The Jig is Up

11 witty retorts

One of the ugly truths I've begun accepting in a belated flail towards adulthood is this: if there's a significant cash advantage in manipulating a situation, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the situation is being manipulated.

Lisa Hunter comments at Edward Winkleman's blog that

...many CEOs sit on museum boards, where they influence what will be shown in museums (thus raising the profiles and value of their favored artists), while simultaneously being able to buy the emerging artists that curators identify as the next big thing.
I've always suspected this but had nothing more to go on. I'll have to hit up Lisa for more info.

This comment was in response to a posting about art as investment, a topic I find interesting if only because investors wield disproportionately great power in our culture. They induce a whirlwind of decidedly mixed emotions.

I resent their ability to distort just about everything they touch. Apparently I still harbor adolescent notions that art can be inherently pure, because investor influence in the art world offends me personally; it feels like the defilement of a sacred realm. Simultaneously I have to face the fact that investors have done a lot of good in the world, and also that it would probably be a fairly irresistible blast to have them interested in your work.

EDIT 5/27
This, ladies and gents, is a travesty. Thanks, Lisa!

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Art as Investment: Apparently You Can Do Better

5 witty retorts

Todd Gibson presents a terrific case study in art as investment, starring an average-looking (from the jpeg anyway) Joan Mitchell painting purchased in 1955.

The upshot is that the Mitchell appreciated at 11% compound annual growth rate per year, which Gibson points out exceeds DJIA and S&P performance during the time the owner held the painting, and even NASDAQ's performance since it began in '71. But the painting did not do as well as a well-managed hedge fund, which pulls 15 - 20%.

If I understand what Gibson is saying, I think that even my 401k is doing better.

And we're talking Joan Mitchell here; not Pollock, obviously, but not Tony Bennett either.

In a not-entirely-unrelated posting, Art Soldier posts part of an interview with Zach Feuer. Among other things, the dealer points out ways in which collector behavior complicates and distorts what I'd refer to as "the art world," for lack of a better term -- thinking now of the way 'the system' determines which artists are seen and which ignored.

That strikes me as a truly ironic point: collectors both power and distort the interactions between artists and the rest of the world. Without them we're invisible; with them, we're twisted. We're talking quantum physics-level irony.

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Saltz on Beauty: Modern Painters, May '06

9 witty retorts

In the May 2006 edition of Modern Painters, Jerry Saltz spends a few thousand words on some great art by contemporary female artists. Along the way he pays a few paragraphs out working with the relationship between art and beauty.

"With all due respect to the many who argue otherwise, it is bogus to claim that art is about beauty or that the two are even connected. Goya's stupendous Saturn Devouring His Children isn't beautiful, nor is Duchamp's bottle rack, or Thomas Hirschhorn's recent blood-and-modernism installation at Gladstone Gallery. .."

"Kara Walker's work is sometimes great. It is rarely beautiful."
This is a minor point in a spacious and intelligent article, but it's worth addressing because it comes up repeatedly. There's an anti-beauty contingent that roars rather loudly from time to time. And they've justified some pretty heinous work because, after all, art isn't about beauty.

Obviously art is much broader and deeper than any given quality it can display. But, for me, an object's beauty does not in and of itself prevent it from being serious art, and it doesn't necessarily hide vacant thoughts.

I'd also argue that Goya's work has its own strange beauty. It's eerie, it's fantastical, and it's exciting to see even independent of the subject matter.

Kara Walker, "rarely beautiful?" I'd beg to differ. From the few shadow-puppet video pieces I've seen I'd say that their formal aspects, independent of their meanings, are quite beautiful to see. I recall a lemony background in one, which flickered somewhat as a velvety black figure moved across it, all of this projected large across a wall.

Sure, Duchamp's bottle rack makes my eyes bleed, but Pollock's Autumn Rhythm tears my heart out. More recently, Thomas Nozkowski and Chris Martin have slain me through their command of a kind of immediate, forthright beauty -- or a beauty that masquerades skillfully as being immediate and forthright. Tara Donovan's Untitled (Plastic Cups) is sublimely beautiful.

Beauty's taking a beating, folks, and it's entirely undeserved. It's what people do with beauty that can drain art of its depth and value. But beauty just wants to hang out and sing for you.

Be nice to beauty. Don't loan him the car keys. Don't tell him where you keep your liquor. But, heck, why not take Beauty out to dinner? Let him know you appreciate him.

"Beauty don't mean no harm."

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The True Faith: An Artblog Comments Podcast Exclusive

0 witty retorts

Presenting exclusive evidence that the already overheated art market is about to shatter the stratosphere.

Here's a somewhat related question: at what point does collecting art become similar to collecting these?

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A Freestyle Rap for Art Fabricators

0 witty retorts

Read about you in the article.
You're no particle.
Building for the Art Stars,
Playin' silent partner,
Struggle seven twenty-four,
Fronting for the art corp,
Fabricatin' fabulous
Fictions for the populous.
It's all breathtaking;
Baby I'm not faking.
Waiting for your star to rise.
Population's getting wise.
Check: in cinenimity
There's no anonymity.
No hand is unseen;
Names fly on the big screen:
Best boys, dangler,
Designer and wrangler,
Crane man, colorist,
Key grip and publicist
All share the glory,
But art's a different story.
They don't want to hear thanks
just in case the artist tanks.
Keep it under wraps.
An art career is shooting craps.
Think the dice are loaded?
I think the dice exploded.
Heard it from Kostabi:
Your art is just a hobby
If you think luck makes it.
You'll never more than fake it.
This is a freestyle rhyme
for art fabricators.
Artblog Comments signing off.
Check you later.

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