Detailed Studies for “Crying Boy", 2011

Ink and pencil on paper, Commissioned concept sketches for the already world-wide popular living room poster painting entitled ‘Crying Boy’


"This critical delimitation of the universal resembled the scenario proposed by the second work in Fifteen Ways, Mahmoud Khaled’s Detailed Studies for “Crying Boy”, which was paired with Badiou’s second thesis, calling for art to be “the impersonal production of a truth that is addressed to everyone.”21 The point of departure for Khaled’s piece was a group of paintings that typically go under the title of Crying Boy, said to be the work of the Italian postwar painter Bragolin. Some sixty-odd versions of this sentimental motif were produced for tourists, many of which were mass-reproduced and distributed worldwide. Khaled’s intervention was to commission new studies of Crying Boy, thus making the ambiguous gesture of returning this mechanized image to handcrafted art.

Such a move did not negate the well-established dialectics of Warholian appropriation so much as it reframed them within global circuits of popular taste. On one level, this questioned a core assumption of Badiou’s thesis, implying that high-minded universal art is not as far from kitsch as it might wish. At the same time, Khaled’s piece succeeded in retrieving a moment of unexpected pathos from what might seem an unsalvageable subject. Even as it problematized the global circulation of a false, generically “European” universal, it insisted that people had nevertheless formed real attachments with this image, such that its tears, however insipid, become markers of losses that were at once actual and spectral."

IMMANENCE AND INFIDELITY: FIFTEEN WAYS TO LEAVE BADIOU, By Andrew Stefan Weiner, © 2013 ARTMargins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology doi:10.1162/ ARTM_r_00051

** Made for the book "Fifteen Ways to Leave Badiou" which invited fifteen artists, mostly based in Egypt and the Arab World, to interact with Alain Badiou’s Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art. Each artist was asked to develop an artwork in response to one specific thesis that was preselected based on conjectured relevance to the artist’s work. The resulting publication brings to light the cross-struggles between hegemonic orders, art, philosophy, and universality.