Thursday, July 10, 2008

Things Still Being Only Whispered : History Repeating? Open Thread

New York Times art critic Roberta Smith may get the chance to recycle the following article she penned in 1992, if word on the street pans out:

Behind the summer lull, it's been a tense, tumultuous few months for contemporary-art galleries in New York City. As if enduring its own version of the London blitz, the art world seems to be holding its breath, waiting to see which galleries will still be operating when the dust settles and Labor Day is past.

Although some dealers say they think the art market is stabilizing and perhaps beginning a slow recovery, others are less optimistic. But all of the nearly dozen people interviewed tend to agree that galleries are having widespread difficulties as they struggle to bring 1980's overhead -- especially rents -- into line with the contracted art market of the 90's.

Recent months have brought more gallery closings, and certainly more rumors of closings, than any other summer in memory. At least six galleries have closed, most of them relative newcomers in SoHo that concentrated on showing younger or less established artists.

In addition, more galleries than usual have moved over the summer, often lured by lower rents, smaller spaces or more central locations. In a seeming contradiction, some galleries have moved to buildings that other galleries had left: in the soft real-estate market, the new tenants negotiated lower rents. Other galleries have cut back on the amount of space they rent, reduced staff or scheduled fewer but longer-running exhibitions for the new season.

I stumbled upon that article in researching something else, but it literally might be applicable, virtually word for word, a year from now, if not sooner, according to things still being only whispered but rising in volume in Chelsea.

And on Bad at Sports, former Chicago dealer Lisa Boyle offers a very honest take on why she closed her 4-year-old space (although I took exception to her alluding to the influence of--among the obvious factors like the downturn in the economy, the strength of the Chicago market, and the impact of not getting into the right art fairs--"how all the successful galleries are connected in an incestuous web of nepotism and homosexual ego stroking"...I mean the "gay mafia" is not without its influence, but it hasn't stopped heterosexuals from running at least 8 of the top 10 art galleries in the country). Among the sentiments Lisa shared that rang true to me was this gem:
Making a life (if not a living) out of selling arbitrarily priced objects that no one needs is a very competitive venture. Not as easy as it looks. You have to want it. I mean really super bad. If you are going to create a successful system of supporting artists, connecting with institutions, and staying happy and successful as an art dealer, you have to want that more than a lot of other things. Like more than a paycheck, for example. More than every single Saturday for the rest of your natural born life. More than healthy exposure to the sun. You have to welcome payment in the form of some awkward social cache rather than in money, and you have to not mind being chained to a desk between four white walls for years, with the exception of those times you pack up your wares, like a traveling salesman, and take the show on the road. All of these things have to be fun and exciting to you. Additionally, should be armed with the knowledge that this span of time from start-up until you can comfortably travel the world attending all the most exclusive art parties will very likely stretch out longer than you or any one else expects.
Of course, by swapping out just a few nouns of place and the odd verb, this describes perfectly the plight of every artist out there.

OK, so what's really going on, though? Clearly the economy is bearish and predictions range from "the worst is yet to come" to it will remain this wobbly for yet another year, and yet, among the dealers I talk with in Chelsea two things seem to be consistent: traffic among middle-tier collectors is down, but folks are selling as much if not more than they were this time last year. "Big stuff is selling," is what you hear again and again. Indeed, word out of the most recent auctions in London confirm this:
The contemporary art market season has drawn to its close with a series of three consecutive evening auctions, which confirm that significant works by a broad list of fashionable artists are continuing to attract powerful bidding competition.
Indeed, galleries in London seem to be popping up like mushrooms. Every week it seems I get an email from a new one announcing their inaugural exhibition. Likewise for spaces on New York's Lower East Side (artcal.net lists 34 galleries open there now).

There is the arrival of the time-honored indication that the market is heading south, though: Gagosian is expanding his empire again. In her simply breathtaking profile of Larry, Sarah Douglas noted:
On a December evening, in the teeth of a financial gale that may yet blow away the art boom, Larry Gagosian opened his seventh gallery, a 700-square-metre space in Rome. Even as many of his competitors braced for a recession, Gagosian did what he has always done: he forged ahead. The Art Newspaper brooded on recession, quoting an unnamed former associate: "If this one really kicks in, he's sure to be opening yet more new spaces, in Moscow, India or China." As it happens, Gagosian had already made headway in Moscow, taking a temporary space there in October, and, a few weeks after Rome opened, New York magazine aired a rumour that he was scouting in China. Gagosian has become such a force, synonymous with the market itself, that this spurt of activity may indeed herald a downturn.
From where I sit in West, West Chelsea, things look more or less as I would expect them to given the housing bubble bursting and the Dow dropping the way it has. Then again, we started in a garage on a tough street in Brooklyn. The first full day after our inaugural opening reception, a reporter for a major New York newspaper walked in and introduced himself. "Wow," I thought, "This publicity thing will be much easier than I expected." But after establishing that I owned the joint, he asked if I could tell him anything about the person who had been murdered on the corner about 4:00 am the night before. In comparison to that, a bit of a downturn in the market is a factor we'll just do our best to deal with.

Consider this an open thread on the future of the art market in New York. Try to keep from descending into wildly unsubstantiated speculation if you can. :-)

Labels:

152 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "How's My Dealing: RIP" blog lists Cynthia Broan Gallery. CBG is a victim of its success in choosing a good location. (Remember the mantra, "Location, location, location"?) According to some online reports, the building is being sold to buyers who plan to demolish it and develope an entirely new structure. It's hardly fair to list CBG without commentary alongside other enterprises that have been shuttered for other reasons. CBG has endured many phases of the art market and the real estate market. IMO more will be seen of CBG; its story is not over.

7/10/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger beebe said...

Well, if Gagosian and Bloomberg are doing well...surely the rest of us are blossoming as well!

Who wants a plasma screen tv? I'm buying!

I was one of Lisa's artists. She always well by her artists and treated them with respect and kindness. Chicago will be a little less interesting without the LBG around.

"Of course, by swapping out just a few nouns of place and the odd verb, [Lisa] describes perfectly the plight of every artist out there."

Whew. You're goddamn right about that. Sincerely, thanks for noting the similarity. (I'm sure you knew that the artists in the audience couldn't let the similarity slide without comment.)

7/10/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Well, if Gagosian and Bloomberg are doing well...surely the rest of us are blossoming as well!

The point about Gagosian is actually the opposite. He tends to expand when times get tough, suggesting that the rest of us are not blossoming as well.

7/10/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rich have accumulated so much capital over the past eight years that they are effectively immune to recession. I suspect high end will continue to sell, although collectors will expect better bargains because of the economy. Why spend so much of their money if they don't have to?
ml

7/10/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Brandon Juhasz said...

I think anon 9:57 is on to something. Plus, people might be looking for alternative investments while housing and Wall Street figure things out. That's why oil is so heavily invested in now, its the only thing that seems to be making profits...

7/10/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Note to newbies: There’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway, and a forgotten artist or dealer for every tack light in Chelsea.

For those who’ve been in the scene less than ten or fifteen years (not having seen the cycle repeat itself) this may be shocking, but it always happens. Although it’s too early to forecast the severity of this potential downturn, it’s always prudent to expect the worse.

I believe you should look at this as an opportunity, an opportunity to see where solid talent and commitment really exists. A lot of young artists and dealers seem to think they’re entitled to a career, like a dentist or a lawyer, that this “hot” market would last forever, good luck. Want a viable career with a great future, how about becoming an Artist and Dealer Anonymous counselor?

But maybe everything’ll be fine, just a little summer melancholy setting in.

7/10/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

this pretty much confirms what i feel- there's no rest for the weary, people who can afford to buy are mostly not affected by the economy. i've had my work in nyc in shows since october and the exposure leads to more shows but i don't know what's on the radar for next year, yet...

7/10/2008 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

ps. my other observation is how similar gagosian's strategy reminds me of marlborough gallery...

7/10/2008 11:58:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Seconding Kalm James' call to approach a downturn as an opportunity.

This is straight-up Seth Godinism: hard times act as a Mediocrity Clearinghouse.

Galleries are under a lot of pressure right now to keep this bubble inflated. This specific pressure rewards conservative, mannerist art, often sold in a "you can't have it" kind of way that increases its appeal. A real downturn would change the kind of pressure gallerists face and reward bolder programming choices and different marketing choices.

Edward, I am always surprised when you worry about this because your business model seems to me to differ from Chelsea Business As Usual. Like you have a blog. This in itself is an interesting move. And you write regularly about building a new market as opposed to protecting your existing one, etc.

7/10/2008 12:13:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Um, took a second to reread what I wrote:

Edward, I am always surprised when you worry about this because your business model seems to me to differ from Chelsea Business As Usual.

And realized that it sounded kind of crappy for no reason. I don't mean to infer that you are inhuman or weak for caring about your market.

I meant to say something more supportive. I meant that from where I sit, it looks like you are doing things that might serve you well.

Not that I am an expert.

7/10/2008 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Rah, rah, Deborah and James.

I twice graduated with art degrees in the middle of recessions. Twice, I was instantaneously promoted from Charismatic Honor Chick on Campus to 'sorry, temp agencies aren't taking on new hires at the moment.' In fact, when I moved to NYC, temp agencies weren't hiring.

You get used to living on almost nothing. In fact, living on nothing doesn't have to impede either one's creative or social life, as long as you have a quorum of creative friends who are also living on nothing, and not a coterie of trust fund brats who can afford to go to hip restaurants, bars and spas, but somehow can't quite afford your work.

In fact, all this hand-wringing about the possible decline of the 'high art market' leaves me nonplussed, because the 'high art market' has never been even remotely a part of my artistic life. I find it hard to imagine how a person could be a serious artist and spend time fretting about these things. If you weren't signing on for a career of living on nothing, what planet were you thinking of moving to?

7/10/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

"how all the successful galleries are connected in an incestuous web of nepotism and homosexual ego stroking"...I mean the "gay mafia" is not without its influence, but it hasn't stopped heterosexuals from running at least 8 of the top 10 art galleries in the country).”

Ed, this is a juicy topic that deserves its own thread. Any truth to the rumors of a “gay Masonic Lodge” with deep art fair connections? A wink and the secret hand shake will sufice.

7/10/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

As an outsider this seems to me very typical to what's going on in the world market in general, big corporations taking over while small businesses are crushed down during tough times. The big galleries are looking to china/india/russia to expand? how much more typical can it get?

It is sad but not surprising that one struggling gallery owner says it is all about clicks and connections: "how all the successful galleries are connected in an incestuous web of nepotism". Not surprising at all, and I believe those galleries and clicks are exactly those who run the market and define which are the 'fashionable', selling artists: "significant works by a broad list of fashionable artists are continuing to attract powerful bidding competition."

"Making a life (if not a living) out of selling arbitrarily priced objects that no one needs is a very competitive venture. Not as easy as it looks. You have to want it. I mean really super bad. ... you have to want that more than a lot of other things. Like more than a paycheck, for example. More than every single Saturday for the rest of your natural born life. More than healthy exposure to the sun. You have to welcome payment in the form of some awkward social cache rather than in money, and you have to not mind being chained to a desk between four white walls for years... All of these things have to be fun and exciting to you..."

I often ask myself what motivates gallery owners and art dealers to enter this tough business? is it the love of art or the money? I would think if it's only for the love of art, one would be too busy visiting studios, looking around for new talent, instead of sitting between four walls. I don't know how it's done, the art promoting business, is it all about sitting in the gallery and making phone calls? What I mean is, the business of art is tough, but when you love what you're doing you're keeping yourself busy doing it, creating your art if you're an artist, but what do dealers and gallery owners keep themselves busy with?

The sentence: .."arbitrarily priced objects that no one needs..." is not a particularly loving one... she may have uttered it in a tired moment after years of failing in the business, and maybe in her heart of hearts she does have a passion and love for the work of those artists she surely uses more lofty words to describe when trying to sell their 'unneeded objects'. A sad definition of today's art, coming from an insider, which only strengthens my point from another thread - is there any life left here or is it a corpse? what are the wounds we are trying to heal and not able to? what are we trying to avoid? what are we running away from? why are we ignoring our own feelings? (in art).

People will always love art, because it's exactly the value of these "objects that no one needs" that makes the difference between us humans and the rest of the animal world. Appreciating art is one thing that makes the difference between only living on the level of basic survival needs, and having more in life, in terms of spirituality, in terms of richness of the soul. These things will always be important, and the tendency of artists to feel like what they do is of no importance and no one needs their products should not be exploited by art gallery owners and dealers. It's an unjustified feeling. Art is important and it's value is priceless. Artists will always love art because it's their language, it's their mother tongue. People who are not artists will also always love art, because their soul can understand this language, and the soul needs to be talked to in order to be happy and survive...

Questions back to you, William! :-)

7/10/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

I'm going to have a field day if the market bottoms out. I can start planning the funeral show, or at least the hitting rock bottom, going through rehab, and becoming an artworld revivalist show.

We may not sell much, but it'll be a whole lot of fun.

7/10/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Belvoir said...

I sympathize and can relate to Pretty lady's comments. I also graduated into a freshly cratered market. But in retro, it was a character-testing experience that made me stronger, and more committed to the work I was creating. And at the time, NYC in '92, I met so many people who were in it for the love of the art- even the well-known names were struggling, - so there was a camaraderie there. It was also an exciting time , there was an intersection or art, Act-Up, the AIDS crisis at its nadir of gloom- but hope and perserverance, too. It made me realize that I was stronger than i thought in my commitment to the work.


Back to the present: I've read that SCOPE Hamptons is having trouble lining up galleries for this year's program. This might just be a local issue out here, but it will be interesting to see.

7/10/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lesson of '92 is in those that survived. Many artists dissapeared, others became the holders of the eternal bottle beer at openings and pot heads, the weak full of rhetoric became institution teachers, and the inmortals. The last group is very small. Some good, some just OK. Conventional wisdom would tell you all of them are good, the future canon, but not so. It is about keeping your options open and not quality.

7/10/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lesson of '92 is about stolen ideas. Beware, young things, about the inmortals. They will steal left and right from you. Keep alive what you started otherwise it will be taken.

7/10/2008 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

pl might have to change her moniker to ptl (pretty tough lady).

William, you sound like the “Sweeny Todd” of the art world. There’ll always be a market for “meat pies” (even if they’re made from the carnage of the collapsing art market.)

“Mommy, this tastes funny”

“Just remember dear, children in Chelsea are starving.”

7/10/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

The toughness is implied in the title 'Lady,' James. You have obviously not known enough of us.

7/10/2008 02:23:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

The sentence: .."arbitrarily priced objects that no one needs..." is not a particularly loving one...

I disagree. The most loving thing any of us can do is cling ferociously to the truth.

Right now, fine visual art is most accurately defined as an arbitrarily (high-)priced object that nobody needs. No other single definition encompasses all art can be so completely.

It is not unloving to admit that art is not particularly relevant to people who don't pine for unnecessary, arbitrarily priced objects. Right now.

We can change that. We control that definition. Artists can make more relevant art. Gallerists can create new models for distributing this work. Because of course art is more than that frivolous definition suggests.

We are facing a mind-numbing series of tipping points in our culture. A black candidate for president will likely win in a *landslide* because we are engaged in infrastructure, energy and political crises of every kind. These manifold crises are a straightforward product of telling the American people to shop our way out of crisis in the past, and will require Victory-Garden level changes out of every single person in America and the rest of the planet.

Other art forms are already working actively to help us understand this monumental set of changes. This summer Pixar is making money hand over fist with a grim, straightforward morality play about the perils of overconsumption. Our goofy summer comedy this year is fundamentally about peace in the Middle East!

All art has the potential to be this engaged--to help us understand who we are and why we are here and what our potential is. And we need that kind of existential compass now more than ever. Art can be more than a highly priced unnecessary thing. It doesn't have to be about an issue and it doesn't have to be propaganda, but I think it's critical that all art is pointing with all its might at this larger entity that we all create as a species but can't quite grasp with anything other than art.

Chelsea *should* tank because the art in Chelsea assiduously avoids the heavy lifting the zeitgeist obviously demands.

I cannot freaking wait!

7/10/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great post Ed.

I moved to new york in 93 after graduate school abroad. I remember there was an article about dealers having "galleries" in their apartments.
Paul Morris was one...Anton Kern or Friedrich Petzel also, I think. They may still have been working for other galleries at the time. Point is, those who really need to do this, find a way even if they don't have the money.

BTW the gallery where i've been showing for the last few years, which is listed on howismydealing, but not yet on the RIP list, is also closing. but I am sure that there will be many more. And, as relates to an earlier topic those artists/dealers/curators etc. who really need to make art their life's work will find a way and ride this cycle out as well.

7/10/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 3:11, re Anton Kern:
People who are the children of famous and successful people in the art world are in a different category. I don't know the specifics of the financial situation in the family so I could be wrong, but Kern's father is Georg Baselitz, so I'm guessing that he wasn't taking a huge commercial risk in starting a gallery. Not to criticize him for coming from a successful art background (it would be counterproductive to not use whatever connections you have), but I just wouldn't put him in the same boat as people who start galleries in their apartments while holding down day jobs. Leo Koenig is another dealer from a successful German art family and I've heard nothing but good things about him from his artists, so I'm not denigrating these people, just pointing out that not everyone faces the same challenges when starting a gallery (as in life in general; the level playing field is very rare, but that's another discussion.)

Oriane

7/10/2008 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The lesson of '92 is about stolen ideas. Beware, young things, about the inmortals. They will steal left and right from you. Keep alive what you started otherwise it will be taken.

Oh, yeah...that's it...turn on each other. Eat your young and cannibalize your support networks.

Christ. Lighten up already.

7/10/2008 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 3:11 here.

No denying people like Kern, Koenig (who both are 2nd generation German art royalty) had that advantage. Actually Kern wasn't one of those who had a gallery in his apartment, if I remember correctly. don't remember for sure about Petzel either but I think so. The point was just that there are other ways to do it besides paying high commercial rents. In those days Kenny Schachter used to put shows together in temporary spaces as well. Didn't Ed also have shows in temp. spaces too before opening Plus Ultra? all i'm saying is it can be done, and will be again when some of the newer/shakier/most overly leveraged spaces collapse.

7/10/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Deborah, I think I know what you mean, but what I meant in 'mot particularly loving' was not in reference to the pricing - we all know how we price our work, but in reference to the statement 'no one needs'. It's obviously not a survival need, to have art, but where would humanity be without art and culture? perhaps we would already destroy ourselves with wars, or perhaps we would live like other animals, according to basic survival needs, and never destroy the planet with industrialism.... but we are neither, we humans need art and culture because it's who we are. You may argue which kind of art and culture, and this keeps changing indeed.

"I think it's critical that all art is pointing with all its might at this larger entity that we all create as a species but can't quite grasp with anything other than art." It may be a tad bit presumptuous of us to believe we can actually lead the world in that direction, especially when asking the question: is art a mirror of the time or is it a leader of humanity, creating new concepts and ideas? What comes first the egg or the chicken kind of question. I don't know the answer, but for sure, we need to do our bit to contribute, just like everyone else needs to do.

"Chelsea *should* tank because the art in Chelsea assiduously avoids the heavy lifting the zeitgeist obviously demands. I cannot freaking wait!"

Many other industries have either collapsed or had to dramatically adjust their business model at the onset of the internet and globalization. Many giants had to pass the torch, such as Tower records to iTunes etc... In times like these, the little artist seems to be forgotten, left aside. We're tiny entrepreneurs, we are skilled or unskilled craftspeople, gifted with a dollop of inspiration which allows us to invent and make and think of new things - 'creations', that's all we are and let's try not to forget that.....

7/10/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Chelsea *should* tank because the art in Chelsea assiduously avoids the heavy lifting the zeitgeist obviously demands.

Whoop! Au au au au au! Whooooo-eeeeeeee!!! Hell yeah!

(and other noises indicative of enthusiastic Texan approval)

7/10/2008 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

In times like these, the little artist seems to be forgotten, left aside. We're tiny entrepreneurs, we are skilled or unskilled craftspeople, gifted with a dollop of inspiration

'Little' artist? I beg your pardon?

It has not been my experience that I, as an artist, full stop, am 'forgotten and left aside' in times of social strife and upheaval. Rather, it is in those times that people who used to have cushy, apparently secure, conformist jobs come to me and ask, "So how do you do it, again?"

As artists, we have hopefully both the tendency and the habit of looking at things from creative perspectives. In a time where our societal infrastructure is crumbling around us, our perspectives may turn out to be vital for the continuation of society. We do ourselves and our culture a terrible disservice by putting ourselves down, seeing ourselves as powerless, and putting ourselves at the mercy of a market that is primarily about the manipulation of trivial, superficial fashions.

Deborah is absolutely right. Whoop.

7/10/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Deborah said, We are facing a mind-numbing series of tipping points in our culture. A black candidate for president will likely win in a *landslide* because we are engaged in infrastructure, energy and political crises of every kind.

Bingo, we are approaching a major nodal point in history, a millennium change. The creatively restrictive affects of an overheated art market will wane as the market contracts.

Too many people seem to have lost sight that what we do is about the art, not making money.

7/10/2008 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed,

Two galleries here in LA fused. SolwayJones and High Energy Constructs starting in September will alternate shows in a single gallery space in Chinatown. Both retain individual direction/purpose etc. There are creative ways around a recession.
ml

7/10/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Chelsea *should* tank because the art in Chelsea assiduously avoids the heavy lifting the zeitgeist obviously demands.

Yeah, that's right. If Chelsea would just "tank," closing another option for the hundreds of artists who rely on the sales there to continue making their work, all would be well.

Grow the fuck up.

7/10/2008 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Yes, we are 'little artists' just like every other person in the world, we all are 'little people' each one of us individually. Artists are not bigger than the rest of humanity, and those people who think themselves bigger and/or better than anyone else will sooner or later discover their mistake. That said, I don't mean we are smaller than anyone else either, I don't mean to put down our or anyone else's individuality. We each are great, as well as tiny people, living on this exploding, tiny planet.

7/10/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

There's been a gallery meltdown in Boston too. Greg Cook has been covering it.

how all the successful galleries are connected in an incestuous web of nepotism and homosexual ego stroking

I never get invited to the good parties.

7/10/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

When I was referring to 'giants' I meant the huge corporations, those that pull many strings in the economy. Us artists are individuals, and our small entrepreneurial businesses may thrive and have much cultural influence on society, nevertheless we're not politicians, we're not ceo's of big companies thus we're tiny in that sense as well.

But like I said, we all are, including the politicians and ceo's, we are all tiny people, not knowing all the answers...

7/10/2008 07:27:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Grow the fuck up.

Wow, respectfully, Edward, please lighten up?

I own that I made a flip comment, but I did it in a context that I don't think you understood. Perhaps this is a limitation of the medium, or perhaps i was unclear.

Art's in trouble like a lot of things are in trouble. It's a funny time we are living in. Many things are reaching a tipping point at the same time, and all around this is a good thing, but incredibly scary.

I am not just afraid of never finding a gallery. I am afraid of $7 gas; not being able to heat my home; currency devaluation; global warming; bombing Iran.

And yet, every single one of these fears contains an amazing opportunity. We could be looking down the barrel at an energy revolution; revitalized manufacturing industry; much less pollution; a middle east so messed up that Israel and Palestine are forced to figure out their rage.

In that context, does art die if the worst possible thing happens in Chelsea? Or does it become stronger? Something better? Something that we can't even imagine?

Where is the opportunity?

My flippancy was meant to provoke you and every single other person who read the post. It was meant to provoke me. I meant to provoke us all into embracing this change. Seeing as how it's coming anyway.

You can dismiss this as immature, but I don't think it's immature to admit change is happening and work to embrace it with a little fucking brio. With some hotshit candoitude.

Why not? What else are we to do?

Wring our hands?

7/10/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

From a financial point of view, the US economy is better than the popular press would have one think. Never the less, it's likely the art market will slow down, if only for psychological reasons. When the economy slows, businesses fail, it's to be expected.

It's popular to associate problems from one period in the past with those in the present but inevitably the problems find different resolutions. The US economy is being managed in order to prevent a world wide financial meltdown, as a result I believe the US equities markets will move higher over the next few years. So, I'm guessing that the art market downturn may not be as severe as it was in the 1990's.

None the less, I would tend to see a slowdown as a positive, as a cleansing of an over hyped art market, engendering a reappraisal of what we, as artists, gallerists and collectors, consider important, a rebirth. I am very optimistic for the future, whatever happens, there will be a tomorrow.

7/10/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Wow, respectfully, Edward, please lighten up?

I own that I made a flip comment, but I did it in a context that I don't think you understood. Perhaps this is a limitation of the medium, or perhaps i was unclear.

Art's in trouble like a lot of things are in trouble. It's a funny time we are living in. Many things are reaching a tipping point at the same time, and all around this is a good thing, but incredibly scary.


and

None the less, I would tend to see a slowdown as a positive, as a cleansing of an over hyped art market

I honestly understand the sentiment behind such statements, but consider the context in which you're making them, please.

Let me see if I can reverse the sentiment, and see if that makes clear why such statements are truly outrageous here.

The system that supports your personal studio practice *should* tank because the art it facilitates assiduously avoids the heavy lifting the zeitgeist obviously demands. Indeed, I would tend to see a slowdown as a positive, as a cleansing of the number of artists trying to enter the art market

Find that upsetting? Find it unfair or too sweeping? Find it a particularly personal attack, given it deals specificially with the context in which you are trying to do your thing?

I have a gallery in Chelsea. I'm trying to work within the current art market. Wishing ill on that system is to wish ill on me. Why, even if that's your goal, would you offer such sentiments here? Seriously?

What's wrong with a transitional phase that doesn't have to result in a "tanking" or a "cleansing" or anything so drastic as either of those? Have faith in the dealers, collectors, curators, etc. The world is changing at neck-break speed. Just because everyone is scrambling to make sense of it all (and as if that's all that different from any other time, really), doesn't mean they're to blame for your personal dissatisfaction.

I find this born-again expectation of a downturn rather evangelical, to be quite honest.

7/10/2008 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever I hear a flip generalization like "Chelsea should tank" (which, to start with is a gross generalization because "Chelsea" is not one thing; it includes very established galleries, small startups, non-profits and everything in between), I assume it's made by someone who is not showing in Chelsea (or in "the art world", which "Chelsea" is shorthand for), and therefore resents the success of people who are showing. Even after reading Deborah's explanation, I just don't find it a reasonable response. I don't want "chelsea" to tank (I assume that means go down, or fail). I've shown in Chelsea a few times and it was great! And even if I hadn't, it would still be something to aspire to. If Chelsea tanks, something else will come up that we will all be trying to get into, so why cheer on chelsea's demise? Soho, East village, Chelsea, LES, Williamsburg; these are not monolithic entities. Things are cyclical. Did Soho tank? Yeah, everyone moved to Chelsea, but the art market didn't die. It swells up and dies down, like every other sector of the economy. But don't confuse the art market (business) with what's happening in your studio.

Oriane

7/10/2008 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

We could be looking down the barrel at an energy revolution

I just got off the phone with my brother, a mechanical engineer specializing in nanotechnology. He and his company have been working day and night on the prototype of a radically cheaper and more efficient solar panel, in time to present it at a trade show in SF next week. My brother was really tired.

The McCain solution to the energy crisis is "Drill, drill, drill." The Obama solution is to point out that people like my brother have solved, and will continue to solve, seemingly intractable problems in creative ways.

That's how I took Deborah's comment. Standing around and worrying about the possible collapse of the Chelsea art market is like supporting more oil drilling in increasingly fragile habitats at greater expense and less payoff. There are other ways of solving problems, and we're the ones equipped to do so.

7/10/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed,

with all due respect, part of the problem is that the gallery system DOESNT support very many artists' studio practices...even those represented by Chelsea galleries. I know many artists (myself included) who have had critically well recieved shows in respected galleries and sold very little...maybe enough to break even when one factors in the expense of a studio, materials etc. and not factoring in the opportunity cost of time spent in the studio.

It is my understanding emerging/contemporary work at the sub blue-chip level is a "loss leader" for galleries and that those that actually make money (as opposed to being subsidized in one form or another) do so via the secondary market.

is that not accurate?

7/10/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://thinkingaboutart.blogs.com/

JT's current post...for your consideration regarding this thread.

7/10/2008 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Find that upsetting? Find it unfair or too sweeping?

No, I don't find it the slightest bit upsetting, Ed, because it doesn't apply to me at all. The system which supports my studio practice happens to be alternative healing, which is one of the things at the center of the zeitgeist--it addresses, directly or indirectly: the out-of-control, drug-centric Western healthcare system, the mind-body connection, community, and taking personal responsibility for one's health.

On an abstract, esoteric level, this is also what drives my studio practice. I am proud to say this, and I can say it no matter what the art world thinks about it.

If someone were to make a flip comment such as 'the alternative healthcare system should tank, because it's a bunch of fraudulent quackery,' I still wouldn't be upset, because I acknowledge 1) that there are a bunch of fraudulent quacks out there, and 2) that I am not one of them.

7/10/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger elizabethbriel said...

A brief perspective from the other side of the world: thanks to inflation both here and in mainland China, a volatile stock market, and a still-booming local economy, art is increasingly seen as a viable investment here in Hong Kong.

True, there are a couple of caveats:

* Artists should be from reputable schools in mainland China.

* Art should be exclusively oil or acrylic on canvas.

* Preferably they should sport "big faces" or similarly branded style of the "cynical realists", etc.

* Said paintings should be "flipped" once they've increased substantially in value, just like apartments on Hong Kong Island. Art -as-investment isn't something to be viewed with too much sentiment.

We are about to have a brand new museum of contemporary art! In a shopping mall.....
http://www.hk-magazine.com/feature/rogues-gallery

Sigh. That's HK for you.

7/11/2008 02:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

The Deborah VS Edward issue:

For a while I thought the same as Deborah, that if the art market would ever come to reach very difficult economy, than perhaps the few artists with the means and will to produce art in those times would mean that the art would be better. But actually, I later realized that I was wrong because
it seems you only ever get a percentage of great art at any given time, like there is a "saturation level" for artistic arousal, and the more you get
crap art, the better it will astound you whenever you meet the Amazing. There has to be an algorithm for this, but I think a strong art market of crap art is quite necessary in order for the best art to simply perceptually emerge, and subsist.

I guess this is my plea for mediocrity. You need the mediocre to define the greater. Slim Fasting on the production of art would not be helpful to art at all, though I will not attempt to judge here how that could be helpful to Ecology.






Is Sonnabend closing? This has been one of the most annoying gallery to try to know what is showing up there at any given moment. For that disservice to art lovers (art travellers) alone, I will not shed a tear. They even beat Shafrazi, who's always a month late a telling what's up, but at least Shafrazi has these great document websites about their past shows. Nuff said.



My suggestion to Winkleman is: if people are moving, you have nothing to loose in moving fast, especially if the rates are beneficial. The reason I say this is that....
Chelsea is HUGE, and people who go there for a day or two, have limited time to visit many places, and I tend to believe there would sacrifice the gallery who is further up the road.

Take Team for example: they have moved to Soho, where there is much less galleries (I mean, "cool" galleries, at least). So people in Soho will have an easier
time to fit Team in their schedule. Because they might be only doing Soho
that very day.


When you are in a spot where there is so much happening, I think the simple geographical position is essential if you're not one of the 10 Biggies (yet ! of course this word should always be in mind, YET).

I think If I'd start-open a gallery tomorrow in Chelsea, I'd start in a building where
they are many others, preferably one that offers public toilet at each floor, because that would warrant much more visits, especially on rainy days.

I have other ideas of ideal galleries but they do not fit the Chelsea scheme
at all.



Just trying to help,

Cedric

7/11/2008 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

to illustrate my point with your example, though, PL:

If someone were to make a flip comment such as 'the alternative healthcare system should tank, because it's a bunch of fraudulent quackery,' I still wouldn't be upset, because I acknowledge 1) that there are a bunch of fraudulent quacks out there, and 2) that I am not one of them.

but they're not singling out only those among you who are fraudulent...they're indiscriminately wishing ill on the entire system. You may not be concerned about their ability to effect much ill on the entire system, but wouldn't it bother you that they'd come into your forum and suggest, vaguely, that if you (meaning all of you) were out of the picture that somehow, magically, things would be better...suggesting that you...not only the frauds, not other factors, but your very existence is the hindrance to the progress they personally seek?

Here's the big thing for me: as Oriane noted, "Chelsea" is not a homogeneous entity. To suggest that a tanking or cleansing of "Chelsea" would lead to some as yet undefined better future is like suggesting if all the bigots in the world would just go away we'd have world peace.

Forget how naive that opinion is. The nonchalance with which some would have Chelsea galleries indiscriminately close (or even more likely to be the case in times of economic downturn, only those most willing to take risks) toward some vaguely stated goal of betterment is quite frankly a bit maddening.

with all due respect, part of the problem is that the gallery system DOESNT support very many artists' studio practices.

OK, fair enough, there are far more artists than gallery slots and among the artist with galleries, not enough make enough money to live off their art.

I still don't see how a cleansing of the gallery system changes that to the betterment of artists who would like to live off their art.

The one thing I thought was a very good outcome of the growing number of galleries recently was the impact it had on widening the overall market for art in general. The more the population at large buys art, the more artists the market can support full time. Having more galleries work to expand that market then makes sense toward that goal, no?

7/11/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To expand a little on what I was saying, I think it's easy for artists working outside the system (either voluntarily outside the system or because they can't get into a gallery because of the vast numbers of artists) to have this sort of revolutionary zeal. "We'll tear the whole thing down and build our own art world!" kind of thing. That's a good kind of energy to bring into your community, your artists' collectives, your support groups, your studio practice (if that helps in your studio practice), but realistically, at some point we all have to enter the real world. It's great to do all that (start your own artist-run galleries, etc.) but it's just common sense to keep in mind that the big world out there is going to continue along its way and doesn't much care what you/we do. That's no reason not to do it. In being artists, we've long ago accepted that we're going to follow our vision despite the lack of validation from others. BUT it's not as simple as Us versus The Establishment. The Establishment is constantly (if slowly) changing and incorporating alternate views. We are all part of it even if we think we're living "off the grid" so to speak. Ed's gallery is an example. Started small in Wmsbg, now in Chelsea and doing art fairs, etc. Definitely Established. How does it help us as artists if his gallery (and every other gallery) closes? I feel strongly about this because, although I was born in the 60's and therefore was quite young at the time, I remember the rhetoric and the legacy quite well. "After the revolution...", etc. People, get with the program; we are not going to have a revolution in this country. We have a constant evolution (and yes, it often doesn't move fast enough, but it does move.) To get anything done we have to compromise and work with those who we don't see eye to eye with on about everything. That's why I support Obama not the Green Party. Obama has a real chance to win. Even if I would prefer more radical change than what he represents, Nader ain't gonna win, so let's get behind the person/movement who can win so we can effect some significant change.

Oops, I sort of veered off-course here, but the point is, sure, among your artist friends, there's nothing wrong with letting off some steam and saying "death to chelsea!", but in a forum such as this, it just makes you seem naive.

Oriane Stender

7/11/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps

I know from reading Deborah's very articulate and intelligent blog that she's not naive; just want to make clear that I don't mean to insult anyone here, just to disagree.

Oriane

7/11/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Hey, I just remembered how I visit Olga Korper in Toronto whenever there is an artist I like, and she's very badly situated (in the sense that I must make a detour to visit about a mere 2 galleries up where she is..... in case anyone knows Toronto?).


Seriously, if the artists are presented in the right museal or organisational art events,
and really break the glass, I think the geographical position of a gallery is irrelevant. Serious visitors WILL make the extra miles, but they need a strong introduction to the work in a convenient space.


If the market moves (back...) to Europa, well, you know.....You don't need 700 square metres to exhibit in Rome. Many serious early New York galerists were exilees. If you have the passion enough, move to where the flow is.


Cedric

7/11/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

I'm stuck on James Kalm’s comment that "a lot of artists and dealers seem to think they're entitled to a career, like a dentist or lawyer..."

I've noticed the same thing, and think this idea that there's a dependable living to be made out there once one has an MFA in hand, must be fostered by art schools in order to justify tuition. In Art in America many years ago, someone surmised that only 4% of those who graduate from art school ever make any money from their art, and no doubt it holds true today.

So while there may be a "market" for art out there, there’s no market for any individual artist's work unless that artist makes it for him or herself.

Nobody "needs" us, the way they do a dentist or lawyer, so it's up to each of us (as Ed has put it, and as I read it, not facetiously either) “to make art work so compelling that the art world beats a path to your door.”

The advantage of down times is that it can have an air-clearing effect, and people begin to look for substance over hype. They don’t NEED art, but after they see it, they might think they do.

You know those shoes you bought even though you couldn’t afford them?

Like that.

7/11/2008 11:08:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Edward,

First to answer your question, I would not find that statement upsetting or too sweeping, because I am not the system I work within. I can react to it. Do things differently. Change the system.

My point is simple: it's important to embrace change and see adversity as opportunity.

I see imagining a worst-case scenario and the opportunities it yields as optimistic, not offensive. I see admitting that change is inevitable, facing it head-on and imagining the exciting possibilities inherent in even the worst case scenario the single most mature thing a person can do. I think it's important to see that change should and must happen. It's what I sincerely hope to be able to do the next time a total calamity befalls me. It's what I am sure John and Elizabeth Edwards talk about when they talk about her cancer. They found themselves and their purpose in her profound illness, and hopefully they will change the system because of their own pain in the face of her mortality.

At the risk of hyperbole, that's my model here, and there is nothing naive about it.

Elizabeth Edwards is very ill and so she took stock of the situation and said that the only right thing to do is work aggressively to change the fucked up health care system she's depending on for her life. Take every single bit of energy she has and work to make it better for as many people as possible, because that is what she can do and because that is what makes her life and her situation meaningful.

Now, nobody is going to die of bad, mannerist art. But Iris astutely pointed out that we do need art--that it serves an important existential function.

The way we look at and value art

(or to shorthand that concept into "Chelsea" the way one shorthands a complex web of worldwide financial markets into "Wall Street")

is not a particularly healthy system. "Chelsea" sells art well, but it is not a particularly good guardian over that critical existential function that art serves for everyone--even people who don't buy it.

I am not the only person saying this. Last year's New York Times put all the "Looking Back On 2007" coverage of visual art on one back page--how's that for a sign of irrelevance? The three articles were: a wistful longing for more meaning by Cotter; a total indictment of the words we use to describe and value art by Smith; and something about the vacuous nature of spectacle and luxury. Jerry Saltz has written about the thoughtlessness of the market in hyperdrive too much.

In a context where lots of systems are getting so messed up that they're actually going to change, I think it is rational and mature to indulge the idea that "Chelsea" could radically change--implode, even, and that this could be a good thing.

Haven't you been to a party and had this exact same conversation about the housing market or "Wall Street?"

I think it's both naive and selfish to say that wishing ill on the market is the same as wishing ill on a person. The market is ours, Edward, not yours. I think it's both naive and stupid to assume that it is even possible to cling to a market that is changing whether you want it to or not. I think it's small to tell someone who's arguing for opportunity in adversity to grow the fuck up.

If you don't want to see it that way, I certainly can't make you.

7/11/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

your very existence is the hindrance to the progress they personally seek?

Ed, it's just that I'm so used to it. I'm a female person from the South who didn't get married out of high school, and who talks about weird things all the time. My existence has been a conundrum for people since birth. If I made a habit of getting my knickers in a twist about it, I'd be in the psych ward by now.

I see the situation in Chelsea as precisely the same as the situation in the corporate world; in a thriving economy, corporations get bloated with a lot of useless middle management that draws a big paycheck and doesn't do anything. When the downturn comes, companies have to look long and hard at who they're paying to do what, and clean out the dead wood or perish.

'Chelsea' (not the Monolithic Entity, but you know what I mean) is going to have to do the same thing. Galleries which show slight, fatuous ephemera might have to reconsider their program, if there are fewer people around throwing money away on such conceits. Art is going to have to work harder and more efficiently.

7/11/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in the long run it doesn't expand the market to have more (mostly bad) galleries...it gives more artists an opportunity to hang their work on a wall somewhere but the market is the market (and opportunities for critical attention hasn't expanded to match the number of galleries either)...the number of serious collectors, museums etc. is rather inelastic.

7/11/2008 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

great dialogue- despite the derogatory insults... it comes close to articulating the divide between artists and gallerists over their common ground=art- my comment is some insight about deborah and pretty lady operating at the level of need versus an art market- that operates despite and in spite of need- i.e. people who have money to buy art- and are above/beyond need- so then what are the factors- taste (fickle) trends (fleeting) majority rule (poplarity contest mentality) conservative (following tradition) this points up how dependent gallerists are on their artists- a side we rarely think about- artists have the power to dictate the move and sweep of their art- and thus the art market- gallerists and curators are part of the system that exists on the backs of artists- we help alot of rich people get richer- or at least that is what it feels like- but they are dependent on what we make- i dont know how you tip taste, trends, what is popular, or traditional in the market- but it is a valuable conversation for everyone to have- i understand ed's argument but it seems like the trickle down theory in my opinion and i am not sure that it works esp if you dont see your vibe, values, aethetics being represented anywhere in the mnarket

7/11/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I think it's both naive and selfish to say that wishing ill on the market is the same as wishing ill on a person. [...] I think it's both naive and stupid to assume that it is even possible to cling to a market that is changing whether you want it to or not.

There's a world of difference between advocating change (something I do regularly here, in case you've missed it) and advocating that an existing system entirely "tanks," Deborah. I think you know that as well.

Hoping an existing system "tanks" is throwing the baby out with the bath water in my opinion.

The market is ours, Edward, not yours.

So you speak for all the artists who currently have upcoming exhibitions planned in Chelsea when you hope the scene will "tank"? Seriously?

I think it's small to tell someone who's arguing for opportunity in adversity to grow the fuck up.

Opportunity for yourself and mostly adversity for many others...who exactly is being selfish?

The context, again, is what I think you're missing Deborah. You're on the blog of a dealer in Chelsea declaring that the system *should* tank. Let the collateral damage to dreams and hard work fall where they may, eh?

Why you would expect me to value your interests over mine, here of all places, where I go out of my way to provide insights into how the system works, is quite ponderous really.

Also the notion that phoenixes who will rise up through the ashes of Chelsea will be any better than the artists exhibiting there now is pure speculation. Unsubstantiated by anything more than a wish.

Projecting all of what you feel is wrong about the system upon the galleries in one section of town is worse than immature...it's illogical. I don't know how to phrase "Grow logically the fuck up," though.

I'm sorry if my harsh phrasing hurt your feelings, by the way. My intention was to illustrate strongly that people's (real people, like the one who hosts the blog you're on) livelihood and dreams are potentially at stake here and even should you feel the world would be better if their businesses "tanked," it behooves you to at least consider their feelings on the subject when on their turf.

I think in the long run it doesn't expand the market to have more (mostly bad) galleries...it gives more artists an opportunity to hang their work on a wall somewhere but the market is the market

What is that opinion based on?

My opinion is based on attendance and sales at art fairs, perhaps the only hard numbers we have, which have broken new records every year, as have the number of galleries applying for them.

Again, what is your opinion based on?

7/11/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

DF says, Right now, fine visual art is most accurately defined as an arbitrarily high-priced object that nobody needs. No other single definition encompasses all art can be so completely.

I doubt most of the other artists here would agree with this definition.

I think in the long run it doesn't expand the market to have more (mostly bad) galleries..

This is backwards, the expanding art market was the impetus for more galleries opening.

7/11/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Does appearance of galleries like Monkdogz bode well? I think so. Their cheese plate full of delicious cheddar cubes alone brings joy to a struggling soul.

Every time you say no to a gallery that shows outsiderish, nauive, or otherwise flawed (low quality) art, you say no to a whole swath of Pretty Ladies - artists whos praxis relies not on the best practices enacted by canonical texts or models of computerized perfection, but rather, on the wholesome human hand, the best practices of human living, flawed and folky though it may appear.

These cottage industry, craft driven artists do not rely on teams of assistants, expensive finishes, space age materials, or even cadmium paints in collosal engaements with Wal-Mart like economies of scale. No, they point to something deeper, more human, and of course gratingly abject and often dispiriting in the human condition.

But why? As a counterpoint to the hubris and pathetic fallacy of much blue chip big name modern art?

Who in new york would mourn the loss of the 15 million dollar mindfuck perpretrated upon us by Olafur Eliason and his Public Art Fraud? Fountains in New York? Will wonders never cease? What to do with the dry cesspools in front of the Met?

And if Koons' baloon dog disappeared from the roof of the Met, replaced with an unbemished view of the skyline, and its attendant sky, would we give a hoot?

I am not here advocating a book burning or art smashing krystalnacht. Rather, i am wondering what "quality" is in these instances - and if, in fact that quality is not possibly replaceable by other less spectacular, yet no less talented conceits. Styles do change, after all. And if money is scarce,does this not make the maxim "buy low sell high" all the more poignant?

7/11/2008 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

The art market is a business. And it doesn’t work the way we want it to. When Gagosian calls, be sure to tell him.

7/11/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone translate zipspeak?

7/11/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Anon, that was one of the most coherent and accessible comments that Zippy has ever written. If you need that one translated, I can't help you.

7/11/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it really true that sales at art fairs are still strong? or just the blue chip ones. I've heard a lot of anecdotal info to the contrary.

it defies logic that miami can support 18 art fairs, or London for that matter.

7/11/2008 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

And when the Public Art fund comes knocking, I hope Zipthwung will graciously turn them down.

7/11/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an artist and I am tired of spectacle.

I am fed up with 2 million plus dollars sculpture 'made' (by assistants, engineers, young artists) by persons with ex-modeling careers.

I am vaguely amused but oh so bored with pretty-boy nightingales with wide-open end-eyes and all that homosexual fucking into artstardom.

I am an artist with an MA and I am fed up of MAs and MFAs. I am bloody hell tired of meeting artists who have summarized their so-called statements to sound like cultural theorists.

I am absolutely horrified with artists with full time jobs who like secretaries know the language of how to write a good proposal that a critic-jury will approve.

I am most fed up with the utilitarian mindset that plagues us even deeper today it seems than ever.

I am tired of curators and their fingering masturbatory hand in all these...oh how they finger and finger the thing so that it may speak --and only speak-- precisely the distortions eminent in their own fastidious rhetoric.

I am no anti-intellectual but oh, how weary am I of artists who, listening incestous to curators rush about pretending art was some matter for sociology and the artist therefore, the sociologist-cultural-theorist.

I make art one may called visual but I know too visual art is and will never be near the power of poetry, the art of music nor even that of the novel. I know visual art is an industry brewed from a mesh of moneyed conceit being peddled by anxious-for-fame conceits.


Having said all these, I hereby DECLARE WAR ON ART.

I ask artists to say no to empty spectacle and sheer materialism;
I urge a move towards the romantic;
I urge a REFUSAL of our life as it is: GIVE UP your banal worries, your high-end rents apartments, your shallow living and expenses!
BE BOLD and have the courage to live by the spirit of art and ideas!


Make art, make it, make it towards great, meet with like-minds, stay up all night with madness and with the fever, drink wine, read voraciously, live simple!

LIVE AS ONE WITH THE BOLDNESS AND COURAGE TO BE A HUMAN BEING



(This declaration is still in the works)


signed,

Half Casted Out Of All Your Groups

7/11/2008 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Kristeva is fun to read about. I was listening to an academic talk about what the work was about and it occured to me that you have to tailor your speech to your audience. Obviously academic speek doesn't fly with your average person - though I suppose it snows some people, - that's a question for Winkleman - what percentage of people respond to artspeak vs. say, thats a nice image, or just leaving it open to interpretation (don't speak).

But when I was listening to academic speak, knowing what I know, I can tell if you speak it well,a nd most people don't - and someone like Zizek is pure comedy, though I enjoy it.

SO anyways, I predict academic speak will be in for a while but there will also be those that reject it, and in the abscence of money, I predict both sides to be more radical in their entrenchments.

Those with academic positions will write more in a publish or perish sort of I got it too good but what am I missing caged bird singing kind of thing.

Those outside the academic dome, in the wild so to speak, will copulate in weird ways foreign to the academics, and this savage brood will inevitably crack the dome of purity, letting in some fresh soma, and in the end the cycle will repeat itself, in vitro. Thats the way the bio dome works, buddy.

7/11/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I am an artist and I am tired of spectacle.

I am fed up with 2 million plus dollars sculpture 'made' (by assistants, engineers, young artists) by persons with ex-modeling careers.


uh-huh...yeah...that's nice

where's the link to your website showing us, rather than telling us, what you mean?

Obviously academic speek doesn't fly with your average person - though I suppose it snows some people, - that's a question for Winkleman - what percentage of people respond to artspeak vs. say, thats a nice image, or just leaving it open to interpretation (don't speak).

Hard to say. Not sure the folks who pass through the gallery or our booths at fairs would classify as "your average person." When I visit my family in the mid-West, they tend to nod and smile when I talk about art, but I don't think I use much "artspeak" with them, so, again, it's hard to say.

You seem to have your mind made up about the topic though...what makes you think it doesn't fly?

7/11/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Boyle said...

Back to the start of this, wherein my article for "Bad at Sports" is quoted. The part about the homosexuals is taking out of context. Sorry my homosexual brethren and sistren. The article is written (I think) with much humor and the sentence to which you refer Ed is one I used as an example of what "I could" blame the closings on, but don't. So be careful on that choice excerpt, please. It was obviously a joke.

Part Two: I, of all people am someone who believes in the power of art. Yes, I am a little bit jaded by my experience as a dealer lately, but did not fail at it. I very much enjoyed it while I enjoyed it, and decided to get out of it before I really started hating it. Now, the issue of art being something that "no one needs" was perhaps bad wording- but when I think of what terrible issues make up these tough times, I am forced to look at how far down art lands on most peoples List of Current Necessities. It's really far down, people. Really far down.

I think anyone would agree that in the bigger picture art and culture is in fact what matters most. (Well, at least we all would). But in the here and now, among a strata of collectors in a certain economy (the ones I deal with- the ones I was referring to in the article), art is the very first thing off the spending list.

7/11/2008 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The article is written (I think) with much humor and the sentence to which you refer Ed is one I used as an example of what "I could" blame the closings on, but don't. So be careful on that choice excerpt, please. It was obviously a joke.

I do appreciate it that it was meant as a joke, Lisa (and it is a great article and I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough about that), but you could have joked about a wide range of other influences, many more powerful than the alleged homosexual cabal. My objection stems from the assessment that it's still somehow OK to single gays out as a minority, when it's not OK to single out other minorities. Even in jest.

I look forward to the day that's no longer the case.

I would actually agree with you though that art, as a commodity, is not something people need.

I think the difference is in how you frame "needing" art

Its existence is essential to me in looking for meaning or purpose in all this.

But I can manage to live without buying that particular piece I adore over there though (of course, why should I becomes my question...another thread, perhaps).

I think anyone would agree that in the bigger picture art and culture is in fact what matters most.

Which is the only reason why I have any tolerance at all for those who would openly express their joy at the notion of other people's businesses going under. Clearly I don't have much, but...

7/11/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

but you could have joked about a wide range of other influences, many more powerful than the alleged homosexual cabal.

Nevermind...I'm clearly making too much out of that. I retract.

7/11/2008 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I lived in scandinavia in the early 90's there wasn't much of an art market but there was plenty of art (and art exhibitions) due to generous public support for the arts.

Obviously that would never be replicated here, but a purely market based system like we have here is part of the problem and is the reason for the boom and bust cycles in the art world

7/11/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

pigs fly - but artspeak doesn't when:
you get the blank stare
the change of subject
the smile and nod
the glaze over
the sneer
the hostile response
the dismissal

What language? What co ntext? WHat mind? Why buy anything at all? Why socialize? Why communicate? Why participate? Why prosletyze? Why argue? Why sell? Why show? Why shop? Why buy? Why not leave?

-Taking my marbles to the sand factory.

7/11/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

That is so interesting.
I don't understand it (I guess I never will)
That is crazy.
You artists worry about the silliest things.
Don't tthink, feel
Is that what they teach you in art school?
Sounds like pseudo-intellectual crap to me.
Does that stuff help you make art?
You are a neo-marxist right?
I know a guy that sells tons of stuff, self taught.
You should make nice pictures - people don't like the ugly stuff.
You are in your own little world, aren't you.
Artists are crazy.

7/11/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

It's just not my taste.
Nothing you have makes me quiver.
See me in a year.
Too sentimental.
Ugly
I don't like the colors.
Too big
Takes over the room
What's it about
It's not about anything
I like it but I can't live with it.
I'll buy it (but I'll keep it in storage)
I like it but my other half doesn't
Maybe I can flip it in a year
Its quirky isn't it
I don't like you anymore
I like you but I don't like your friends
I dont like your politics
Your ignorance and naivety embarass me
You are ugly
You are/are not gay
You are not my people
I don't know you
No one has heard of you
You just want my money
You are like a blood sucking leach
I don't need a child
Everyone says I made a big mistake
I am a loser
I hate myself
I am getting rid of everything
I don't like art anymore
My food has no taste
I need to pay my shrink

7/11/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Anon:
>>>all that homosexual fucking >>>into artstardom.


This is ridiculous. Is Gagosian gay (if he is my gaydar is very bad)? Is Marian Goodman gay?




>>>I hereby DECLARE WAR ON ART.

Ayayoye! You people live too much in New York. To me that art market (represented by Chelsea) represents a facet of art, and I go elsewhere for other artistic persuasions.

We need both, though. When you embrace exclusively a certain art system, you get art that is confined to that system. I'm too much of an art pig for that, I'll take Manhattan, Berlin, and then the rest of the world.



Edward, honestly, if Chelsea would tank down, it doesn't have to mean a bad thing for you. Maybe Chelsea is simply too big ? Too babylonian? An Art Babel fair ? You're dedicated enough
to write a lot about art. You probably have a step advantage in finding solutions in the eventuality that Jericho walls get stumped. If someone wishes Chelsea to tank down they could as well be doing you a great service? I don't understand the motion "I absolutely need Chelsea". Need your gallery and artists to show great art, you don't need anything else.




Cedric


Zip: are you on absinth again? ;-)

7/11/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Overstatement aside, Half Casted is onto something there, and filling it out with his real identity and some work would be a fine addition, unless he wanted to take a Guerilla Girls approach to it. He might elect to hook up with Salute the Rough Guys.

On a purely human level I don't wish failure on anyone's business or aspriations. On an artistic level, if Chelsea, said collectively in the way we say "Wall Street" collectively (well done DF), is putting this out:

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present The Shallow Curator, a summer group exhibition with neither urgency nor depth. The exhibition skims the surface of art-making, buoyed by such concerns as an artist’s sense of style. ... To counter the inevitable meaning that any juxtaposition of works engenders, The Shallow Curator accumulates weak links, none of which dominate and that, collectively, remain isolated intellectual cul-de-sacs.

...I confess to feeling some sympathy for the prospect of the whole scene tanking. I also know enough about economics to realize that a sizable market hit would take down everything connected to it, and I know enough about art to realize that the trifling ambitions represented by the above excerpt would not disappear because of it. Nevertheless, I don't think you've caught on here, Ed, that you're exemplifying why some people hate your sector of the art world (neither urgency nor depth! It sounds like something I would write as a bad review), while expressing umbrage that they're wishing a pox on your house.

Yes, we need alternative channels and it's up to the artists and their supporters to create them. We had a modestly productive conversation to that effect at the Connelly thread, in which I noted that it's probably human nature for people on the inside of the system to think of themselves as not as on the inside of the system as the people who are really on the inside of the system. My point here is a simple message to let you know that you're on the inside of the system. This system works poorly for a lot of people, both philosophically and practically. If they succeed in circumventing it or changing it (I vote for the former), it will be for their selfish benefit to exactly the degree that the current system works at their expense. They will be about as pleasant about it as the circumstances that the current system forces upon them. Hoping that the whole thing tanks in itself won't accomplish anything, but the sentiment isn't a bad start.

7/11/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

It's a summer exhibit though, Franklin.

Gee, do you ever take a sangria up a terrace?


Cedric

(and you are a defender of aesthetics? aesthetics are all about surface.)

7/11/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a lot of artists and dealers seem to think they're entitled to a career, like a dentist or lawyer..."

there are careerists and then there are artists. One makes work to make money and a name for themselves, the other one makes work because they have to scratch the itch. It's instinctual and involuntary.

I agree with Seth Godin: I hope this "correction" sweeps all those mediocre careerists into the garbage where they belong. The sooner it happens, the better.

7/11/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overstatement aside, Half Casted is onto something there, and filling it out with his real identity and some work would be a fine addition...

excusez mais, Half Casted is engendered feminine/female, a person born foreign to all, an artist with a propensity for writing, a romantic with a jaundiced view of the world and hence, a closet pessimist. Or the reverse of all positions.

My work? Should one show it to prove one's self? That would mean revealing one's self here! (I always find this sort of thing, ie blogging non-face to face interaction suspect, even weary. This space is really the first time ever for me).

That aside, the 'overstated' post--beyond organizing certain fervent and ongoing ideas on how to live truly one's life without the meddling with conventions and acquiescence to same--was also to instill into this space, some bombast, some high impishness past the round of utilitarian handwringing 'what oh what shall we do whe king Humpty falls' glossed over.


SALUT!



PS: I propose for the people here to have monthly coffee meetings (I shall attend if smoking is allowed). Such face to face meeting with each other brings new things, new collaborations. This formant however, could stay still for a bloody long time.

7/11/2008 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

It's a summer exhibit though, Franklin.

Bingo.

...and as much as you think I'm missing the fact that this thread is, in part, about what I do, you're missing the fact that that show is, in part, about what you do... ;-)

happy summer!

7/11/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Zip, you're making more sense than anyone :-)

7/11/2008 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He might elect to hook up with Salute the Rough Guys.


It's after dinner and after a half day of ink drawings and other half of writing impressions on Brooklyn and I have finally checked the suggestion name above.

No, will not elect to hook up with these group rough guys. The stick figure in most posters seem to favour art brut with a significant 'working class us against the rich brats' premise.

I dont favour art brut (except if coming from the brut herself). Nor any struggle based on class (or other essentialist position). I have not been spared being perceived as a 'trust funder' however preposterous and apparently for what appears to be an often blighted cosmopolitan mysterious background (in every sense), which means I have not been spared too the dimwitted teeth of race and racism from all the races, so, yes, I know the tedium of adamants.

These are groups that favour 'being real', 'reality' etc. I shun and reject reality. Reality sanctioned by others meets but at the furthest peripheries with my own sense of being and perceiving.

In visual art, these 'art brut touting class complex' 'guys' often do no more and way less than the 'rich brats' they oppose, with fewer ideas to add insult to the sorry injury. I alluded in The Declare to the sore point that in visual art is a conceit so deep it is inseparable from a practice caught so in a stranglehold of its own sheer materialism, its successes (at having seduced the art historian and fooled everyone particularly the city merchants).

Perhaps it is in writing, or in music, in poetry that 'art brut touting class complex' 'guys' could make interesting resistance. They often do and many of my favourite writers turn out to be in some way 'art brut touting class complex' 'guys.


SALUT! and Goodnight. I turn 31 soon and must submit at once a litany of my own failures. I shall not be returning soon. I must temporarily shut off this space for other considerations. Certain more visual ideas are becoming rather more urgent.


Half casted Out Of All Your Aesthetic Placards.

7/11/2008 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

...and as much as you think I'm missing the fact that this thread is, in part, about what I do, you're missing the fact that that show is, in part, about what you do... ;-)

I do a lot of things, Ed. Would you care to clarify that?

7/11/2008 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous -n said...

well

everyone could just start doing this:

http://www.jimmiewilliams.com/

7/11/2008 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

gee... I must have a dyslectic streak in me or something... I just realized in my first post on this thread, I wrote:

"Questions back to you, William! :-)" what I meant was to ask Edward, really sorry about that mistake!

7/11/2008 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Would you care to clarify that?

Some day over a beer. Too complex to explain here.

7/12/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"about what you do... ;-)"

To be is to do. - Kant

To do is to be. - Descartes

Do be do be do. - Sinatra

7/12/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Looking forward to that beer, then.

7/12/2008 12:28:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Edward,

You and I find ourselves at loggerheads, and that puzzles me. I was indulging in hyperbole to push a point that is not mean-spirited or ugly:

adversity is a time to look for opportunity.

You keep grasping at the worst angles (the words "Chelsea" and "tanks") and doing a lot of reaching. You're assuming, for example, that I have something specific to gain from "Chelsea tanking," but of course I don't. There's no rabbit up my sleeve--no big plot to blow up your gallery. I'm in this up to my ass, just like you are. That's what I meant by "our market."

You are assuming that my interests are different than yours, and reading very defensively. But I don't mind reiterating that it's my "Chelsea" too.

What I thought I was engaging in was more like the increasingly macabre and hilarious conversations I've been having with my homeowner friends. We are all really really worried. Most of us bought at the height of the market, in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. Some of us have "exotic" mortgages. None of us have any savings anymore. All of us freelance and assumed that we could always get enough work to pay the mortgage.

We don't pussyfoot around these issues, because they are *ours*. We talk about how the market should fall, so that we can get more of our friends into our neighborhood. We talk big about the drastic measures we could take to avoid foreclosure. We talk about how much better it's going to be after the correction. How awful mortgage products have gotten. How much the very idea of owning a house has changed, and how deeply wrong these changes are, and how we bought into them completely, and what to do about it.

This is a healthy, adaptive behavior. It is neither rude, nor is it immature, illogical or in any other way wrong.

Again, I can't make you see it that way. But it does sadden me that you think I want to hurt you, and are willing to attack me on the silliest of technicalities (come on... people substitute the word Chelsea for 'art market' every day of the week on this blog...) and totally miss what I am saying.

The context that I don't think you understand is: you and I are on the same team.

I hope this makes sense. This is getting a little too heavy for me and I am on a deadline, so I am going to stop checking in.

Best wishes, sincerely,
Deborah

7/12/2008 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

this is sort of off topic, but to carry further Deborah's idea of being on the same team.

I canvased today for Obama in a majority republican/independent area. Many doors were slammed in my face, I also met some very lovely, nice people regardless of their affiliation.

There are many more things that I and those folks who slammed the door can agree on than disagree. And out of the disagreements I am sure compromise would be easy and important.

I guess what I came away with today was this feeling of kinship with everyone, we are all Americans and human beings. I think we can all forget that too easily and see others on "opposing" sides as satan-worshipping martians.

I guess I am just offering all my fondness and support to my online friends as they work out their differences.

7/12/2008 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Good point, Mark! My only correction is since this is the www, not everybody reading this are Americans, and maybe also not everyone who's commenting here are... But certainly all are human beings, that's for sure!

7/12/2008 06:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Andrew Sullivan has linked here.

7/12/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a lot of artists and dealers seem to think they're entitled to a career, like a dentist or lawyer..."

there are careerists and then there are artists. One makes work to make money and a name for themselves, the other one makes work because they have to scratch the itch. It's instinctual and involuntary.

I agree with Seth Godin: I hope this "correction" sweeps all those mediocre careerists into the garbage where they belong. The sooner it happens, the better.


This reminds me of standing in a long line to see the movie by (insert obscure director name here.)

Inevitably, someone will pipe up with "who ARE these people? There are TOO many people here, I wish they would leave, no one likes the work of (insert name here)as much as I do!!

The funny thing is- EVERYONE else on that line was thinking the same thing.

Mediocrity isn't cleaned out in this kind of economy, that is preposterous, with all due respect.

This market only guarantees survival for the top tier established artists and the trust funders who can sustain themselves through anything.

If by mediocrity you mean people who rely on art sales to continue their studio practice, then I must disagree as that does not solely define what constitutes powerful art. (And for the definition of pwerful art-please see my description of the people on line at the movie to see it is a circular argument)


-a whole new anon

7/13/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I am saying in short is I do not see the logical link (aside from wishful thinking) that a downward turn in the economy leads to the better artists (and doesn't everyone think they are the better artist?) proliferating and the mediocre ones falling to the wayside.

Logically speaking, those with alternate money sources will stay afloat, which has no direct aesthetic connection to better art overall.

No disrespect intended @ the anon I quoted above, just not seeing the connection there.

-whole new anon

7/13/2008 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed,
If you’re going to through out the red meat, and get the blood lust pumping, don’t be surprised if the beast starts nipping at your fingers. That’s why you’ve got the chair and whip.

"CRACK," "Down anon, down."

7/13/2008 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

crack is whack

-Moveable Feast

7/13/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is astonishing here is how much so-called 'artists' here think only of money.

where's the spirit?

ed's a dealer. he made a dealer's speculation.

do artist have to think too like dealers?

do you think 'art' as a practice owes you money?

7/13/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If you’re going to through out the red meat, and get the blood lust pumping, don’t be surprised if the beast starts nipping at your fingers.

I assume my readers are equally equipped intellectually, James. Chairs, whips, etc...we all possess them.

The "beast" in my opinion is ignorance, not anonymous readers.

I offer these insights as an empowering tool, knowing the system doesn't make it easy for emerging artists to learn how things work. In return, I would hope readers stop and consider things from my point of view before commenting, yes.

I've had other dealers contact me since this post began and express dismay at the bitterness and ambivalence expressed in the face of what might be a repeat of the wide closings of the early 90s. Forget what they've done to build their businesses (why should anyone care, I guess). They're dismayed because they understand how this will also impact their artists (they like artists...that's why they do what they do...there are much easier ways to make money, believe me...and to have so many artists treat them like they're the enemy just sucks).

As for the naive hopes that a tanking in Chelsea will make things better for some class of artists currently not getting all the attention they want, I'd ask folks to look back to the 80's and then 90's. When those markets tanked, and galleries closed en masse, did it usher in the kind of new era of art that you're seeking? If not, why would it happen this time?

Again, the hope for some born-again-style, revolutionary shift in things bespeaks of a lack of historical and economic perspective. Bad economic times simply means people suffer...not just dealers, but their employees, and art handlers, and framers, and magazine employees, and printers, office suppliers, and hardware suppliers, (and in case it hasn't dawned on folks yet, many of these companies employ artists!) and those who rely on the tax revenue all this generates.

I guess in the end, I would caution folks to be careful what they wish for.

7/13/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ED! You summed up EXACTLY what I meant in my 7/13/2008 10:33:00 AM post.

Linking up 2 separate thoughts:

-the downward turn in economy
with
-more room for better art, better programs and mediocrity shunted are 2 completely unrelated thoughts, and based on fallacy only.

If anybody can actually prove through ACTUAL examples, not just hyperbole and idealistic thinking, I'd be glad to hear it.

7/13/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear mr winkleman,

i think it is lovely of you to give advice on this blog.

you have given time and consideration to some of the more pressing questions that, in my case, yes, i had really no one to ask.

if chelsea tanks, i will join in a roaring fundraiser for your gallery, yes! (even though i like you better than some of your artists online)

i will donate 100% of any work you choose and we shall make you a blooming nonprofit-interest-with-a-robust-profit-capability gallery!

it will be a new gallery bursting with blood lust pumpings!

your space will be our best space, yes.

there's always the good side i think.

signed

(kindly excuse my anon status here)

7/13/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

i will donate 100% of any work you choose and we shall make you a blooming nonprofit-interest-with-a-robust-profit-capability gallery!

That's very kind of you, but as I hinted at the top, we're among the galleries doing better at this point than we were last year, so although I appreciate the gesture, I think we'll be OK.

Of course, it's anybody's guess what's coming down the line, but it's no one's responsibility but my own to ensure we survive.

7/13/2008 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

What I am saying in short is I do not see the logical link (aside from wishful thinking) that a downward turn in the economy leads to the better artists (and doesn't everyone think they are the better artist?) proliferating and the mediocre ones falling to the wayside.

I would agree to this, the economy shouldn't have any affect which would make an artist 'better.' Obviously economic downturns can make life more difficult for the majority of the population, not just artists. It is a situation which could make 'artists' question their commitment to artmaking, I have seen many fall by the wayside induced by the apparent promise of a more stable lifestyle.

On the other hand I can see how economic downturns could have an affect on what kind of art is produced. Two factors might come into play here. The first would be that reduced working capital would favor approaches to art making which were more basic in their methods of production.

The second is a bit less obvious, in flush economic periods, support for art tends to follow the trend, this has a subconscious constraining affect, not precisely a censorship but more of a strong leaning towards what is currently successful and favors certain approaches over others. In recessionary periods, these market induced constraints have less force and there seems to be more experimentation among artists. If you can't sell anything, why worry about the marketplace? just make something outrageous. Quality continues to follow a standard distribution.

This is just conjecture on my part, it seems like it would make more sense in the present era than a century ago.

US Recessions over the last 200 years
Panic of 1797 -- 1797–1800 3 years
Depression of 1807 -- 1807–1814 7 years
Panic of 1819 -- 1819–1824 5 years
Panic of 1837 -- 1837–1843 6 years
Panic of 1857 -- 1857–1860 3 years
Panic of 1873 -- 1873–1879 6 years
Long Depression -- 1873–1896 23 years
Panic of 1893 -- 1893–1896 3 years
Panic of 1907 -- 1907–1908 1 year
Post-World War I recession -- 1918–1921 3 years
Great Depression -- 1929–1939 10 years
Recession of 1953 -- 1953–1954 1 year
Recession of 1957 -- 1957–1958 1 year
1973 oil crisis -- 1973–1975 2 years
Early 1980s recession -- 1980–1982 2 years
Early 1990s recession -- 1990–1991 1 year
Early 2000s recession -- 2001–2003 2 years

Source: Wiki

7/13/2008 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bad economic times simply means people suffer...not just dealers, but their employees, and art handlers, and framers, and magazine employees, and printers, office suppliers, and hardware suppliers, (and in case it hasn't dawned on folks yet, many of these companies employ artists!) and those who rely on the tax revenue all this generates."

Exactly. A sinking tide lowers all boats, especially those that rely on the bigger boats to buy their goods and services. I think it's easy when you're not getting in on any of the boom-time excess money to wish for the downfall of the wealthy, successful people and business, but guys, who do you think buys art? And massages and whatever else we've cobbled together to support ourselves?

In San Francisco when the internet bubble burst, even though I wasn't directly involved in that field, I lost my part-time day job (because my employer lost a lot of business) and my art sales went way down. Yes, the whole internet start-up thing was vastly overhyped and overcapitalized, and when it tanked, some people cheered the downfall of the obnoxious 25-yr-old internet millionaires, but the tanking sure didn't help any artists I knew.

And, by the by, as I think we've established, Ed and many of his colleagues are not obnoxious millionaires raking in the dough. They're enterprising small-business people taking a big risk to do something they believe in, and hopefully make a living doing it.

Oriane Stender

ps I don't mean to be kissing ass here. Ed does sometimes throw out the red meat and I've on occasion responded with what I felt was a deserved snarl, I don't think any red meat or even tofu burgers were thrown in this case. I was surprised at some of the reactions.

7/13/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second is a bit less obvious, in flush economic periods, support for art tends to follow the trend, this has a subconscious constraining affect, not precisely a censorship but more of a strong leaning towards what is currently successful and favors certain approaches over others. In recessionary periods, these market induced constraints have less force and there seems to be more experimentation among artists. If you can't sell anything, why worry about the marketplace? just make something outrageous. Quality continues to follow a standard distribution.


Thank you for your thoughtful response George, to continue off your conjecture:

Yes, following that train of thought I can see that very likely there may be more risk taking overall in the studio.

The question then becomes will the galleries be open to showing the new riskier work? As they will be taking a chance too, or perhaps opting to stay with more tried and true avenues they have already treaded?

I'm very curious which way it will go.

-whole new anon (again)

7/13/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction:
When I say tried and true avenues that have already been treaded, I do not mean it in a disparaging or condescending way at all.

7/13/2008 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Ed says:

"they like artists...that's why they do what they do...there are much easier ways to make money, believe me."

Thanks for saying that, I guess it's kind of an answer to my first post here.

"...and to have so many artists treat them like they're the enemy just sucks"

I'm surprised you are saying that, Ed. Are dealers so unaware of the ambivalence and love-hate emotion going on between dealers and artists? I am quite sure, if you conduct an anonymous vote asking artists (only artists) how they feel in general towards dealers, you will get very mixed feelings, and less favorable most of them. This has NOTHING personal to do with you, in fact, most will probably favor you over other dealers, because you ARE different, by even conducting this dialog with artists. Many artists feel most dealers are unapproachable, EXTREMELY arrogant, some artists who work with dealers feel they are being ripped off, working hard while dealers make most of the profit on their artwork, while others feel the dealers keep their art on hold, limiting their contact with other dealers/venues, yet representing other artists and not selling enough of their work to support them, etc.. etc.. This may be a very unjustified outlook and feeling, none the less, it surely exists, even if not spoken out loud. Of course, some artists are very happy with the system, but those are probably the minority, those very successful ones who sell well, are being approached by dealers regularly and are making good profits. Even then, they might have a 'professional' only relationship with the dealer, and may not think much of them anyway!
Add to all this the feeling by most artists that they are or will only be respected when their art sells well, if their art is 'fashionable' and worth big money, or if by some miracle an important dealer decides they are 'the next big thing' and promotes them, but how common and how likely is that to happen to the average artist? chance of that happening is like winning the lottery, isn't it? Most artists, however, feel they do deserve that status and feel bitter when seeing others, who they think are not producing much better work than them, are being represented for some arbitrary reason like being in the 'right' school and having the 'right' degree, or just having the 'right' connections and knowing how to 'schmooze' with the correct crowd, or any other arbitrary reason that may give them the 'art celebrity' status. but not necessarily having anything to do with the quality of their work, their talent, or as they may feel, their genius!...

Of course, like I said, this may be all unjustified emotions but they exist. The artist-dealer relationship is an old institution that needs healing, or a new system has to be built. Ed, really I don't think you should take any of the emotions running here personally. I am sure many artists participating here favor you over other galleriests, and they all wish you no ill. It's just the emotion towards the system, and please don't get offended by it. I think you are taking the first step in trying to heal this relationship, by conducting this dialog, thank you for doing it and allowing us all to vent.

p.s. I wrote this post before reading Orion's remark "I don't mean to be kissing ass here."... I in fact was also going to insert that sort of note, as this exactly was my thought, what are my fellow artists going to think of me for 'defending' or speaking favorably of you, a dealer? this just goes to prove my point about how this relationship is 'us' and 'them' or 'us' and 'you'.... ;-)

7/13/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

anon 2:42,

The general concept is something I've been musing over for several years. In the latter part of the 70's, the art market had collapsed after a fairly robust period which favored A/E, Minimalism, Pop Art, etc. During the contraction, Arte Povera and Conceptualism came into being. With less of a chance to sell, artworks became more ephemeral (even if not any less labor intensive) and favored more ephemeral materials. Although my observations are anecdotal, they were my observations at the particular time.

Whether or not this pattern will continue in the future is not immediately clear.

Coincidental with the economic factors, I would like to make another observation which also suggests a potential sea change in art. I believe there is a bi-generational cycle, roughly 35-45 years, in the culture. Rather than a wiping of the slate clean, this opens a larger window for new artists (musicians, designers etc) as the older artists move into the background. (become, blue-chip or corporate) This is already happening in the world of fashion and I see no reason why it will not occur in both art and music.

This is about new energy, youthful energy , I don't know it can't be done energy (not necessarily age related), coming into play. I would expect we will see a new form of popular music, "not my parents music" or rock-n-roll to hip-hop which are showing their age, but something new. This will lead the way coincidentally with a new art. It's going to be fun, like the 60's but different.

7/13/2008 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art schools in the early 80's did not send their graduates out into the artworld with the promise of success and fame. They let loose their students with cautious warnings and advocated a model of apprenticeship.

That changed in the 90s and the shift continues today. Young artists, talented or not, are inflated by a sense of entitlement to an immediate career.

So it stands to reason that, should there be a "correction" soon, there will be many more young and mid-career artists facing the prospect of creating art without advancing their career. Those who are uninterested in making art without the prospect of success, fame and money will fall by the wayside. The late 80s and early 90s provided some evidence of that after the "correction" of '91. It would not take much effort to formulate a list of art darlings who jumped ship when making art was no longer a profitable venture. That list would make clear the difference between and careerist and an artist.

7/13/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon,

I agree with your observations on careerism among art school graduates. It's part of the new landscape and I suspect it will play out as you described.

The cyclical nature of stylistic change I referred to above should be independent of this new found careerism. While I think it does have some link to the economic situation, the generational factors seem to be more dominant. It's about what happens after you start having "third generation" style-A artists, the territory is all more or less claimed and new, young, as well as older more adventurous artists begin looking for a fresh field to plow.

7/13/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Eventually Chelsea will, if not “tank” then at least fad. Not this year, not next, but eventually. Most likely it won’t be a conflagration of the market or a “revolt” of disgruntled artists with pitchforks and torches, but something more insidious, an apathy caused by its own success and the boredom that breeds. Some other neighborhood will inevitably become the “place to be”, and some other form of marketing and promotion will evolve.

Gagosian, Boone, Zwirner and Bowski will all be supplanted by younger hipper and more innovative and glamorous dealers/galleries. New critics and curators will accumulate and exercise power and influence and then loose it, and there will continue to be tragedies and triumphs some big some small.

As always, mankind will, continue to be controlled by two things, fear and greed . As artists it’d be my wish that we resist with bravery and generosity.

What Ed’s doing here is a good example of that kind of thinking.

7/13/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Of course, like I said, this may be all unjustified emotions but they exist. The artist-dealer relationship is an old institution that needs healing, or a new system has to be built. (Iris)

Well, this might well be true, read the biographies of artists like Picasso, etc. None the less, the artist-dealer relationship is inherently symbiotic, each party providing their own specialized knowledge, access and/or product. From my own experience, I would suggest that younger artists have only a vague understanding of the gallery business and how it really works. I also think that most artists believe (and fairly so) that their art is better than it probably is. Art making is an egotistical activity.

Selling art is business, commerce between a buyer and seller mediated by the retailer (the gallery). The art world, is not fair, it favors one artist over another for no apparent reason other than blind chance and fortuitous circumstance. This also happens to be true in most walks of life, shit happens as they say. Zip's litany of reasons in his 7/11/2008 05:50:00 PM comment above says it all.

Contrary to some earlier suggestions, I believe that the arts are necessary and vital for the existence of our culture and for society, they provides us with an unique shared world view and reveal to us our highest aspirations. However, what is necessary to the entire culture may not be necessary to every individual in a way which fosters active support. This implies that support for culture comes from a smaller part of the society, patrons with both the interest and the available funds to become an active participant.

The gallerists have a difficult objective, they must actively recruit and engage the interest and support of the patrons, the collectors, and the broader audience for the arts, they must make them 'necessary' to the individuals which make up the broader culture. Each artist has their own mandate for achieving this, their belief in what they produce or do, but the success of the arts is a shared task.

While I have my own personal viewpoint about the art-making process, I cannot, and would not, wish failure on another artist, or a part of the gallery system, just because I disagreed with another's point of view. Over the years, just the general tone of disagreement is an indication that the arts are vital, that there is NO one answer, NO one way of doing it right, and NO one way which will resonate all the time

7/13/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, all i got are jokes! Whatever, you fall you get up.
Kalm says this slow is not going to lay the crappo flatto! Most wont continue when there is no money--the crappo tend to be actually very practical types, so they move on.
Tower plastic cups until the tower has its swing. Gravity knows best. Pour your best champagne in. Not in the cups, that's a waste, straight down on summer's early evening's whim. Do something wrong.
Hope you are all here when summer is fin.
c.p.

7/13/2008 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Mudd said...

"the crappo tend to be actually very practical types, so they move on"

Agreed. So much of the crap is by the very practical, who are able to sense opportunity and sensibly negotiate.

So much of the best and most interesting is made by the completely impractical, the "difficult", who do not stand a chance in such a professionalized system.

Looking forward to the freaks taking back the streets.

7/13/2008 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

1) Artists today are more careerist than artists of yesteryear.

I know you people are being ironic, but please, the kids do read this crap.

If you are not ironic, may I refer you to the Smithsonian's excellent oral history archive of interviews with real artists, many of whom you may have heard of, or who know people who kow people.

Many of these artists talk about nepotism, careerism, self promotion and other survival tactics REAL ARTISTS use to survive.

I think it's asinine (again you are being ironic, I know) to say that bad artists are the ones that
quit for stabler pastures (pun intended).

Geniuses do quit. Many of your favorite historical figures died miserable deaths, aided by drugs, disease, poor nutrition, depression, insanity, general indifference and suicidal techniques.

Tres romantique n'est ce pas?

Your idealized (ironic) stance is nothing short of denial and or cynicism (cynics being failed romantics).

And what of the artists who do well for a while and then fail without a retirement plan? DO they loudly proclaim their joy at having altered the cultural landscape, to be immortalized forever? Or do they curse their mortality, the human condition, the futility of it all?

Courage!

If Chelsea died like a beached whale tomorrow, I would NOT be sad. I have feasted well on its fatty tissues, though not, alas, to monetary gain. I would feighn crawl from beneath its shadow to plant the dragons teeth of art again, fight the skeletons that breed in the closets of its rib cage, and sail the seven seasons of our discontent to find the fleece that was stolen from me, lo those many years ago! (Mayhap to teach fleecing to the next flock!)

Let me remind you that my aforementioned litany, such as it is, is based on very real, if somewhat anecdotal, instances of real world thinking, such as it is.

"Nothing makes me tremble"

can you imagine humbling yourself before such a phillistine? Such a bitter arsenic laced DEALER?

Not I!

George is right, economic ills loosten the laces on the corset of style - or so I have anecdotally observed.

The heat is upon us. Don't faint.

P.S. My services are available for a modest stipend. Web design is a faustian bargain, and I detest its vile evolutions.

7/14/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

PG: To answer your first question - most significantly the project was my training ground in the real sense of the word. I feel very strongly about this. We were all poor, or most of us, and to have the time and opportunity to continue working - I was then in my twenties which is the important period - the crucial period for the young painter. This was most important and figures significantly in my own development. Although I feel that my personal image as a painter did not come about until I began my easel painting with personal imagery which was about 1941. The project kept me alive and working - it was my education.

JT: Were the projects a good thing for American art?

PG: I have two thoughts. That practically all of the best painters of my generation developed on the projects such as Pollock, de Kooning, Brooks, Hague (sculptor), B. Greene, and Baziotes. I could go on and on. My second thought is that the reason it was good is that it had a broad base due to the economic situation we were in - the depression - and all kinds of art and styles, plus all degrees of talent were employed. Everybody was given an opportunity to prove himself. The many painters I mentioned above who have come such a long way is proof of this.

JT: Would you favor government sponsorship of art today?

PG: That's all right with me. But it couldn't be the same thing because it would not have the broad base for the young and unknown talent to come up. The Federal Art Project was a wonderful thing for that period.

Guston worked for the WPA

I can find other more pointed rebuttals of the whole "artists are born not made" argument (generally made by elitist assholes), but suffice to say, artists need support to be artists. Period.

Play the game brah!

7/14/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, may I congratulate Zipthw on a relatively (I mean, come on, we are talking about zipthw) coherent and entertaining post.

I just remembered another thing that I'm not sure has been mentioned yet in this thread. For artists and art viewers of whatever profession or proclivity, "Chelsea" is one giant FREE art museum! Okay, a lot of what they show at any given time is crap, but that could be said about many museums, and you gotta love not paying $20 for the privilege. It's one of the last free forms of entertainment/education/culture around. It's like a library versus a bookstore. In a society that doesn't place much value on the transmission of any information that does not earn its keep, this is not something to be taken for granted.

Oriane Stender

7/14/2008 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

oh wait, I have indeed profited off of Chelsea, in brief tenure as an art handler (miserable experience).

7/14/2008 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

yes, I stopped going to MOMA - unless you get a membership - 20 dollars for every new show? That's a whole tube of paint! 20+ gigs of storage! A field trip to coney island with a ride on the cyclone! Three meals of shell steak and zuchini grilled to perfection!

But museums aren't for artists anymore, are they. No, and that's good right? Cemeteries!!!!!!

7/14/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

oh but friday free night. Right, can someone remind me? I tend to space these things.

Let's mingle with the rabble!

7/14/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. It is easy to get a free artist membership to MOMA and most other museums have something similar.

2. Kalm James wins the Hoisted By Its Own Petard Award for this nugget:

an apathy caused by its own success and the boredom that breeds

is exactly what threatens the art market. The good news: ennui is treatable!

7/14/2008 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the treatment for ennui? I'm serious.

7/14/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I was thinking paintball

1) "challenging but achievable goal-oriented activities"

That's key - if its unachievable, you tend to get discouraged.

Like the unattainable whore.

What money can't buy, but nonetheless is for sale, will just depress you.

2) "Doing something different"

Variety is the spice of life. As an artist, defining yourself by an idea or brand image rather than a brand built around a medium, or specific geographic location, is a good way to keep your options open. No one likes a flat footed artist anyways.

If you can change styles or mediums without losing street cred or authenticity points (or your market!), I think you will find ennui melts away like the morning smog.

3) "Confident and motivated staff "

While nothing spells ennui like a team of sycophantic ass-kissers, a supportive yet firm social circle will keep you from bouncing all over the map - whether its ennui, apathy or counterproductive rage.

4) "Extreme Skirmish"

Have you ever been engaged in an activity that consumes all your attention? Some people call this a "peak" or "flow" experience.

Accidents can be like that - time slows to a crawl, and your body seems to act before you can think a conscious thought. That's been my experience, anyways.

7/14/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

"As for the naive hopes that a tanking in Chelsea will make things better for some class of artists currently not getting all the attention they want, I'd ask folks to look back to the 80's and then 90's. When those markets tanked, and galleries closed en masse, did it usher in the kind of new era of art that you're seeking? If not, why would it happen this time?"

Interesting point to make Ed. It seems many people view the closing of galleries-- which can lead to new galleries opening in those spaces-- as some form of changing of the guard. It does not always work that way. However, like any business there is room for people with ambition to seek out a few opportunities during rough times.

7/14/2008 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

"Not I!

George is right, economic ills loosten the laces on the corset of style - or so I have anecdotally observed.

The heat is upon us. Don't faint."

Well said Zipthwung. It's generally better for artists when money is loose and free. All this talk about purifying and weeding out the weak is just making the best of a bad situation I'm afraid. But we've known we were in a bad situation for the past seven years. Don't faint. Do good work. Buon lavoro.

7/14/2008 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think hard work= artist. There are some people who are naturals and deserve the mantle. Yet there are still others who because they have worked so hard for so long, are blind to their feeble mastery of their medium....they continue on, demanding a career, respect, money and fame....none of which they deserve. American Idol, anyone?

Woe be to them when it comes time for a correction. Subway, Burger King and CVS will all be hiring.

7/14/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed the one where the famous artist, musician, or writer who, when the market tanked, went insane and started chewing tobacco. Um, I said move on, which implies 'to a different market'. Nothing wrong with that! Insane artists just die. Next stop NYSE in the SKY, where everything gets settled.

Um 'pure', self-regulating substance, I think it's a bit early to bring on Monadologie. But I've got the book out. Ecco friendly?

...new stratagems for fairs 2009 + suggestion = include scatological and open-ended curation... recruit deer hunters and owl confucions to keep the place alert. Rev up your 2.0 command, and you are in!
c.p.

7/14/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

"I don't think hard work= artist"

>>LOL

"Subway, Burger King and CVS will all be hiring."

I mean you meant the day job has no bearing on the work, right? Because what if the art was just about the art? Wouldn't that be boring as fuck? Like an atavistic waterslide to Greenberglandia. Give me Dollywood anyday.

Did you read the story of the ivy league ad exec who worked at Starbucks? I mean the saccharine story he wrote. And got a million dollar advance for. And it sucked. But so what. Fuck em if they can't take a joke.

How's that for bitterness? I'm working on the ambivalence, but I hope its implicit.

7/14/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous nic said...

I think as artists we all like to think that we're the serious ones. We're the ones who would make it through a tough time. We're the ones who will rise to the surface as this downturn wipes out all those jokers and hacks and 'no good' artists whose work mysteriously does better than yours when the system is flooded and so bloated that no one can tell what is good and what is not.

In reality it touches every one of us. I've had the opportunity to work with an artist for a number of months whose work is right on one of those career cusps where its on the verge of being really picked up. Lots of outside interest, timely ideas represented in the work, along with just plain beautiful work.

When I first started working with them there were calls and emails everyday regarding commissions and interviews and potential shows and partnerships and the like. The only difference between then and now is that the interest is still there but things come to fruition much less. People are still excited by the work yet everyone's stretched a little thinner and someone who might buy before is only now a potential future patron.

I think people are hoping to 'cull the herd' so to say with this talk of chelsea tanking because that's the only explanation where this can be good for us. It's the tough face of a group of people who even when times are good we can still face the potential for economic disaster.


-n

7/14/2008 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

zipthwung said...
If Chelsea died like a beached whale tomorrow, I would NOT be sad.

yes lad when that day arrives, mourn not, draw out ye flensing blade, slash its bloated belly, lash your self to Queequeg's coffin with strips of canvas torn from the discarded John Currin's and Dana Shutz's that litter the streets, then surf its entrails to the Hudson, tip your hat to Lady Liberty as you round governors island, and ride the Gulf Stream cross the pond, don't be confused when alas you arrive and find yourself on the shores of our cultural fatherland (Only Whispered of course) you'll find you step onto land where...
In Chelsea....
History Repeating?
and yes they have a Soho too....

7/15/2008 01:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame all the problems on ARTNET. Yes, and Walter Robinson and Charlie Finch should be blamed and cast outside the art world. (W.R. is the worst painter ever.)

I can't wait for Artnet to go down in flames.

7/15/2008 06:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can dance, but you can't dance well should you continue to live in NYC and audition for Broadway musicals? Is the minor role you land once every couple of years enough to pay your rent? If people aren't wowed by your tap skills, should you try jazz instead? And if they don't like your jazz skills, should you adandon those in favor of modern? And then, when you're pushing 40, when you still haven't made a name for yourself, when the career you were "promised" has eluded you, do you switch to ballet?

Do you sit in your shithole apartment and blame the dance community? Do you jump on message boards and plead that the economic downturn doesn't close shows and drastically decrease your chances of landing a role? Do you blame your instructors for the fact that fame has eluded you? Do you demand the same quality of life as someone who knows what they're good at and made a name for themselves?

No. You get the fuck out of dance. That is, if you're smart.

7/15/2008 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger HalfKungfu Inc. said...

as a traveler coming often to new york in the last year or so, I have at chelsea drunk free sparkling wine, fair enough red wines and cool dry whites on summer eves...surely there's something to be said for this public service?

along with the prospect of free wines, the number of people art-seeing thursdays (as if ny were was suddenly london england were people go enmass for them vernissages) was enough seduction, demanding a new look at new york.

7/15/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon wrote: "No. You get the fuck out of dance. That is, if you're smart."

And what? Do desktop publishing? Web design?

Asshole.

7/15/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are so many posts concerned with weeding out the careerists, or was it the weak artists, or was it the artists who don't exhibit frequently, or weeding out the artists who aren't acknowledged but keep plowing ahead?

I think we've covered all aspects here, and yes we've all been to that one reception that stands out to make one shiver.

You know the one:

The empty reception, at a bad venue with bad art on the walls and a grizzled artist who feels angry at being denied. As visions of scarifice it took to make that art, the slummy apartment, living in a bad neighborhood, 6 part time teaching positions in every part of town at community colleges, no retirement, no health insurance, crappy work filling the rafters and gathering dust as they flail their fist and angrily decry "I'm a surivor! I'm a goddamn survivor is what I am!!" to the empty room, toasting the 3 people that showed up and something in us dies watching this.

So what, besides being a warning tale (and true story) maybe everyone would do even better art without constantly looking forward to other people failing or being weeded out.

Just a thought.

7/15/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We hate what we fear the most.

7/15/2008 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 6:03-

Walter isn't the worst painter ever, but he may be the worst editor ever. The direction he is taking artnet is straight down, which is too bad.

7/15/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So what, besides being a warning tale (and true story) maybe everyone would do even better art without constantly looking forward to other people failing or being weeded out."

That's the hubris, isn't it, of so many of the comments from artists here, that the "mediocre" artist is always the other guy. It has been my experience that there does not exist a person, who calls themselves an artist, who would ever entertain thoughts that they themselves might be derivative, shallow, mediocre. Even the cheesiest of artists sees themselves as sincere.

It's a continuing wonder. That so many do NOT succomb to ennui (thanks, Zip, for your antidotes).

So beware when you wish for artmarket correction and all that mediocre art in chelsea to disappear. It might come a little closer to home than you imagined.

7/15/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, art is ALL about how much you sell? So you've equated your dreams to money? Why be an artist if that's the case (as most of you clearly have proved here). Why not be a banker? A merchant exports trader??



From An Interview with David Hammons:

1. I CAN'T STAND ART ACTUALLY. I'VE NEVER, EVER LIKED ART, EVER. I NEVER TOOK IT IN SCHOOL.

2. WHEN I WAS IN CALIFORNIA, ARTISTS WOULD WORK FOR YEARS AND NEVER HAVE A SHOW. SO SHOWING HAS NEVER BEEN THAT IMPORTANT TO ME. WE USED TO CUSS PEOPLE OUT: PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT OUR WORK, DEALERS, ETC., BECAUSE THAT PART OF BEING AN ARTIST WAS ALWAYS A JOKE TO US.

WHEN I CAME TO NEW YORK, I DIDN'T SEE ANY OF THAT. EVERYBODY WAS JUST GROVELING AND TOMMING, ANYTHING TO BE IN THE ROOM WITH SOMEBODY WITH SOME MONEY. THERE WERE NO BAD GUYS HERE; SO I SAID, "LET ME BE A BAD GUY," OR ATTEMPT TO BE A BAD GUY, OR PLAY WITH THE BAD AREAS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

3. I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY BLACK PEOPLE WERE CALLED SPADES, AS OPPOSED TO CLUBS. BECAUSE I REMEMBER BEING CALLED A SPADE ONCE, AND I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANT; NIGGER I KNEW BUT SPADE I STILL DON'T. SO I TOOK THE SHAPE, AND STARTED PAINTING IT.

4. I JUST LOVE THE HOUSES IN THE SOUTH, THE WAY THEY BUILT THEM. THAT NEGRITUDE ARCHITECTURE. I REALLY LOVE TO WATCH THE WAY BLACK PEOPLE MAKE THINGS, HOUSES OR MAGAZINE STANDS IN HARLEM, FOR INSTANCE. JUST THE WAY WE USE CARPENTRY. NOTHING FITS, BUT EVERYTHING WORKS. THE DOOR CLOSES, IT KEEPS THINGS FROM COMING THROUGH. BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE THAT NEATNESS ABOUT IT, THE WAY WHITE PEOPLE PUT THINGS TOGETHER; EVERYTHING IS A THIRTY-SECOND OF AN INCH OFF.

5. THAT'S WHY I LIKE DOING STUFF BETTER ON THE STREET, BECAUSE THE ART BECOMES JUST ONE OF THE OBJECTS THAT'S IN THE PATH OF YOUR EVERYDAY EXISTENCE. IT'S WHAT YOU MOVE THROUGH, AND IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY SENIORITY OVER ANYTHING ELSE.

THOSE PIECES WERE ALL ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT THE BLACK VIEWER HAD A REFLECTION OF HIMSELF IN THE WORK. WHITE VIEWERS HAVE TO LOOK AT SOMEONE ELSE'S CULTURE IN THOSE PIECES AND SEE VERY LITTLE OF THEMSELVES IN IT.

6. ANYONE WHO DECIDES TO BE AN ARTIST SHOULD REALIZE THAT IT'S A POVERTY TRIP. TO GO INTO THIS PROFESSION IS LIKE GOING INTO THE MONASTERY OR SOMETHING; IT'S A VOW OF POVERTY I ALWAYS THOUGHT. TO BE AN ARTIST AND NOT EVEN TO DEAL WITH THAT POVERTY THING, THAT'S A WASTE OF TIME; OR TO BE AROUND PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT.


MY KEY IS TO TAKE AS MUCH MONEY HOME AS POSSIBLE. ABANDON ANY ART FORM THAT COSTS TOO MUCH. INSIST THAT IT'S AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE IS NUMBER ONE AND ALSO THAT IT'S AESTHETICALLY CORRECT. AFTER THAT ANYTHING GOES. AND THAT KEEPS EVERYTHING INTERESTING FOR ME.

7. I DON'T KNOW WHAT MY WORK IS. I HAVE TO WAIT TO HEAR THAT FROM SOMEONE.

I WOULD LIKE TO BURN THE PIECE. I THINK THAT WOULD BE NICE VISUALLY. VIDEOTAPE THE BURNING OF IT. AND SHOOT SOME SLIDES. THE SLIDES WOULD THEN BE A PIECE IN ITSELF. I'M GETTING INTO THAT NOW: THE SLIDES ARE THE ART PIECES AND THE ART PIECES DON'T EXIST.

8. IF YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE THEN IT'S EASY TO MAKE ART. MOST PEOPLE ARE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR IMAGE. ARTISTS HAVE ALLOWED THEMSELVES TO BE BOXED IN BY SAYING "YES" ALL THE TIME BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE SEEN, AND THEY SHOULD BE SAYING "NO." I DO MY STREET ART MAINLY TO KEEP ROOTED IN THAT "WHO I AM." BECAUSE THE ONLY THING THAT'S REALLY GOING ON IS IN THE STREET; THAT'S WHERE SOMETHING IS REALLY HAPPENING. IT ISN'T HAPPENING IN THESE GALLERIES.

9. DOING THINGS IN THE STREET IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ART I THINK. BECAUSE ART HAS GOTTEN SO....I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK ART IS ABOUT NOW. IT DOESN'T DO ANYTHING. LIKE MALCOLM X SAID, IT'S LIKE NOVOCAINE. IT USED TO WAKE YOU UP BUT NOW IT PUTS YOU TO SLEEP. I THINK THAT ART NOW IS PUTTING PEOPLE TO SLEEP. THERE'S SO MUCH OF IT AROUND IN THIS TOWN THAT IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING. THAT'S WHY THE ARTIST HAS TO BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT HE SHOWS AND WHEN HE SHOWS NOW. BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AREN'T REALLY LOOKING AT ART, THEY'RE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AND EACH OTHER'S CLOTHES AND EACH OTHER'S HAIRCUTS.

10. THE ART AUDIENCE IS THE WORST AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD. IT'S OVERLY EDUCATED, IT'S CONSERVATIVE, IT'S OUT TO CRITICIZE NOT TO UNDERSTAND, AND IT NEVER HAS ANY FUN. WHY SHOULD I SPEND MY TIME PLAYING TO THAT AUDIENCE?

DAVID HAMMONS 1986

7/15/2008 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Life On Mars? said...

This Dialogue: One Hell Of A Party

7/15/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point that's being made is that artists have a bizarre and unreal sense of entitlement to a career. No one ever says "Quit your day job." unless they stand to take 50% from you. But if you do, don't complain about it.

Like any self-starter, it's a choice. If you choose to "do what you love" don't whine about not having healthcare or a nice apartment or no retirement savings. Any labor of love is a high-risk activity. Restaurant owners know this. Bar owners know this. Gallery owners know this. Artists, for some strange reason, have trouble understanding it.

And don't give me some bullshit about your art being infinitely more valuable than a night out with friends, enjoying a good meal and some fine wine. I might not be able to take that experience to the bank, but I can certainly relish it for years to come. And I can do it again and again and again.

So, next time you want to climb up on your high-and-mighty soapbox and squeal: "I cannot get a day job with security because it would interfere with my ability to make challenging work that's going to re-shape the cultural landscape". Think about those of us that were smart enough to keep our day jobs and still make and show and sell work. And if you think for a second that I'm any less of an artist simply because I have a nice apartment and a 401k and dental, I really don't care. Something tells me that I'll be ok when Chelsea "corrects".

7/15/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous the importance of gass chambers at a party said...

Dialogue of an imbecile:

"I cannot get a day job with security because it would interfere with the predetermined terms thus affecting the ability to exist as defined by terms which are incomprehensible."

7/15/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, it has happened to me. Right in front of my face, I just can't deny it.

7/15/2008 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many galleries are opening adjunct spaces in Chelsea as well as the Lower East Side. One can assume that as long as they have a solid European clientele they'll do fine.

Ed,

Have you noticed a shift in sales toward clients outside the country? A drying up of sales from local and national collectors?

7/16/2008 12:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a mediocre mind you have. When I posted the David Hammons words above I certainly was not speaking in support of poor mendacious shits like you sound to be -so you have a nice apartment? so what? I don't believe you even know what 'fine wine' means. But you buy shit for 20usd and think t fine wine.

You petty middle-class shits. You disgust me.

I'll take poverty and art over being anywhere near your self-congratulatory sub par mindset.

signed

THE ARTIST


RE: 7/15/2008 05:42:00 PM

anonymous said...
The point that's being made is that artists have a bizarre and unreal sense of entitlement to a career. No one ever says "Quit your day job." unless they stand to take 50% from you. But if you do, don't complain about it.

Like any self-starter, it's a choice. If you choose to "do what you love" don't whine about not having healthcare or a nice apartment or no retirement savings. Any labor of love is a high-risk activity. Restaurant owners know this. Bar owners know this. Gallery owners know this. Artists, for some strange reason, have trouble understanding it.

And don't give me some bullshit about your art being infinitely more valuable than a night out with friends, enjoying a good meal and some fine wine. I might not be able to take that experience to the bank, but I can certainly relish it for years to come. And I can do it again and again and again.

So, next time you want to climb up on your high-and-mighty soapbox and squeal: "I cannot get a day job with security because it would interfere with my ability to make challenging work that's going to re-shape the cultural landscape". Think about those of us that were smart enough to keep our day jobs and still make and show and sell work. And if you think for a second that I'm any less of an artist simply because I have a nice apartment and a 401k and dental, I really don't care. Something tells me that I'll be ok when Chelsea "corrects".

7/16/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

I love that David Hammond quote, thanks for posting it.

As for the others, I only want to add one point which you seem unaware of. Not succeeding in making a career in art does not necessarily indicate lack of talent, ability, genius etc.. many of the greatest were ahead of their time and only received success and recognition later in life or after they died, some never. Those who are most successful early on are often those who cater to public taste, making products that have the largest common denominator. Many of the richest and most successful artists, such as the kinkade, are, well.... I don't need to finish that sentence, you know what I was about to say... so - success does not necessarily equal great art. Same as in music, pop music is the most successful, money generating form of music, but is it also the highest quality in terms of artistic expression? I mean, it's ok, and even I enjoy it while riding in a car, but is it 'high art'?

Well, at least in music there is a consensus regarding which style works for whom and in what way. It seems to me that in art, ever since pop, there's nothing but great confusion....

7/16/2008 06:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'll take poverty and art over being anywhere near your self-congratulatory sub par mindset."


Fine. Just don't let us catch you complaining about it.

7/16/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And then, when you're pushing 40, when you still haven't made a name for yourself, when the career you were "promised" has eluded you, do you switch to ballet?....

No. You get the fuck out of dance. That is, if you're smart"

Yeah right, because nobody ever "made it" past 39. What an idiot.

7/17/2008 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yeah right, because nobody ever "made it" past 39. What an idiot."

My thoughts exactly. I posted here in a small handful of fiery bits (including posting David Hammons words) because I simply cannot believe the inanity, greed and mediocrity of the posters here. These are not artists but petty traders.

7/17/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote:
"My thoughts exactly. I posted here in a small handful of fiery bits (including posting David Hammons words) because I simply cannot believe the inanity, greed and mediocrity of the posters here. These are not artists but petty traders."

Not too much of a sweeping generalization directed towards ALL posters here, in response to apparently one anon specific post from 7/15/2008 08:01:00 AM.

Can you specifically quote quotes from every single post to support your statement?

Personally, although anonymous, I don't appreciate being swept into that mass character assassination, as I'm sure neither do the people with actual names assigned to their posts in response to just one or 2 specific posters.

If not, a retraction is in order, to be fair to the posters here. Is fairness possible?

-just an anon bystander

7/17/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I think the anon with a 401k was joking.

Hammons - what a self righteous prick he was back in 1984. I'd kick his ass but I'm too busy shitting myself.

Soooo art school.

7/18/2008 03:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you are missing the point, which is: STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT BEING A RICH, FAMOUS, SUCCESSFUL ARTIST. Everyone knows that pursuing a career as a fine artist a risky business, so why do any of you feel entitled to it? It should be hard work without any guarantee of success.

7/18/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Why do you feel entitled to complain about people who aspire to doing what they love and being comfortable? Is it impossible?

patterns all around you patterns everywhere patterns of behavior sometimes seem unfair can you recognize the patterns that you find? patterns unfamiliar patterns lead you through (to) patterns of discovery tracing out the clues can you recognize the patterns that you find? stuck in your mind in this land where stability is hard to find you can rearrange the patterns so unkind don't bother asking why a pattern never cries old patterns never die they just go on and on patterns multiplying re-direct our view endless variations make it all seem new

7/18/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger the expat/pissedpoet said...

Just come from a very PC exhibition, so banal it's a politicians wet dream.

But selling very well in a semi serious gallery.

Such is life.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

7/19/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zipthwung said...Why do you feel entitled to complain about people who aspire to doing what they love and being comfortable? Is it impossible?

Really?!

My experience is the contrary. I don't maintain a job, I don't earn more than it is necessary for just a enough and sometimes an art sale could seem to me sufficient to get back. I travel. I am no bourgeosie so I don't worry the house I must purchase to look respectable. Of course I am a sort of urban peasant (for being penniless) but my background includes a great great great grand father who was a notable ruler.


But do I get weird anger from the likes of you commoners who have 1 nay, 2,3 full time jobs?!

You suspect someone like me of being the 'real' artist? you fear you'd be exposed as a fake?

You have a pushing attitude. You get things done; You hustle; You network. You respond to the right kind of pervading aesthetic.

Why clamour? Why the hatred against people who arent LIKE you?

Get off my back and go to your jobs please.

7/19/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

Success is success-- it all depends on how you define it. Also, historically, some of the best art comes from the worst of times.

7/21/2008 01:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaking news:

Zip is in the NY Timers Magazine July 20th 2008 issue, he is quoted by a fan in an article titled THE MEDIUM by Virginia Heffernan.

I'm not Zip, by the way.

-just an anon bystander

7/21/2008 08:53:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home