Monday, October 4, 2010

Wall Street

(Michael Douglas in front of a Condo-like painting in Wall Street)

One way to look at it is that art makes money look good. It brings “culture” to greed and the downright dirty. Oliver Stone portrays this so well in Wall Street (part I) that you’ve got to feel a bit like two-faced slime striving to join the market as an artist.

Major art fills the movie: in Gekko’s office we’ve got a large Miro-like piece (that he bought for 60k and is now worth more than 600k, he says); at his home in the Hamptons, there’s a Sultan-like lemon, a few Chamberlain-like smashed cars on the wall and some Leonardo-like huge drawings that act as a Greek chorus behind the drama. At one point Gekko buys a Stella-like painting for a couple of mil. This is definitely accurate décor – and it plays a supporting role; it goes so much further than just the classic portraits of foreboding head honchos – the fathers of wealth – that we expect to see on the walls of old-money firms (although there are these too in the movie).

In a telling scene, when Charlie Sheen asks Daryl Hannah’s character (her name is Darien – as in Connecticut?) what she wants in life, she answers a perfect canary diamond and a Turner (as in Joseph Mallord William Turner, I presume). I understood. Art is desired by power because art perfects power. Art makes power appear solid as a rock (a hard diamond). Art makes beauty belong to power.


Anonymous said...

That's so true. Have you read about the mega painting that adorns the lobby of the New Goldman Sachs building? ...I wonder what if any role art will play in the sequel to Wall Street. I'm actually looking forward to seeing it, though I hear it's a little disappointing.

Molly Stevens said...

Do you mean that mongo Julie Mehretu that was written up in the New Yorker a few months back? The context makes me look at the painting differently.

Thanks for writing. Let me know what you see if you see Wall Street II.