Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dash Snow RIP

In 2007, I exhibited this "Dear Dash Snow" letter in my exhibition that was partially a visceral reaction to the media celebration of his 'bohemian' lifestyle. Apparently, he is dead and this drawing is simply a sad reflection of art imitating life. While I probably longed for his career to die, it was impossibly intertwined with his life, and that was never the point of this work. How the art world and media celebrated both the art and the self-destruction.


Anonymous said...

By Roberta Smith Dash Snow, a promising young New York artist, died Monday night at Layfayette House, a hotel in Lower Manhattan...
Exclusive video:Dash Snow-VIDEO

qi peng said...

My honest opinion is assessing Dash Snow's legacy within 10 years after today. For me, as much as I admired his career and his quick rise to stardom, I had often wondering at what price was he willing to pay with such a difficult lifestyle. At what price, can scandal fuel the longevity of an artist's career?

Questions to be asked: the timing of his death and the glamour of the NY art scene piping downward... timing a coincidence or symbolic gesture?

Needless to say, the use of drugs in the art world is pretty bad. During the heyday of Chelsea galleries, I overheard that often artists were paid in drugs rather than cash sadly enough. In fact, many of friends had to rehab from coke use which surprisingly was a problem during the late 1990's and early 2000's (and I thought that coke was an 1980's phenom mostly...).

I have mixed feeling about celebrating the legacy of Dash Snow in some ways. I don't subscribe to the lifestyle of women, total boozing, and drugs as an artist who prefers a low-key lifestyle (which most artists surprisingly tend to). Such a high profile career can be difficult to assess objectively because the question is how much are we caught up in his cult of personality rather than looking at his artwork objectively... I mean that lots of male artists could duplicate the intent and methodology of his semen-encrusted newspapers (as many people I know don't like the cops much...).

Indeed, a lot of the coterie will mourn his physical passing but my question is whether his artistic legacy will be missed. Landing in the Whitney Biennial is one thing but landing in the canon 10-20 years later is another thing.

Questions to remember:

1) Will Dash Snow's artwork be critically analyzed in 10 years? I haven't seen a single monograph on his work yet.

2) How are we to separately his artwork from his lifestyle? What is the framing device for his collage work and Polaroids?

3) Is his artwork "good" in terms of standing on its own without worrying about the cult of personality here?

4) Is Dash Snow's work "museum quality" and how will curators look at his work in 10 years?

I really admire Dash's ability to rebel against the system (which I'm not a fan of) and do admit a little bit of jealousy for his mercurial and quick rise to fame in the art world, but I can't say that I would want to meet my end with drugs (considering that my only vice is an occasional beer or wine) as I am hoping to produce work in 10-20 years still.

Nevertheless, Dash, you will be missed in times to come.

qi peng said...

Add this to the assessment:

"Less than 15 years later, Pruitt, on his own, offered the public Cocaine Buffet, a line of coke stretching down the middle of an elongated 16-foot mirror. This feast operated on several levels: a Minimalist floor work, a generous treat to anyone who would get down on their knees and be photographed snorting and an antiquated cliché from the 1980s when capitalism was secular and uninventive. Pruitt’s recent Evian water fountains offer a similar gluttonous indulgence. Yet in both cases the work’s beauty softens its moralizing forces."

Anonymous said...

It's a personal tragedy for Snow & his family, but really: priveleged white dude, son and grandson of important art patrons, who spews jizm on photos of police is not exactly giving us an insightful commentary on power relations in the US. Over-hyped, over-rated, over-sold, and under-talented.

Anonymous said...

and well subsidized by his family. end of story.

Joanne Mattera said...

I second Anonymous.

William said...


I appreciate you tacking your name on your comment, it makes the criticism much stronger when there's a name attached. Dash's defenders tend to dismiss all the anonymous criticism. It's nice to see you stand up and validate anon's words. I agree with their assessment; the loss of life is a tragedy, but I think one of his friends said it best in Daniel Hernandez's elegy in LA Weekly, "He was more of a brand than an artist. People wanted to buy a piece of him. It was more than just art."

This is exactly what Dash Snow was, a big personality that made things that looked like art. Collectors weren't trying to buy his art so much as bring a little bit of danger and transgression into their lives, but safely at a distance through the art. Better to let Dash be the one to self-destruct. I don't think Dash's art will ever be as important as the story that defined him. All we need to do now is wait for Schnabel to make the movie.

Oriane Stender said...

Off the topic of Snow's death and on the topic of language, Qi Peng said
"the lifestyle of women, total boozing, and drugs..."
I think you mean "lots of sex, total boozing, and drugs." The word "women" is not synonymous with promiscuity. I myself live the lifestyle of a "woman," and that's not a bad thing.

Re his death, of course it is sad when someone so young dies, but if it weren't for his lineage, no one would have noticed his work.