Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Delicate Arrangement

One of the things I remind myself when considering how to succeed (either in the gallery business or other ventures) is that almost everyone whom we think of as a huge success got there by blazing a new trail. In other words, anyone looking to / mimicking someone else's path, will have a much more difficult time of getting where they want to go, or at least of getting somewhere no one else has ever been before.

I mention this as preface to a charming announcment sent about an exhibition of MFA graduates:

Conceived of by the School of Visual Art MFA Class of 2006 and curated by Dan Cameron, A Delicate Arrangement will be on view at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea for four days only, June 21-25, 2006.

The title of the exhibition, A Delicate Arrangement, refers to the treacherous path of MFA graduates entering the high-stakes commercial gallery world. It also points, with a degree of literalness, to the unusual circumstances surrounding the show’s genesis.

The idea for an exhibition of the entire graduating class grew out of the students' desire to mount a group exhibition at the completion of their full two years in the MFA program. Due to time and space limitations of SVA's exhibition space, thesis exhibitions are often scheduled shortly after the 3rd semester of study, so many students felt that these shows, while excellent, did not always represent the full development of their work.

Dan Cameron, professor of the group's final seminar in Critical Theory, came on board after being asked by the entire class to work with them in assembling and hanging the show. After a two-month search for an empty storefront space or nonprofit venue, he encouraged the students to approach several commercial spaces to ask if such an exhibition would be possible.

While many gallery names were tossed around, from small Brooklyn spaces to up-and-coming galleries, a student walked in to David Zwirner Gallery and asked if they would be willing to make their space available. To the surprise of Dan Cameron and everyone in the MFA Department at SVA, the David Zwirner Gallery said "Yes" and agreed to host the exhibition at no cost to the students.

But the question must be asked, at a time when other MFA programs are erecting walls to protect their students from the pressures of the market and P.S.1’s Greater New York show is characterized as having an air of pedophilia, is it presumptuous of these students to show in one of the city's elite art galleries? Perhaps, but when people ask how this show ended up at one of the most prestigious galleries in New York, the students simply say, "We asked."

by Dan Cameron
An exhibition of the 2006 School of Visual Arts MFA Graduates
525 W. 19th Street, New York, NY
***************FOUR DAYS ONLY***************
Wednesday through Saturday
June 21- June 24, 2006
Wednesday June 21, 2006 6-9pm
The moral of the story, of course, is to dream big and your enthusiasm will often, in and of itself, open doors for you. The other take-away here is akin to something my grandfather used to say: "Anything worth having is worth asking for." His point was, don't be afraid to humble yourself or put yourself out there in a vulnerable position for things that are important to you.

Kudos to the SVA graduates! And a hearty "well done" to Dan Cameron and the David Zwirner Gallery for making this exhibition a truly special one for the graduates.


Anonymous Priit said...

But neither the gallery's website nor the show any actual work of the graduates...

6/21/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I think asking the gallery to post images is a bit much for a four day exhibition of artists they don't represent (it takes me more than four days to make most changes to our site), Priit, but it would be nice if SVA did.

6/21/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the immediate reply! 8) By the way, I'd like to read you comments on the Carlos Mottas' project some time..

6/21/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Which Carlos Motta project? The one in our project space? It's awesome!!!

There's a press release I wrote (with my comments implied) here, but beyond that, I'd say that Carlos is a bright and talented new artist folks should watch out for. He's remarkably professional for someone his age, and he's tackling some hefty issues in beautiful and poignant ways...stop in and see the piece yourself.

What brings him up in this context?

6/21/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

other MFA programs are erecting walls to protect their students from the pressures of the market

Why in the world would they do that? Seems like the earlier they get into the market, the better chance they'll have of actually making a career for themselves. And of course the schools benefit by being able to point to their successful alumni. Ed, are there really MFA programs that are trying to protect their students in this way? Seems like those would be schools to avoid.

6/21/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

Jerry Saltz wrote about Ted Riederer's piece in the Voice on June 12. It got me really interested, but he kind of left us hanging. I had a hard time finding any information out about the actual show. Mounting a show betweeen shows is a great idea, and David Zwirner has obviously gone out of his way on this, but it is a small window of opportunity, and I can't help feeling that someone should be doing a better job of getting the word out about it.

You can read Jerry's article here:,saltz,73495,13.html

6/21/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I can't speak to most MFA programs, but the ones I visit seem open to dealers. Having said that, I've heard grumbling (rightfully) from some students about the lack of time/freedom to experiment in that environment, so maybe schools are finally responding to that...

I too would like to know more about these walls.

6/21/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I can't help feeling that someone should be doing a better job of getting the word out about it.

Actually, it's already getting more attention than your average MFA graduate show from what I can tell, so I'm not sure where you see such efforts lacking. If this is the new "Freize" show or something, the word of mouth reaction will take care of getting folks by there, I predict.

6/21/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous danonymous said...

HI Edward, in your preliminary comment,"considering how to succeed in ..." I felt a VERY strong vacuum, concerning the level of hard work and commitment it takes to follow through on a decision and vision in orfder for it to succeed. In the previous few "gallery" posts , there has been a sense for me that one had to be lucky to get in. BUt what about being lucky enough to get to work one's ass off. The 15 minutes of fame, aka as fast food mentality, keeps supporting the "end-product" mentality without the much greater and time consuming process of getting there effectively.
I think (maybe wrongly) that you have honed your skills on both sides of that process and yet the work is glossed over.
I would love to see a culture-wide adjustment and correction on that.
Am I asking to much of you?
Well...if it's worthwhile , then it is also worthwhile my asking you for it.

6/21/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

Yeah, I guess you're right. When that article was published in the Voice on the 12th there were no dates for the show posted, so when I went looking for it I guess I felt a little burned.

I find it pretentious that a school(Columbia?) would suggest that their program is so good that the big bad art market is just banging down their doors to show their students work. Any graduate student would jump at the opportunity to be involved in a show like this. Isn't that the goal? to enter into the fray? to be a part of the dialogue? Schools need to better teach their students how the art world operates. Then they will be able to deal with their own success and failure without the help of the institution.

6/21/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

well, maybe the proffs are tired of competing with their own students.

This is like when someone says LA is a bad place I say yes yes yes, you should definitely never come here, it is terribly dangerous and lame. Stay far far away.

I gotta get back to pool side, my babe is calling for more lotion . . .

6/21/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

LA is a bad place I say yes yes yes, you should definitely never come here, it is terribly dangerous and lame. Stay far far away.

What Tim is saying is true. It's unbearably hot here, the traffic and smog are terrible, and you can't find a decent restaurant anywhere. Really. New York is much nicer.

It worked for Greenland and Iceland.

6/21/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Forgive me if I'm missing something, but I thought the problem with young artists today was that they were being plucked from MFA programs too quickly. (There was some outcry recently over a Charlie Finch article on artnet which visited the studio of a Yale MFA student, for example). I thought the problem was that buyers were starting to throw funny money at artists young enough that their careers might in fact be harmed by the premature spike in attention. The word speculation is not inapt in this context.

I fully understand the need to expose students to the market, and realize that today's MFA grads are woefully unprepared for life on the street, but I don't think this show is the right way to solve this problem. Juried competitions are still the appropriate way to expose a non-gallery artist to the world, not co-sponsored shows in commercial galleries. If a commercial gallery wants to sponsor a juried exhibition, then that would in my opinion be the better type of cooperation between school and industry.

6/21/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous danonymous said...

A Guggenheim moment...
Grants rarely given to people under 35. Because it is not enough to just be must be able to live through the ups and downs and come out the other end.... sort of like....well ...never mind

6/21/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger cadmiumredlite said...

barf barf and more barf. give me a break with this grad school stuff already. i am so sick of the art world's addiction to looking for fresh meat, and believe me, those SVA grads are nothing to write home about the show is ONLY getting attention because of where it is going to be for 4 days. doesnt anyone have any depth at all? and no i am not a bitter artist by any means.

6/21/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

doesnt anyone have any depth at all?


No one has commented on the quality of the exhibition CadmiumRL, only the charm of how the exhibition came to be in the location it is. It serves as an example of how folks should think in terms of opening up opportunities. It's not an endorsement of the work in the show, although, I do expect the quality of work at an SVA show to be engaging in general.

You protest too much, methinks.

6/21/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Susan Constanse said...

There is something to be said for asking. Nothing ever happens if you don't put it out there. I don't think that this approach is limited to students, though.

Re: MFA markets. The validation system has become too entrenched to allow for entry from unexpected quarters. The limited scope of the established art markets and the manipulation of those markets by self-serving "investors" has undermined the truly original in favor of the self-referential. IMO

6/21/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Wanda Tinasky said...

Methinks Cadmium doth speak the truth.

6/21/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous After dinner mint said...

I don't think cadmiumredlite was commenting on the quality of the work but the unhealthy fixation on youth that seems to be rampant in the art world. One doesn't have to be bitter to be critical of this shallowness.

6/21/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

". . .undermined the truly original in favor of the self-referential. "

I think what we are seeing is the establishment of a new academy system that substitutes adherence to a set of rules for original thinking. I haver heard recent grads say you are 'supposed' to refer to others work in your own. It does try to make for a more predictable investment, but history shows the close observer that, except in the short run, that never works.

Art, for me, is partly about how it manages to evade any formulation. Unfortunately, that can't be taught except by example. It is the process of thinking/doing unchained from practical use and allowed to consider itself.

As for the MFA's at Zwirner, I am impressed by the galleries willingness. Why not expose these new artists, it is clear that they are recent grads. I have noticed that promising MFA shows, though, are frequently not followed up by good work later, as if the work might have actually been a sort of collaboration between student and teacher and the student never fully integrated the lessons to do it on their own. Best for galleries to wait and see (though I love to show young artists, they bring a level of energy and excitement that is fun to participate in.)

6/21/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/21/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Methinks Cadmium doth speak the truth.

Allrighty then...let's do this the hard way.

give me a break with this grad school stuff already

Like any other piece of information floating out there in the ethernet, this is one we're all free to ignore if it doesn't interest us. Cadmium's choice to not ignore it, but rather use it as a spring board into a tirade against the perceived advantage of younger artists (presumedly over more established artists) then represents an opportunistic railing. Especially, as there's been no stream of posts here about grad least nothing to warrant the assertion that this "stuff" is something one can't escape here.

i am so sick of the art world's addiction to looking for fresh meat

But why single out the art portion of the world...this can be applied to most fields, can't it? Yes it would be nice if the art world were above such fashion-thirst, but then it would hardly represent our current world well if it did. Besides, as a gallerist working with emerging artists, it's part of my job to keep abreast of the freshest ideas. More than that, it's my moral obligation to support younger artists, IMO. By highlighting the unusual way an exhibition found a home, I've done nothing more than highlight the unsual way an exhibition found a home...nothing about this warrants the ferocity of the spin Cadmium describes it with...there's no "meat" being devoured implication of that whatsoever.

and believe me, those SVA grads are nothing to write home about

This strikes me as petty (and directly refuting after dinner mint's comment that "I don't think cadmiumredlite was commenting on the quality of the work").

the show is ONLY getting attention because of where it is going to be for 4 days

Well, Uh ...DUH! That's entirely why I posted about it. It's unusual for grad students to convince a major gallery to host their thesis show...that makes it unusual and, IMO, newsworthy...

doesnt anyone have any depth at all?

This is the offensive line. Suggesting that one's interest in this exhibition (well, let's be blunt here...suggesting that MY interest in this exhibition) reflects a shallowness on my part, when really, the commenter simply has an ax to grind, is boorish to me.

Again, I used it as an illustration of a productive attitude...nothing more...

When you consider the light-hearted nature of the post, comments about "fresh meat" and "addiction" and the rather over-the-top dismissal of young artists' work do seem excessive.

I mean if the past 15 posts here had been about grad students, then I might see Cadmium's point.

If the topic's of no interest, then, well, you still got your money's worth...but to pour cold water over such a post, well, it suggests either bitterness, which Cadmium denies, or hyperbole...which is what I feel it is.

6/21/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

it would be nice if the art world were above such fashion-thirst, but then it would hardly represent our current world well if it did.


6/21/2006 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous after dinner mint said...

Your right, Cadmium was commenting on quality. I think I was reading what I wanted to see. I don't think anyone is attacking you personally for posting on this subject (maybe I'm mistaken about that as well). And certainly not for being interested in young artists. It's also understandable that you might feel a bit attacked. Emotions run high on this subject especially lately as the youth trend is so prevalent. But please understand that some of us that have been around a little might have issues with the youth obsessions of the art world and this might not come from bitterness. Also we are interested in the "art portion of the world" because we have a vested interest in it. If the art world only reflected the rest of the world what would happen to criticality?

6/21/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


Oh, alright. I knew that was the weakest part of that. What can I say, I got distracted and then lazy.

There's nothing to my eye about pointing out a charming story that deserves to be targeted within the (ironically) rather fashionable critique against youth at the moment.

6/21/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

after dinner mint,

I agree it's an issue and in many ways a problem. I've posted about it here.

6/21/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Edward said:

it's my moral obligation to support younger artists

That's a perfectly fair statement, but I'll repeat what I wrote above, I have to wonder whether a show like this could do more harm to an emerging artist than good.

6/21/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous after dinner mint said...

I'm glad you posted that and I'm glad you posted today's post. Both great posts. But todays post was unlikely to remain just about a charming story. Is it really surprising that the same issues came up? I mean how couldn't they?

6/21/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Wanda Tinasky said...

Ed, I didn't think Cadmium was railing against you; she seemed pissed off at the news, not at the reporter. Yeah, she was offbase dissing the students themselves, but her point about the art world's current obsession with youth was right on the mark. And if she's a little bitter, so what? Maybe she has good reason to be.

PS Thanks for the link to your April post about the issue. Had missed it.

6/21/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Yeah, you brought it up, sort of, so we are talking about the seeming preference for young artists today. But I saw Rachel Rosenthal speak about her days as a studio mate of Rauschenberg and Jap, as she called him. It was a charming and enlightening evening of stories and pictures. When she showed the first picture of 'Bob' there was an audible gasp from the crowd. What a handsome boy! Anyway, I don't think it is necessarily a new thing.

I had another thought about Zwirner's show. These artists will begin their careers with a very nice line on their CVs. A group show at Zwirner. You can be sure that the fact of its being their MFA show will be downplayed there. I wonder if he considered that?

6/21/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Yeah, you brought it up, sort of, so we are talking about the seeming preference for young artists today.

But that's my point...I didn't bring it up. Not in any way at all, to my mind.

Thesis shows happen all the time. In a variety of venues. There's nothing more threatening about that to post-graduate artists today then there was yesterday. To imagine that a group of grads who were bold enough to ask a big gallery to house their show is further evidence of systemic bias seems paranoid. Let the kids have their moment in the sun. a bit generous here, folks. It will come back to you.

6/21/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

on that note - i'm psyched to see the Ted Riederer piece. Jerry Saltz (a professor at SVA) wrote a nice little piece about him and the Zwirner show. there is a video profile. this is great stuff. a little bit casual, and not fully resolved. i mean that in a good way.

6/21/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger James Wolanin said...

Look in your rear view mirrors Columbia and Yale, SVA us catching up quickly

6/21/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger James Wolanin said...


6/21/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be true to your school.

6/21/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Wow, you seem to have really hit a nerve today E.W.! Great discussion.

6/21/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone who has been out of school for a while (say, longer than 10 years) feel "true to their school"? I don't.

6/21/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Does anyone who has been out of school for a while (say, longer than 10 years) feel "true to their school"? I don't.

It probably depends upon the reputation of that school. I know more than one person in the art world who manages to drop the school they got their MFA at into every introduction they make, despite having graduated decades ago.

6/21/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous quaker librarian said...

I know more than one person in the art world who manages to drop the school they got their MFA at into every introduction they make

I do that with my high school. Not that it's impressive or anything, but it's a cheap way to get a laugh.

6/21/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Fame Alumnus said...

Me too!

6/21/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger serena said...

well, maybe the proffs are tired of competing with their own students.

Huh? Am I the only one who believes that it is part of a professor's job to support the careers of their own students?

I can understand that it would be difficult to watch a young, perhaps undisciplined or untried artist catching breaks that you yourself have never gotten. But some professors seem to forget that their students are going tens of thousands of dollars in debt to finance their education, and that part of that education is assumed to include a modest amount of practical career assistance--introductions, recommendations, etc.

I used to wonder if I was imagining the fact that some professors seemed to be going out of their way to block or discourage certain students, particularly the 'talented' ones. Then I got a
smoking gun story which seemed to prove, in one case at least, that my intuition was correct.

Maybe professors are 'tired of competing with their students;' if so, they should stop being professors. That professor's salary may not be high, but it's a heck of a lot higher than the wage the student is earning, working at the coffee shop, or that of the recent graduate with neither a teaching job or gallery representation, and a monster student loan to pay off.

6/21/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Edward_ said...
Yeah, you brought it up, sort of, so we are talking about the seeming preference for young artists today.

But that's my point...I didn't bring it up. Not in any way at all, to my mind."

You missed my point, again . . .

maybe you should read the entire post before responding . . .


6/21/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous happy path said...

Ed, I've been reading all the comments today with a great deal of interest, and find it surprising that you were so caught off-guard by how contentious an issue the age thing is. Maybe you are just unaware of what's going on out there, not in terms of what's in the galleries of course, but about the number of artists that are being actively screened out of the system because of their age. And those on the receiving end of this discrimination are perfectly justified in being angry about it.

Very possibly you are much more fairminded about this in your own policies, so please be clear that I'm not accusing you of anything. But there are plenty of artists that have been working hard for years, doing strong work, and building up an exhibition record, but haven't made it to star status. And those artists are finding it harder and harder to find galleries willing to even look at their work much less show it. So you can imagine how it feels to see those same galleries that are officially "not accepting submissions" going on a feeding frenzy trying to grab all the new MFA candidates before they're even out of school.

Let me tell you about an experience I recently had. I'd sent some samples to a gallery, a pretty good midlevel gallery that shows a range of artists, and I got an e-mail from the director telling me how much he loved the work, and asking me how old I was. I made the mistake of telling him the truth. And I never heard from him again. Wouldn't respond to e-mails or return phone calls. This isn't the only time something like this has happened to me, and asking around I find that many other artists have had similar experiences.

So you might imagine from this story that I must be at least 90 years old, but in fact I'm about the same age as you are. And the gallery I just mentioned didn't lose interest because they were looking for "fresh ideas", they loved my work. They passed because I'm not 25 years old. Think how you would feel if after putting years of hard work into your gallery, all the collectors stopped coming in because they decided you were too old to be relevant. And I'm not talking about 40 years from now, I'm talking about tomorrow morning, at your current age. Would you be happy finding a path outside the gallery system, or would you be pissed off?

6/21/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger serena said...

Gosh, reading these comments I feel like I've gone straight from being 'too young' to be taken seriously as an artist, to being 'too old,' without a single second of being the right age for anything. I must continue to take myself fervently seriously at exactly the age I am, or risk being entirely invisible. :-)

Or perhaps I should simply lie about my age, as I know for a fact that one former associate of mine, now represented by a big-name gallery, has done. She has lied so successfully that she has even convinced herself that she is now a couple of years younger than myself, though twelve years ago she was five years older. Astonishing! The miracles that success creates!

6/21/2006 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

even if david zwirner is taking advantage of the youth craze, i just don't think it matters. it's a benevolent gesture that works well for everyone involved. what i think is great is the tweaking of the established gallery arrangement- it's a four day show of artists he doesn't represent. you have to give it to him.

so Edward-- how about mounting a "Blog Show"? it could be amazing. here you have a collection of obviously passionate people with a variety of viewpoints at different stages of their careers from all over the country- few who have ever actually met.

i believe that some of these people are SVA grads if that helps sell the idea.

6/21/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You missed my point, again . . .

maybe you should read the entire post before responding . . .



Tim, I had read it. In full. Twice. I chose to respond to the part I disagree with. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear, but it wasn't meant to be an insult. Also, if you feel your text was misread, at least pay the person reading enough respect to explain why you feel they misread you...not just order them to re-read it.

It's not a small matter in this context as far as I'm concerned that this post is NOT about the advantages of younger artists, but rather about a bold approach to breaking into the market. Something artists who resent younger artists should put their resentment on hold about for a few moments and consider the reason Zwirner said yes.

But it has apparently become about here comes some of that tough love I advertize, folks. [skip this part if you're not up for it]

For the record, again, I get why artists resent the obsession with youth in the market. I'm no spring chicken, and I feel it too, believe it or not (happy path, believe me...I get it..and thanks for suggesting I'm old ;-) ). What I don't get is why folks look for any reason, no matter how marginally connected, to bring it up and rant about it. Like that stops it or something.

I'd suggest that a more productive course is to sort out who exactly you're angry with?

It can't be the younger artists...that makes no sense. Would you feel responsible if artists older than you resented your success? If it's dealers, again, misplaced, there are plenty of dealers not part of the "youthquake." Moreover, galleries get turned down by artists because they're not hip enough or whatever. I wish I had a dollar for everytime an artist told me they thought there work was perfect for the hot hip gallery du jour. Often their work was so clearly wrong for that program that it was clear all they wanted was to be seen as hip or hot. If it's collectors, well...take a number...everyone is angry at collectors lately it seems, despite the fact that without them the rest of us would all be flipping burgers.

More importantly, what good does bitching about it do? It doesn't make you any more attractive to anyone in the system. It doesn't change the fact (like Tim demonstrated via Bob and Jap) that it's not a new phenomenon. It's part of the game: work around it...smash through something more productive than bellyache about it.

Someone above suggested I shouldn't be shocked that the mere mention of grad students should raise artist's anxiety and anger, but I am. I am shocked. Not because I don't understand the feelings, but because I don't understand what you think such negativity will accomplish or why generosity toward students is so difficult for this one post.

Each case is different, clearly, but the thread running through all this anecdotal evidence is that better work (yours) is being ignored whereas assumedly inferior work (that of anyone who's an MFA student) is given a chance because of potential. I wish I had a quick fix for that, but I don't. You simply have to find a way to level the playing field.

Energy like that which inspired eleventh's hour suggestion is what is needed. I can see a few problems with that exhibition (shipping costs ;-) and too broad a range of visions to hold together as an exhibition to name just two), but that's exactly the type of thinking that is a so much better use of time than resenting younger artists who have every right to enjoy their exhibition.

6/21/2006 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

i believe we can think our way around shipping costs. in the spirit of like-minded people creating opportunities for themselves, here's how the "blog show" will work:

the exhibition is open to anyone reading this.

photograph your work. print your photo. staple or tape your photo to a telephone pole or a lamp post in your city or village. photograph the photograph and email the picture to:

the show should take place in the space of the real world. ultimately, it should be archived online. by dealing with representations of representations we will create a unified feel to an otherwise disparate exhibition(sort of like david hammons photocopies). and by gathering work by a group of people who are generally concealing or partially fabricating some part of their identity, we will avoid any form of age discrimination.


6/22/2006 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Tim said: "I think what we are seeing is the establishment of a new academy system that substitutes adherence to a set of rules for original thinking."

I think he's on to something, a new Salon.

Henry said: "I have to wonder whether a show like this could do more harm to an emerging artist than good."

Do you really believe that? I suspect they are all excited, but know, it's just what it is, their MFA show in a "hot" venue. If some thought they were "headed for stardom" before, I doubt they are any more disillusioned about it now. It is what it is, a nice gesture on the part of Zwirner and something to write home to mom and dad about.

One little point on the youth thingy. It's the speculative side affect of the hot money that’s in the art market. Historically, most artists don't hit their stride until their thirties. Picasso is a decent example, his early work was great but like other work of his time until his first Cubist paintings. The best exception I can think of is Basquiat, who was a genius at 22 and dead by 28.

So I'm seeing the youth feeding frenzy as nothing more than raw speculation, the hope to get in on something at the bottom and ride it up. It's more or less always been like this, just different in degree. Sometimes it's an ugly business, welcome to corporate America.

It appears that artists careers are somewhat cyclic, with roughly a 10 year cycle span before a period of investigation wears thin . Rauchenberg's period with the combines is an example. But, it does cycle, Dubuffet made the best paintings in his life starting in his 60's. So while I believe that in todays market, age matters in the sense that it's an easy sell. A more prescient gallerist might be on the lookout for a more mature artist who is just at the start of a 10 year (whatever) growth cycle. That requires an eye, rather than an ID.

That said, I agree with Ed and think it's great the SVAMFA'S get 4 days in the sun. More power to them.

6/22/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

They are people in the artworld that are so much about encouraging the youngs that you do wonder, until you realize at a party that they actually flirt them.

My statement on this issue is that
I am a big fan of Louise Bourgeois.

Somehow the big "oh my gawd, it's the Zwirner galllery!!" reaction only seem to make sense to me for people living in New York or who only read Artforum and Art In America.

It's just a space on 19th street, come on.

I do think the last Whitney Biennial was pushing way too much young unprepared artists (that is why you didn't recognize the names on the list before going), and that is why it was so sad and trashy.

Some work in that exhibition called "dont trust anyone over 30" certainly hitted a nail about this.

But ultimately, the trash aesthetic of youth art (also fantasmized by the works of older, like Mike Kelley) will pass on just like with any other trends.


Cedric Class 1984 Caspesyan

6/22/2006 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Is it just me, or is the point of the original post getting lost?

Yeah, it's easy to kick up dust about the new MFAness and rosy cheeks of it all, but the point is that trying a new strategy worked. So ya'al can go grousing about youth if you want, but I am going to go do something bold.

And about this Tyrrany of Youth thing...

Why does anyone here in their mid-thirties and beyond want that career trajectory? A career built on youth is like a career in the NFL, or the career of thousands of one-hit wonder bands. Sure, some kids can overcome the intense pressure of collaborating with a gallery and make strong work over many years and grow in this environment. That's talent and integrity! But many more churn out lame, derivative, safe work and are eventually spat out.... grist for the mill.

On the other hand, the people who want to work with me want what I am giving them, not some picture of youth that they have in their head. I have also gotten the cold-shoulder from gallerists after they learn my age, but you know what? That's just proof that they are not interested in what I can give them. I'm a busy woman. I'd rather get that information immediately and move on.

6/22/2006 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...


I am not bitter or angry. I show young and old alike in my gallery and I have said over and over to myself and others that whatever career problems I have are entirely my fault.

My responses were attempts to bring humor and lightness to the conversation, yesterday and the day before, and both days you used my words to typify a position I was not taking. I really resent that. you did it again in your reply to my reply to your reply just now.

"But the question must be asked, at a time when other MFA programs are erecting walls to protect their students from the pressures of the market . . ."

here is where it originally came up, where the conversation took the turn you weren't looking for. It is within the quote from the press release which you included in your post.

I re-read my posts from yesterday and can't find any whiny negativity in any of them. Just responses to others responses to this bit of a quote.

Some of my best friends are recent grads or current grads. I show them in my own gallery.

Please don't use my name or words as an umbrella to shake your finger at the world . . . unless I really do deserve it.


6/22/2006 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

you used my words to typify a position I was not taking. I really resent that. you did it again in your reply to my reply to your reply just now.

Let's walk through this carefully then, Tim, because I value your voice in this forum and hate to think carelessness on my part is making you feel resentment. I do, now, finally, see what your point is.

I couldn't see it yesterday because whether it was your intention or even your own doing or not, the thread jumped from being about how to use positive energy to get a foot in the door into a diatribe (which pissed me off), and so I began to read all comments in that context.

Yesterday I saw that line in the press release as only marginally relevant to my comments about the show, so I didn't realize it struck some as license to discuss the alleged bias toward youth. Now I see that a bit more clearly.

I'll still argue that we should be able to discuss grad students and their shows without the same arguments coming up again, but I apologize for putting you on the spot when you weren't part of the threadjacking.


6/22/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous lim said...

Ed, have you (or anyone else) seen this show and what do you think?

6/23/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed, have you (or anyone else) seen this show and what do you think?

I did see it. I thought it was a well-installed group exhibition with a few standouts that look very promising. It has a good deal of work that has "student" written all over it, but that's as it should be really. Tomorrow's the last day, I believe, though, so folks should go see for themselves.

6/23/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ed i love you.

6/24/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous eleventh hour said...

the idea behind this show was great, and you have to give a lot of credit to everyone involved but, context being everything- a larger pool implies a certain set of risks. when it comes right down to it, the show was not something to write home about.

6/24/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous a delicate participant said...

Ah, yes. I love everything everyone has written.

BUT. I was in that Zwirner show and I just got back from the de-installation. I am tired and sweaty: I've got paint on my clothes and spackle clotted in my leg hair. I am not particularly young and I'm not particularly rosy-cheeked (unless I've had a few cocktails.) In fact, the show was largely organized by a group of SVA MFA students who were post-30, having been out of the educational system of the better part of a decade, if not more. People who'd worked full-time at jobs outside the art field, who had relationships and commitment to friends, family and lovers that far outstrips the "youth" found in gradate art programs. Yes, yes, we're relatively young in sidereal terms, but old enough to dig in and work as hard as humanly possible.

We organized the show for several reasons...

1.) This show was staged as an attempt to patch egregious holes in the architecture of the SVA program due, mainly, to the lack of guidance and/or direction from the MFA Fine Arts Department Chair, David L. Shirey. It was a 100% student organized exhibition and we consider it a loud and vivid protest against the failure of current administration to have the slightest bit of ambition for the program. The current system works as follows: our thesis shows are broken into thirds, allowing only 10-11 students at a time (out of a class of 31) to show their work. In the case of the first thesis show, it was scheduled to open three days before fact, before that particular group had even met with a thesis advisor. The second thesis show went up in mid-January, a mere week AFTER those students were assigned thesis advisors. The third thesis show batch had a little more time to meet with thesis advisors--the show went up in mid-March, during SVA's spring break--but it still highlighted the fact that the the MFA Fine Arts department had a very dismissive attitude towards our output and studio practice. Wah wah wah, I know: we're teary-eyed, spoiled children in a rarefied system, complaining of its failures. Say what you want, people, but most of us came to SVA to have an educational experience, to work closely with our thesis advisor to create a coherent, disciplined body of work. It was, realistically, the final installment in our formal education: we came to dig in, to learn and to be challenged. As the current program exists, they do very little to rise to our dedication to the educational experience other than exposing us to a few "big name" artists during our sojourn within the studios, and assuring us that the Winter/Spring Open Studios matter far more that the thesis shows. Sad recompense, if you ask me.

2.) This show was also designed to give us, the Class of 2006, as sense of community and completion. I felt an enormous sense of community during that Zwirner show. I had spent the previous two years hearing, seeing (and, sadly in many cases, smelling) the presence of 30+ students in my class. I had varying degrees of affection/dislike for these people but I never regretted submitting myself to their presence. So to have one final gathering of both the student population and the WORK of the students was an amazingly satisfying experience for me. It was psychologically boosting. Laugh, if you must, but it was. I put myself in debt for the next decade for a good dance, and a good godd*mn dance I got at the opening on Wednesday night.

3.) And, finally, why not? Why effing not? In this day, in this ridiculous art market, why not do everything we can to gain attention for ourselves? The organizers of "A Delicate Arrangement" were tired of reading articles in the Times and the New Yorker about the Yale and Columbia grad programs. So why not us? The administration was willing (and eager, in my opinion) to fail us but, considering the crippling financial obligations we'd assumed by signing on to SVA's MFA program, we were NOT willing to fail ourselves. So we stepped up and did the work ourselves. Dan Cameron was an absolute catalyst. He was supremely supportive and encouraging throughout the entire experience. But we did everything we could to meet the challenges he threw at us and--at the risk of sounding cocky--we met his challenges with every gram of grace, talent, discipline and enthusiasm at our disposal. And we--Dan and the Class of 2006--succeeded.

I am proud of our work. And, I assure you, we worked hard every single day that we had access to the studios. In fact, our hard work manifested itself outside of the studios: we made this show happen. So excoriate us if you want. But we earned this show and, I guess, your excoriation.


6/25/2006 01:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, zuke, you rock.

6/25/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You do, indeed, rock...Zuke.

Congrats on the show. But more than that, congrats on the faith in yourselves that led to it!


6/25/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this whole discussion is beginning to take on a rashomon-esque quality, which is the cool thing about this blog--slowly turning an issue around and around and getting to see it from many sides--a humbling experience.
thanks zuke for taking the time to tell the story. it makes everything spring into focus a lot more sharply.
p.s. my son just got an mfa from sva in computer arts and man it is expensive--not to mention figuring out how to live in nyc--and he's never worked harder.

6/25/2006 10:34:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home