The Los Angeles Times has a weekly section called Home, where you can sometimes find a gem of a story, like the one they published yesterday. It featured the ugly four-story ‘home’ of a male couple who collect what they call ‘difficult art.’ I love learning new terms like this! A couple of weeks ago, I heard the phrase ‘honest furniture’ for the first time, and nearly fainted with joy.
Anyway, the art is difficult in that it’s big in size, sanctimoniously morbid in theme, and sort of downright awful in terms of the usual standards of aesthetics. There are garish paintings of young men being intimidated by Nazis, photos of the World Trade Center on fire, something about Little Black Sambo that “speaks to racism,” you know the drill by now. It’s Confrontational. It’s Emotionally Complex. It’s Difficult!
Owner Tim Campbell says “I would find it difficult to live with beautiful, pointless art.” How true, Tim. Why waste your money on that crap?
The house itself is in the Brutalist style. (“Brutalism describes a type of architecture that is profoundly honest and pure.” Blocky poured concrete, exposed joints and supports, you know, like a prison or a block of council flats in East Anglia) Campbell designed the house, which features a metal industrial staircase. He points out the grease pencil scribbles left by the construction crew, proudly noting that most people would get rid of that.
Campbell and his partner Steve Machado also collect 19th century Asian furniture and have two dogs named Jack and Chausette. I feel I know them in a really profoundly pure way. I feel they enjoy sushi. I feel they shop at Barneys and know a lot about wine, or maybe obscure brands of beer.
When the LA Times ran a similar piece about a guy named Blaine who collects ironic taxidermy and trays of old human teeth, I wondered if someone there made the whole thing up. My friend and I contacted the writer, who assured us Blaine was real. Even if Tim and Steve are made-up, I still love them!