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Giles Smith on Benitez - a bit weird but still good


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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 780005.ece

Some extracts:

Jorge Valdano, the former Argentina player, ex-manager of Real Madrid and widely acclaimed ?philosopher of football?, was witheringly critical this week of the acclaim heard at Anfield for the work of Rafael Ben?tez.

?Put a s*** hanging from a stick in the middle of this crazy, passionate stadium and people will tell you it?s a work of art,? Valdano said. ?It is not: it?s a s*** hanging from a stick.?

So who is the Spanish artist at the centre of the great conceptual art debate that is splitting football down the middle? Born in 1960 in Madrid, ?Rafa? Ben?tez Maudes moved to England at the age of 44 and first came to attention with a striking situationist piece, ?Crouch Up Front? (2005), also known as ?The Bride Descending A Staircase Backwards?.

The art world was quick to hymn a groundbreaking talent, observing how ?Crouch Up Front? offered ?something different?. Subsequent notable works have included ?Bellamy Out Wide, With Pennant? (2006) and ?Trusting Gerrard To Get Us Out Of Trouble With A Hopeful One From 45 Yards? (200407).

Ben?tez is most famous, however, for the large-scale series-in-progress that began with the piece commissioned to mark the Champions League final of 2005, titled ?Nicked It On Penalties II?.

Regarded in some circles as Ben?tez?s masterpiece, this was an open homage to an earlier piece by the French artist G?rard Houllier, dating from the time of the 2001 League Cup final and entitled ?Nicked It On Penalties?.

Ben?tez then returned to the same theme, producing, for the occasion of the 2006 FA Cup Final, ?Nicked It On Penalties III?. That was followed as recently as the beginning of this month by a piece unveiled for the semi-finals of the 2006-07 Champions League called ?Nicked It On Penalties IV?.

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From the same article:

So, Liverpool by Ben?tez: a work of immense power, profound meaning and expressive beauty from a man destined to be numbered among the leading artists of our time, or dung on a pole?

I know what I think of the Jolly Fat Spaniard. And power, profundity and beauty have got f.a. to do with it.

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That isn't weird. It's superb. Throughly enjoyed it.

This part is close to genius:

"Critics note that each of these works, when taken on its own, has, at best, superficial merit. However, when the series is considered as a whole, there emerges a work of mesmerising scope and ambition, playing with nothing less than the concept of time itself, in which things appear to be moving on, while, in fact, nothing changes. The hypnotic effect of this piece explains why, even though his work sells sluggishly on the domestic market, everything by Ben?tez has been snapped up by private American collectors".

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