Wandering Eye: 'Gawker's existential crisis,' Georg Baselitz doubles down on sexism, and more

A couple of years ago, the German painter Georg Baselitz made a lot of people hate him when he said, in an interview with the magazine Der Spiegel, that "women don't paint very well. It's a fact." He attempted to bolster his statement by saying, "As always, the market is right," meaning that paintings made by women just don't sell for as high a price as paintings made by men. The interviewer and Baselitz seem to agree that the reason for this is that the market favors "the sensational" and that "women certainly aren't as loud and obtrusive when it comes to how they present themselves" as men are. Without trying to delve further and unpack the reasons why women artists don't sell as well as men artists do (one of those reasons being, um, the patriarchy), never mind that money ought not to be the only factor that determines value/worth; Baselitz assures us in that interview that he loves women, loves his wife. That was in 2013, all right, but what's he saying now? According to a recent story in the Guardian, Baselitz maintains his earlier sentiments. "Even though the painting classes in art academies are more than 90 percent made up by women, it's a fact that very few of them succeed. It's nothing to do with education, or chances, or male gallery owners. It's to do with something else and it's not my job to answer why it's so." Artnet, whose job it is to report on the art world and the art market, found a few numbers that maybe don't answer Baselitz's question in those terms, but still fill us with a bit of glee. Artnet found that in auctions from last year, paintings by five women artists—Georgia O'Keeffe, Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Cady Noland, and Tamara de Lampicka—each outsold Baselitz's record of $7.45 million. It's probably not enough to turn him around and make him realize that he's a sexist piece of shit, but for now, it feels like a victory. (Rebekah Kirkman)


John R. Schindler has posted another long I-told-you-so about Edward Snowden, and what he calls "The Snowden Op." Schindler is a former spook for the NSA who blogs about national security issues, bringing a knowledgeable perspective to what has often been a lot of blather. Schindler's points should be taken with his background in mind. His agenda may be more than simple explanation. But a lot of what he says makes a lot more sense than what the folks who have no experience in national security say. Snowden's "whistle-blowing" has taken some strange turns, for instance. As Schindler notes: "It's hard to see how exposing details of Israel's killing of senior WMD proliferators in Syria, per the latest Snowden revelation, exactly protects the civil liberties of Americans." He compares Snowden to Phillip Agee, another famous defector from the intelligence community. Agee went to Cuba and is still revered by some on the Left. To Schindler, Agee's status as a KGB asset is not only settled, it is all that matters. Many who appreciate the look he gave Americans into the CIA's dark side have a different view. If you look at Schindler's piece and then this Columbia Journalism Review on Laura Poitra's suit against three U.S. government agencies (Homeland Security, Justice Department, and the Office of National Intelligence), you can begin to get a sense of what hangs in the balance. Poitras was famously Snowden's first conduit to the U.S. media. She's been harassed at airports for years, and wants to know why, so she asked, under the Freedom of Information Act. FOIA requests to such agencies have become all but futile, so reporters go for leaks. Under the law, that makes them potential spies, and so the merry-go-round continues. As Schindler admits in his post, "it's exceptionally unlikely that Snowden has told the Russians much about NSA and its partners that they didn't know already." He goes on to explain Russian spy work, with lots of fun history. The upshot, of course, is Trust No One. Every publicized case hides other, worse breaches, right up to the 2010 "Illegals" case, which made headlines around the world because one of the spies was an attractive red-haired woman: "Since there have been no follow-up reports on the Russian mole, or moles, at Fort Meade, we are left to assume that they remain unidentified by NSA counterintelligence." Just because you're paranoid. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Missed the last week or so of inside-baseball media talk? You've missed quite a shit-show going on at Gawker Media. Here's the gist: Gawker published a post about David Geithner, Condé Nast executive and brother to former Treasurey Secretary Tim Geithner, attempting to procure the services of a male escort. David has a wife. The escort tried to blackmail him when he learned of his powerful connections. If this doesn't sound like news to you, you'd be in agreement with most of the media professionals on Twitter, who roundly criticized the piece. Then, Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton decided to pull the post; his staffers openly complained. Two top editors resigned. As New York magazine writes, Gawker is now going through an "existential crisis." The empire was built on gossip and snark, but now insiders say Denton wants to Vox-ify the site. One source told New York this about Denton: "He's rich and successful and he's been fully captured by the people he wanted to report on and be mean about." Get your popcorn, folks. (Brandon Weigel)

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