Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Highest of High Culture: The Appraisal of Photographs of Willie McGee

In my halcyon days as a vagabond traveling scholar, I engaged in various studies. I dabbled intensely to refine my understanding of economics, history, voodoo, and many other fields of advanced thought. Yet the subject that always fascinated me most, was one I came across while studying at a small university in Montpellier, France roughly ten years ago. A professor by the monicker of Lebrante Lavoisier introduced me to a most curious and captivating subject which widened my mental horizons infinitely. 

Lebrante was an appraiser of antique artworks and handicrafts, the man was the proprietor of massive collections of vases, urns, paintings, and crafts of immense historical significance. His seminars at the university taught inquiring minds how to identify which pieces of art held within them the most historical significance.

On the eve of the last morrow prior to graduation day, Lebrante brought his class to his estate in lower Burgundy to showcase his students his vast collections of relics and dusty chachkies. I witnessed first hand, pieces of significance from as far back as 1976 and even as long ago as 1974.

Celadon urns, wood cut plaques, brocade tapestries, vinyl records, stone carvings, bodkin heads...his collection was utterly breath taking. He narrated as he showcased the pieces of his personal collection using the most refined of language whilst doing so,

L’art est une activité humaine, le produit de cette activité ou l'idée que l'on s'en fait, s'adressant délibérément aux sens, aux émotions et à l'intellect. On peut dire que l'art est le propre de l'homme, ce qui le distingue au sein de la nature, et que cette activité n'a pas de fonctions clairement définies.

-Lebrante Lavoisier

Following the exhibition the professor served mild cognac, and we began discussing art (as such). I asked him which piece in his vast collection was truly his favorite and he responded that choosing a favorite amongst his many chachkies would be like a father choosing which of his children was his favorite. Yet after he consumed more and more cognac and opened up a little more he took the liberty of hunkering down and confessing which of his pieces was his preferred favorite. Lebrante took out an old leather satchel from under his desk and slowly opened it. He said, that the artwork contained in this satchel was the most honest art he had ever appraised and considered it the most meaningful, deep, beautiful, wonderful, and historically significant art that the art world had ever produced. He unwrapped a small book from the leather satchel and held it up high in the air and stated as if to the heavens,

Si la vierge vers toi jette sous les ramures
Le rire par sa mère à ses lèvres appris ;
Si, tiède dans son corps dont elle sait le prix,
Le désir a gonflé ses formes demi-mûres ;

Le soir, dans la forêt pleine de frais murmures,
Si, méditant d'unir vos chairs et vos esprits,
Vous mêlez, de sang jeune et de baisers fleuris,
Vos lèvres, en jouant, teintes du suc des mûres ;

Ceci, mes cher amis, proche de mon coeur
sont des photograhs
de Willie McGee

Inside this book was photographs of former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee. Lebrante explained that unlike every other baseball photograph where the "joueur" is depicted heroically, poised, proud, and confident...photos of Willie McGee presented a contrast so great that they themselves are within themselves the truest definition of the human condition.

Now without further ado (or even further aplomb) we shall attempt to appraise the value and significance of photographs of Willie McGee...

Upper Deck circa 1990

One can only wonder what was going through the photographer's mind as he/she directed his/her subject's pose in this photograph.

Willie was probably standing all tough, posing in a batting stance that looked pretty normal, cliche, and cool...but the photographer stopped him and said something along the lines of,

"No Willie, drop the bat, it's too cliche...I want you to try and look as bored, lackadaisical, lethargic, bemused, and all around distant as you possibly can. Ok great, yeah put your hands on your waist, stop smiling please, get a thousand-yard stare going, and curl one of your nostrils up a bit...ok there it is...beautiful...and..."


 Final Appraisal

Facade: A+
Facial Expression: B+
Palette: C
Contrast: D
Saturation: C-
Placement: B 
Historical Significance: B-
Human Value: C+

Overall Median Auction Price: ~ $ 1,400,000

Cardinals Media Yearbook Circa 1989

Stopping time in its tracks to capture happiness in its entirety is every artist's raison d'etre...here the artist has stopped time in an orderly yet sophisticated fashion to truly represent happiness in its purest form. He/she has sliced off a moment in the time frame of continual life to represent one passed yet preserved moment. A moment in which its subject was brimming with human happiness. It is akin to a hunter catching an elusive alligator, or a treasure hunter coming across buried gold. An artiste slicing off a piece of happiness from the winding tapestries of human existence is the call of the minaret in the journey of an artist.

Lebrante has coined this piece..."Happy Willie" and it is his favorite amongst his collection (but not mine).

Final Appraisal

Facade: C+
Facial Expression:B
Palette: B
Contrast: C
Saturation: B
Placement: B+ 
Historical Significance: A
Human Value: A

Overall Median Auction Price: ~ $ 1,750,000 

Donruss Diamond Kings Circa 1985

Ah yes, the famed oil on canvas painting of Willie McGee which once hung in the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum of Berlin.

This piece is more famous for its many thefts and counterfeit scandals than for its humanistic value. It was thought destroyed in 1996 when Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl ordered all art which was not post-neo-nihilistic to be burned in Germany. It was counterfeited and attempted to be re-created dozens of times but each counterfeit could not compare to the lost original.

The painter of the original piece, Stanisław Szukalski, fully captured the distance of Willie's eyes as well as the curl of his upper lip in such a fashion that appraisers can almost assume Szukalski was one with his subject before even beginning to paint him. The flare in the right nostril of Willie is as close to perfection and reality as one can possibly come. A true masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Szukalski attempted to recreate the piece after it was burned, yet he never even came close to re-capturing his original creation. A pity if there ever was one...

Final Appraisal

Facade: A
Facial Expression: A+
Palette: A
Contrast: B
Saturation: B
Placement: A 
Historical Significance: A+
Human Value: D

Overall Median Auction Price: Unapplicable  (due to untimely destruction)

Topps "Charter Member" Circa 1991

Here, Wiilie on the surface is taking practice swings for the photographer...yet the photographer has managed to burrow deep beneath the surface to uncover the truth in the human condition. Willie's body may be taking practice swings yet his facial expression shows us a weary and unamused man...distantly staring at the past.

His eyes represent sturggle,
His nostrils symbolize cohesiveness
His gangly uninvolved hand represents Life.

This is the haute culture of everyone's midwest.

This picture...is.


Final Appraisal

Facade: A+
Facial Expression: B+
Palette: A
Contrast: A
Saturation: A
Placement: F 
Historical Significance: D+
Human Value: A

Overall Median Auction Price: ~ $ 1,175,000

Topps Circa 1986

Oh Willie, where art thou Willie...and what are you thinking of?

How does an aritist capture a facial expression which doesn't exist? How can you convey an emotion which doesn't belong? Why do the fish swim and the birds fly around in V formations in the sky?

Here the impossible has been done, the artist has captured an expression that has yet been defined by culture.

Willie has seen a funny looking dog and is thinking to himself,

"Geeee, that's a funny looking dog over there."

We don't need to see the dog to know it is funny looking because Willie's face explains it to us vicariously. Willie's expression is the explanation...

Final Appraisal

Facade: C
Facial Expression: A+
Palette: B
Contrast: C
Saturation: D
Placement: C- 
Historical Significance: D
Human Value: A-

Overall Median Auction Price: ~ $ 3,650,000

Cardinals Pre-Season Program Promotional Magazine Circa 1987

Bwaaaaaaaah ahahahahahahaha ahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahah ahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahahaha hahaha hahahah ahahaha hahahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah woooooo oooooo oooooooooooooooooooooo oh hoooo ooooooo hooooo baaaahhh hhhhhhhahahaha haahahahah!!!!

Oh come on now Willie, who takes a fucking picture like this? You know this is a promo photo, you have plenty of time to conjure up a semi-normal presentable expression. Why? Why would you make this face for? You're not even trying to be photogenic here.  You're giving ZERO effort.

Hahahaaaaaa aaaaahahahahahahahah ahahahahaha haha! 

Final Appraisal

Facade: A+
Facial Expression: A+++ (+) (+)
Palette: A+
Saturation: A+
Placement: A+
Historical Significance: A+
Human Value: A+

Overall Median Auction Price: ~ Over Nine Thousand Billon Dollars!!1!!!

Donruss Circa 1984

What the fuck are you looking at in this one? Was there really something so important going on to your peripheral right that you had to not look at the camera while they were taking your baseball card photo?

Willie, you look like you haven't slept in years.

Drink a cup of coffee before baseball card photo day next time, jeez Willie.

Maybe it was an inside joke on the Cardinals roster that whenever Willie was getting photographed someone would yell "Hey Willie!" and he'd look over and go "Wut?" or maybe there really was funny looking dogs walking around the park everytime Willie had to get his baseball card photo taken.

Final Appraisal

Facade: 88.6
Facial Expression: AAA
Palette: 44.87
Contrast: AAA
Saturation: FF
Placement: S+
Historical Significance: ***
Human Value: AAA

Overall Median Auction Price: Lotsa Monies!

...and thus concludes our appraisal of photographs of former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee. Thank you and good night.