How Much Art Is Too Much? Open Thread
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!Here's the link. The author, Chris St. Clair, lives in Auckland, NZ.
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.
"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.