Friday, September 28, 2007

How Much Art Is Too Much? Open Thread

In ancient rome there was a poem
About a dog who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom of choice!

Then if you got it you dont want it
Seems to be the rule of thumb

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want

----Devo, "Freedom of Choice"

Guess which city the writer of this following rant lives in:

Too many artists. Too many galleries. And too many goddamn openings!

I'm sorry, but since my return to [XXX] after 5 years living overseas, I just cant believe how many - well, CRAP, galleries there are flooding the streets these days. [XXX] in particular is a mockery.

Call me a snob, but I can't help but feel this oversaturation of extremely average talent is making it very difficult to find the diamond in the rough. In my opinion, I count less than 20 galleries of worth in this city but I'd shudder to think how many more there are springing up weekly.

Don't get me wrong, fostering the arts is great - Lots of galleries is great for cities (over 1mil pop.) - but only if they put on consistent shows and have lots of decent artists without trying to find 6 months of "filler".

If I were an artist with a few years experience under my belt i would be well pissed off. Fly by nighters are stealing your audience. "Creative Directors" are putting on utterly shite painting shows!! arrggghhh... the end is nigh

Whats up with this explosion of people who consider themselves artists because they know how to slap paint on things? Or worse, do injkjet prints on canvas - Oh my god that kills me. And then selling them!! Where's the talent? Where's the originality?

Mark my words, in 5 years from now 90% of the artists exhibiting now will be trying to work on commericals or something similar because they couldn't stick it out. I just wish we could speed that time up - its killing me. And its killing the scene.

I just feel for all the "real" artists and galleries. They must be hating it.
Here's the link. The author, Chris St. Clair, lives in Auckland, NZ.

"How much art can a city support?" seems to be a growing question these days. A while back,
Matthew Nash asked more-or-less the same question about Boston:
Is there too much art? What a strange question to have to ask, and yet there are days when the answer seems to be a resounding 'yes!' Whether one looks at a small scene like Boston, or a larger market such as New York or Paris, there always seems to be just a bit more art than one can ever absorb. Is it possible that the very idea of art could be crushed under it's own weight?
I think something Chris wrote may be the essence of this issue for many artists: "Fly by nighters are stealing your audience."

This suggests an interesting set of questions to my mind. First involves the idea that because the human eye/mind can only absorb so many images/ideas/experiences in the context of "art appreciation" that some degree of pre-selection serves the art audience well. This leads me to question whether this actually supports the need for "the system" that we hear some folks railing against so frequently. Perhaps it's a double-edged sword, then, "the system." Perhaps its presence filters out some worthy artists, but its absence leads to Matthew's warning that perhaps "art could be crushed under it's own weight." Then again, we have "the system" now, so the real question is whether its absence would only make things worse. Perhaps not.

Secondly, accepting the volume of art choices suggests there needs to be one of two possible responses by art audiences: look faster or accept you're only ever going to have a limited knowledge of the art of your time. The latter is something I long ago accepted for contemporary literature, so I'm not so daunted by the idea of having to accept it for contemporary art (although, I'll admit to cringing when someone mentions an artist whose work I don't know).

Third is the sheer audacity of the idea of a right to a particular audience by some subset of artists. I suspect that popular, but critically un-acclaimed, artists must resent that notion. The idea that they're somehow denying "real" artists an audience who would have to turn to the "real" artists if (what? "unreal"?..."hack"?) artists like them were not out there fooling the general public and competing for their slice of the limited art purchasing/viewing pie.

Finally, though, are questions this raises with regards to what should the system do to limit the choices overwhelming the art viewing public? You can always let the market take care of such matters, obviously. As long as galleries and institutions are making enough money to stay afloat, why not just have let them compete? But that seems to describe the current situation and clearly that's not working for everyone.

Certain disciplines (like doctors) have quotas on the number of licensed practitioners. Is that an idea that might work here (sound ridiculous to me, but I throw it out there for debate)?

As the art market death watch cheerleaders are happy to point out, we may not have to worry about such matters for much longer or at least may be on the brink of a breather anyway, but when the market comes roaring back (as it generally does after a down turn), we'll find ourselves in this exact same spot again, so, the questions linger....

Consider this an open thread.

Labels: art exhibitions, too much


Blogger Carla said...

A artist's blog distinguishes by intimately revealing one's motives along with their motifs. It's still a bit of a mish-mash in terms of volume, but at least the artist's output/viewer's input is fairly transparent and direct. You can get a fairly introspective impression of them and their work with a relative degree of efficiency.

Further distinctions via organization and relevant linkages will make blogs a viable, if a tad laborious, tool.

It's a treasure hunt requiring some time and commitment, but you just may determine treasure from crap this way.

9/28/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

One persons crap is anothers compost. I say more galleries and restaurants

9/28/2007 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

That art history will collapse under its own weight is an idea that's been in the air for a while and its interesting to think about a system that is not dependent on names, but rather, telescopes the tropes of individuals into genres and thus releases the artist from the need to remember and rehearse biblical and linear genealogies.

These new multi-nodal rhyzomatic plateaus require only a database and a good data mining algorithm
In 200 years no one would even think of requiring people to memorize all the presidents names (a limited set compared to artists) - something I can remember being required to do.

I read somewhere that we are hard wired to remember notable names - that this in fact is the hierarchical hive mind at work.

I refuse to believe that. In the nature-nurture discussion I fall on the nurture because the robotic monkey of clinical alienation is too horrible to contemplate.

Anyone of an age is able to experience first hand the cyclical nature of history, and the illusion of much so called originality in thinking.

Hypertextual exquisite corpses existed in the bardic traditions of many pre-literate cultures - these bards, aided by aleatory and aliterative techniques - make for good story telling under inky black and star filled skies.

With writing and magnetic storage these techniques have been eclipsed - but the mind remains the bottleneck to true information awareness. Infinite baskets are only comprehensible when unwoven with your own two hands.

Pirsig in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" talks of qualities and essences - the concept of quality being so multifaceted as to be incomprehensible through reductive rational and conscious reasoning.

I'm paraphrasing here - I don't remember every word. I have in fact retained very little of the book aside from an impression that I take with me.

In this I am reminded of my grandma, who on a car ride home in the chaotic night looked at her son, my father and said:
"I don't know who you are but I feel close to you"

Robbed of memory, we are left with emotion. Robbed of emotion we become robots.

Do not go gently into that unedited night, the scouring force of a thousand worded brillo pads against delicate grey china, mind.

This oceanic feeling is horrific fragmentation or liberating - a body of a thousand organs, and many many more orifices.

9/28/2007 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

There's never too much art-- just not enough time.

And I think the brain can only handle so much stimuli before shutdown.

The best work ever written about over-saturation: "Against Nature," by J.K. Huysmanns.

It pretty much sums it all up.


9/28/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Hey, Zip, is English your second language? And is your first Confusingly Chaotic?

9/28/2007 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous karl zipser said...

This trashing of trashing of trashing the art world/system is getting dull. We artists are working on doing some good stuff. If the stuff is good, no one will complain about there being too much of it.

The real problem is not a system or lack of one, but a sense of purpose for art beyond individual recognition or gain.

I don't complain about all the fashion shoe stores in my city, I just ignore them. The author seems to be lacking something worthwhile to say and is rehashing the old hash. Ed, why don't you do a one week ban on complaining about the art world or bellyaching about bellyaching artists? I have the sense (even though I don't read every word here) that there has been enough said.

9/28/2007 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

what do you mean Karl?

Are you suggesting there's something beyond the circumference of our navels we should spend time contemplating?

9/28/2007 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Have you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Because I'm guessing no.

Should you? No, because you are you and we wouldn't want to make you any less unique. Easier to screen you out of the hive.

Hope that wasn't too confusing, its hard for me to think at your level.

Karl wants

"a sense of purpose for art beyond individual recognition or gain"

is facilitated by, as I said releasing "the artist from the need to remember and rehearse biblical and linear genealogies"

I was hoping you would infer that was it too oblique? Because that message wasn't for you.

9/28/2007 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Maybe we need more oxygen bars too and a good fan cause it's gettin hot in here.

9/28/2007 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Karl Zipser said...

Are you suggesting there's something beyond the circumference of our navels we should spend time contemplating?

Ed, I didn't want to bring size into this, of all things.

But now that you mention it, here is what I feel is the big big problem with your blog:

What the hell is in it?

You have years of STUFF in here, but I don't have a sense of what it all is or what it amounts to.

I'm sure you must think of this from time to time. Any ideas as to how to make Winkleman of times past more easily accessible?

As for being released from "the need to remember and rehearse Biblical and linear genealogies", I would not say that has ever been my problem. But it does sound nice.

9/28/2007 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I think his first language is Chaotic Condescension.

Bring it on, Zippy. The reason I didn't get a PhD in art history is because I didn't want to send people like you home crying every week.

9/28/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Yeah I was never obsessed with art history or constructing art histories either (so bourgeoise!), glad we can agree on that. In school the slide rooms were comfy and dark like the caves of the ancients.....Serauts flickering into Serauts flickering into Srauts. Oops slide tray got stuck.

Oh but my parents had a nice collection growing up....I did a book report on my dads Picasso.
Made my teacher grind his teeth until I gave him some coke. Nobliesse oblige! Easy A.

Whos cying?

oh and its called a search widget. Get one. It really not that hard to do.

9/28/2007 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

my grandma - that part is true. See how context changes everything?

In the Context of No Context - is a book - I found it in a bookstore, and then I looked it up in wikipedia:

presuming you are the Franklin of feminism - read the fourth paragraph.

9/28/2007 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

But now that you mention it, here is what I feel is the big big problem with your blog:

What the hell is in it?

You have years of STUFF in here, but I don't have a sense of what it all is or what it amounts to.

I'm sure you must think of this from time to time. Any ideas as to how to make Winkleman of times past more easily accessible?

Sigh...already a has-been. I knew the day would come.

I'm not sure what to tell you Karl, other than I've never set out to make the blog all things to all people. I write about whatever strikes my fancy. I will note that I appreciate some of the most popular posts among artists that I've done have been geared toward offering advice on how to get into galleries. I'm always happy to answer more questions, if folks ask them, but I'd hate to repeat the same advice in those.

I know some folks miss the "Artist of the Week" feature, but that requires more work than I've had time to devote to it recently (that series started when we were between locations and I had more time).

Other than imagining that that's what you mean, I'm not sure exactly what's changed. Feel free to suggest post ideas, though. I'm doing this because I enjoy the dialog.

I also do it because it helps market the gallery, but I appreciate that folks don't come here specifically for that news.

Finally, I've been blogging long enough to know that writers, as well as readers, don't stay enthusiastic about every blog forever (this is the third blog I've been passionate about...and there's nothing wrong with the other two, but I've shifted my focus and am enjoying this).

Am I missing something Zip wrote?

9/28/2007 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Nope. But its redundant nonetheless.

I remembered Saltz mentioned Trow:

These ripples are producing an aberrant trickle-up effect. In a reversal of a decades-old trend, Brooklyn galleries are moving to Chelsea. Bellwether owner Becky Smith, who relocated there from Greenpoint, says, "I was sick of my artists being ignored. Williamsburg has lost its schwang." Christian Viveros-Faune, co-owner of Roebling Hall, disagrees, insisting, "Brooklyn is still the creative hub of New York." When I asked him why he's moving to 26th Street, he said, "We're keeping our Brooklyn and Soho spaces and opening a Chelsea branch." Trickle up, indeed.,saltz,56700,13.html

Contextually speaking.

9/28/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

My god what are we going to do with our air rights??

9/28/2007 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

things change, there's new schwang in Williamsburg, people make career moves, and it's naive to imagine motives and rationales offered today will still make sense two years down the road. Is that surprising?

Also, Zipthwung, contextually speaking...antecedents are your friend.

In other words, what are you referring to by "what are we going to do with our air rights?"

9/28/2007 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not too much...just know where to look.

For young and good stuff I go to NADA (fair). The rest is shit.

For the big stuff; the Armory, Basel and Basel M., Frieze (no more after this year), and AAA.

9/28/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...


you know they have software to genreate blog content by recycling old content. You could have 20 blogs and do some search engine optimization (SEO).

Air rights - you know, buy a building, run it at a loss, throw some parties, flip it to a developer. Oh you weren't in on that game.

I mean you have to get the product out there because each piece is an ad for the next one!

9/28/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

For young and good stuff I go to NADA (fair). The rest is shit.

NADA's good, but the rest is hardly shit. Many of the galleries in NADA's fair do other fairs you don't even list. But by your statement one would have to conclude that only when they're at the NADA fair do they bring work that's not "shit." The fact that you don't mention galleries outside a fair context also suggests your view of what's "shit" or not is being hand-picked for you, rather than by you.

9/28/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Zip sez:
Have you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Because I'm guessing no.

As one of my favorite TV characters, Robbie Rotten, would say, "Bingo bongo, you are WRONGO!"

Not only have I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I have also read Pirsig's follow-up, Lila.

Hope that wasn't too confusing, its hard for me to think at your level.

I didn't mean to be insulting, exactly, but now that you mention it, yes, it seems you do have trouble thinking up to my level. More importantly, you have trouble being comprehensible. I'm thinking of some of your comments at PaintersNYC, too, where you lost me faster than James Joyce in Japanese translation.

I wouldn't want you to become any clearer, darling, because then you might be boring. I was just noticing the way mine eyes glaze over when I try to parse your comments here at Ed's and I wanted to let you know.

9/28/2007 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I think Karl is under the somewhat mistaken impression that one should go back and read old blog posts. Once again, Robbie Rotten raises his mighty-browed visage: Bingo bongo, Karl is WRONGO!

Karl, you don't go back and read old blog posts! Are you crazy? You start reading now and, if you find the blog interesting, you follow it from here on out. You certainly do not go backwards, because then your brain will explode.

The only time it's acceptable to read an old blog post is if you use Google to find yourself mentioned in a past comment thread. Then it's okay.

9/28/2007 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/28/2007 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

Guess it's dump on Zippy day...

Mr. Zippy are we supposed to be impressed by your upper class background? That your parents are wealthy enough to own a Picasso and you did a report on it in high school, was it high school?

That you fancy yourself beyond what seems to be healthy.

Has anyone told you this yet; no, maybe, yes?
I think your have this tendency to be obnoxious, and now you add this little rich kid stuff. You seem to have some intellect and were lucky enough to have the money to get a good education.

You enjoy putting everything and everyone down for some reason, maybe mommy and daddy were to busy buying Picasso's to pay attention to you when you were home for the holidays. If I have you wrong, excuse me but this is how you are coming across. Do you care, I think not, but someone has to.

Aside from that you seem to spend way to much time on blogs to be a real scholar in the classical sense.

9/28/2007 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Rip Rap said...

You mean, some people actually go to galleries to see art? ;-) Galleries are about what's in fashion. If you want to see art, go to the artist's studio or website.

9/28/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

My wife and I stayed in a bed & breakfast near Boston whose owners had a Picasso. It's not that impressive.

9/28/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Folks...let's stop making things personal now please. All of you. It was somewhat entertaining while it was soft around the edges, but it's starting to cross over into unacceptable. Please lighten up.

9/28/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

I meant someone has to say your an obnoxious twit in the classical sense. Not that you care is what I also wanted to say.

Ed for what it's worth this is a great blog and does what blogs should do, present ideas and let people hash them out.

9/28/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger painterdog said...

Ok no more personal diatribes.

9/28/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed for what it's worth this is a great blog and does what blogs should do, present ideas and let people hash them out.

That's my definition of what a blog should do as well, PD...thanks for the feedback.

9/28/2007 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a "good" Picasso and a "good" Miro. I am not rich. Just smart.

9/28/2007 04:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we think there is too much crap on too many tv channels? Too many tabloids? Too many inane blockbuster movies? Too many similar sounding pop bands? I guess it just depends on whom you ask. Like the current visual art world, there seems to be a market for them.

9/28/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

No way, people. Free Zippy. Zips is one of the best things about this blog. I set my VCR to record every night and I watch it in the morning.

9/28/2007 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I said before; you need to learn and recognize the good from the hype, the art from the fake and VV, the flash in the pan from talent.

Who is playing the system and who is using the artworld for other reasons? Who is manufacturing importance and abusing power? Who is friends with whom? Why is that gallery going to Basel now? Because?

For example;

A critic that becomes a dealer, then back to critic and then back to dealer and then back to critic in less than 10 years is somebody you shouldn't be reading for true art criticism.

Art crticism with prices? Hello? I am sorry but that's promotion and business journalism, not criticism. (Sorry Walter, just the truth.)

Too much? Never. Too good? Very rare.

9/28/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous ml said...

In grad school, a much older fellow student explained to me: In order for excellence to be visible, there needs to be a ton of mediocrity for it to climb up on.

The more galleries, the better. I personally know some absolutely fabulous artists who aren't represented by a gallery. So obviously there still isn't enough variety in the art gallery world.

9/28/2007 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

The only way fly by nighters are stealing my audience is, as Ed puts it, by adding to 'the choices overwhelming the art viewing public'. I reckon this is a good thing though.

Once upon a time you had to follow the dictates of the likes of Greenberg. Not that long ago you had to follow the dictates of the Academy. Now you can do whatever you like, and lots of people are.

Even though this means no-one can keep up with everything, and there's a good chance there's stuff out there that would knock your socks off if only you knew it existed, this is still a good thing.

I really like being able to do whatever I like. If people stumble across it and get something out of it, then that's even better.

9/28/2007 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Bed and Breakfast! I can't be bothered to get up for reveille. Do you enjoy that? Seems masochistic. And yet you pay for it.

Yes more art! More galleries! Distract the masses from the good stuff! No one I know goes to art fairs - yes go directly to the studio. If you have to think of art as an investment you are probably not in my class.

A good dealer should keep out the wrong people - otherewise, of course you can just go to the artists studio or a "salon" as they say. Doesn't everyone do that? I thought the NYT "broke" that "story "ages ago.

9/28/2007 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

We didn't do the bed & breakfast thing on purpose. We just happened to be visiting Boston during the Marathon and that was all we could find.

9/28/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

Never too much! Speaking which, what happened to
We got the art bug down here, with two pre-showings of ART 21 season 4 showing next week!

9/28/2007 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I don't mind the amount of galleries and artists if they are able to make their lives.

I'm pretty aware how these things are levelled, that there are galleries that exist to sell affordable art to people in need to decor their living room.

What I mind is when I visit the spots that I select because I assume they have a history of presenting either greater, "grander" (literally as in "taller"), or more original or more experimental pieces, start to show half-assed post-school art.
And I travel all the way to see that?

The question you will ask is: why travel?

Well, there are just a few places in the world where you expect to meet big chunks of art: London, Berlin, New York, you know the ones. There is already an itinary in place that "filters" the artworld in the sense that connoissors have come to expect better from certain spots, so there shouldn't really be any fear of getting lost when you don't mean to discover every good artist by yourself.

But there is just that feeling that
something else than taste has gotten over the "good spots" now, or maybe it's a lack of effort, because the art market has become so granted these days. Or maybe we're in a transitional state, and the next artists are signing elsewhere while the biggies are getting bored, dehumanized and saturated. But... When the bigs start to show crap, that's where to me things become alarming. Sometimes I even think we see crap because the good art is too expensive to show. Maybe the great art is just shown 3 days in Basel afterall, an idea I find terrible.

Maybe it's just a bad season.
Maybe art is overcooked.
Maybe art is elsewhere than within art.

I'm trying to be elsewhere too. Hard.

Cedric Caspeyan

9/29/2007 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

The big paradox is I've always thought everyone should be making art. Everybody is entitled to express themselves, and seek out who they are through the means of aestheticized thinking.

But this is where I think that if everybody was making art, it would become less of a hurting moment to come together and agree to spotlight the very best of it for the world to see.

People are confused about art because they don't know how to make it. If everyone was making art we would be in a better position to evaluate the pieces worth to be put on central stage.

So I firmly encourage, or even urge, everyone to make art.

Cedric Caspesyan

9/29/2007 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

First off I totally agree with Cedric
I've always thought everyone should be making art
and that's not limited to painting or sculpture, its in the way you do anything, there that great scene in The Hustler when Paul Newman is describing the perfect pool game to Piper Laurie I have got to say it is one of the best explanations of Art as Experience, to paraphrase if you love what you do and strive to do it well you're making art, for the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance crowd "Arete".

I taught myself years ago that when I walk into a gallery before calling it crap or whatever, to ask, "Why is it here?". Someone put a lot thought and of effort into making it, the gallery has to have a reason why it is putting it in a piece of real estate in the most expensive real estate market in the world so there has to be a reason.

Quite frankly I have a very narrow tolerance of what I really like, but I understand my taste is my taste, and I understand what I understand, I'm a sculptor and do installations, so that is what I like to see, which in this so called gorged art market is the minority so I appreciate a lot of the aspect of sculpture that are more technical. A Painting has to be pretty incredible for me to like it, although if I'm with a painter and they like something that doesn't appeal to me I ask why they like it, and I usual then understand it and can appreciate it.

So let's not forget that Chelsea as the art capital of the world, people from other countries are also looking at what we are seeing, but with a different cultural sensibility, I know we like to say good art is "universal", but in the same breath we want to criticize Pop culture for having a broad appeal.

As for sensory overload, have you ever in a crowded room through a sea of people all of a sudden see a friend?

Ed can you clear something up here from a dealers point of view, what is the point of knowingly showing crap? I am sure that as I said everything in every gallery is there for a reason, so from a dealers point of view what is behind some of the shows?

as I see it the myths are,

They are showing just because they are fresh out of a MFA program.

They are showing because their work looks, feels, and smells like art and it can easily be sold.

They are showing because they are a trust fund brats and mommy's and daddy's friends buy their art.

They are showing because they are attractive and can flirt with potential collectors

They are showing because they are sleeping with the dealer.

since I've been reading your blog I have come to believe you are interested in bringing talented artist you believe in to the market and are willing to nurture some for awhile as well.

So come clean about the practices of your fellow dealers are these just myths, what is the real deal, don't hold back I'm sure not every dealer is reputable what are some of the reasons some artists get shown?

and Chris what is the name of that B&B;? I would rather stay in a mom and pop flop with a bad Picasso, than a corporate cookie cutter hotel with bad poster prints of bad landscape artists.

9/29/2007 02:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph asking:
>>>Ed can you clear something up here >>>from a dealers point of view, what >>>is the point of knowingly showing >>crap?

I've met gallerists who totally acknowledged (in secret) that they didn't like an exhibit they put on. The deal they have with artists is that they "have" to show them once in a while, but sometimes artists come up with lesser interesting stuff. And the funny thing is that the gallerist knows, but has to write all the embellishment PR to make sure that the work will still sell (this is the emperor's clothe situation).

There is also the taste bias as you described. A gallerist may hate a type of art that more people are interested in and will sell. The big galleries sell too much artists that the owners can like everything equally.

Cedric Caspesyan

9/29/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed can you clear something up here from a dealers point of view, what is the point of knowingly showing crap? I am sure that as I said everything in every gallery is there for a reason, so from a dealers point of view what is behind some of the shows?

Come now, Joseph. That's too easy an out for folks, don't you think?

First of all, no artist on the planet is universally understood or appreciated. There are plenty of folks who will call Andy Warhol (or a host of others) "crap." So just because you'll conclude an exhibition is so not to your liking that the dealer must be knowingly showing "crap" in no way makes it so to the whole world.

Having said that, though, Cedric does touch on one reason not every exhibition is as high a quality as every other in any gallery. Sometimes an artist fails or the gallery fails to understand the artist and doesn't do what's needed for them to succeed. Also, sometimes a gallery gives an artist an exhibition because the artist truly believes in the work (and the gallery has made a commitment to supporting the artist), but a critic or someone will come in and point out a fundamental flaw in the work that the artist and gallery both missed.

In the emerging gallery system, where taking risks with new work is commonplace, it can't be at all surprising that some shows will fail, can it?

9/29/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

I think Agnes Martin said that an artist is someone who can admit to failure.

9/29/2007 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

I'm of the never too much ilk.

And I'd encourage us all as artists to continue to broaden our fields of exploration, maybe into consumer-level stuff.

Can an art object have a use, however ostensible that might be -- or can we play with the idea of useful objecthood, for example?

Can we spoof usefulness and then make a line of more easily purchased objects that relate to the more expensive ones?

Remember when ash trays used to be furniture? They had their own pedestals, were made of turned mahogany and brass - ???

rambling I guess - Happy Autumn, kids- X B

9/29/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Let me just say that I nearly always scroll past Zippy's comments without reading them, for a very personal reason. They remind me so forcibly of the Young Pretty Lady--majoring in Honors Everything, arrogant, condescending, craving attention, assuming that anyone who did not wish to spend their precious time deciphering arch, disconnected, allusive creato-babble as though it were the subject of their Ph.D thesis was Just Stupid--that I simply cannot bear to look at them. They make me cringe with projected and retroactive embarrassment.

9/29/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

In the emerging gallery system, where taking risks with new work is commonplace, it can't be at all surprising that some shows will fail, can it?

I've already commented I agree with artist failing. and I'll add it's a good thing there are galleries that can allow an artist to fail, it's like having a minor league system, not every ball player is ready to play the majors right away, and some who look like they will be great never realize their potential, and some who when they started playing were not too impressive, become great.

I as an artist, can take criticism in fact I welcome it, and never take it personally, it is more useful than empty compliments, and if a person is being honest and risking making me angry, they can only be trying to help, a swift kick in the ass is more valuable than a soft pat on the back, and have learned how to tell if a person knows what they are talking about, and when they are ignorantly overgeneralizing.

being misunderstood is another thing, and especially when its my fault, I was trying to say I don't considerer anything crap, nor do i want to impose my particular preferences as absolute aesthetic ideas, in fact I'm one of those people who enjoy listening to obscure bands, then complain when they get too successful, but I don't say they sell out, they just hit their stride and place in time, I saw REM in a place the size of Webster Hall in Columbia SC on the Fables of the Reconstruction Tour and was blown away, then they hit it big a couple years later, I didn't think they sold out, I just thought everyone else wised up.
point is I should of put quotes around "crap" to show I was referring to the term used in previous comments not making a judgment.
I guess I was looking for some "Ball Four" type confessions that make sense of what goes on in Chelsea.
Anyone know of an equivalent type of book, about the current art market?

9/29/2007 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

please take all of the following with a huge handful of salt
for me the writing works on a number of levels simultaneously; each of these levels comes into play in each post, and they are all equally important. In no particular order, they are:

1) A meditation practice, in and of themselves, in the process of writing them. I am opening myself up to receive guidance about how to work, while working within the same stringent form.

2) A metaphor for an underlying holistic order, independent of space and time--what Bohm calls 'the implicate order'--which determines how the physical universe unfolds. Since posts are linear and repetitive, they work rather like scrolls or hypertexts--one gesture can simultaneously create form in many different physical and temporal locations.

3) Chakras.

4) Celestial bodies.

5) Organic growth patterns.

Sometimes the links both within and without the writing represent kinetic trajectories as well--orbits, currents and gravity.

Thus, these writings can be read simultaneously as landscapes, mindscapes, microscapes, and metascapes.

or whatever. I feel a little embarassed for you.

9/29/2007 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I like Olav Velthius though I'm a little embarassed for him too. What's his point?

9/29/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The lack of balance about embarrassment in the US is out of control in my opinion. Like sportscasters who ask an athlete who wins the Silver at the Olympics "You must be disappointed, no?" (he/she just won the freakin' silver medal at the Olympics, you nutjob, he/she has every reason to be ecstatic), we seem to feel that anything less than perfection is something to be embarrassed about. I'm sure that notion helps sell soap, but I think it also rips hard-earned joy from many moments of achievement.

Personally, I think the point is to collect as much joy as possible. For many of us joy comes via working hard and pushing ourselves, so it's not a universally hedonistic concept, IMO. For everyone, though, the odds of much real joy are against you enough that you don't have to feel guilty or embarrassed about it including less than some fantasy of perfection.

9/29/2007 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Um, you guys don't seriously think that Chelsea is the art capital of the world, do you?

That was a joke, right?

9/29/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

I could tell, without even reading to the punch line, that the complaint came from someplace like Auckland. (My actual guess was Sidney.)

When a city has enough sophistication to follow the international art market -- without really being part of it -- galleries spring up right and left to meet the demand for art. But very little of that art can match up to what people see in the international art magazines.

The problem isn't that there are too many galleries. It's that they don't match up to fill-in-the-blank-Chelsea-gallery.

9/29/2007 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Ed said: "I've never set out to make the blog all things to all people."

That's true of all the art we see, too, isn't it? If you're an artist, you make work that resonates for you and for whomever else is on your wavelength. Hopefully viewers' bandwidths are wide.

There's never too much art for me, but I've learned over time how to embrace what I can, pass up what I can't, and, just not to fall into a rut, push at the boundaries of my bandwidth. It's just arrogant for any one of us to call someone else's work crap.

Speaking of arrogant, I've started to ignore any posts on this blog that hurt my eyes and annoy the rest of me.

9/29/2007 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

The problem isn't that there's too much art, it's that there's too much inconsequential art marketed as great art. In today's climate we might not even recognize great art if we saw it, because there's no context for it, intellectual or otherwise. In the past what artists thought, how they valued the work of other artists was what gave it value. Now it's all about hype and financial speculation--an atmosphere that's hardly conducive to making art for the ages.

9/29/2007 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Reality said...

Um, you guys don't seriously think that Chelsea is the art capital of the world, do you?

Um, you don't seriously think its not, do you?

9/30/2007 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Um, yes, I seriously think it's not. The claims otherwise remind me of the science fiction writer who reckoned that a visitor from outer space would conclude that the dominant species on Earth is grass.

And as for the breath-taking nature of:

'When a city has enough sophistication to follow the international art market -- without really being part of it -- galleries spring up right and left to meet the demand for art. But very little of that art can match up to what people see in the international art magazines.

'The problem isn't that there are too many galleries. It's that they don't match up to fill-in-the-blank-Chelsea-gallery.'

If it weren't so sad, it'd be funny.

It's like Einstein said: there is no centre, and there is no periphery. It's all relative, mate.

9/30/2007 01:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Chelsea is the center of "distribution".....10% of the galleries there are selling out shows and making huge amounts of money, the rest are fillers and/or labs for that 10%. When I say selling huge I mean 3 or 4 times more than any other city in the world. That should answer your question.

The same for artists, are you a filler artist or a gallery artists?

9/30/2007 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger David Cauchi said...

Ha ha, you are mistaking quantity for quality. This may be a cultural thing.

And I'm just an artist. It's not up to me to apply an adjective.

9/30/2007 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

“Do your breasts give you confidence?” “Yes.” “Tell me about that.”

9/30/2007 04:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a matter of too much art, but a matter of shit versus ART. Ah, subjective ( I can hear the words coming out of your mouths ) and it is. But come on folks, walk the galleries in NYC and take a look, a real and true look, at much of what is on display. I bet that many of you would come away with a very similar impression. Many artists - I mean very talented ones - can only shake their heads and ask the question "why not my work?"

The bottom line is that the ARTSCENE is a game and a very big one at that. Some know how to play, but most don't.And most are not even allowed to play.

9/30/2007 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Claire Bishop, in her article Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics (2004), asks "if relational art produces human relations, then the next logical question to ask is what types of relations are being produced, for whom, and why?" [9]. She continues "the relations set up by relational aesthetics are not intrinsically democratic, as Bourriaud suggests ... communication is fine to an extent, but it is not in and of itself emblematic of 'democracy.'" [10]

9/30/2007 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous derek said...

Great feedback. I haven't heard such a blizzard of dialogue in a while, you really struck a chord this time, Ed.

I have a theory that many artists are seeking fame, notoriety, or some sort of celebrity. Call it Clout, Juice, Game, whatever. In this case making art and being involved in the art scene is a vehicle for status and a way to see and be seen. Think of that one artist who made it "big" and became an instant asshole. We all know someone like this. The problem is that in order to get there pronto, one must do whatever is necessary to get on stage. An actor will take a bad role in a bad Movie (the Gigli effect), and an artist will make mediocre work. Hopefully the artist who does this feels equally as pathetic afterwards.

9/30/2007 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

Jerry Saltz commented one time about his judgment concerning good and bad art. He said the best critics of all eras have missed or dismissed some of the best artists of their era. While I have very clear ideas of what constitutes good art to me, I am reluctant to relegate everything else to the "shit" pile. And anyone who has studied art history realizes that some great artists start out producing truly dreadful early works until they hit their stride. And some great artists produce amazing work while young and seem to implode later in life. The more galleries there are the more opportunities there are for artists to develop. That, in my mind, is always a good thing. The chaff will always disappear with time.

9/30/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Edward Sez:

Personally, I think the point is to collect as much joy as possible. For many of us joy comes via working hard and pushing ourselves, so it's not a universally hedonistic concept, IMO. For everyone, though, the odds of much real joy are against you enough that you don't have to feel guilty or embarrassed about it including less than some fantasy of perfection.

Gusky Sez:

Be my guru!!!

Seriously, I've found myself referring to joy frequently when teaching the kiddies over the past year and a half or so and wondered where the hell that came from. Interesting to hear it here in this forum which I take pretty seriously.

Maybe we really need to focus on the joy right now. Just a thought.

9/30/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed

Ive really loved your blog but now more and more
I think it may have 'jumped the shark'.

You bring up great issues but the attendant comments are becoming less and less valuable/interesting/fresh. There is a fairly regular community
who post on your blog. After following E.Winkelman
for awhile Ive been able to develop a feel for these various characters to the point that their new posts
are now mostly reformulations of 3 or 4 old ideas.

I think whats required at this point is vision. Either
to recognize that the commenters arent sufficiently interested to unpack those issues you are bringing up and/or you really have a sharp and well developed ability to focus on thought provoking issues which have transcended a blogs ability to develop such issues. I think its time for you to grow - either a column in a weekly newspaper, a book, or a lecture series.
While Im sure you love the feedback and virtual community that your amazing blog affords I urge you to consider moving forward to another format
which would expose your valuable perspectives to
a larger audience. Jerry Saltz doesnt have a comments section and more and more neither should you.

9/30/2007 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh BTW Zip if you're going to bring up
relational aesthetics/claire bishop it would
actually be valuable to people if you did a better
job of presenting its context. People have repeatedly
pointed out your habit of obfuscating the issue with
you polysyllabic sensibility. Well prove that you arent
here to just muck up the waters in a self aggrandizing way. Listen to your fellow commenters and realize that it would be great if you actually didnt assume that everyone has for example that particular issue of October magazine with that Claire Bishop article in it. You should also provide reference to Liam Gillick's scathing response to said article. And on top of that you
should realize that the truly informed invite others to understand and learn while the truly uninformed refuse to welcome in those they find less knowledgeable than themselves.

9/30/2007 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Be my guru!!! sweet as that is, boy-oh-boy would it be a mistake. I'm still looking for my own guru. The most alarming thing about getting older (and presumably wiser) is that with each passing year, about the only thing that becomes even remotely clearer is how precious little I know about anything. Which leads into my gut response to this next idea:

recognize that the commenters arent sufficiently interested to unpack those issues you are bringing up

I suspect that's evidence of my limitations. I know writers who can make you interested in (if not downright enthusiastic about) dustballs, so I always blame the writer if the audience is more interested in something else. Besides, as I realized via a post the other day, discussing art or literature is really just a vehicle for talking about oneself. I can hardly blame anyone for not being all that interested in me.

I urge you to consider moving forward to another format
which would expose your valuable perspectives to
a larger audience. Jerry Saltz doesnt have a comments section and more and more neither should you.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bensen (?sp), "I know Jerry Saltz. Jerry Saltz is an acquaintance of mine. Sir, I am no Jerry Saltz." Seriously, Jerry's nothing short of a miraculous gift to the NY art world. It's flattering to be compared to him, but not at all a persuasive argument.

Bottom line is, to tell you the truth I don't want to admit to myself, I won't be able to sustain the blog at this pace indefinitely. It's part of the central philosophy behind the gallery (i.e., a passion for an wide-open, hopefully engaging dialog about contemporary art), and because I love it, I'll do it as long as I can, but you're the second person to bring up the fact that repetition is settling in (which is totally normal for any blog, IMO, but generally the first thing that indicates it's run its course).

We'll see.

9/30/2007 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think commenters here need to recognize
with regards to the huffy puffy intellectual posturing
coming from zipthong - that when someone quotes
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle in 2007 they are not as complex as they appear to be. Shame on you zip.
If you are going to go around beating the blogging masses with a styrofoam club that says INTELLECTUAL at least go the full distance and complete the costume. Quote recent articles by
writers no one could have possibly read yet - you know art treatises published last week in mandarin or welsh.

9/30/2007 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Zipthwung, may I point out that the blog post of mine which you misquoted out of context above, in a sarcastic attempt at riposte, was a direct and honest answer to a direct and honest question. In other words, it was part of a conversation. Conversation is precisely the thing which your chosen style obviates.

9/30/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

It wasn't sarcastic. And It wasn't an attempt. It was totally successfull, as your tone and lack of analysis indicates. That you refuse to see meaningful insight in what and how I write is of course inconsequential to me but might point to a defect in your metabolism.

This blog hasn't "jumped the shark" and I find that attitude more condescending than I have been for at least five minutes. You win anonymous. Kudos.

Jerry Saltz has been reformulating the same kinds of questions raised here without much printed editorial reponse from his readership (The Village Voice is FREE but it does indeed have a letters section) for a long time.

Look up Saltz+babylon and you will see just one facet of this repetitive intellectual cancer.

He's not the only one - pick up any art magazine and you get the same fluff. Is art dead? WHere is IT at? I feel like a fraud and yet here I am eating caviar and champaigne! Oh man am I hung over. Documenta is gonna be killer!

Can you hear the envy dripping from my bleacher seats? The downward spiral into madness as I try to parse the inherent incongruities? Its a hurculean task clearing the augean stables so that real artists can grow amongst the piles of shit.

(I am here several people articulating a populist plan for revolt in the Augean stables (wikipedia it! are you with me?))

In effect Saltz is asking what is to be done, throwing up his hands, and inciting revolt all at the same time.

This is disingenuous for several reasons, among them being that everyone is afraid of the return of the big dictator (but those of us in the bleachers hope it's the anti-christ) while secretly wishing they could be its right hand of darkness, if no the benevolent night itself.

Saltz doesn't go there.

In reality no one has the ability to be that deluded pillar of shit anymore, despite consensus building efforts from all corners, including this blog with its claims to adult authority (I read the NYT!), good posture and play nice attitude.


How about a thread about the divide and conquer marketing tactics INHERENT TO the gallery system.

Or am I supposed to bring it?

How very convenient that the arbiters of taste, supported by ad revenue and deep pocketed patrons, are allowed to define good and then slather it with the word art at will, the sycophantic "fans" biting the hand that feeds like nibbles in a fish bowl.

Have you heard of so and so? No? How can I possibly talk to you about ideas if you don't even have a PLACEHOLDER for it? October magazine is a place! Have you been there? No? Lacanian Ink? Oh god, not since I lost my copy of the Necronomikon. The what? Relax, and stare at the hypersigl, its ok. The hyperwhat? Are you still talking? Sleep.

Oh to draw immediate and art historical associations that carve out, circle and and divide context to an otherwise shapeless morass.

But is it truly shapeless? Do people need a shape? Leadership? Tribes? War? Scapegoats?

Given the same medium, what other shapes could be massaged out of the play dough?

What fresh metaphors could be interrogated into a bloody screaming mess on the killing floor? What babies could be strangled with iron umbillical cords, dashed against petrified pillars of knowledge? What babbling beasts could be, at this very moment, tearing at the legs of a useless bloated game of pin the blue tail on the donkey?

Olav Velthius, who I mentioned as a scientific contrast to metaphysical Pirsig (a mere placeholder), outlines the art world from a sociological POV - one which points out the inherent contradictions of viewing art religiously (as apparently some here do) and then taking a tidy profit.

The mental gymnastics required to keep this cognitive dissonance in place is filling the airwaves with useless noise.

I hope to see the book soon.

9/30/2007 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Anonymous 2.22 I mean, not anonymous 2:30 who makes a good point.

9/30/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

That you refuse to see meaningful insight in what and how I write is of course inconsequential to me but might point to a defect in your metabolism.

First of all, Zip, thanks for chaning your image. The old was hypnotic, but very likely epilepsy-inducing among certain segments of the readership.

Secondly, your quote above strikes me as likely untrue, in that no one who spends as much time and effort writing here as you do could be that ambivalent about whether others see anything meaningful in the effort. Also, the forth grade insult at the end is not up to your usual standards, suggesting further, you're not being entirely forthright in making that comment and are rather revealing a bit of frustration instead.

Personally, I probably read about 25% of what you write (not enough hours in a day, don't you know), but generally find what I do have time to read highly entertaining and often thought provoking, so I hope you'll not take the ganging up on you here recently personally. Do consider, however, that the medium might not be the best forum for your sustained level of wonderfully chaotic stream of consciousness and perhaps practice a touch of self-editing now and then. Oh, and be a little nicer to your fellow commenters and you'll find the same come back in return, I suspect.

How about a thread about the divide and conquer marketing tactics INHERENT TO the gallery system.

You write it and I'll comment.

9/30/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Fiery the angels fell and to thine own self be true

Ah to sail the cloudy platitudes!

9/30/2007 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zippy needs his own sandbox to play in cuz he can't share with others.

9/30/2007 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Zippy is a 23-year-old waiter with a BFA and a subscription to Artforum. He lives in New Jersey. With his mom. This is the Internet, people.

10/01/2007 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10/01/2007 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Zippy is also at least one of the anonymous commenters.

10/01/2007 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I'm aligning my chakras.

Check my IP address, its just not true.


10/01/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

alrighty then...I think this thread has squeezed out as much usefulness to readers who don't really care how anyone feels about zipthwung as it's going to...thanks for playing...this thread is closed.

10/01/2007 08:21:00 AM  

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