Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Incipient Vomitting

He was discussing the widespread response to Genet's work among the so-called gentlepeople of French society, but Jean-Paul Sartre's definition of "disgust" is one I've never forgotten. I can't find the exact quote (I think it might be in Saint Genet), but it went more or less like:

And yet what is disgust, but an incipient vomitting? And what you vomit must surely have already been inside you.
I've always taken that to mean that "disgust" is actually a bit of a pose, because it reveals a choice to be disgusted, not necessarily anything inherently disgusting about the object/action in question. If you're presented with something entirely new, for example, you can't feel disgust at it, you feel rather amazement or bemusement or pure curiosity, because you're literally forced to perceive it with an open mind. It's only by subsequently associating it with something you've already decided is "disgusting" that you lump it into that category.

Take eating brains for example. If you've never tried them, you're likely to approach the opportunity via one of two paths: some folks say they would hurl if presented with a dish of brains; others say they would happily dive in, having heard they're a delicacy. Unless you've eaten them, though, the first path is a pose. Why? Because there's nothing inherently disgusting about eating brains (you can't know if you'll like how they taste before trying them). Disgust at the idea of it is merely what you bring to the opportunity yourself.

This line of reasoning occurred to me while reading some recent texts that expressed disgust with the current state of the art market. I originally wrote this post with links to those texts, but have since decided to genericize my critique (one, because I like those writers, and two, because I don't want them to hate me).

But essentially my response to such texts is to note that IMO disgust with how "commercial" (i.e., how vacuous or anti-spiritual) everything art related is at the moment is a pose. If you accept the central premise of such complaints that art has never (historically) been this much about commerce (one I reject, but we've been over that), then the only honest response to this entirely new phenomenon is amazement or bemusement or curiosity. You can only be disgusted by it through association with something you've already decided is disgusting. In this case, greed or gluttony or whatever encapsulates the perceived excess.

This is not one of those "greed is good" lectures, despite how it might read, as much as a call for a more open mind about the current state of things. It's not likely to last (nothing does), but I find it somewhat disingenuous to proclaim disgust at an unprecedented phenomenon. Perhaps art is only reflecting the state of the world at large (something most would accept as its role in part) which has never been as wealthy as it is. Perhaps how "commercial" art seems at the moment is actually a reflection of something higher than greed or gluttony. Perhaps it's a reflection of a new paradigm. If it was an injustice for "starving artists" to be so neglected by society, perhaps the new era of millionaire artists is the appropriate correction. Perhaps it will change things for all artists across the board with time. There are those now arguing that we're entering the age of creative leadership, where capitalism must seek out and reward the most creative minds to survive. Perhaps all this money in the art market is simply a way to move toward a more symbiotic relationship between artists and businesses...one that permits artists to retain their artistic integrity while still earning as much as lawyers, doctors, and others with a similar number of post-graduate years under their belts. I don't know actually. Perhaps it's just greed and folks are right to be disgusted, but I'm not sure there's enough information at this point to know for sure, and it's best to keep an open mind about it all, no?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Post Pulse

Well the coverage of Pulse New York didn't quite live up to the promise, did it? Bambino went around and photographed his favorites at the fair, and he'll do a post on that later, but right now, both of us are sick in bed (poor B, with a high fever). Lots of other folks at the fair were coming down with something yesterday as well (too much partying or too much in and out of the cold, we're not sure).

The fair was a total delight, though, I must say. Sales were excellent, the response to the booth was more than we had hoped for, and overall we had a wonderful time seeing our friends and meeting some fun new folks.

Speaking of others who are under the weather though,
Barry Hoggard was kind enough to highlight Ivin Ballen's work on his blog even though he must have caught the same bug we did (feel better Barry).

Thanks to everyone who stopped in to say hello. It was great putting some faces together with blog names. A big special shout out to the lovely ladies at
PPOW (Wendy and Penny), who we can't believe we only just got to know at the fair and positively adore already. Oh, and to Dennis...there's plenty more where that came from....consider a whole installation of them for your project space! Finally, to the Hooligans (you know who you are), B sends his love and hopes we get to see you before October...seriously consider the project we discussed.

Now I'm off to get Bambino some Theraflu.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Day 1 at Pulse

Despite a heavy downpour that quieted things down for a while in the afternoon, we had an excellent opening to the Pulse New York Art Fair yesterday. Sales were good, the response to our booth was exciting, the big collectors were out in force...everything you can hope for. Today Pulse is open from 12 - 8. I hope you get a chance to stop in. Everyone agrees it's stronger than last year and has some wonderful surprises.

Here are a few pix:


Our booth featuring work by Ivin Ballen.


The booth of our wonderful next-door neighbors (in real life and at Pulse, yes, we're joined at the hip) Schroeder Romero.



Last minute touches attended to before the Preview Brunch on Thursday.

More Pix tomorrow.

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Invading Iraq: Immoral Then and Now

<The Bush Doctrine, under which the President justified his invasion of Iraq, is immoral. Pre-emptive war in the absence of imminent threat is immoral. This is as clear to me today as it was back in 2003 when I marched, wrote, and worked in every way I could against the decision to invade.

Although the reason it's immoral is something so obvious to me it seems ludicrous to have to explain it, the confusion and fear that followed the 9/11 attacks, and that were manipulated by the Bush Administration, have sown seeds of ambiguity on basic moral issues in our country's collective consciousness (issues like torture, habeus corpus, secret prisons, etc.) to the point that even the obvious must now be restated.

Therefore, I'll offer this simple equation: war = death of innocents. Moral leaders define themselves most fundamentally through preventing the death of innocents unless there is no other option. In the absence of an imminent threat there are ALWAYS other options. There may not be easier options. In the aftermath of a devastating attack, there may not be more satisfying options. But to prevent the deaths of innocents that wars guarantee, the leaders in whom the people place their trust are obligated to exhaust, fully, the alternatives to war. Until a threat is imminent, it's always unconvincing to suggest that has been done.

In addition, pre-emptive war in the absence of imminent threat is immoral because war always carries the risk of getting out of hand and creating a situation much worse than the one the war was designed to address. That's why wars are widely seen, by moral people, as only justified when clearly they are the last resort. The potential for chaos is too great to risk it otherwise. Here again, they may not be the easiest or most gratifying solution, but every conceivable (and possible-yet-to-conceive) alternative to war must be exhausted by moral leaders.

I've been having this debate so long now, though, I'm sure there are those who feel I've beaten this horse into glue. As the 2008 presidential campaign heats up, however, I see that this basic standard of morality is still not clear to some who would be Commander-in-Chief, and so I'm gonna outline for them exactly why they're mistaken with two guiding principles as my metrics: the cost of innocent lives and the predictable (and unpredictable) outcome of actions.

The main hurdle encountered thus far in making the case that the decision to invade Iraq was immoral is the near-maddening rope-a-dope of rationales for the invasion that provide cover for its apologists when they're pressed to account for their support. No one of these rationales is still solid enough on its own to shield them, but by bobbing and ducking behind the ruins of this argument and then dashing over to hide behind what's left of that argument, the apologists manage to wear out their critics or confuse themselves enough to feel they're right, that invading Iraq was a moral decision. Most of the rationales (like WMD, spreading democracy, 9/11, etc.), though, derive their remaining strength from the one that still lingers as the most compelling (the one seen as still offering the most shelter, IMO). This one was recently offered by candidate
Rudolph Giuliani:


“I would remove Saddam Hussein again,” Mr. Giuliani said. “I just hope we’d do it better and we’d do it in a different way.”
As I noted, this rationale--we had to invade to remove Hussein--is politically compelling (who isn't happy Hussein is gone?) but it's still morally problematic. More than that, though, it helps fortify the other rationles (it's the invasion's only real success), so my purpose today is to explain why it does not morally justify the invasion.

Hussein was a monster, and his record leaves no doubt that he was a criminal whose actions constituted, over his reign, a humanitarian crisis. Still, there are two calculations that must be made in determining whether or not invading a country to stop a monster or end a crisis is a moral decision (we don't do it everywhere monsters rule, so clearly we're using practical measures here...but what are the moral measures? I suggest they include): what it would cost in lives of innocents to do so and what would most likely be the result of forcibly changing the current situation. If it cost more lives than already lost or expected to be lost to depose of the leader or if the resulting situation would pose a greater threat to the people (both inside and outside the nation being invaded) than existed before, then the loss (risk of loss) of innocent lives trumps other concerns and the invasion is immoral, and other avenues must be pursued. That is, you can't kill or enable to be killed more people than were already going to die and claim your mission is moral. I know this gets abstract, and Bush was facing nonabstract choices, but bear with me here. I promise to spell this out in real terms.

First though, I should note that personally, I go further than that in my own moral guidelines. There is a moral distinction to me between the political assassinations ordered by a despot and the totally random killing of innocents by those trying to depose him, with the latter being more reprehensible philosophically, because they're rationalized as "just" (whereas the former are clearly crimes to us). The apologist position on this, though, seems to me to be that the lives vaporized by our shock-and-awe campaign in the first days of the invasion were an unfortunate, but necessary, part of doing the greater good. Others incredibly have argued essentially that lives are fungible and that the Iraqis we killed with our bombs could be balanced against the lives Hussein would keep taking if we didn't stop him. As an individualist who sees the shock-and-awe victims as having an inalienable right to live (and to take their chances against Hussein), I view this as a heinously unsympathetic argument.

But let me back up and take the emotion out of this. Whether the objective of removing Hussein was a moral decision in practical, nonabstract terms or not is most easily revealed via what I call the "Worst Case Scenario Paradox." Supporters justified their support by offering elaborate doomsday scenarios if we didn't act, but dismissed as "not compelling enough to stop the invasion" the other worst case scenarios that might follow an invasion. Another candidate for president outlines the first part of this paradox in his 2004 defense of the war (in which he stated quite clearly he felt it was correct on "moral grounds"). From
John McCain:


By early 2003, the status quo Iraq policy--a kind of weak containment that no longer enjoyed much international support--was crumbling and simply could not be sustained. The sanctions regime no longer constrained Saddam's ability to spend money as he wished, and the regime was growing stronger, not weaker. Critics around the world were demanding that sanctions be lifted, U.S. and British warplanes were taking frequent fire in the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, thousands of American troops were based in Saudi Arabia to deter Saddam, and Iraq remained in violation of 17 Security Council resolutions. Things were falling apart. [...] We also knew of Saddam's past involvement in terrorism and his hatred of America. And we knew that, even if Saddam's WMD programs were destroyed, he planned to restart them once the time was right--presumably, once sanctions had fallen apart, he had his hands on billions of dollars in oil revenue, and international attention was again distracted. This was the situation in early 2003: The threat was grave and gathering.
The formula McCain used to determine morality here is not at all balanced. Whereas he constructed the worst-case scenario to justify his support out of a complex chain of actions, any one of which might have looked very different a few months down the road (what would have had to have happened here included lifting the sanctions [no slam dunk at the time], restarting of Hussein's weapons program, the international community being distracted enough to not notice this, and [implied through noting Iraq's involvement in terrorism] some of these weapons being used against the U.S. [this is truly a stretch given the odds of terrorists getting WMD from Pakistan or somewhere in the former Soviet Union were/are much higher]), he apparently disregarded the critics who predicted another chain of events not nearly as complicated. From a report on a study by the Brookings Institution and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies released in 2002:


The Iraqi government has displaced about one million people over the last 30 years, creating deep regional and ethnic fractures that could erupt into civil war if President Saddam Hussein is deposed, a new report says.
It may be human nature to take more seriously the worst-case scenario that impacts you directly than one that will impact others, but we're talking morality here, not selfish interests. The likelihood for an Iraqi civil war after an invasion was much greater in 2002 than the likelihood the international community would let itself be distracted from the WMD ambitions of a known madman. But there's another part of the "remove Hussein" rationale for invading as Iraq aside from the WMD threat: stopping the ongoing humanitarian crisis. McCain invoked this too in 2004, when, as he noted, there were "over 800 Americans dead [and] well over $100 billion and counting spent on the war."

But, when I stood in August at the mass grave at Hilla, where 10,000 Iraqis were executed--some tied together and shot so as to save bullets--I did not wish to take it all back.
This one gets tricky for some people, because if you're going to criticize Bush for invading Iraq to stop Hussein, you can't, they'll argue, give a free pass to Clinton for Kosovo or others wanting to stop such bloodshed. You want to consistent on this, morally speaking. McCain prefaced his view it this way:

I supported humanitarian intervention in order to stop genocide in Kosovo, and I wish the United States had acted--with force if necessary--to stop genocide in Rwanda. In neither of these places were America's vital national security interests at stake. But our national values were: The United States should not stand silently by in the face of massive humanitarian destruction. Time and time again, the world has witnessed vast brutality, done nothing, and then said "never again." In Iraq last year, we ensured that Saddam could never again slaughter Iraqis.
Leaving Dafur, and other such brutality the senator could take the lead on right now, aside for the moment (as well as how irrelevant/quaint McCain's 2004 numbers of dead and money spent seem today), I'll note there are two important distinctions to be made here. First, chaos reigned in both Kosovo and Rwanda at the point McCain argues U.S. intervention was the moral thing to support. Chaos is always dangerous beyond the borders of the conflict and can lead directly to our national security interests being at stake and even wider bloodshed. Secondly, it was difficult to truly imagine the situation becoming significantly worse if we acted in Kosovo. There were risks, as always, but nothing compared to the risk of civil war in the heart of the Middle East, as spelled out in detail by the Brookings-Johns Hopkins study. McCain is truly comparing apples and oranges here.

To summarize, no realistic formula for determining the morality of invading Iraq based on the desire to depose Hussein holds water, given what was known about the risks back in 2002. Further, given that's the only remaining, even remotely compelling rationale for why the invasion was moral, one must conclude that the standard that we've lived by for years (i.e., that war is only justified when it's a last resort, and that pre-emptive war in particular is only moral if there's an imminent threat) still holds, that the Bush Doctrine is a violation of that standard, and that the invasion of Iraq was, indeed, an immoral decision. It was clear before the invasion to those not guided by other ambitions, and it should be crystal clear to everyone now. It's high time the apologists, especially those running for president, own up to that, as well, and stop hiding behind the ruins of the shattered rationales for their original support.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Strings-Attached-Arts-Philanthropy Rant

On the heels of Tyler's detailed diatribe about questionable corporate sponsorship arrangements agreed to by MoMA in recent years comes an article in the NYTimes today about the more open and honest acknowledgement, on both sides, of the business motivations behind corporate philanthrophy with regards to the arts in NYC. The article begins with the cold-hard reality that explains why the arts organizations are also seemingly sudden realists here:
Over the last decade, the portion of corporate philanthropy dedicated to the arts has dropped by more than half, according to the Giving USA Foundation, an educational and research program of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, support for the arts was 4 percent of total corporate philanthropy, compared with 9.5 percent in 1994 — part of a general shift in giving toward health and social services.
Such a decline might shake anyone out of deluded fantasy about why corporations do what they do, but personally I was surprised to read in this article how earnestly the arts organizations are defending corporations' ever-more "strings attached" philanthropy. But let me back up. Here's a summary of the situation:

When companies do support culture, they are increasingly paying for it out of their marketing budgets, which means strings are attached to the funds: from how a corporation’s name will appear in promotional materials, to what parties it can give during an exhibition, to the number of free or discounted tickets available to its employees.

“Corporations are not Medicis; they never have been, they’re not supposed to be,” said Nancy Perkins, a senior vice president at Payne, Forrester & Associates, fund-raising consultants. “They’re not in business to be philanthropic.”
I have to admit. My first response to this was that this is a realistic assessment and that the arts organizations echoing this logic may signify a maturing of the arts in general. But a small voice in the back of my head, egged on by Tyler's post yesterday, wouldn't accept that. It's an obnoxious small voice, so I'll edit out the profanity, but essentially its argument goes something like this:

"Hmpf...you wanna talk reality, here? Fine, let's talk reality. "Corporations are not Medicis; they never have been, they’re not supposed to be." Perhaps, but there's a long list of things corporations are not supposed to be, like politician puppetmasters, war starters, cultural dictators, news manipulators, pension fund thieves, widespread polluters, etc. etc. but they are Blanche, they are! The original goal of corporate philanthropy within the arts may have been to associate themselves with high culture, but it was also to help humanize them in the public's eye. More than that, it was designed to give them cover for the lobbying of the people's representatives to do things that don't end up serving the people. To give them cover for calling in their chips with senators and presidents and pushing them to send our young men and women into war to protect their investments overseas. To give them cover for the way they get to stack the deck against the common man because they've got so many goddamn politicians in their pockets. I mean, if you want to talk reality.

Now that the corporations have all got scientifically effective ad campaigns and have brainwashed generations into associating all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings with their logos and/or jingles, NOW, they're not the Medicis? NOW it's not their business to do philanthropy? NOW, they expect to call the shots when making a donation, and they expect the arts organizations to like it as well?

Well, I have a solution for that, my corporate friends. We'll legislatively cap CEO salaries at 10 times the lowest paid full-time employee's salary and tax the balance to fill the coffers of expanded federal funding for the arts. Hallelujah! You won't have to be the Medicis. You can go on about your business under the new laws and the arts organizations can fulfill their missions without your logos plastered all over their facades? It's a win-win, no?
I told you it was an obnoxious voice.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Ivin Ballen @ Pulse New York

As Barry Hoggard over at bloggy.com points out, this is the week the fairs come to town. And as is the trend elsewhere, this year NYC has more art fairs than ever, with The Armory Show moving up its schedule to coincide with the Art Show (ADAA fair), and (at last count) 6 satellites following suit.

We are extremely pleased to have been invited again to participate in what I personally consider the very best of NYC's satellite fairs, Pulse New York.
As I noted last week, as well, we're thrilled to be featuring a solo exhibition of new work by Ivin Ballen (details below). I'll try to blog from the fair (we're getting wireless this year), but the weather's supposed to warm up, so get outside and come on over to say hello (and see some great art!). We'll be in booth 408 (near the cafe...can you say "easily overcaffienated"? Wahoo!).

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by New York artist, Ivin Ballen, at Pulse New York, February 22 to 25, 2007. In five stunning new wall pieces from the series of works that he terms “50/50s” (half sculpture, half painting), Ballen offers an insightful and humorous exploration of our relationships to everyday materials via painting.

Composing maquettes from cardboard, duct tape, plastic bottles, garbage bags, and other recyclable commonplace items, Ballen builds molds for casting fiberglass and aqua resin sculptures that he then paints with acrylic and watercolor paints. Although the illusion is temporarily quite convincing, closer inspection of the 50/50s reveals subtle differences in textures and colors that expose the process, reinforcing Ballen’s central investigation of the act of looking and perceiving. As one critic noted, “Formalistically, Ballen’s work is delightfully off-center and wiggy in its inscrutability. Although it compels a pedestrian reading, his art is a strong intellectual assertion of the elusiveness of representation and the multiple readings for artwork simulating reality.”1

A recent graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art, Ivin Ballen has exhibited at Susanne Hilberry Gallery, Ferndale, MI, and has upcoming concurrent solo exhibitions in Autumn 2007 at Susanne Hilberry and Winkleman galleries.

For more information please contact the gallery at info@winkleman.com or 212.643.3152.

Ivin Ballen @ Pulse New York
February 22 – 25, 2007

The 69th Regiment Armory
Lexington Avenue and 26th Street
New York, NY

FAIR HOURS
Thursday, February 22 9am -- noon (Private Preview Brunch) 12pm -- 6pm (Open to Public)
Friday, February 23 12pm -- 8pm
Saturday, February 24 12pm -- 8pm
Sunday, February 25 12pm -- 5pm

1Mannisto, Glen: “Scrap mettle,” Metro Times, August 3, 2005.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Art Joke Bumper Sticker Contest - Winner!

Well, in spite of some brilliant last-minute (but unfortunately ineligible) entries (read the comments, they're sprinkled throughout), the polls have closed, the votes are counted, and the winner of the Art Joke Bumper Sticker Contest is ... { drum roll, please }...

NN. "Car" -- 2006, Enamel on sheet metal, glass, steel, vinyl, aluminum, chrome, artificial rubber, hydraulics, electronics. Collection: The Artist
Submitted by Bill Gusky of Artblog Comments fame! Congrats Bill! (Mr. Gusky, any time you're in the hood, please do stop in to collect the prize!) Bill's entry received a total of 18 points.

A very close second with 15 points was

OO. Those who can do. Those who can't Duchamp
Submitted by Oriane. We'll call it close enough to qualify for a toast as well, please do stop in!

Third place was a tie (with four points each):

Q. my other car is a warhol ... submitted by "anonymous" (narrows it down, I know).
V. I'd rather be famous ... submitted by
Noddy

We're probably gonna run out of Kyrgyz cognac, but do identify yourselves if you're in the gallery, and we'll offer you a hearty round of applause and appreciation (otherwise known as public embarrassment).

Thanks to all for the hilarious entries.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Art Joke Bumper Sticker Contest - Voting

Whoa...that's an awesome response to the bumper sticker contest...thanks to all for the bounty of chuckles! To simplify the voting, I'll ask that you give just the letter for your first and second favorites. The #1 fave will receive two points, the #2 fave 1 point.

This being an art joke contest, a few of the entries were visual in nature (although I'm not sure I understand the first one...anyone?):
A. The words 'retard' in white letters within a red-colored field bumper sticker.
B.
http://store1.yimg.com/I/marfabkco_1851_6693115
C.
http://www.cremasterfanatic.com/Art/Art%20Tumbnails/t043.jpg
Then there was a cornucopia of conceptual, critical, and punny ones:

D. art is not what you think
E. I paid $92,000 to Yale and all I got was a lousy solo show in Chelsea?!?
F. My parents paid $92,000 to Yale and all I got was a lousy solo show in Chelsea?!?
G. Act kind of random and practice beauty sense.
H. Giraffeti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
I. The Gogh Van
J. Don't blame me I voted for zombie Joseph Beuys
K. Imagine art
L. this could be your art
M. WWDJD?
N. Jackson Pollock is my Co-Pilot (You think I'd let him drive?)
O. if it doesn't work make it bigger, if it still doesn't work make a lot of them
P. I won an art blog joke bumper sticker contest and all i got was this lousy bumper sticker!
Q. my other car is a warhol
R. Expose yourself to art (with the trench coat open).
S. Ceci n'est pas une voiture
T. Take Something. Crash Something Into It. Crash Something Into It Again.
U. My Other Car is a Painting of a Car
V. I'd rather be famous
W. art is for those whose drugs stopped working
X. art is for those who cant handle reality
Y. My artist is an honor roll student at the Conceptual School of Abstract Thought
Z. -art-GUNRUNGIRL-art-
ZZ. Dumb Art Joke
AA. Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks your an asshole
BB. I HEART MOTI HASSON
CC. The End of Art (rear bumper)
DD. Rear Vision Art (front)
EE. Art We Know, and Trust In
FF. Left-hand Artist at the Wheel
GG. My mother left me for an Artist
HH. Right Art Now!
II. Kiss Me Abstract
JJ. Concentrate on the signal not the art!
KK. Motor Art High Way
LL. Pick up the Phoneme - Art is Calling!

And finally there are those possibly too long to fit on a bumper sticker, but worthy all the same:

MM. Richard Serra, Mark DiSuvero, and the ghost of David smith walk into a bar. Just then, Richard Serra turns to the ghost of David Smith and says, "are you going to let him talk to you like that?"
NN. "Car" -- 2006, Enamel on sheet metal, glass, steel, vinyl, aluminum, chrome, artificial rubber, hydraulics, electronics. Collection: The Artist


UPDATE: Yikes...like what am I smokin'? I forgot the the one that started this all

OO. Those who can do. Those who can't Duchamp.
And the one from the orignal post.

PP. If you like conceptual art think about honking.

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Cathy Begien

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present "See Begien, NYC," the first solo New York exhibition by San Francisco artist Cathy Begien. A member of a small group of experiment filmmakers increasingly gaining national attention, Begien here presents three video installations that incorporate props, movie posters, and photographs in a strikingly fresh exploration of social identity, sexual identity, and popular culture.

The exhibition's main installation features Begien's compelling 2004 video "Black Out." In turns hilarious and devastating, the video features the artist (blindfolded and seated facing the viewer) retelling of a heavy night on the town with her friends. The narrative is delivered rather monotonously as several people continuously hand her drinks, cigarettes, and other props, acting out the evening's excesses. As the story grows ever more messy, however, the stark set and low-budget production values serve to balance the overwhelming heartache of the episode's climax, offering the viewer a rare window into a raw, exquisitely sincere sentimentality.


In the second installation, Begien recreates the interior of a home-style Vietnamese restaurant as the setting for her video of her continuously eating her favorite foods. The obsessiveness suggested by her systematically eating meal after meal stands in stark and funny contrast to the cheesy furniture and menu photos of the referenced eatery. The final installation combines the hyper-meta predilections of the age of blogs and personal websites with the unyielding pace of contemporary society, as Begien displays a series of short trailers for her already short films within a background of bootleg versions of her work and worn wheat-pasted posters.

Cathy Begien's films have been screened in numerous film festivals across the country, including recently at the Lincoln Center in New York, as well as at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, and the Getty Center and the Angela Hanley Gallery in Los Angeles.

For more information please contact the gallery at info@winkleman.com or 212.643.3152.

Cathy Begien
See Begien, NYC

February 16 to March 17, 2007
Opening Reception: Friday, February 16, 6-8 pm

Winkleman Gallery
637 West 27th Street (Ground Floor)
New York, NY
10001
T: 212.643.3152
F: 212.643.2040
info@winkleman.com
www.winkleman.com

Hours: Tuesday thru Saturday, 11am to 6pm or by appointment.
Directions: C or E train to 23rd Street. Walk North to 27th Street. Winkleman Gallery is between 11th and 12th Avenues.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

When Is a Prince Not a "Prince"? Part II

The comment thread on the first post on this issue has morphed into a good, but off-topic discussion of who gets to call art "art," but to permit for a thread on the question of whether an artist can declare some previous "art" of theirs now no longer their "art," I wanted to share this quote from the introduction of the catalogue for the exhibition in question, Fugitive Artist: The Early Work of Richard Prince, 1974-77, at the Neuberger Museum. [Reprinted with permission of the curator, Michael Lobel]:
We can certainly allow that there are categories of work that should not be included in the official record, or that at the very least have an ambiguous status: student works, for instance, or pieces that never leave the studio and thus are never fully realized or executed. But once a work has been executed and exhibited and written about, and perhaps even bought and sold, are we really to allow an artist to edit or erase the historical record? My short answer is no.
My long answer (as long as I think it really needs to be) is also "no." But I'll explain.

History belongs to the public, not the artist. Revisionism might be tempting, but it's intellectually dishonest, and smacks of an irritating insecurity. The responsible time to decide whether one wants a work to be recorded as one's own is before it's exhibited, written about and/or sold...not after. Yes things happen, and so once it's sold, the artist can still change their mind, but only, IMO, by buying back the work at current market value.

Someone on yesterday's thread suggested there's no harm really to the collector or gallery if an artist rescinds authorship (they still have the piece and they still know they exhibited it), but that's to suggest, in part, that the collector and gallery are there solely to serve the artist's possibly ever-changing whims. Perhaps there's a certain cachet in certain quarters to owning or having exhibited an unendorsed Prince, but that's not what the collector or gallery signed up for. To minimize as insignificant the impact of having a work rejected for the catalogue raisonné or an exhibition deleted from the history books or whatever else might follow such an action by the artist is to suggest the collector and gallerist are irrelevant players in art history.

Most galleries are run by true believers (there are much easier businesses to get rich in), and collectors can spend their money on an endless supply of other things. I see it as an insult to minimize their respective roles to the point that their contributions to supporting an artist's career are viewed as a gift to them by said artist. Yes, I'll permit you to worship me.

There's no other industry I can think of where producers are treated as such minor players (in film, music, publishing, etc., the folks who prove their faith in an artist by putting up the money are paid more respect that this, and legally entitled to have their name associated with the project forever...who collects the Oscar for best picture?...the Producer). It's not a perfect parallel, I realize, but comparatively, it's a very small thing collectors and gallerists ask of fine artists: don't unendorse a piece I bought and don't delete the exhibition I gave you from your CV. Seriously, how freakin' hard is that? You had the show...you sold the work. Live with it.

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Art Joke Bumper Sticker Contest

OK, so the bar was set pretty darn high with Oriane's gift on yesterday's thread:

those who can do. those who can't duchamp.

but per request, let's see what other zingers you've got in your repetoires. My new fave is an actual bumper sticker that's been around for a while (circa 1977) but I only saw recently at the Art Institute:

If you like conceptual art think about honking.
Winner will be offered a toast with this exquisite Kyrgyz cognac we brought back and keep in the gallery (so long as you stop in to visit and collect...we can't mail it). If you don't like Kyrgyz cognac (and how would anyone know, eh?) we'll come up with another prize (a mailable one for those not in NYC).

Today, let's have the submissions...we'll vote tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When Is a Prince Not a "Prince"?

Given the lack of transparency in the art market, it's no wonder many artists initially struggle with pricing their work, but it's begun to dawn on me lately that there's also a good bit of confusion early on about what it means to sell one's art. I'm not talking just about copyright (which remains with the artist) or the finer points of defining editions and artist's proofs (which tend to make many younger artists nervous), but what it means in terms of a social contract. And I'm not even talking about the ethical subtleties of flipping work at auction or collectors making a profit off their investment.

What's emerged in conversations lately (due mostly to Richard Prince's refusal to permit reproduction of his much earlier work for a catalog accompanying an exhibition of it) is a question about authorship, specifically whether an artist can essentially rescind authorship because the earlier work no longer represents their current vision. Can Richard Prince declare that for all intents and purposes an earlier work he created is not "a Richard Prince"?

Roberta Smith summarized the situation in
a recent review:
About three years ago Michael Lobel, a professor of 20th-century art at Purchase College, began excavating Mr. Prince’s pre-fame roots and found more than 50 early works that had been idling unseen in public, private and corporate collections around the country. All had been made, exhibited, sold and occasionally even written about in the middle 1970s.

[...] Mr. Lobel also unearthed some ambivalence. In the exhibition’s catalog he notes that Mr. Prince implied in a 1988 interview that he had destroyed all his early work. He also points out that Mr. Prince’s early New York shows at the Kathryn Markel and Ellen Sragow galleries, listed in the catalog of his 1993 Whitney Museum show, have been omitted from the chronologies of two recent books about him. So perhaps it was not entirely surprising when he declined to participate in the Neuberger show, as did his dealer, Barbara Gladstone.

Mr. Prince also refused permission to reproduce the works in the exhibition’s catalog, although its clever design (by Beverly Joel of pulp, ink) has compensations. With blank rectangles, complete with captions, where the images should be, the slim gray volume is something of a participatory Conceptual Art piece. Read Mr. Lobel’s meticulous descriptions, and draw in your own Richard Princes!
I'll get right to it: as a gallerist working with artists at the beginning of their careers, this pisses me off. Kathryn Markel and Ellen Sragow galleries presented Prince's work in their spaces in good faith as worthy of purchase, in other words, as accomplished art. Maybe not the most maturely resolved art, but unquestionably as the art of Richard Prince. And there's no evidence to suggest Prince had any problem with it at the time at all. For him to rescind that status now throws into question whether anyone should ever consider buying an artist's earlier work at all.

Now I understand the desire to control the entire context of one's work. I get the desire to erase or blur one's embarrassing youthful follies, but once a piece has been sold (and many of the works in the Prince exhibition had been), there is IMO an obligation to live with that choice. I'm not saying an artist shouldn't destroy the earlier work they still have if they reach that point of recognition where it makes them cringe, but once they've cashed the check from selling it, they're obligated to let it stand as a product of their efforts (or at least obligated to buy it back [at current market value] and then destroy it). They've agreed to a social contract by accepting money for it, IMO.


Prince could have handled this in a whole host of better ways in my opinion. Perhaps he's pissed because he suspects (as I do a bit) that this exhibition is opportunistically trying to capitalize on his recent financial success, but he still owes the collectors who paid for that earlier work more than this. He could have offered to participate in the exhibition on the condition that they published a preface to the catalog explaining how he felt this earlier work differed from his current work or something. But to essentially un-endorse it is a disservice to those collectors who supported him early on and that's incredibly arrogant.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Oh, and Can I Just Say...

...there is hope.



Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks on their well-deserved 5 (count them)
FIVE Grammy awards.

To the country music industry insiders who worked so hard to blacklist them I say: "Welcome to America. I hope you like it here."

Oh...and BUY THE CD!

The Nomadic Second Gallery

There's perhaps no clearer indication of how strong the primary art market is at the moment than the number of galleries that are opening satellite or second spaces in other cities (or other countries). The list is long and (because not all continue to operate two shops for long) constantly changing, but when I talk to the gallerists branching out almost all explain they simply don't have enough months in the year to do all the solo exhibitions they want to do in their one space.

With a few exceptions, though, what I find really intriguing about this growth is how many of such galleries are about 10 years old or younger. In fact, most of the ones I can think of opening second spaces are about 5 years or so old. More established galleries (perhaps because they're too busy to handle the logistics of opening another space or perhaps because they're settled into a comfort zone they see no point of breaking out of) are tending not to add a second city to their letterhead as frequently as younger ones. Still, there is evidence (in addition to how many galleries now operate virtually year round) that many of them too are feeling there are just not enough months in the year to squeeze in all the solo exhibitions they want to host and hence are using the art fairs as a sort of nomadic second gallery. At least that's one possible explanation for the increase in the number of established galleries choosing solo installations for the major fairs. From
Artnet.com:

This year’s Art Dealers Association of America Art Show, which opens Feb. 22-26, 2007, at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue, features an unprecedented 15 solo shows from the 70 participating dealers. Three of the shows feature works by Asian artists: Yayoi Kusama at D’Amelio Terras, Ai Weiwei at Robert Miller Gallery and Suling Wang at Lehmann Maupin.

Other solo shows feature works by Janine Antoni -- including Lick and Lather -- at Luhring Augustine, Jennifer Bartlett’s signature paintings on steel plates at Locks Gallery, recent small bronzes by Louise Bourgeois at Cheim & Read, Anish Kapoor sculptures at Gladstone Gallery, new paintings by Malcolm Morley at Sperone Westwater, and a suite of black-and-white works on paper by Sigmar Polke at Michael Werner Gallery that have never been exhibited before.

Still more attractions include a survey of works by Lesley Dill at George Adams Gallery, work from 1991-92 by Jim Hodges at CRG, landscape paintings by David Klamen at Richard Gray Gallery, works by Giacomo Manzù at Tasende Gallery, "Ad Reinhardt: 1945 Works on Paper" at PaceWildenstein, and Pop paintings from the 1960s by Richard Smith at Richard L. Feigen & Co.
As I noted a while back, fairs are increasingly encouraging solo installations or curated booths, but they don't usually insist outside of project-oriented contexts. I also noted that I resented this encouragement, because I was tutored in a gallery that saw fairs as an opportunity to sell off inventory and their gallery as the place they curated exhibitions. Now, however, I'm beginning to see the wisdom of the nomadic second space. Full disclosure: for the second year in a row, we'll be featuring only one artist at the phenomenal Pulse New York art fair (last year it was Jennifer Dalton, this year will be Ivin Ballen [image above: Ivin Ballen, Fake Box with Pink Tape, 2005, Fiberglass, FGR95, and acrylic paint, 29" x 19" x 6"]...more on that soon).

Fairs are much shorter than normal exhibitions of course, but the traffic is generally much better. More than that though, solo installations do provide for the one thing I consistently criticize fairs for not providing for artwork: more controlled context. Granted the viewers are still under great pressure to keep moving and being bombarded from all sides with loads of distractions, but since the fairs are supposedly the new biennials and apparently here to stay (and because galleries are doing more fairs every year it seems), I'm encouraged by the increase in solo installations. It's one small step toward helping everyone slow down a bit, perhaps.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

What Does "Mid-Career" Mean?

It's parallel to the general human paradox where children can't wait to get to act like adults and adults won't give up acting liking children. I refer of course to that point in an artist's career when they stop being "emerging" and become "mid-career." I find a good deal of resistance to that label actually, "mid-career"; it seems to arise from a sense that "I haven't accomplished enough as an emerging artist yet, I can't be mid-career...I don't like how that will position me" and similar concerns.

I'll admit that I don't have a very good definition for "mid-career." Like an overprotective parent who forever sees their offspring as their "babies," I tend to think of all our artists as emerging. But what are the real measures here? Is there a certain age (surely not), or number of exhibitions, or number of Google search results that separates the emerging from the mid-career artists?

Back in April 2006, Holland Cotter wrote
an article about mid-career artists in which he noted "Midcareer is a flexible category, defined partly by age, partly by time on the job," but he mentioned one other factor that might shine some light on this:

They have one thing in common: their work has developed over time and maintained its presence for a number of years. In a fast-food culture, as capricious in its erasures as in its rewards, that's the vote of confidence that counts.
Perhaps "mid-career" is a qualitative measure suggesting more than anything a well-known name and body of work, unlike the "emerging" artists who only a few people know of and whose "style" is still developing. Endurance also seems key, but "a number of years" could mean anything from 3 to 30.

OK, so I'm perhaps making this more difficult than it needs to be. The Canadian Council for the Arts, for example, states clearly what it sees as
the criteria for a Mid-Career artist:

Visual Arts As a professional visual artist:
  • You have specialized training in the field (not necessarily in academic institutions).
  • You are recognized as a professional artist by your peers.
  • You are committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if
    financially feasible.
  • You must have produced an independent body of work.
  • You must have made at least three public presentations of work in a
    professional context over a three year period.
  • You must have maintained an independent professional practice for at least three years.
Three seems to be the magic number there. What's not well defined in that though is "professional," (would an exhibition in a restaurant be seen as a "professional presentation"?). Nor is "body of work" clear to me...or "independent" for that matter (what if you're part of a collective...can you never then be mid-career?).

However, the New York alternative space Smack Mellon (one of my faves) defines a "mid-career" artist as "someone who has been working as an artist for over 10 years" [emphasis mine]. Do American artists take longer to mature than Canadian artists (that's a freebie for you folks north of the border)?

Perhaps most indicative of why there's confusion on this is the entry in the online Art Dictionary:
There is currently no art information listed for Mid-career Artist
So what criteria do you use and why?

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

What's Lost?

We sat across from a woman on our flight to Chicago recently who was crocheting a gorgeous baby blue hat. I've never paid much attention to the craft of crocheting (but my Mom used to do it, so I thought I understood it), so I was surprised to see this woman pulling from two balls of yarn (one thick and wavy, the other what I'd call regular width) at the same time. This got me to thinking about A Tale of Two Cities (I know, that was knitting), which got me to thinking about making one's own clothes, which got me to thinking about spinning thread from raw wool or cotton, which led me to realize that a good number of fairy tales deal with spinning wheels, which got me to wondering if they still teach children those tales (like Rumpelstiltskin) or whether they've been replaced with updated versions where the characters prick their fingers on a broken teleporttransformagfigurator or whatever. Yes, yes, I know, I need to remember to bring more reading material on flights.

I was reminded of this twisted stream of consciousness by a
post on Greg Allen's blog about high-tech yurts:

Don't get me wrong, I love me some yurts. But like the equally lovable geodesic dome, something always seems lost in between ideal sustainable concept and hippie-dippy, style-free, domestic execution.

Finally, though, someone's made a yurt for the Wallpaper Dwell designblog generation. That's he Ecoshack promise, anyway. Their Nomad Yurt has a bit of a kick to it. Plus, it's available in lyboo, and when the bright red nylon outershell comes available, you'll be able to set it up on the slope, and no one will snowboard into the side of you. Very important. [And not just because your yurt's shaped like a mogul.]
I'll admit my first response to this report was "Yikes." Unlike Greg, who seems to have a long-standing opinion on yurts, I've only recently fallen in love with the idea of them. Travelling in Kyrgyzstan (which, to give you some idea of the importance of yurts to their sense of identity, has a stylized representation of the roof of the traditional yurt on their national flag [the photo of the monument in central Bishkek above displays the same design]), we not only encountered countless yurts and people who lived in them, but learned that it took Bambino's Aunt five years of constant work to build her yurt.

Mind you, I understand that there were perhaps better things she could have done with her time and the new high-tech yurt would free her up to do them, but there's something so beautiful and human about the fact that she did make it, with her own hands (we have some gorgeous rugs she made for us that we love as well), that I fear we're losing. I realize this is not a new concern. Each new advance that frees mankind from the drudgery of some thankless task, like spinning cotton, knitting clothes, or what have you, brings similar worries, even though they all come with their own new mythology and romance (it may take time, but eventually we'll project positive associations onto any gadget).

After 9/11, when the potential for a cataclysmic event that might plunge a good chunk of the country back into the dark ages seemed suddenly totally thinkable, I took stock of what I thought my survival skills are. Could I start a fire with two stones? Could I build a fort? Could I capture, kill, and skin a rabbit or other source of food? What about clothes? How truly resourceful am I out there, in the wild? I like to think I'd be OK (who doesn't?), but without access to Wikipedia, how would I find out how to do such things?

We watched the catch-up program on Lost last night. We've never really gotten into that program, and the truth is Bambino flipped between that, American Idol, and Deal or No Deal constantly (can you say ADHD?), so I'm still mostly confused about what's going on on that island. But that scenario is more or less the same as the post-apocalyptic one mentioned above, as is the reality show Survivor, suggesting to me that I"m not the only one thinking about such things. So I"m wondering, despite the way we'll still project romance onto any new technology---but because we're so far removed from creating/hunting down the essentials for our lives (food, shelter, clothing)---if we're not subconsciously a bit alarmed by our collective ignorance about surviving without supermarkets and UPS.

People who didn't know they had it in them will emerge from war-torn hell holes, doing what they have to, but mostly by scavenging the remnants of what technology-built processes left behind. How long would any of us pampered souls truly last on a deserted island? Sorry for the morose post...but if artists don't know the answers to these questions, we're potentially royally screwed.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Consignments Get Trickier

The Steve Winn lawsuit against Lloyds of London is grabbing most of the art-world-meets-the-insurance-world news headlines, but a case with possibly far wider reaching implications was recently decided in Chicago. According to an article (subscribers only) in today's Wall Street Journal, it could affect how galleries are forced to conduct consignments and lead insurance companies to significant new requirements and policy wording changes.

Collectors Henry and Anne Marie Frigon took the art dealer Richard H. Love of Chicago to court because he had, without telling them, sold 11 paintings they had consigned to him for less than the agreed-upon value of the works, and then kept the money for himself to boot. The court had no trouble deciding for the Frigons in this case, but unfortunately Mr. Love did not have the money to pay them what they were owed. So the Frigons next turned the attention of their lawyer to their insurance company, Pacific Indemnity, filing a loss report. Pacific Indemnity denied coverage. The Frigons took the insurance company to court, saying their policy covered "all risk" of physical loss to their property. They didn't have the paintings, they didn't have the money. The judge agreed with the Frigons. From the WSJ [retyped by yours truly...all typos mine]:

Where the potential landmark nature of the case comes into play is that the Frigons and their attorneys claimed--and the judge supported--the notion of an "economic" or "financial" loss that occurred when Mr. Love fraudulently "converted" the status of the consignment agreements without notifying the Frigons or without giving them all but a small amount of whatever proceeds he received from the sales. This definition varies from any traditional notion of "theft" found in most all-risk policies.
Where this get potentially icky for galleries (especially those who work in high-end secondary market consignments) is explained well by Scott Hodes, an attorney representing the insurance company in this case, who also happens to be the attorney for Christo and Jeanne-Claude:

"As a result of interpreting conversion of consigned property as a loss under an 'all risk' policy, insurance carries may have to consider amending these policies to require prenotification of a consignment. Some consignments, in turn, may prose a higher risk to the carrier, thereby requiring a premium increase."

[He adds] "that insurance companies will have to be much more specific in terms of how they define loss in these instances."
God bless my insurance company, they're very helpful and their customer service is exquisite (although I've never had --- knock on wood --- to file a claim), but I can't imagine how much extra paperwork having to prenotify them for each consignment might add up to. Of course, we're not dealing with 1.2 million transactions like the one that lead to the case (not yet, anyway), so it's not likely we'd see any significant impact from such notifications, but --g*ddammit -- I've got enough more than enough such work to do already.

Litigious America...grrrr...

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dumbest Themed Exhibition Ever | Open Thread

There's an episode of South Park with a theme song running through it, the refrain of which is a very catchy syncopation of "Dum(b), Dum(b), Dum(b), Dum(b), Dum(b)." It has entered the private communication system Bambino and I use to talk about other people in public (although, now, we can hardly keep using it, can we??? Go on, Bambino...I deserve it...sing away).

That refrain instantly sprung to mind, however, when reading of an exhibition discussed on the always thoughtful
Art History Today:

The Parrot in Art: Durer to Elizabeth Butterworth ... now on at the Barber Institute, Birmingham University, is billed as "groundbreaking" thus giving new meaning to the term. Curated by the bird man himself, Professor Richard Verdi- wouldn't a basilisk be more appropriate-, it boasts a series of lectures which are guaranteed to pack em in. Here's the spiel:

"The show is to be curated by the Barber’s Director, Professor Richard Verdi, distinguished art historian, and keen parrot lover and owner, and will feature loans from public and private collections in Britain and abroad, including Tate, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the National History Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Rijksmueum, Amsterdam.This fascinating show will be of huge interest to parrot-lovers and art-lovers alike. As well as a beautiful colour catalogue, it will be accompanied by a series of lectures – both art historical and zoological — Art Alive! drama performances, practical workshops and other events — including Parrots Galore!, a special open day when the painted parrots will be brought to noisy life by a host of live parrots exhibits."

It all sounds like great fun, but it's shame that the director and his cronies have abandoned their commitment to serious exhibitions.

More than just evidence that the age of the "curator as egomaniac" has finally reached its nadir, this idea for a show will go down in the history books as conclusive evidence that in the 21st Century there was no discernible difference between fine art and entertainment. It's over folks. Bring on the puppies and kittens shows.

Yes, yes, yes, I know. I'm an insufferable snob. But I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one. So I'm opening up this thread for suggestions of the "Dumbest Themed Exhibition Ever" at a public institution supposedly dedicated to fine art. Let the snark fly.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Is Challenging Art Hot? (Or, Ed Eats a Bit of Crow)

Apologies for the sudden disappearance. Many thanks to all for the incredible comments on the last post...I followed from my Blackberry while working in Chicago, but alas, couldn't add anything (still can't figure out how to do that).

In Chicago (hereafter known to Bambino and I as "The Capital of Brrrrrr"), among many wonderful get-togethers, we had the pleasure of brunch with a collector who noted that she's frequently surprised by the number of guests who recoil from many of the images on her walls. Singling out one particular artist whose work is known to reveal a perhaps less sterilized side of life, she said she understood why certain visitors wouldn't like it. I responded that I didn't understand, actually...I can't quite grasp the mindset that eschews the "real" and chooses to surround itself in only sugar-coated versions of humanity. I appreciate beauty for beauty's sake, but I can't sustain myself on a diet of eye-candy alone. The collector and I agreed that it was her visitor's responsibility to consider why someone would be so attracted to such images they'd line the walls of their home with them, not her responsibility to apologize for finding beauty in them.

This all came back to me while reading an article in the LA Times this morning about the collection of Tim Campbell and Steve Machado, who "have amassed a 40-plus-piece collection of artworks speaking to terrorism, racism and other -isms of our time, and yet their home still manages to be warm, welcoming and unapologetically beautiful."


"I don't find it difficult to live with difficult art," Campbell says matter-of-factly, without any hint of conceit. "I would find it difficult to live with beautiful, pointless art."Prompted by the war abroad or social ills closer to home, more people are sharing Campbell's sentiment, choosing to wear their hearts on their sleeves and their politics on their walls.

In the last two years, galleries have seen a growing demand for politically conscious artworks, says Peter Selz, professor emeritus of art history at UC Berkeley. "We saw a similar rise in this kind of work during the Vietnam War," Selz says. "But now there's an enormous interest in this, and much of it is coming from
California."

The challenge, of course, comes not only in piecing together a collection that reflects one's passion, but in living with it — somehow maintaining a home that still feels like a home.

And this then led me to realize that now I have to eat a bit of crow.

I was having a discussion recently in which I passionately argued that the art market is maturing...look at the more challenging work in galleries that had until only recently been all about, as Tyler Green so painfully but accurately put it, "glue and glitter" I insisted. My patient and considerate debating opponent noted that this too was happening in response to the market, and not necessarily an indication of maturation. I somewhat acknowledged that as the market continues to go global (and collectors from Europe and other countries with more of a taste for challenging work are increasingly interacting with US galleries) that this could be read as a response to the market, but I didn't feel that explained it entirely.

But then there it was in print: "galleries have seen a growing demand for politically conscious artworks." OK, so I'll distance myself a bit from the read of Professor Selz in that I don't think the more challenging work we're seeing is limited to politics or a response to the war. Conceptually more rigorous (one might even say dryly intellectual) work is on the rise, in my opinion, in response not to the art market, per se, but in response to the financial success the hot market has brought. In other words, now that they have some money, the glue-n-glitter galleries want what all nouveau riches eventually desire: respect. (And let me request that in any discussion of this we not name names here, please...seriously, let's assume we know which galleries that means, even if in reality we have different opinions...please.)

But who cares? So long as the work is being exhibited and, presumably, purchased, does it matter what's prompting the shift? My only concern is that the change is not about the war, or globalization, or gallery maturation, but rather the cyclical nature of tastes (i.e., fashion). And even "concern" is hyperbolic, actually. If the tide turns and artists working in a differnt vein are now getting some much deserved attention, that's a good thing. There's room in the art market (just like there's room in any given collection) for both types of work, no?

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