Research Assistance Request
A charming Columbia student writing the thesis for her MA in Arts Administration interviewed me the other day, raising all kinds of intriguing questions about how the Internet is opening up opportunities for artists. To help with her research, I've offered to post some of her questions here and hope you can contribute to her research. I'll note that as happy as I am to do this this time, I'm heading into a particularly busy time of year for us, so please don't be offended if I can't make the same offer to others moving forward. Still, because this topic is perfectly in tune with what we do here, please feel free to offer feedback on the central premise and closing questions:
The art world is notoriously enigmatic in the way that it chooses its stars. Critics suggest that it is not necessarily how good an artist is, but more importantly who that artist knows, that determines his or her potential for success. Charles Saatchi, notoriously embroiled in this operation himself, recognizes elitism as a major player: "Dealers tend to buy artists that other artists they already show recommend. If you're not in the loop, if you didn't go to the right art school, if you don't know the right people who have the right dealers, it's very hard to break in" ("What Charles did next", The Guardian, 9/6/06).
Online art galleries, art blogs, and other new Internet practices have emerged which have the potential to democratize the process by which artists gain exposure to key art world influencers (i.e., curators, dealers, critics, collectors). This project will examine the methods that these influencers use to seek out new talent and attempt to understand the ways in which the Internet is changing this process. What are the primary functions and repercussions of these virtual "spaces", and do they have the potential to effect real structural changes to the way the visual arts industry functions?