the quotes in the article are, frankly, embarrassingly capitalist. Bonsai practitioners know why a tree a priced a certain way — but to the general public, and clearly to Keating, there’s an extra layer of high art commodity fetish.
 

HorseloverFat

Squarepants with Conkers
Messages
10,465
Reaction score
14,856
Location
Northeast Wisconsin
USDA Zone
5a
The work and the quotes in the article are, frankly, embarrassingly capitalist. Bonsai practitioners know why a tree a priced a certain way — but to the general public, and clearly to Keating, there’s an extra layer of high art commodity fetish.

C96127B2-C77B-4E20-A85A-BC87AB162674.jpeg
 

michaelj

Chumono
Messages
892
Reaction score
985
Location
Orange County, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Art is really subjective, and metal sculpture and casting can be pricey, so good for this artist, I guess. He's getting exposure. He clearly isn't a passionate bonsaiist, though. He's a very expensive, avant-garde metal bonsai potter.
 

rockm

Spuds Moyogi
Messages
12,368
Reaction score
17,991
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
another hack job .. what a surprise, ok let’s get back to sharing and working on our trees
FWIW, I posted this because I think it can be important to see bonsai in the wider world. What we see, isn't what others see, or value. This is an extreme example. I don't really like what's going on, but it's subjective and I'm a little ambivalent.

This is interesting because what he's doing involves many of the issues we see regularly--when is a tree "yours?" when designing it? How to you value a bonsai? Is there a responsibility to the tree after you sell or give it to someone? What's a good bonsai cost--(this may seem silly, but there seem to be people who are willing to pay ten grand for one if the stand is pretty enough...) and lastly, has anyone used metal pots 😁 ?
 

GGB

Omono
Messages
1,880
Reaction score
1,943
Location
Bethlehem, PA
USDA Zone
6b
Jim used to keep a pile of his best dead trees laying around for this guy. I never met him personally, but Jim seemed to like him just fine
 

dbonsaiw

Chumono
Messages
979
Reaction score
1,038
Location
New York
USDA Zone
7b
"high" art is all about pomp and circumstance. Dinner parties and cocktails. The New Yorker article didn't run for free either. In my line of work, articles in major newspapers/journals are simply a check away. (If you don't believe me, I can show you that I am the one of the nation's best ________, for no reason other than I paid for the title). You do not have to be good at what you do; you need to convince people that they need to own something of yours. And you pay third-party vendors to give you that aura. How else does someone sell a blank canvas with a dot for millions or a non-existent artwork? And many of the people buying this stuff have no opinion themselves - they are buying something as a talking point for when the other fancy pants come over. (I know because I live in this crap). Like folks buying clothes with the designer's name on it - they just want you to see the name. I took up bonsai to hide from this shit in my backyard.
 

ZombieNick

Yamadori
Messages
92
Reaction score
213
Location
Orange County, California
USDA Zone
10a
I personally enjoyed these pieces, cool cross between my love for Sci Fi and my plant hobbies. Not so much a fan of the Keating guys work. The quotes from the article are what turn me off most, it doesn't bother me so much that he is killing trees, that's his and his customer's business 🤷‍♂️
 

dbonsaiw

Chumono
Messages
979
Reaction score
1,038
Location
New York
USDA Zone
7b
Azuma Makoto is awesome. I included him as an inspiration in my "Who inspires you" thread.
 
Top Bottom