Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Nothing Artist

Maxwell DuVage seemed to come out of nowhere. One of the world's most famous artists, he suddenly appeared on late night talk shows and in the most popular magazines. It was understood that his work had been sold on the market for exorbitant sums of money at some point, but now collectors quietly hoarded his pieces and supposedly no one would even admit to owning any out of concern it might be stolen.

But just as quickly as he began enjoying the luxuries of celebrity, he ceased working.

"I think the greatest thing an artist can do now is nothing," he said once, on Jim Carmash's program, Saturday Midnight. "Art isn't a dead horse, it's dust." The crowd cheered.

He couldn't care less about the rumors circulating that he had never been an artist, various theories explaining that he was a con man who was more experienced in swindling lonely housewives and desperate husbands out of their life's savings or that he had destroyed his family and faked his own death to begin a new life under an assumed identity. He said the rumors were all the better for his art.

"Andy Warhol was the first to realize that the artist doesn't need to create his own art, I'm the first man to realize that the artist no longer needs to create any art."

His perfectly good looks put him straight into magazines like Visage. Men and women swooned in his presence, excited to be so near such a visionary genius. Within days of his second television appearance, he was a cultural phenomenon. It was nearly possible to avoid hearing about him. Simultaneously lauded as one of the greatest minds of his generation and one of the most incorrigible egoists, one thing was absolutely certain; he was one of the most famous people in the Western world.

One courageous reporter took it upon herself to uncover the truth behind DuVage's history. She managed to piece together the history of Maxwell DuVage and could find no reference to the man's existence prior to a Manhattan gala about one year prior to his first television appearance. Certainly, it had been said that DuVage had been "in the air" some time before reaching the recent heights of his celebrity, but it had been difficult to place him. Various art collectors claimed to have pieces of his work, but none were acknowledged by DuVage himself. Finally, the reporter had discovered that the individual posing as "Maxwell DuVage" must, in fact, be one Colin Feuwirth, and was certainly little more than a well-read con man.

An exhaustive exposé was published in the New Yorker, proving seemingly beyond a shadow of a doubt Feuwirth's duplicity. This news brought him out of a temporary slump in publicity, back on every late night talk show that could get him, back into every magazine he had the time for.

"It's true, I've never been a trained visual artist, I lied about my history and my body of work" he explained on Talking Tonight, "but is that what really matters?" Smiling, he calmly told Jimmy Waters, the host, "I think it's obvious to anyone that I am a great artist. In fact, I think this article just proves what a great artist I really am.

"I truly am the greatest artist in the world, and now I can admit it."

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Driving in his car, heading home for the evening, Samuel loosened his tie from around his neck. Today had been the worst day at work yet. Franklin, the new hire, was entirely incapable of doing his job. As a result, Samuel was forced to take on an additional work load. He had seen this coming from the day Franklin had crawled out of his boss's office during the interviews for the position. Ronald immediately walked out of the office with starry, longing eyes. Samuel could see from his seat that Ronald wanted the best for Franklin. The interviews continued throughout the day, but those which followed Franklin never seemed to last as long as the ones which preceded him.

And all the women in the office loved him. Hugging him, kissing him, looking for excuses to visit his desk, which was right across from Samuel's. How could anyone ever get any work accomplished? The constant noise and cooing. It was too much. And when they weren't there, he wouldn't stop pestering Samuel with nonsense. And gurgling. Franklin would not stop gurgling.

He missed Elizabeth. During work he could just stop and stare at her. He could still remember when she began working across from him. Their occasional small talk became daily lunch breaks together when they became aware of their mutual dissatisfaction with the popularity of reality television. A short affair began, however never managed to leave the premises of their office. Unfortunately, they had not been aware of the security cameras installed by a paranoid member of upper-management as the memorandum announcing their presence in the office had not been sent out until the day after their installation. Ronald explained that the suggested course of action was that one of the two quit or otherwise they would both be fired.

"Well, it wouldn't be so bad if one of us quit," Elizabeth had said, smirking. "We could finally be forced to see each other out of the office."

But Samuel only stared back at her. He knew the passion would not continue outside of the office. Elizabeth's smile faded and the two sat in the office cafeteria in silence for the remainder of lunch. And when Elizabeth packed her things and cleared her desk, Samuel watched her with that same sad, silent disappointment.

Samuel could think of nothing but his new nemesis. Franklin wasn't a real man. He was an irksome little baby. Constantly complaining. He even cried at least once a day. And his diapers were ridiculous. Rockets, kittens, random shapes with all sorts of bright colors. This was not work attire. Samuel didn't care if he wore a fucking tie and a hat, he was still not dressed appropriately.

He pulled into his driveway and sighed. Walking up the path to his door, he let his back slouch. He dug his keys out of his left pants pocket with some difficulty. Inside his small one-story house, enough moonlight came in from the windows that he didn't feel the need to turn on the light. He simply walked slowly and methodically to his bedroom. He removed the more uncomfortable articles of clothing, his tie, belt, and shirt, and laid in bed. With great effort, he was able to force Franklin out of his mind and go to sleep.