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Jeremy Blake

From:     blp
Category: Art
Date:     28 December 2007
Time:     04:19 AM


Read about this artist a few years ago in Artforum when he was interviewed alongside someone like
John Baldessari (almost certainly him in fact) and a photo was printed of him looking, as I remember
it, like any ordinary scruffy young artist. He'd come up with an idea that you probably had too, but
was in the right place at the right time to be the guy credited with inventing it and have huge
success off it: digital moving pictures. Now he's dead having walked into the sea off NY just a week
after his longterm girlfriend took her own life in their $5,000 a week flat in the East Village and
Vanity Fair has run the story illustrated with numerous glossy pictures of him looking like a Studio
54 regular, all natty suits, tousled hair longish at the back, cocktails and slick trainers. His
girlfriend, older than him by five years, was a blond bombshell and had also had a notable art
success with an animated film at the Whitney Biennale back in the nineties. After that they'd moved
to LA (I think it stands for lunatic asylum) so she could pursue a film career and, after a passing
dalliance with Beck, for whom Blake did some cover art, the couple became convinced they were being
persecuted by Beck's sect the Scientologists and became increasingly deranged. They fled back to NY
where they got the village apartment and began drinking heavily, then, very suddenly topped themselves. 

It's such a perfect story for Vanity Fair that it's hard not to believe they made it up or killed
the couple themselves just to give it the final ghoulishly glamorous closure. If I didn't know from
the Artforum piece that this artist actually existed, I'd strongly suspect the former. Also seems to
me to be begging for feature film treatment, possibly by Tod Haines and that, if this happens, it
will be one of the very few biopics that doesn't risk casting a lead who's better looking than the
actual subject (Basquiat excepted). This touches on what disturbs me most about all this - the way
the reality of the art world, especially in America, seems so much to have caught up with its
cliché. This pretty artist, with his implausibly foppish name, immaculately dandyish clothes and,
er, drop-dead gorgeous suicide blond girlfriend, all wrapped up in a generous measure of conspiracy
theory: it's all like something out of Brett Easton Ellis or an episode of Miami Vice. Other than
that of course, there's the schadenfreude, which turns the whole thing into a glorified feature on
cellulite in Heat: this guy had the life I want (do I though? Do I? um...yeah) and it killed him.
Hooray! I mean...Oh shit. 

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