Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is Street Art the True Market Bellwether?

Slow news day. Not much happening in the world. Two baseball stadiums are closing for good in New York, Desperate Housewives won the Sunday Night ratings race, and numerologists across the world are getting calls from TV and radio producers asking about the relevance of the number 777...no...wait...seems it's 778 they're interested in. Darn.

Somewhat interesting story on artinfo.com though:
Less than a third of the 270 lots offered at a Lyon & Turnbull auction of contemporary and urban art found buyers this weekend, with works by Banksy and other street artists having particular difficulties, reports Bloomberg.

Dealers said that the reduced demand for street art was a result of worries about the economy and confusion about the authenticity of Banksy works.

"Things are difficult at the moment," said Annabel Thomas, an executive director of the London-based dealers the Fine Art Society. "There's a definite retreat to the blue-chip material."
Indeed, in each boom, so-called Street Art seems to be the last genre to see its prices soar, and (if memory serves me right) the first to see its market turn down. It makes sense to some degree, of course. Being edgy and often highly experimental, Street Art wouldn't be the most reassuring form of art for most buyers. But I'm actually wondering if there isn't a more significant connection here. It seems to me (and, to be honest, I'm too exhausted to look up the numbers and dates so I could be totally talking through my hat here) that we no sooner start to see Street Art show up in auctions than a downturn comes on its heels. This could be an indication of a number of things, if indeed accurate, but the most likely to my mind is that the energy and riskiness of Street Art makes it more appealing to collectors who also take big risks, and who see their fortunes wane the quickest when the economic tides turn.

Then again, this might be wholly obvious to lots of folks and barely worth mentioning, except for the fact that it's a remarkably slow news day, that is.

Labels: art market, street art


Blogger Mike said...

Or it could be that street art generally goes unnoticed until there is a bubble. Collectors start buying all kinds of art everywher, including street art which was previously thought of as "unmarketable." At the same time, street artists start to make "street" art for galleries, further feeding the market bubble.

9/30/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

I don't know about 'street art' as an indicator but the results for the Damian Hirst auction were over hyped. NONE of the first days sale (the 'best' 56 lots) were sold to US collectors... (it was the Russians)

No matter how they try to spin it, the blue chip art markets in the west are under severe pressure.

9/30/2008 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Hirst was when Lehman Brothers had been announced but things had not really gone south. Prices for the blue chips will not be immune to what is coming.

9/30/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Bloomberg recently reported that better than half of Gagosian's sales have been to the Russians.

It appears that there is market strength in some areas of the world but for artists working in the US market it does not look so rosy.

The bellweather for the art market is the economy, period. Certain styles may align themselves with the peak in one cycle and not in another.

Things are about to get very tough, but so will the new art, 'tough' is in.

9/30/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i was under the impression that street art attracts a "lower tier" of buyer - closer to Juxtapoze than Artforum.

So if upper echelon buyers are somewhat immune to the vicissitudes of the market, the rabble (anyone with less than 10 million, say) being more vulnerable and less liquid, must as needs be.

Ergo, more sales of minimalist WASPY tchotchkies, less so of maximalist URBAN gewgaws.

But that's whack right? I mean that divides things along class lines, something the art world decries in its posturing as a bastion of multicultural understanding - a utopian site for cross cultural pollination.

I'm relying on anecdotal and "gut" analysis here - so im open to statistical analysis - I don't have access to auction records and whatnot.

In any case I'm kind of wondering what the dealio is with sensitive gestures vs kitchen sink esthetics - i hope the cruddy market opens the way for less puritanical pursuits - if only to let the inner extrovert in all of us a bit more play. Bad or no.

9/30/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

A question to Ed, Who were the artists in the prior occurrences of the 'street art' examples?

9/30/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Zipthwung, can you confirm that you don't have anything to do with Ann Of Youtube? ;-)

I like to hear that Russians are buying art again. It's about time!!
We tend to forget that Russia was for a long time a source for the avant-garde.

Russia buying, USA in economic crisis? Ouch.. Times they are a changing.

I think the youth art (I'm replying to George) will be less about ideas and more about mannerism, and street arts (I prefer "urban" arts) are a hint toward that.

Not that you can escape ideas, but maybe the post-conceptual will drag off from people having nothing new to say. How can one get "fast news" if no one has anything new to say? (stupid pun)


Cedric Caspesyan

9/30/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

yes that's a good question - street art may not get the same amount of marketing or brand positioning as Damien Hirst or Jeff koons - how do you factor out the intangibles to get to a place where dimensional analysis or quantitative analysis or whatever, makes sense?

9/30/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I think the youth art (I'm replying to George) will be less about ideas and more about mannerism, and street arts (I prefer "urban" arts) are a hint toward that.

That wasn't what I meant by 'tough'. Gritty. Down to earth, real life, no TV show.

Art that's not about marketing or brand positioning or careerism. I can't say what it will be, that is a course art finds on its own.

There are a lot of best selling books that entertain us. They never make the crossover into literature, to be read by later generations. Why is this?

Much of todays best selling art is bound to suffer the same fate. Merely fashionable, Hirst's dots may entertain us today, but tomorrow, they will be just dots, pointless at best.

9/30/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Smith skull belts are selling for 75% off, plus thrown in a drippy nano to go--hang on drippy nano case to go--rubber, but cool.
On the other side of the floor belts 'attributed to'
Aa Nihalani are going for top dollar, board says guaranteed to rewire your view of the street, oh, and um, reinvigorate a reflexive view of you and your shoe.
Just delivering...

9/30/2008 07:53:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Art Forum Image

Bansky Image

Juxtapoz Image

9/30/2008 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron Wexler said...

What is Street Art? (seriously).
Like the vendors lined up along Central Park? or outside of Barneys? or in Union Square?

Maybe I should buy an easel or one of those metal cage displays and hit the streets.

9/30/2008 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

street art is art that is produced for the street first (though you may take it indoors).

Street vendors often sell work that is matted and framed for the indoors - this is not street.

URBAN art is a euphemism for black and latino art, including imagery culled from tatoo "flash," spray paint, wheat paste cutouts, photocopies and junk.

I think its a different genre thug, from gallery art - so I was wondering if the ways in which these two kinds of art are marketed influence the way they are valued - becaue obviously you can;t priviledge one genre without critiquing genre and on down to the value of art itself.

10/01/2008 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

like when people say "that's not art" they are really saing "that is out of genre" - and when you can credibly cross genre's or invent new ones, you get more points than if you riff off of someone elses work within the genre tropes.

For example, there is a genre of "shock" art where you presuppose an audience that is shockable and another audience that is in on the joke. A lot has been written on that but very recently several critics have brought it up again.

If you make shock art you will be judged by the genre and not, for example by poetic standards of the more allegorical practices.

10/01/2008 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

My first contemporary art gallery visit (if you don't include museums) was "Shock Art" in 1987 in a Montreal club called "Foufounes Électriques. It featured seedy works like a video installation that looked like Nam June Paik made with hardcore porn, or a major installation by Mark Prent, or some anti-religious drawings. I wish I had a list of what was on there. The place was for 18+ so I had to create a fake idea card to enter, which of course never worked out because I was 15 and looking younger. I had to befriend the doorman and proving him that I was just too cool for him to not let me in. ;-P

I disgress...

Cedric Caspesyan

10/01/2008 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Street art generally is ephemera, it is part of the background noise and generally lost over time. This is not to say that these endeavors are irrelevant, to the contrary they may be the most immediate and relevant expression of the zeitgeist, of the psychic space which underlies culture itself.

It is rare that street art transcends its origins and resists the natural path to the landfill. The monumental exception is Basquiat who made an art of raw purity and technical grace. But he is the exception to the rule.

It is an oxymoron, I suppose just moronic, that street art finds itself on the walls of an auction house rather than a wall on Crosby street. This is surely a sign of excess, if not impending total decline. Street art, agitprop, counter culture clashes can create confusion or clarity in times of cultural stress. It sows the seeds and plows in the fertilizer for the future art in times of monumental change.

After a dozen years of heady prosperity most young artists, still damp from art school, are looking at the future and assuming what comes will be like what was. They are assuming that they can work their way up the careerist ladder by paying attention to "branding" and "market positioning" in the same fashion as in any other commodity business. To whatever degree these aspirations become true is totally dependent on the consumers of their product, and these consumers are leaving the mall in droves.

No one truly knows the future, but if intuition and history are any guide this country is headed for a period of hard times. Times which will cry out for an art of insight, revelation, and contemplation. The baubles traded by the auction houses are a sure sign of decadence, ostentatious displays pandering to the elite's obscene wealth.

The art world is corrupt, it has lost its way as it races to vacuum up the wealth of the nouveaux riche to satisfy its own greed.

It's time for a revolution.

10/01/2008 08:25:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Where would those who get paid to write about art be without genre? They have to group, categorize, historicize, etc. Artists can do whatever the hell they want to with regards to genre, but since their work will be defined by the market and the particular venue their work is displayed within, including public and private environments, there inevitably has to be a high level of self consciousness with regards to genre categories. Whether or not a transgressive act really goes beyond some preexisting boundary at this point in time is debatable. Stylistic hybrids are so common now that that they are a genre unto themseoves. Some critics do take the time to try and figure out what the new genres are, and this may or may not be a worthwhile approach.

10/01/2008 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Late 20th century art celebrated and wallowed in the consumerism and greed of the time. As such it will be ensconced in the pantheon of history, marking a place in time. The art world that supported this art is dying, along with the sixty five billion dollar wall street bonus pool and the aging collectors.

Those days are over, finished. The Sun has set.

Revolutionary artists will put a stake in the heart of the old art, making its ostentatious display unfashionable and an embarrassment.

Revolutionary art will be more like literature and less like the sculptural morphing of the automobile. Genres will stabilize as the focus shifts from the 'new' to the 'true'. Art writers must join the ranks of the artists and craft the language to reveal and present the new art. The artists and art writers must seize control from consumer as the new art redirects itself into the new millennium.

Revolutionary art will need new gallerists working at the ground level, with the new artists, writers and collectors. Gagosian is out, Winkleman is in.

10/01/2008 09:14:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

All ass kissing aside, what the hell are you talking about? Gagosian is so in it ain't funny. The guy opened up new galleries exactly WHERE all of the big art sales are happening now, Moscow and Rome. What would be a clear definition of revolutionary art? All art that is new? How many contemporary artists pillage the history of Modernism (with a capital M) to make new art? Many of them do this (including you George). The ahistoricism you pledge allegiance to might get cheap applause but it just isn't in line with reality. Many contemporary artists are in a dialogue with the history of art. Hopefully new and worthwhile art will continue to get made, but it won't get made by this imaginary construct the "revolutionary artist". Also, I am not going to get into drawn out arguments with surrogates.

10/01/2008 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

What you fail to understand is that the world economies are collapsing. This is not one of those little events where everything turns out all right in the end. It is a once in a century event, it is dire and at the present moment and it is not clear how it will be solved.

With that sort of economic background, the art market will dry up, implode, collapse, pick your metaphor. What has Gagosian done for you lately? Is he really showing the art which is representative of this moment in cultural history? That's rhetorical. He represents the past, and although it seems that nothing has changed, underneath it all, it has.

Last year wall street distributed 65 billion dollars in bonuses, what do you think they will distribute this year? The days of the "masters of the universe" have passed and along with them a very large part of the capital flowing into the art world. The high end of the art market is a playground for the rich, but the way the game has been played for the past several years requires an increasing inflow of capital to maintain prices and generate profits. The amount of available capital is not infinite, in the US it is contracting, in some other areas like Russia it may be still there, or it may not.

I'm asked, what is revolutionary art? Art against the status quo.

In reading this blog over the last few years I have been struck by the discussions spiraling around 'careers', 'marketing', 'branding', in short an obsession with fame and fortune over everything else. Look at the Koon's heart at Versailles, yes it is a pretty testament to excesses of the last century, what does it tell you about your life today? The art world is wallowing in a materialism that cannot be sustained, it is an illusion of a time which has passed. It will end, the money is just not there.

So what is revolutionary art? Ask yourself, what is meaningful in your own life? Is it some obscenely expensive bauble? It that what gets you off? What is meaningful in your own life? Or is it the confrontation with life, death, love, sex, discovery, trees, flowers, children, ideas, feelings, etc. Put a price tag on that.

Eric delves into some areas which I didn't mention. I am not saying what kind of art people should make, I am speaking only of where the inspiration for this art must come, from life itself NOT COMMERCE.

So when I mentioned Winklleman Gallery (2nd plug for Ed ;-) it was metaphorical, Winkleman represents the new ground level gallery for the new collectors to come. The very fact we can have this dialogue is as important as the art he chooses to exhibit. Ed represents the future along with the other young galleries which were born in the last 10 years.

FWIW, Larry Gagosian designed his first gallery at the drafting board in my Venice CA studio 40 years ago, he was an unknown young man with a dream.

10/01/2008 11:10:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"What you fail to understand..."

At least I had the courtesy to comment on things you actually said George. Are you John Edwards now (the crackpot psychic not the philanderer)? If you really think that Gagosian will be first or even tenth on the list of galleries that will fail because of the convulsing American economy than I have to wholeheartedly disagree with you.

Revolutionary art, according to you is art inspired by 'life' not 'commerce'. So anyone who makes art that has something to do (even tangentially) "the exchange or buying and selling of commodities" is not
"representative of this moment in cultural history"? I am really confused.

Does your fantasy that societal collapse will bring about a pure art that finally deals with the important things in life really hold up?

The belief (or reality depending on where you stand ideologically)in the hegemony of the few and the messianic, inevitable overturn of said minority, leading to a fairer world; these concepts are intertwined in perpetuity.

This fantasy that humans will search through the rubble of the civilization they ruined and finally discover what is and should be ART is silly.

And yes George, I know that we are fucked.

10/01/2008 11:42:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

(I hate typos. Sorry for the double posting.)

"What you fail to understand..."

At least I had the courtesy to comment on things you actually said George. Are you John Edwards now (the crackpot psychic not the philanderer)? If you really think that Gagosian will be first or even tenth on the list of galleries that will fail because of the convulsing American economy I have to wholeheartedly disagree with you.

Revolutionary art, according to you is art inspired by 'life' not 'commerce'. So anyone who makes art that has something to do (even tangentially) with "the exchange or buying and selling of commodities" is not
"representative of this moment in cultural history"? I am really confused now.

Does your fantasy that societal collapse or a serious downgrading of the quality of life in America will bring about a pure art that finally deals with the important things in life really hold up?

The belief (or reality depending on where you stand ideologically)in the hegemony of the few and the messianic, inevitable overturn of said minority, leading to a fairer world; these concepts are intertwined in perpetuity.

This fantasy that humans will search through the rubble of the civilization they ruined and finally discover what is and should be ART is silly.

And yes George, I know that we are fucked.

10/01/2008 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger George said...


I never said Gagosian would fail, you misinterpreted my remark "Gagosian was out". LG is an astute businessman and I am sure he will do just fine in the current period of economic stress. I will not be surprised to see some other name gallery fail (close) before the current financial problems are solved.

10/01/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Hmm...Gagosian has the problem of representing way too many artists,
but it's not necessarely a home for decadence. I am not sure that artists like Richard Serra or Jeff Koons would stop making art if it didn't sell.

People are pretty upset these days about the Jeff Koons exhibit in Versailles. I think Koons is very strongly misunderstood and is not very good at defending his own work. The Hanging Heart is a contemporary archetype. It's not a pop icon like Marilyn Monroe by Warhol which will only be understood by the West. It's not meaningless either. It's an image that can be universally understood as the expression of love in an era where everything has been turned to kitsch. It's the current archetype of love, or so is the way the artist perceives it. The form is about Koons struggling for living in a place where everything had been said and trying to figure out what to do next. Hence he mixed minimalism with conceptualism with pop art, but in a quest which reach deeper toward the convergence where kitsch and sublime meet. Because there is a hidden sublime in Koons' art, and I'm not speaking of the reflective proprieties of stainless steel. It's about the homage to childhood, the first steps of cognition, archetypes, early memories, and the development of language. It is of a similar sublime as the video piece by Bill Viola where a wall is filled by a slow video of children having a birthday party. Koons use this same effect in turning the mundane into the hyperspatial, the greater-than-be (at least in the Celebration series). So, it's not just ridicule bauble. It is when it becomes a repetition. Koons has a tendency to repeat his objects in every colors of the Chakras. Hirst is the same thing, he repeats himself into gimmicks, but still produce landmarks out of his gimmicks once in a while (The Golden Calf suddenly almost beating the Shark as his most significant piece).

Post-conceptualism is guilty of relying on bluntness and quick puns, but it doesn't necessarely mean the pieces are easy to make.
A Koons sculpture takes months to finish. Hirst's butterflies pieces involve a lot of patience.
We mention those two because we know they made history this year: Sotheby's and Versailles will be remembered as landmarks and possibly the beginning of death for post-conceptualism. That doesn't mean these events are not interesting.

I don't think we need new art because the current art is bad and decadent. We need new art because one path has been blocked. I don't think post-conceptualism can reach more grandeur than Koons in Versailles, or critique the current market-ridden artworld more than Hirst's Golden Calf. The times of puns, archetypes, and nails coming out a wall are over.


Cedric Caspesyan

10/01/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Further, "dire" does not necessarily mean "societal collapse or a serious downgrading of the quality of life". A somewhat similar contraction occurred in the late seventies as a result of the oil crisis, I was a young struggling artist then, but life was good.

Revolutionary art, according to you is art inspired by 'life' not 'commerce'.
Correct, the time of making baubles for the rich is past, as the market contracts these opportunities will become more rarefied and less relevant to younger artists. There has to be something better than that.

Art is informed, inspired, by both history and the events of its own time. It seems inevitable that a contraction will change both how we see the world and the types of opportunities we have to exhibit what we do. I cannot see why this would be difficult to comprehend.

10/01/2008 01:16:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

So the contraction of the economy (not its collapse) will mean that art will no longer be "for the rich"? Because the average person will have to struggle to live a life that includes three square meals a day and having a relatively safe place to sleep at night, art will no longer be decadent? Will the contraction of the economy make life radically different for the very rich people who support the high end art market? Will art that you personally consider to be 'baubles' for the rich disappear because the average person will have their retirement savings and jobs disappear into thin air? So for you, art created by people who have a much lower standard of living than we do, meaning the majority of Americans post-contraction of the economy, is more legitimate and truthful, more inspired by life? Doesn't that smack of Romanticism? It reminds me of the way the Modernists fetishized primitive art objects. Life is quickly becoming more difficult for many of us and I for one am not equating this dismal truth, with the possibility of better art being made. The whole idea that a contraction of the art market will weed out the bad stuff and allow more room for more artists to be included in a very insular realm, is not based on sound reasoning or a clear understanding of historical patterns.

10/01/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous leben und arbeiten said...

Me, in my opinion, if there is an important fellow from now in a century or two--well! he will have hidden himself all his life in order to escape the influence of the market… completely mercenary [laughs] if I dare say.

10/01/2008 03:23:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Most artists, musicians, writers, visual artists, photographers, etc., are middle class or working class and in my opinion any economic downturn or economic collapse is bad for art and artists. Without human beings living relatively secure lives, there would be no art production.

10/01/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous ericgelber said...

Most artists, musicians, writers, visual artists, photographers, etc., are middle class or working class and in my opinion any economic downturn or economic collapse is bad for art and artists. Without human beings living relatively secure lives, there would be no art production

10/01/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

The youth of now are making a lot of stupid music videos where life is back to animal stage, with clans of men and women shaking their asses. It's not very inspiring as far as an evolvment of the human specy is concerned.

Also, for the youth, the collapse already exist since a while. The youth are not able to buy homes, and are too busy with their everyday jobs to have much time to visit art shows or simply going to see a movie.

If everybody gets poor and the youth feels like starting revolutions, it's going to be bloody because the youth love to own guns. It's cool, you know? Palin recently said she believes in the right of people to defend themselves (pro-guns). This is extremely stupid. People will not defend themselves. There will be chaos, no means to sustain the law system, and the youth will use guns to attack.

Greed breeds idiocy, but so does poverty. The worst crimes against human rights happen when people are very poor: genocide, totalitarian regimes, etc. When the masses are poor they tend to embark in very strict religions or start evil revolutions under some ridiculous political motto that hits like a throw-away rock.

"WE Againts THEM!"
"WE Againts THEM!"
Hip Hip Hip, Hurrrah!!
Would that breed a Goya?

I don't think I'm describing anything that could occur in USA before 50 years, but it's very possible that it's going there.
The bad weather in the south is unfortunately very costly everytime it breaks the news.

I once dreamt of New York separating itself from USA, kind of like Hong Kong with China.

Cedric Caspesyan

10/01/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Gee eric, I'm having a hard time understanding your response which completely misinterprets anything I said.

Economic factors affects the art market participants differently. In the past, the high of the art market (blue chip) is probably the least affected initially as artworks get sold between the players as required. This does not have much effect on the younger or emerging artists.

Economic factors may have a more negative affect on the middle tier of collectors. While they are wealthy their disposable income will contract because of the bad economy. Draw your own conclusions.

Before getting all excited, think about what can actually occur. The current economic crisis will affect each individual to different degrees, but in the aggregate less funds will be available to the marketplace. I don't really care about the blue chip artists. The artist I am most interested in, are the emerging artists and those still in art school. If we assume the economy weakens, there will be less economic support available to them over the next few years. They will have to make do with less which will change how they approach their work. Change is neither good nor bad, just different.

Most readers of this blog probably have never seen a bad recession. Over the last five years the art market has been incredibly strong, this is a condition which is obviously unsustainable, yet many are willing to accept these conditions as 'normal', unfortunately they are not. This is an observation from experience, not conjecture on my part.

As economy weakens, the art market weakens, times get tougher but I never said they would be dismal. Further, I am not suggesting that a contraction will weed out the bad art. It will weed out the less committed artists but the art that remains will be like it always is, a mixed bag.

Now what direction I expect art might take as a result, is a more complicated issue. I do not want to make predictions one way or the other. I can suggest that if the economic fabric changes more than just a little, something which seems likely, that these changes will affect what goes on in the culture. There will just be less funds to support all cultural events. Artists are adaptive, they will act accordingly, it will affect the work.

Moreover, I would like to make the suggestion that art is informative, it tells us something about our culture and its historical era. If we consider late twentieth century art, it did address the consumer culture and its excesses, producing a number of very highly priced baubles. I like Jeff Koons shiny magenta heart, it's pretty, but it's so twentieth century.

At this late stage it is easy to forget the both Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst were once young radical artists who challenged the status quo and the current tastes. As the times are changing I suggest that young adventurous artists will want to do the same and they will react against the status quo. More power to them.

I wouldn't characterize myself as a romantic, I'm much more pragmatic than that. My intuition is that we are going to see some interesting changes over the next few years. It really doesn't matter what I think, radical changes are going to happen anyway.

10/01/2008 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

someones going to have o bulle tpint the conversation but htanks for the repsonse,

Im to :

"They are assuming that they can work their way up the careerist ladder by paying attention to "branding"

Which i mean, you can be both a careerist on the surface and a stone cold Marxist on the underbelly - hypocracy be damned, the true believer doesnt care - mockery is another form of noble martyrdom - more pue than any other form of abasement.

What is the noblest genre!

10/02/2008 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Blog participation here has reduced to a gang of 4 or 5 diehard compulsive obsessive commenters (including me, of course). Where has everybody else gone?

++++Most readers of this blog ++++probably have never seen a bad ++++recession.

I'm from Canada, George, No one makes money out of art, here. Some of the canadian artists I admire the most seem clueless about any art market, because their works always show up in places wherever they receive commissions (the group BGL is an example. Their early installations were jawdropping examples of artist generosity. I bet no collectors own any of them.).

I don't know if I said this here recently, but I will repeat it. Stephin Merritt argued in an interview that young interesting artists can't be in New York anymore because the city has become too expensive (not sure if he met Zack Condon from Beirut, though). I'm not sure if the economic problems will affect much more the New York scene than elsewhere. In New York, it's "no money, no candy", and artists are pushed young at being carrierist and earning cash. Some of the art coming from that scene is very disciplined and excellent, but in the other hand it's way more easy for an artist to have some limited success because they happen to live in New York. Elsewhere you only get one artist who succeed from a locality once in a while. This won't change. Only in New York will it be harder for artists to succeed and many might have to flee the city and give up.

Somehow gallerists seem to be oblivious that there is a world outside New York (except for the big chip galleries who do sign international artists once in a while). Trust me, it's not because New York is going to loose some galleries and a circle of artists living in Brooklyn, that the artworld is going to die. There is a lot of art going on all over the world, and the indians and chinese have just embarked the scene. Can you imagine how much people that is? How many artists? And they're generous. They are used to work a lot for little. Young easy cashmakers are going to have to find some skills to pare with that.

New York is rich in ideas because it has a strong recent art history. But have you noticed how art history tend to shift geographically about every 60 years or so? Early 20th century was still France and Russia (American culture came through its cinema legacy, but many of those early hollywood cineasts were foreign). American had a bang after WWII. For 30 years the best art scene in the world was in New York. Now it's more international but New York is still a strong centre for the market. But why is Damien selling in UK? Why is Gagosian opening large shows in Moscow, while presenting art that merely fills half the available rooms on 24th Street? Are we witnessing the early signs of a major cultural shift?

Cedric Caspesyan

10/02/2008 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

zip, we should meet for drinks sometime

10/02/2008 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger George said...


Where has everybody else gone?
1. mercury is retrograde. :-)
2. In talking with other people, current news events are making them uncomfortable, they don't understand what is going on, or how it will affect them, but they feel it will. Deer in the headlights.

re Canada. Well people read the art magazines, web magazines, whatever change that occurs percolates through the sand.

re Merritt. I think he is probably correct. NYC rents are high, but everything else is more or less inline with the rest of the continental US. Berlin looks attractive, US art schools should make fluency a second language a requirement. I still believe that "success" comes from really good work regardless of where it is made, but it must be seen.

Whatever "gallerists may be oblivious of" is generalized conjecture. This has to be taken on a case by case basis which I have no knowledge of. I never suggested that the art world was going to die. The art market will contract over the next few years, it's not the end of the world and artists will continue to make art.

I don't disagree that the center of art may shift from NYC but my previous comments were not specific to New York, the economic problem is world wide. LG is showing in Moscow because that is where the money is.

10/02/2008 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

Street art is becoming hard to define because so many people are taking it off the street. In fact, some of the artists who call their art street art have no real experience working on the streets. There is a lot of debate about that actually.

As for the comment about Juxtapoz. Money is money. Trust me... there is some big money spent on some of the artists who have been featured in that magazine at one point or the other.

10/02/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

im a real idiot in person.

Debating what is street or not involves territorial pissing matches that asx far as i can tell seem somewhat juvnile - like staking claim to originality in a world that records everything and archives it too.

At this point we are dealing with performative values - can you stick the landing - more than did you invent the pommel horse.

In that sense, then, what is the value of historical reinactment? How cn an artist "in the wild" create a space - outside the gallery system there are a lot of interesting moves to be made - many of them totally without a profit model.

Sampling beyond the "postmodern" shorthand of "reference" and instead building more complicated grammars - ones in which the original refferent need not be understood - like word etymology need not be understood to get the gyst.

i do get the gist - and one might argue that is more important than trivial like indoors vs. outdoors and geniology.

That these sorts of things occupy people points to a fundamental insecurity and mutability of taste - something that the stock exchange needs to be cured of.

I know the art world is said to mirror society like a shadow cabinet - and I understand that mirroring the market (with a latency effect) is said to be an important function sociologicly and conceptually - but I can;t tell you why - unless its sort of a jimminey crcket conscience ting - a moral compass.

Does anyone know of a specific exmple where art served as a corrective to some excess? I think too often gallery art seems merely celebratory - as celebratory as gangster rap or a beheading, disembowelment, impalement or immolation.

10/02/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous cabinet said...

just transmit.transmission.

10/02/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand your comments either George.

10/02/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't trust him zip. He made the same offer to me.

10/02/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

trust no one. i started reading this "how ny stole the idea of modern art" book today - im behind the curve. Goerge know some shit about shit.

10/03/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't stymie me George. I can only comment on the words you typed into the comment box. That is what I did. I stand by my opinions.


(My name appears to be blocked for some reason so I am entering comments anonymously)

10/03/2008 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Beverly Kaye Gallery said...

Street artists are still alive and well in NYC. The moving of the Outsider Art Fair from the Puck Building to the Mart will impede a few diehards who have shown up to stand in the freezing January cold offering their wares. Some of these folks, over the years, have made it into the show, and more than a few have made it into other galleries and yes, even museums. Frames, matting? Who the hell cares.....if the art is worthy, buy it! Isn't the hunt still part of the game? Just asking.......

10/13/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Ms Baroque said...

Coming in late here, I'm really enjoying your blog Edward! As to Annabel Thomas' quote above about "blue chip material," I just find it hideously depressing that Damien Hirst is what's considered blue chip. I went to the sale show at Sotheby's & oh dear God.

The first day of the sale was indeed on the very day Lehmann Brothers collapsed. Record sales.

10/20/2008 11:06:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home