Monday, March 15, 2010

Painting with Two Balls

In #class's Saturday night discussion on "The System Doesn't Work," I got frustrated by the general sense of helplessness among the artists participating. Although they were quick to point out that the entire system only exists because of artists (something I take pains to highlight in very clear terms in my book), they seemed reluctant to accept that changes to the art market system were their responsibility and within their power.

I offered up two examples of artists who had changed things dramatically through their efforts. First is Damien Hirst who sent shivers through the commercial art gallery system by taking his work directly to auction. That example was dismissed as being something only an artist with Hirst's starpower (an admittedly small fraction of artists working) can do. The fact that the ripple effect of that star's actions still has potential to change things for all artists seemed to go unrecognized, probably because what that change might be remains unclear. There was also a resentment in the discussion about how the art stars are the only artists with any power. I utterly reject that defeatist notion, and so does history.

The second example I noted is in all the history books, and the impact it made is very clear. At the height of Abstract Expressionists utter domination in the US art market, a group of very smart younger (non-stars at the time) artists dethroned the Ab-Exers...not through some clever manipulation of the market system, not through calls for new regulations or new laws, but instead WITH THEIR ART!!! Most notably, Jasper Johns mocked abstract expressionism with (among other works) his canvas titled "Painting with Two Balls" (see above) so effectively that along with similar efforts by Rauschenberg and Stella, etc. it essentially disemboweled the dominance in the market of Ab Ex work.

OK, so that's what I said, in the hopes of igniting the courage and determination of the artists in the room, but the truth (as always) isn't quite that black and white...the Ab Ex market didn't crumble into dust the day after Johns first exhibited that painting. Still, as the man himself, Leo Castelli, explained:
I would say [a turning point] was probably the emergence of Jasper Johns. Although he really didn't do the trick by himself he seemed to sort of be a turning point, yes, to catalyze all kinds of ideas. He really sounded the death knell for the previous movement as it existed. [emphasis mine]
My point remains that it was artists who effected lasting change...not auction houses, not the galleries, not the critics...but artists.

The response to my plea for the artists in the room to recognize their power, however, was lukewarm. Complaints about Johns being a "genius" and such episodes in history not being available to the vast majority of working artist threw a wet blanket over my pep talk. Wallowing in self-pity is apparently so much more comfortable than changing the world. I get it.

I don't respect it. But I get it.

What I didn't say, feeling I had said enough at the time, is that I'm actually not interested in encouraging complacency, especially not in systematic ways. I loathe the state-sponsored systems in some countries that result in warehouses of mediocre art no one wants. Alternatives to the current system that let moderately talented or moderately motivated artists achieve a comfortable standard of living seems positively counter-productive to me.

I'm not suggesting anything so cliched as "true artists have to suffer to reach deep and create their best work," but I do think that when it's too easy to be an "artist" (or any profession within the cultural realm) that it draws more and more untalented people to its feeding trough and via that, ultimately, culture itself gets watered down to the point of being boring and banal. I do feel that competition (for the limited rewards and resources available to artists) brings out innovation and hard work, and those lead to better art.

Ultimately, as much as I believe societies need artists and need to support their artists, I don't believe anyone is born with the right to be one of those supported artists. The right to that special status and lifestyle within a culture must be earned. As they say, if it came in a bottle, everyone would have it.

PS: Don't miss this great report by Sarah Schmerler of her first experience in #class : Jerry Saltz stole my focus @hashtagclass. Be sure and take advantage of Sarah's generous participation this coming Wednesday.

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Anonymous Gam said...

Tipping points and paradigm shifts. Here's what I consider a nice confluence with your opinion of change makers Ed. (you might disagree)

It's about change being momentum, about those who follow - the importance of first followers being the actual agents of change if you will...On leadership and movements (with that dancing dude)
-Maybe its about why we have art movements and schools of style-
but its a nice insight into making change

3/15/2010 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

I wish I was there in that #class, interesting discussion. I just wanted to remind you, Ed, the artists you were talking to were (I assume) mainly visual artists, their forte is probably not in talking, I think your words may have sunk in after all, even if no immediate reply was heard, I am sure change will come, if not specifically by those artists that were in the room, but change will inevitably come, and it will be visible.

Could you elaborate which countries you are referring to in: "I loathe the state-sponsored systems in some countries that result in warehouses of mediocre art no one wants"?

I often see you writing about social change in your posts, without specific relation to the art world, but what you say here about the art world seems to be very accepting of the current situation?

3/15/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Could you elaborate which countries you are referring to in: "I loathe the state-sponsored systems in some countries that result in warehouses of mediocre art no one wants"?

Netherlands, France, Korea...etc, but they are changing this even as we speak it seems.

what you say here about the art world seems to be very accepting of the current situation?

I don't see it as my role to dictate what change is needed in the system for artists...I have a bias, being a dealer, and will naturally, being a human, want to skew the system to my advantage.

I will note that I did agree to this exhibition, so I think that corresponds with my belief in social change.

I have not shied away from voicing my opinions in any of the discussions that have taken place thus far, but I do think artists must lead if alternatives to the system are expected to serve them and not others.

You can participate (to some degree) via the webcast and Twitter, Iris.

Not the same as being there, but still better than only reading about it the next day.

3/15/2010 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Brent said...

I have to weigh in on the web-feed. You won't be a full participant, but you do hear the discussions as it happens. And there is a side commentary in Twitter and a Comments sidebar at the streaming site that is linked through the blog site. So in a way, you are participating in an exchange that those physically present are not as well. Well worth it, in my opinion if the trek to the gallery isn't an option.

3/15/2010 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

I am really sorry I missed this excellent exhibition thus far, I will do my best to come this week. Thank you for making it available!

3/15/2010 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jen Dalton said...

I reject your characterization of our response to your argument!

Yes, there are examples of individual artists altering the dynamics of art and the art market. There are also examples of self-made billionaires. Liberals usually object when these handfuls of people are held up up as examples of how unfettered capitalism is super and we should quit whining about/working for change.

Getting together to articulate which aspects of the current commercial art market system make it difficult for artists to do our work does *not* contradict our studio efforts to continue to do what we do and kick ass at it.

I'm not advocating anything resembling a state-sponsored system, but are you really saying that the commercial system as it is does not allow tons of "moderately talented or moderately motivated artists [to] achieve a comfortable standard of living"?

PS um... thanks from the bottom of my heart for all the forums you provide us to disagree with you!

3/15/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I reject your characterization of our response to your argument!

My only complaint is that the idea that the solution to artists' problems with the current system must come from artists seems to fall on deaf ears. Too many participants come from a position of victimhood, in my opinion.

I like the fire I see when certain artists get angry, btw...that's the ticket. :-)

3/15/2010 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

I succumbed to the daylight savings time blas but wish I had been able to make it both Saturday and Sunday.

3/15/2010 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

There is nothing "wrong with the system," in the arts it is functionally the same as it has been for the last 500 years.

3/15/2010 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just curious about Jen's comment: Has there been some kind of consensus amongst artists about which aspects of the commercial art market system make it difficult for them to do their work? Are we mainly talking about the ability to make a living as artists or other things as well?

Maybe #class needs to have manifesto writing workshops, in addition to artist statement writing workshops, so we can all get together behind a unified and unstoppable wave of change, the mega-proceeds of which can then benefit all of us poor victimized artists.

The artist myth has had a victim complex attached to it for a long, long time. It's going to be a hard one to break, but we can do it!

3/15/2010 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger beebe said...

The main problem with the Johns/AbEx analogy is that currently there is no dominant movement for artists to react against*--everything is too fragmented now. The power structure of the art world now is radically different than it was during the late 50s/60s. There is a much wider/taller hierarchy now--more museums, more galleries, more curators, more critics, more historians. This, of course, should (and does) lead to more opportunities for artists but also contributes to the general white noise which drowns out the definition of a singular movement. The chances of one artist of a less-than-Hirst stature (or a small group of artists) gathering around a single idea and slowing changing the direction of the art ship seems mighty unlikely. (Negative, I know.)

I was reading Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World (as per your mention) and I was struck by something she said regarding the artists nominated for the Turner Prize. I'm sure I'm mangling the exact meaning of her words but it boiled down to this for me: were these artists nominated for the Turner because they were making great work . . . Or were they making great work because they were nominated for (and encouraged by) the Turner? This chicken/egg idea might explain the tone of some of dissatisfaction you were exposed on Saturday: so few artists get encouragement of any kind from the art world.

Now now now: before you pop off on me for my whiny, cry-baby sentiments let me clarify. Admittedly, the artists nominated for the Turner already have status of some kind so the comparison doesn't quite hold up. I cede that point. You said, "I do feel that competition (for the limited rewards and resources available to artists) brings out innovation and hard work, and those lead to better art." I agree with you to some extent--there are uncounted numbers of hacky artists peacocking around out there (I went to school with a few and I wonder sometimes if I'm not one of them) and there needs to be some way to weed them out. However, competition (a very capitalist idea from a self-proclaimed socialist) tends to favor the loudest, most aggressive--not necessarily the best--and a lot of artists just don't have that knack for self-promotion. I personally know a few good artists who could fulminate into spectacular artists with a little steady encouragement--inclusion in a group show, a decent studio visit, the sale of a few small pieces, etc. A little encouragement works wonders.

Ed, you don't think it's reasonable that artists should just expect to be shown without being vetted somehow. Agreed. But I don't think it's reasonable that you expect artists to just appear on the scene with their best work without some kind of encouragement from the art world. Maybe both sides could soften their stances a little bit--artists could stop immediately expecting sold out shows and immediate artstar status; dealers could stop seeing us as caterwauling milksops and untalented time-wasters. We could certainly both stop pointing fingers at each other.

In having said all of this, of course, I don't have a solution for the problem. For all of their inherent disconnect and passivity, I like the ideas of on-line registries--the Drawing Center, White Columns, P.S.1's Studio Visit, Shut Up Already (even with the mocking tone.) But I never hear of anything (studio visits, etc.) coming out of these registries, either factually or anecdotally. Maybe if there was some way to set up a kind of virtual critique? (I don't know what I'm talking about here, obviously.)

#class is an great forum for discussing/debating these problems and ideas. So thank you for that.

*The closest thing to a movement artists could react against would be to act upon Roberta Smith's call for more made-by-hand work vs. large, cold museum-type installation. As someone who makes sweet love to paper with ink and watercolor, I'm all for it.

3/15/2010 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Great post!

As an artist, I couldn't agree more about the pitiful, self-loathing state to which so many fall victim. I am forever disgusted by the victimized model that so many adhere, to which they never make a stance, forcing their 'art' to suffer the most. It is the piss and vinegar boiling in my veins that has gotten me fired up and forced me to make work back in the face of 'adversity', to show what we are and how we have become that. I am not helpless nor will I ever be. I don't care about the stars, even though I follow along, because they are rarely making work for purposes of change or at least simple commentary. The market seems quite inundated with products for commercial and residential appeal and is straying away from those making actual statements about culture, progress, education, etc. or their opposites. Probably because of the the "woe is me" attitude that crept its way into dominance over the past few years.

I will never let another tell me what I can or cannot do. It's simply a matter of deep rumination in the dark corner of a room and then taking action. Artists, throughout history, have been seen at two ends of the spectrum, as whiny self consumed self entitled brats or as visionaries that have literally and figuratively changed the world.

That's my two cents and here's a little more...

second one on the right is my favorite...

3/15/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous garry said...

Ed i have to agree with you. having lived many years around the world, I have seen those systems in place....not just for the arts but other applications too. It supports talentless, lazy people with poor work habits who do shoddy work. Think of the communist era of Russia where everyone had some sort of job, roof over their head, food, medical etc. With a few exceptions, the products produced were garbage. On the other hand, I believe our current art school to gallery to museum system is broken. I do believe that with the resources now available to artist (internet,web sites,art fairs,etc) that there is growing opportunity for artist to confront this current system which in time will lead to change.

3/15/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As they say, if it came in a bottle, everyone would have it."

Nice idea, that. It should sell well in this environment.

3/15/2010 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

But I don't think it's reasonable that you expect artists to just appear on the scene with their best work without some kind of encouragement from the art world.

Well, this entire 5-year long blog has been one effort on my part to encourage artists to think of themselves as part of the art world and to hopefully gain insights into how best to navigate the scene.

I know of not only studio visits, but also exhibitions coming out of those registries (I've seen dealer browsing through them). I also know of artists who've never seen any opportunity open up through them, but they can't be all things to all artists.

The now-defunct website PaintersNYC proved that a virtual critique is possible (if not always encouraging), so I would agree with your looking that direction. I think someone should open up a site like that, with a submission process, and other artists offer feedback on the work. It would be nice if the majority of the feedback was constructive, but sometimes knowing what your detractors think is valuable info too.

3/15/2010 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger markcreegan said...

I wonder sometimes if change is happening but is not noticeable due to the diluted quality of multiple art contexts and a huge number of artists. The opportunity for someone like Johns to stand out existed much more easily (not saying his contribution was easy) in a more centralized world of fewer players.
Hirst's efforts hit right at that moment when decentralization was underway. The context he was working in was small enough for his efforts to be recognized yet at the same time that context was beginning to garner more influence in the the system as a whole.

I am just thinking outloud at this point. I wonder if we make the system work for us in our own way within that particular context we are working within? These different contexts organically blend, interbreed, and affect each other...
okay another thought coming to me is related to some recent texts I have been reading critical of web 2.0 technologies that result in bland, diluted products and experiences. According to this view, collaborative efforts work well in some areas (like electing a politician) but not in cultural production. Johns and Hirst exemplify the lone genius innovation model. That model has been progressively debased not only theoretically but practically through things like, well, this blog and others like it that are platforms for collaboration.
The mob may be the power base for affecting change but only if there are ideas behind those actions (ex. tea party fail). So it may not be the responsibility of the artists AS A WHOLE to affect change, but it is possible for an individual's ideas to take root within individual, less-diluted contexts. These contexts then interact in a more or less organic, non directed fashion.
Again, thinking out loud here, i think my brain is diluted at this point...

3/15/2010 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

I think many artists would consider the act of mocking other artists as vulgar and disrespectful. Even if they don't like the other artist's work, they would like to show respect nevertheless for their courage in showing their art. I think this is something that is ingrained in many artists, except perhaps for the most vulgar ones. The problem is many artists feel today's art is being dominated by vulgarity, which is a problem - how do you find a way to beat it, or try to end it's domination, without being part of it?

3/15/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with a lot of what Beebe commented, especially third paragraph from bottom.

In particular though, I've noticed something, a slight change/shift in the tone of this blog, and I'm curious about your attitude (at least recently) toward artists ED.

I'm not sure YOU get it (as in, the difficulties of our situation/existence). In thinking more about that whole "Shut Up Already..." blog thing - it (IMO) is/was demeaning to artists. I mean, think about the "message" in the blog title, and the stupid requirements to participate - what did it really have to do with art? It's power-tripping - you all having a laugh at our expense - thinking you have power.
Sorry, but its sad. Ed, please aim higher.

3/15/2010 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Beebe, Thank you. You said alot that I agree with. The only comment I would argue with is that there are many artists who are very hands-on in different media than paper.

Here's my nutty idea: Show anything without regard for talent, skill, or degree and let people decide for themselves. Outsider art and insider art are slowly converging and no one is qualified to judge what is "good" anymore. Things like BYOA are a start. Let each collector decide for him or herself what they like. Every single person who wants to have their art seen by a wider audience should be able to do so. Internet is not good for this, the work needs to be seen in person. Studio visits do not work because gallerists, critics and curators simply do not show-up to a strangers studio.

3/15/2010 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

Art can reach people more easily than ever (it helps my accessm anyway, and I live in a relative backwater). I expect this to also possibly empower artists?

3/15/2010 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how very darwinian of you. Let the market decide who deserves to make a living.

No one should be handed a comfortable standard of living, just because they say their artists. That would be ridiculous. But there are many, many accomplished, and critically acclaimed artists who are earning effectively zero from their work.

I would wager, Ed, that none of your artists (who I know you esteem highly - as do I - as worthy and accomplished artists) are able to make a living via their art. Is that just the way the cookie crumbles? are they not working hard enough?

If there is a sense of victimhood, it is because artists, generally a highly (over?) educated bunch, are aware that the system is corrupt. A tiny, tiny, token handful of artists might get rich, even insanely so, but the overwhelming majority of them, work for free to support a system which provides a living for for many people and a rich cultural environment for many more but gives them only an occasional pat on the back and some chump change.

3/15/2010 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

The main problem with the Johns/AbEx analogy is that currently there is no dominant movement for artists to react against*--everything is too fragmented now.

I would agree with this and add that the art world hasn't figured out how to deal with it's increased size. It's a fact that there is no hegemonic style and because of the increased size of the artworld, it is unlikely we will see one again.

However, I think it is possible that we may experience some different form of hegemonic thought or philosophy which could cause artistic change across all styles and mediums. This would function to replace what's generally called "Critical Theory" as a philosophical approach which has been applied within the artworld for the past 40-50 years.

It seems highly unlikely to me that the present forms of Critical Theory will extend much farther into the future. Like all moments ripe for a change, this is one area which is spinning its wheels and has lost touch with the audience.

Given the above, I think we can expect a radical change in art starting now. I also suspect that people will get it wrong at first, it may well be that rather than one dominant style or medium we will see something more inclusive. It is to the art markets benefit to promote multiple styles and mediums simultaneously and in order to do this it will require a 21st century approach to critical theory (a new one, no caps).

Essentially Jasper Johns ushered in the end of Modernism. In my opinion, the philosophical and psychological sources of Modernism belongs to the economic and social structures of the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

I question how the current void will be filled but assume it will be.

3/15/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Had the "Painting with Two Balls" been first seen online, it would not have the same impact. We are looking at it online now knowing that it is already a famous work. Art (with a few exceptions) needs to be seen in person. The white box, being the traditional way to have smallish, delicate work seen is not open to most of the artists out there, and there is an enormously firm hierarchy in the boxes that closes its doors to new work. There are other ways to have work seen and I take part in these, but there is not a critical audience out there looking. It worked for Keith Herring, but in this era so far, does not. I feel that complaining, and stating the difficulties is a start to finding solutions, if it sounds like sour grapes to some that is just too bad. No change happens if no one complains.

3/15/2010 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

in thinking more about that whole "Shut Up Already..." blog thing - it (IMO) is/was demeaning to artists. I mean, think about the "message" in the blog title, and the stupid requirements to participate - what did it really have to do with art? It's power-tripping - you all having a laugh at our expense - thinking you have power.
Sorry, but its sad. Ed, please aim higher.

I am actually very comfortable with how high I'm aiming at the moment, Anonymous. If there is a shift in tone toward artists on my part, it's entirely misinformed of you to attribute it to the title of the "Shut Up Already..." performance (given I didn't make it up, an artist did). The title was in response to a post I did in which I tried to explain why I wasn't able to review open submissions at the present time. I thought it was a funny response to that post, thought it had been carefully considered by its creator, and still think that any artist insulted by its tone doesn't have thick enough skin to participate in the art world and should consider something less brutal, like boxing.'s a joke. If you can't laugh at it, you're not equipped to handle all the other non-joke realities in this business.

The fact remains, that I AM spending hours of my time reviewing images sent in, and anyone who's been around while I have would know I do so openmindedly and very happily. You are reading far too much into someone else's title, attributing it to me, and drawing conclusions (anonymously) that strike me as somewhat gratuitous.

3/15/2010 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger man said...

A few fragmented thoughts:

I was there on Saturday, and while I might not have spoken up loudly enough, I DO believe that artists have the power. The last thing I want is to be perceived as feeling like a victim. I am not a victim! If I haven't gotten any attention by the art world (not true), then I haven't been doing my job. If I have, then, basically, I'm lucky and/or have potentially tapped into something bigger. And then I have a responsibility to create challenging work that operates on many levels. But one of the difficult things I find is managing the time/energy to engage in these discussions/defenses and actually creating work.

I do, very much so, think of myself as part of the art world and the dialogue that is happening. And while there is no one system/school (etc) to rebel against, one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, imho, is the implications of our technological "advances" coupled with our social exchange.

There is also a hybridization that is occurring, to the point where traditional models of contextualizing art, or even a practice, are potentially not valid any more. For example, for my piece for #class, there were a few different, distinct elements operating: solo (duration/endurance) performance, sculptural, a group dialogue with online participants, and an in-person group staged "happening" (the popping of the balloons). And lastly, a piece is being created from the popped balloons which will exist as a separate, related work.

My role, first and foremost, is to make the greatest Art I can. After that I'm responsible for getting it seen and hopefully talked about.

Ed, curious your thoughts on the implications of a direct-to-auction option from a gallerist's perspective. Damien's dealers were cut out of that profit. I personally want the most people to have the most benefit from my business. From what I can see, that auction benefited Damien and Damien alone.

Last thought is that most artists I meet/talk to either aren't able to effectively engage (for various reasons, usually lack of ambition and intelligence), or are just disinterested and want to be left alone. Not sure why that is. Products of the art school system? Most of us really do prefer to be miserable victims, but that's just not my style. A hope of mine is that I can set an example, however small, to other people/artists. This has already started happening from #class Twitter followers who've reached out to me. And it's pretty awesome.

Ok, back to the studio!

Thanks all for the thoughts. xo

3/15/2010 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

A couple of points on Johns and Hirst as exampled. First, it is nearly impossible to know what really went on with Johns 50 years ago, these tales have been retold so many times that their precise truth is lost. I do agree that he is properly considered an inspiration for the change.

Hirst is a contemporary example where we do have a reasonable sense of the history of the moment. As the richest artist in history, as well as a highly accomplished businessman, I would suggest that he is a statistical outlier and not a good example. Unlike Johns, we are not talking about a major aesthetic and philosophical change with Hirst. We are really only acknowledging his success as a corporate artist, his ability to sell a lot of work. This isn't changing the system.

3/15/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon 1:24:If there is a sense of victimhood, it is because artists, generally a highly (over?) educated bunch, are aware that the system is corrupt...

Life isn't fair. All businesses have some degree of corruption which can never be eradicated, it's human nature.

At it's grossest level, money, being an artist is a business. I've worked in high tech and can say that there is little difference in the success patterns, artists/businesses become highly successful, moderately successful and many fail. What's the beef?

3/15/2010 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Anon 1:10,
I agree for the most part with what your writing. And I also agree somewhat with Ed's stance. I was a monitor at one of the sessions. Ed does give his time, he does provide comments, he did point out pieces he liked. He did admit to me that he will go back at look at some of the work he liked. Will this lead to anything for any of the artist? I personally have my doubts, but I am anti-online viewing to begin with. Maybe one day some earth-shattering piece will be seen and he'll email them, but tough odds. I have also told him I thought the title demeaning multiple times, but as he said, someone else came up with that and he ran with it. The art world is unfair and he is a part in it as are you and I, we have to do what we can to alter it where we each see it needs changing. Overall, I think Edward has been very open-minded throughout #class.

3/15/2010 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

The money went to Damian and then to his assistants, fabricators, taxidermists, etc. It did spread further beyond himself. Hopefully he collects art of his contemporaries too (unlike Koons).

3/15/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I've been around for awhile and seen these complaints flow endlessly like water under the bridge. The truth is that most of the complainers quit, they give up the delusion they will ever be a famous artist, find some stable employment and get on with their lives, maybe still making art maybe not.

3/15/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Carroll said...

BYOA is one of the greatest concepts I've seen arise in the art world (X initiative, R.I.P. I'm not sure if they were the first, but it was the first I heard of), and one can only hope this will not be the last time that someone with the space to host such an event will do so.

As far as receiving solid criticism on your work - be it from artists, writers, future critics, curators etc. - I feel that a virtual space, much like what Ed mentioned with PaintersNYC, should certainly only be a starting point to this community based critique. I'll speak for myself here, but viewing work in person can have a completely different effect on how you feel about it, and unless intended to be viewed on a monitor, I just can't see this replacing a solid group of individuals meeting in person (Upon re-reading this, I realize how extremely bias this may be considering I'm a photographer and my work is easy to take around).

My first #class event was the critics gathering that just happened on March 12th, and I certainly wasn't expecting as many people as there were. This was the exact moment I began to realize that paying $300 dollars for a portfolio review might not be so necessary, as I'm CERTAIN there are plenty of artists who would love to discuss work, and be influenced by others who share their passion for creation.

-Thanks for all the food for thought.

3/15/2010 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If there is a sense of victimhood, it is because artists, generally a highly (over?) educated bunch, are aware that the system is corrupt. A tiny, tiny, token handful of artists might get rich, even insanely so, but the overwhelming majority of them, work for free to support a system which provides a living for for many people and a rich cultural environment for many more but gives them only an occasional pat on the back and some chump change.

This is unfair of you.

Curators, critics, art handlers, gallery staff, and even most art dealers who didn't start off wealthy fall squarely in the category of the MIDDLE CLASS or below. They are NOT exploiting artists by working under the extremely stressful conditions they do to maintain their MIDDLE CLASS status either.

There are, in most of those non-artist fields, a select few (and VERY few) who become wealthy doing their jobs...but they are JOBS. These also highly (over?) educated cultural custodians arrive at their jobs daily, put in long hours, suffer petty politics, answer to cranky bosses or clients, stay up late at night worried about making ends meet, and NOT because they couldn't make much, much, much more money in other fields, but because they LOVE art, want to work with artists, and hope to be part of the important work that artists do.

No one forced an artist be an artist and NO ONE owes someone a living because they chose to be an artist. Many among "the many, many accomplished, and critically acclaimed artists" you claim are "earning effectively zero from their work" receive grants, residencies, fellowships, exhibitions (which are VERY costly), and all kinds of other considerations for the products of the tasks THEY chose to do, that NO ONE assigned to them. Most would also fight to keep doing so, despite all else. I mean, it's not like if they're not satisfied with the return on their labors, they too cannot choose another field.

There are problems with government supported art (as noted above) and that leaves patronage. I do know plenty of artist (whose work is hard to sell) who have patrons. If you're not getting the support you feel you deserve as an artist from the art market or government, redouble your efforts to get a patron. Seriously...just stop insinuating, anonymously, that the rest of us owe you something.

3/15/2010 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon 01:24:00


What do you suggest or are you just going to complain?

3/15/2010 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Joanie Gagnon San Chirico said...

Edward said:
No one forced an artist be an artist and NO ONE owes someone a living because they chose to be an artist.

Most artists underestimate the amount of time that you have to spend on marketing, pr, networking etc. to get your work out there. I don't think there's any other profession in which people have such a sense of entitlement. Why do artists have to be "art stars'' or nothing? I work my ass off at being a freelance artist. Some may call me a sell-out, yet I'm making a living. I'll probably never be rich, but I have a job that I love and make time to give back to the artist community while doing so.

Rather than complaining constantly about "the system", artists have to create their own systems.

3/15/2010 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

BYOA is fun every now and then but it's not a solution.

I'm appalled by the lack of imagination expressed here. The problem is not the system, it seems like most don't really understand the system, but it has been in place for centuries and works.

What is due for a change are the details in how the system is implemented.

For example, everyone seems to be focused on money, even in the critics panel Friday it came up, but the "money" is a symptom of malaise and not what needs to be addressed.

The majority of complaints symptomatically revolve around issues of access to the system. This is an area where I would suggest there could be improvements, especially at the current moment.

The most effective changes might occur among the lower tier of curators and critics who could work in tandem with commercial galleries or alternative spaces to curate group exhibitions with a reason. By reason, I am suggesting that art wants to change but the market may not know how and needs to let it seed itself in public.

What I am suggesting is that for the commercial gallery system to be successful over more than just the short term it needs fresh blood. Therefore we may be at a point where the power shifts towards the curator-critic again.

3/15/2010 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger man said...

Fully agree with George and Ed's comments above. And remaining anon just perpetuates your self-chosen plight. Grow a set (ovaries or balls, as the case may be) and reveal yourself.


3/15/2010 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger beebe said...


Thanks for taking the most of the heat from thousands of frustrated artists. I appreciate you and the blog, and the voice and participation that it gives us. In fact, you directly supported us (the SVA class of 2006) when we had our grad show with Dan Cameron at Zwirner. (Actually, you quoted one of my comments/rants here . . . So I am committed to the idea that artists have some power to change their situations and help participate in creating a new (if short-lived) venue.

I'm kind of with Anon 1:10 pm to some extent. I've read a few posts here lately that have expressed some crabby anti-artist sentiment and that's what ultimately prompted me to respond. I'm assuming you're doing this to yank our chains and provoke us to get off our lazy, beer-groggy asses and do something . . . and I've been the interpreting the posts in that spirit.

You're on the inside of the system, Ed, so it has worked for you to some extent. Most artists currently operate on the outside of the system. (And I don't mean that in an edgy, outsider-y kind of way--I simply mean that they produce work without a gallery or any framework in which to publicly display that work.) I don't think most artists (or artists who have been working for 10+ years) expect or demand that they make a living from their work but I think most would like to get a chance to interact with the system, as vague as that desire may be and as lopsided as that system may be as well. Obviously, you're sympathetic enough to the situation that you given us this forum, post the "how to get a gallery" advice and host #class. In a sense, I'm on the inside of the system as well but from the artist side--I went to an NYC school, paid my money (boy, did I pay), had my studio visits, made my contacts in the art world, etc. I feel lucky in that respect. However, even with that exposure, the whole art world seems impenetrable most of the time, even with this forum and your helpful advice. I'm guessing that's where most of the frustration/hostility comes from on the artist. I would liken this whole experience to running in a dream--you start off strong, seem to be getting somewhere, but then the momentum slacks off and you're walking again. And you do it again and again and again. But maybe that's what an art career is--starts and stops, again and again and the "winner" is the person who can dream-run the longest. (Not sure what kind of weirdo conclusion I was going for there. Maybe not the strongest transitional sentence. Anyway.)

I feel like this on-going art world debate is akin to the debates on health insurance reform or financial reform. For the people on the inside, it's tough to see the shortcomings because the system worked for them. For the people on the outside, the system seems corrupt and woefully broken. Even if both sides are willing to discuss, the fix is never as easy and as simple as you'd think. That must be the nature of systems. But at least we--the art world-- are all talking about it. God bless you, Obama.

Thanks for the update on the registries, Ed. It's good to know those work occasionally. I now recall that Amy Cutler said that she got something (her gallery?) through a Drawing Center registry (I think).

Also, is there a patron registry somewhere? I'd sign up for that shit in a minute.

3/15/2010 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

@Anon 1:24,
Darwinian? I am not sure if that was directed at me, but if it was. I am suggesting that EVERYONE should have the opportunity to have their work seen in favorable conditions regardless of the hierarchy of the art system. That may mean some type of socialized gallery space (that is not biased toward only political work) Beyond that a market can decide. I agree that competition can benefit the power of art, but the competition currently is not free-ranged but skewed, not unlike a "free market" system that is taken over by mega-corporations.

"Put up or Shut up"
An artist has everything at their disposal to comment on the system, this includes words on blogs. Personally, my art itself is not a commentary on the system and I don't want it to be, but I will use every option I have available to make opportunities to have the art seen the way I want it seen.

3/15/2010 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I've read a few posts here lately that have expressed some crabby anti-artist sentiment and that's what ultimately prompted me to respond.

part of that may be, to be honest, the constant drone of anti-gallery sentiment I'm hearing via #class...

at a certain point, dealers must shut down and do their work to pay the bills to keep their spaces open...the more I'm in the business, the more I understand the dealers who close themselves off. No matter how many artists you stop to give your best advice to, no matter how many you encourage, there's another bitter, misinformed, self-entitled jerk of an artist right behind them claiming that you're exploiting artist despite all your does wear down your patience.

3/15/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger beebe said...

I hear, Ed. The whole experience wears down both sides sometime. It's tough for both sides not to take it personally.

3/15/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

the "winner" is the person who can dream-run the longest. :-)

3/15/2010 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Actually, the best way to ensure "both sides" are on the same side, it seems, is for a dealer to acknowledge the limits of their resources and focus their energies on the small group of artists they can best support.

That leaves a lot of artists on the outside, I know...but otherwise the dealer runs the risk of not serving any artists well.

3/15/2010 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: artists and victimhood

Barbara Rose, in her 1973 essay, Protest In Art, says,
"The initial rebellion of the avant-garde in the nineteenth century took place within the context of a specific and generally understood discipline. How much classical academicism reflected the values of an entire social structure, its investment in ideals of hierarchical order, is revealed by the violence with which the questioners of these values were attacked by the public. They were jeered at, mocked, deprived of honors and status, deliberately impoverished, and forced to live as classless bohemians. When we read Manet's and Degas's letters, we realize how ill-prepared the artist was for such rejection, and how much he continued to crave society's acceptance... Once cast out from society, however, they had no choice but to play the role of pariah which society had assigned them. Yet they never ceased suffering from rejection, for their goals were highly idealistic. It is at this stage of rejection, for example, that we get figures like Van Gogh and Gauguin, tortured by guilt because of the discrepancy between the idealism of their intentions and the reception of their art by society.
...By the late sixties, the artist's feelings of rejection, self-hatred, and guilt have crystallized to new dimensions in a form called Body Art. The success of Body Art depends on the degree to which the artist can mutliate his own body..."

-taken from Writers and Politics: A Partisan Review Reader.
Artists and victimhood as viewed by an art critic and historian, (not artists whining).

Powerful stuff, these stories.

None of it keeps us from making art. We may not like the system, but the only thing that REALLY keeps artists from making art is lack of time. For me, that means my day job. and my family, but if I didn't have the day job, the latter issue would automatically be solved.

3/15/2010 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Beebe, Ed,
Yes, it can be draining. It's a dialogue that I appreciate very much and I hope we can all be respectful and polite. As difficult as it is on either side the art each of us loves can re-energize us.

3/15/2010 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

They were jeered at, mocked, deprived of honors and status, deliberately impoverished, and forced to live as classless bohemians.


And yet, as evidenced by the steady increase in enrollments in art schools, more and more people elect to be "artists" every year.

It can't be all that bad.

3/15/2010 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

@Bernard "put up or shut up" wasn't directed at you but @anon specifically.

It would be nice if everyone should have the opportunity to have their work seen in favorable conditions regardless of the hierarchy of the art system. Unfortunately this is not a realistic option both for economic reasons and because frankly there is so much bad art out there it would overwhelm the project.

There are a lot of galleries in New York City, many of them are showing art which I would consider only marginally interesting (I'm being generous) I see no reason why any artist with a halfway decent body of work could not get it exhibited. I don't know how people do it but I see these shows all the time.

3/15/2010 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Many among "the many, many accomplished, and critically acclaimed artists" you claim are "earning effectively zero from their work" receive grants, residencies, fellowships, exhibitions (which are VERY costly),"

Yes. And these, averaged out over the years, pretty much cover studio rent and the cost of producing your work, nothing more.

I know LOTS of artists who have won Guggenheims, Pollock Krasners etc. These are NOT life changing events. Most of these artists are sill broke years later.

This is not a complaint. This is a wake up call. I have always made sure that I have other means of earning a living. I earn far more than 99% of "working" artists, and more in a year than I have ever earned as an artist, despite a pretty prestigious resume. I never said anyone owes me a living. But I am saying that most artists are delusional if they think they have any chance whatsoever of making a humane living without a day job, a trust fund or a supportive spouse.

Anyway, most of the art handlers & gallery staff that Ed mentions are just artists with low paying day jobs trying to subsidize their existence.

Artists are indeed the worker ants of this system.

Ed, I enjoy your blog and in many ways you are very generous in keeping it. But you really do tend to sugarcoat many aspects of the business. It can be a nasty, exploitative business and the furthest thing possible from a meritocracy.

3/15/2010 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous here, responding to what Ed 1:34 said to me... No offense Ed, but I'm not attributing your shift in tone to the blog title at all - i didn't say that. I know it wasn't your idea, and I'm familiar with the rest of the story behind the blog idea as, I read your blog daily. I almost sent in an image, but "thought about it" first, and decided it would be like participating in "ball busting".

However Ed, you agreed to do his idea, and thought "it" funny ( "it" in relation to what the artist thinks is funny (?) actually being, oh, all these poor artists whining that they can't get their work seen, or get a gallery or funny) so the artist whose idea it was says "Ed, give'em like 10 seconds....). Regardless of if that artist is known, unknown, rich, poor, or inbetween - I still think it was demeaning to other artists, and the idea had nothing to do with art. Maybe that you look at the images makes you and/or the artist "think" its about art, but it isn't.

If there's a next time for a similar project at your gallery, I'll suggest a blog idea that's funny about galleries and see if you agree to it. "What happened to Salander-O', hey, that could be funny..." "Denise Bibro Gallery, Brenda Taylor Gallery, and other gallery owners, now advertising-offering "career advice/services" to artists (starting first with the ones they are rejecting?), "Oh, we're here to advise you on how to write an artist statement, or help you get a gallery, or museum show." Cost to you: $1500-2500.00" that could be funny.

You also said: " ...and I still think that any artist insulted by its tone doesn't have thick enough skin to participate in the art world and should consider something less brutal, like boxing.'s a joke. If you can't laugh at it, you're not equipped to handle all the other non-joke realities in this business." Ed,how do you make the leap from "Seriously, it's a joke... all the way over to "an artist not being equipped to handle all the non-joke realities in this business? " I couldn't disagree with your point more.

Was your skin, or other gallery owners skin "thick enough" when the article in the NY times ran last summer, about all the art galleries closing? Apply those gallerists crying, whining, laments about business being so bad, to "not equipped to handle all the other non-joke realities in this business."

It's not funny when the laugh is at the expense of artists who took your artist/friends' "bait" and sent in an image to a blog that was meant to make fun of them from the beginning.

You also said "You are reading far too much into someone else's title, attributing it to me, and drawing conclusions (anonymously) that strike me as somewhat gratuitous."

I know I've probably offended you Ed - I give you credit for not deleting the comment, which is what I thought would happen. Although you have done many many good things with and through this blog, given of your time to help artists, and others including the Advice for Artists articles, it doesn't change my opinion, that the "Shut up" blog was demeaning and that there has been a noticeable shift in your attitude toward artists.

i still hope you will aim higher.

3/15/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*meant "career choice"

3/15/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And yet, as evidenced by the steady increase in enrollments in art schools, more and more people elect to be "artists" every year.

It can't be all that bad."

The art schools are not without blame here. You know, borrow $80,000 from some rapacious bank to get your MFA from Yale, or Columbia, or CalArts or whatever and you too can have a career like Dana Schutz.

So they crank out more and more artists every year.

and BTW, Ed, I'm not anti-gallery.

I just think that by and large it's a lousy career.

3/15/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:10 and 3:38 here... i also should have included that I thought Ed's "shift in tone toward artists" is probably due to the ENDLESS invasion of his life by artists wanting help. I get wanting to close the door Ed. Wouldn't begrudge you that. Since my earlier post of 1:10, several other comments came in. I agree with george about a decent body of artists work, somehow getting shown; and Joanie, of Pfan, who I also agree with + several others.

I posted anonymously because its allowed, but also because I'm in the system, like beebe and Joanie said. I have been making a living as an artist for near twenty years now. It is never easy, there are always hills and valleys. I have somehow persevered. I am currently trying to navigate through the sometimes dark waters of the NYC gallery system. Had a gallery, they folded two years ago - no finding any luck with a new one. However, I am always professional, respectful, and pleasant when approaching galleries - I believe the system should work that way - both ways. I know Ed does. I made my point already about the shut up blog, so no more.

To Ed, I just want to say if you keep pulling the curtain back for artists to see there's no "OZ" back there, maybe the art world can be de-mystified to those on the outside.

3/15/2010 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


It's hard to work through all the twists and turns of your argument and come away with a single impression of the point you're trying to make. I'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt in this response, but if I'm misreading you, perhaps you'll do me the favor of going back and offering a more concise response to my previous comments.

Was your skin, or other gallery owners skin "thick enough" when the article in the NY times ran last summer, about all the art galleries closing?

I didn't realize that 1) that article was a joke and/or 2) that that article actually had the potential to offer an a gallery an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have.

Yes, "Shut Up..." offers artists a very limited opportunity, but it's not nothing. I am actually looking and considering the work. I do, as Bernard noted, have access to the contact information for the artists whose work I'm viewing. I have stopped to consider how a few of them might fit within our program (no decisions on that yet), and I do actually have other things I could be doing instead. I do, too, still feel that if you're not thick skinned enough to chuckle at that effort, you don't stand much chance of surviving the more heinous things awaiting you in the art world. As we say in the gay world, "Butch up, Mary."'s not a tea party you're fighting for entry's more like a rugby match. You will get bloodied, but you might still love it all the same.

"Shut up" blog was demeaning

I would offer that your take on the effort is actually ungenerous. It highlights an issue (gallery's limited time to review unsolicited submissions) in a way that should hopefully help artists figure out smarter ways to go about getting their work before a dealer's eyes. In that way, again, it's generous of the person who created it. Perhaps it could have had a more Pollyanna tone to it, I don't know. Why does that carry such importance to you?

there has been a noticeable shift in your attitude toward artists

You'll have to explain more fully, offering other examples, before I'll understand what you mean by that. I have never viewed "artists" as a homogeneous group. There are many artists I positively adore, many I despise, and many (far worse) that I'm entirely ambivalent about. My attitude about one or two artists may have shifted since you've been reading this blog, but I can't see how (unless you somehow mistook that I viewed all artists as the same) you can conclude my attitude about all artists has shifted.

If you mean that my patience for anonymous artists who are outside the system (unwilling to reveal who they are, thereby effectively refusing to show us their work) insisting everyone else owes them a place on the inside regardless has shifted, you might be right about that. As I've explained, I'm realizing my resources are limited and I have an obligation to the artists I'm working with to do as much for them as I can with those resources. That's simply reality, though, not a change in how I feel about artists I don't know who might actually change art history. I still stand by all the advice I've ever offered them.

Moreover, I'll take anyone's complaints about the system and issues of access much more seriously if they'll sign their names to them. I see their lack of willingness to that do that as cowardly, and extrapolate that to mean they don't have the conviction they need for anyone else to care about their work, so why should I?

I don't have that much interest in anonymous comments or anonymous artists any more, to be honest. There are too many braver artists out there willing to put up or shut up, as George aptly puts it. They're much more deserving of everyone's time.

3/15/2010 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger "Shut Up Already I'll Look at Your Art!" said...

anyone who uses "demeaning" as a defense must have incredibly low self esteem to begin with, and to applt that to something as banal as an art project, they probably lead a bit too privileged of a life (and probably privilege that they are afraid of loosing, and subordinate to someone for providing it)

seriously we're not talking Japan Game Show preying on desperation demeaning here, are we?

hey maybe when artist send their application to art school its demeaning.

As an artist I agree with Ed that is up to us to change things, and I agree the way to do that is make great art, and the one thing I've learned from SUAILAYA and I heard Magda Sawon say at her Q&A at #class last Wed. talking about viewing art as a juror on paneles, the way she said when asked to rate art 1 - 5 she named them

1. totally atrocious

2. pretty bad

3. competent

4. pretty good

5. fantastic

and would rate 15% at either end and 70% competent.

in seeing the work submitted I would roughly agree with her, but would add of the work submitted I would rate it more like 5%, 75%, 20% and I am inclined to think it is skewed by the willingness of the artists to take the chance and put in the effort to try something new, and take any opportunity to get their work seen, that intangible drive, combined with the effort are important ingredients.

but I would add that I don't think any art made for the sole purpose of being sold is worth a damn, meaning if you want to make a living go to Law School, if you want to make art, make art, it doesn't matter if anyone else sees it, when you are done with it, make another... repeat.

This has been a lot of work for me and I do it because it interests me, and I am enjoying it, it helps that I am getting emails of gratitude from the artists, and was inspired when I came across this blog post which so epitomized what I believe about art and what I hope to accomplish with SUAILAYA that it filled me with a great sense of joy.

I don't take cynics too seriously, they don't accomplish anything, they criticize and judge and offer no solution and they produce nothing. I do believe a light needs to be shined on their cynisism and I'll quote Bill Beckley "don't be naive. Be skeptical, but not cynical"

I would also add have the guts to put your name on your comments if you want to attack ( I know the irony of someone withholding their name saying that)

To address my identity, it will come out eventually, some already know it, I would say don't bet any money you can't loose on it being Ed.

So if you are out there and have put the hours in making art and you think you have something to contribute to the discourse, gas up the compact lash your art to the hood (make sure it's not the Berkowitz's- obscure Woody Allen refernce) and come on down....

3/15/2010 04:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we face some facts? The U.S. estimates that there are over 2 million individuals in this country that consider themselves artists. There are approximately 300 galleries in Chelsea, NYC. Even if all of the Chelsea galleries could take on 20 artists each, this means only .003% of the artists in the U.S can be represented by a gallery in Chelsea, NYC. And more artists keep coming all the time.

The sheer numbers are against most artists from ever gaining the kind of career they aspire to.

3/15/2010 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

It seems that what they don't tell you in art school is that almost every artist will need some way to support themselves when they get out of school. The period between 2000 and 2007 was a radical departure from the norm in terms of art sales and what one might earn as an artist by selling ones work.

A second factor which many do not consider is whether or not they have the right disposition for being self employed, regardless of whether it's being an artist or working freelance at something else. Most people are not suited for this, they positively freak out if they do not know where and when their next paycheck is coming.

This is a very real psychological situation which affects a good number of people, artists or not. As an artist, one has to face this uncertainty and make an appropriate choice. For almost my entire career as an artist I worked freelance, this means I never quite knew where the rent was coming from each month.

I think for most artists this financial uncertainty is the norm, even successful artists find themselves in this situation, their nut is just bigger. Further, history shows the art world is fickle, what it likes one day it dislikes the next, which again is a surefire source of uncertainty.

3/15/2010 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

So Anon $:38, Mr. Statistic, what's your point? We all agree that it's difficult becoming successful as an artist and that most art school graduates drop out of the field in the first 10 years. I really don't see what your point is, why are you here?

3/15/2010 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Hey Socialist Ed, (you asked everyone to call you that last week...) you actually sound conflicted. Your seeking to jack up some attendees by denying their claims of victimhood is kinda, how shall I phrase it... conservative!

I've dropped by #class a couple of times and hope to make it in again before it closes, but there has been a tendency towards a whine fest. Ironically, this project about art has turned out to be more about turning it into some kind of home business/cottage industry-- make good money in your spare time thing. No one had discussed "what is good art" or "how can I make good art". I have to believe "great art" is made by people who want to make great art first and foremost, not a comfortable income. So long as we link art with income, 99.99% of artists are going to be unhappy.

3/15/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

George - you make an excellent point! I was married to an artist for 15 years, and it was clear that art schools don't do a lot to prepare artists for the fiscal reality of being an artist, and it was easy to become bitter at how difficult it was to get any kind of reasonable income off of art, steady or otherwise even with representation.

Being an artist is a tough (a)vocation. And it is tough enough that if you enter it with even a scintilla of a sense of entitlement, you are bound to be disappointed.

Every show, every sale is a victory regardless of its financial implications (as someone who ended up subsidizing an artist through my paycheck these felt like my victories as well, though I had no creative contribution to the work itself) - but you are always drawn back to a hard cold fiscal truth eventually, and have to come to terms with it in some manner. And a lot of the time it seems simply unfair that something that takes so much out of you, is not valued enough to let you just do that all the time. Most of the cases, anyway. (Jealousy, Anger are both emotions you battle with when you see others succeed, when success is so hard won for yourself).

This issue is no one's but yours - it isn't a galleries' problem (they have their own issues to deal with and a passel of their own artists to deal with), the critics (many are minimally paid or unpaid, and while it is possible for an artist to "make it big" a la Hirst, I don't know of a similar pathway for a critic), or loved ones (though these are most likely to help or subsidize through love of YOU, not always your work).

3/15/2010 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

What James? I'm supposed to be a revolutionary? I thought that was your end of the deal.

3/15/2010 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Crone said...

+++The sheer numbers are against most artists from ever gaining the kind of career they aspire to.

I don't like this idea that only an artist worth of being supported is an artist, or that an artist must mean they aspire to or already have a career. It goes against my idealism that the amateur artist can work a whole life before creating a single great artwork and that it was worth it. No one should forcefully
support anyone claiming to be an artist, but to claim only artists who find support are artists is
wrong because not only bad art is still art, but bad art is still good for the person who has made it. Making bad art IS valuable. The attempt to make great at is always valuable, even when it fails.

As far as sponsored-state art, given our tiny demographics, the quality of art in alternative spaces in Canada is rather high if I compare it with a stroll in Chelsea where there is loads of things I find uninteresting. Chelsea always have good art because the whole world is crammed there.

Netherlands has some great electronic art festivals. France feels sometimes weaker but I don't think the problem is strictly related to state sponsorism, just like communism didn't affect fine art by making people lazy. I would think like Jen Dalton that any system will privilege certain artists and lead them having easy lives. In the art market you have many artists who invent one great thing, then repeat it all their life because it sells well (another dot painting, anyone?). This is not possible in state-sponsorism. Artists in state-sponsorism may lack the ambition that a market can offer, but when they move their ass it's usually because they believe they've found an interesting piece to add to the puzzle of artistic reflexion.

Also the war in state-sponsorism is between the artist and curator, and this leads to interesting
discussions about, well, art. In the markey, the war is between artist and dealer or collector,
and everybody talks about money. Money, money, money. Where's the candy?

Cedric Cassoulet

3/15/2010 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

@Brent... One thing I notice is that a lot of a young artist's idea of the art world comes from art magazines. This was true for me when I was young, I just naturally assumed that anyone the were writing about, or had an ad for, was living in fat city making the big bucks. Over time, we're exposed to the truth and leave these illusions on the wayside, but when we're young they are the carrot in front of us as we strain forward for the brass ring.

3/15/2010 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Re woe-is-me: Generally speaking, I notice that when an artist or dealer does something outside the hierarchical box, there's a group of whiners just waiting to pounce on some aspect of the venture.

I also notice that folks who work outside the hierarchical box, who make or create opportunities for themselves and others, are extremely supportive of others who who act similarly.

So the whiners, by their own negativity, end up perennially on the outside, while the doers feel reasonably fulfilled by the community they join or support or create.

This may not be a great time to be an artist financially, but it's a fine time to take advantage of electronic media to promote, organize, share, and/or become part of a real or virtual community even while we're working alone in our studios.

Thanks, Ed, for providing such a community.

BTW, it's not no much that artists should have special rights but that we should have the same rights as everyone else. (Sound familiar?) People who make the least amount of money have to pay for their workspace unlike, say, a a banker whose corner office and big-buckaroo perks are part of the job; who are asked to donate artwork that they can't then claim as a deduction; who are ill prepared by (most) art schools for the financial reality of life in the art world.

3/15/2010 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Original Anon. 1:10 here. Responding to SUAILAYA,

Aw, c'mon, you know the real reason artists even submitted images is because they have the "dream" that Ed or another dealer might CHOOSE/SEE their work out of the multitudes, and offer to represent them. The example you cite "10 seconds of fame" underscores it.

I didn't use the word "demeaning" as a defense at all. Basically I said the blog was "demeaning" TO artists, which I think is proven true (by commenters). In Yoga, they say that the breath you are inhaling is the breath of someone exhaling. Or in other words, we're all in this together. I won't extrapolate this further, but I was fully aware of the original post Ed referred to about reviewing submissions, etc., etc. I understood that part. I'm saying, I don't think in the end, most artists CONSIDERED SUBMITTING THEIR IMAGE WAS A JOKE. They sent them in with a hope, dream, or prayer - but you only meant it as "its a joke." Your project doesn't do anything toward "changing things" as you say. It reinforces for many artists that their work only ever gets a ten second look, if that, and that galleries are mostly inaccessible to them. I mean, it you really want to shake this all up, then offer every artist feedback from Ed or a panel about their image.

Self esteem isn't my issue - but you sure make assumptions (probably more bait).

About "Magda Sawon's" comments. OK. But that;s like the "9 out of 10 doctors recommend Bayer aspirin." Which 9 out of 10 are we talking about? Recently, on another blog there's a post by a NJ curator with a different and more encouraging descriptive of how she considers work.

You said... "but I would add that I don't think any art made for the sole purpose of being sold is worth a damn, meaning if you want to make a living go to Law School, if you want to make art, make art, it doesn't matter if anyone else sees it, when you are done with it, make another... repeat."

Your law school comment is funny and ironic, because many of those people who made their living at something other than art for the last twenty five years, now want to make art (having lived unfulfilling lives for so long), and they have the luxury to do so. They are navigating the system with you.

You said..."I don't take cynics too seriously... Sounds more like you don't take criticism well. Are you a recent art school graduate?

You said... "I would also add have the guts to put your name on your comments if you want to attack ( I know the irony of someone withholding their name saying that)."

Firstly, I didn't attack you, it was an "opinion". Secondly, there are plenty of anon. commenters. who participate on Ed's blog and may others. We all have our reasons why we might sometimes post anon. I stated my reason for this forum. Accept it or not, but it doesn't take away from the comments. If Ed wants to end anon; posting, then he should. It's his blog.

3/15/2010 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in Philadelphia. Where I worked, I had to pass some county office that processed petty criminals as they were being released from jail. These people would be leaving the one office and have to get to another office by a certain time. That second office was across town somewhere and because of time and distance the releasee needed to take public transportation to make the appointment on time. Unfortunately, they did not have the fare and no allowance was made to them by the county.

As I passed this office on my way home, I was constantly asked by frantic folks for the bus fare. Each told me the same story, so I believed there was some truth. None asked me for more than the bus fare. For one week, I gave out bus fare. I soon realized however, that the problem was bigger than I could handle and my generosity was beginning to effect my ability to take care of myself. I was conflicted and saddened, but I realized that I could not help everyone who needed help.

George, this is what my point is. There are too many artists for any one person, gallery or even Chelsea to help. The artists have to realize that they have to figure their careers out for themselves.

I work in a gallery (non profit) and I understand the difficulties that Mr. Winkelman is discussing. I have had to face many whiney artists, who expect, even demand that our gallery make their career for them - however they envision it. Not only is it not the mission of our gallery, it is not even possible within the scope of one group exhibition - even if I were so moved by the pathos of their argument.

I have discussed with my alma mater the possibility of instructing art students in the business realities of the art world. What I was told was that my alma mater was not a vocational school. So where does that leave us?

I am sorry if my 2¢ is unwanted in this forum. I assumed that it was open. I believed that a dose of reality was in order. One of the major contributors to the state of the art world as it is are the number of artists who want in. What you do with this information is up to you.

3/15/2010 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger "Shut Up Already I'll Look at Your Art!" said...

There are approximately 300 galleries in Chelsea, NYC

then there are the 57th st. galleries, the Lower Eastside galleries, the Brooklyn galleries.. OH and every gallery in every major city, second city and tertiary city in the U.S. Then I hate to break it to you but there are other countries and other cities on the planet...

SUAILAYA is addressing one of the major issues getting art seen, it doesn't matter how great you are (or how great you are in your own mind) if a Dealer don't see it, they can't show it.

Also each gallery does have a limited # of slots to show work, one solution to that has been group shows, more group shows would be nice, maybe instead of 3 week shows, a mix of shorter shows, one or two weeks for more obscure artists, we live in a fast paced world with many eyes and many cameras it doesn't take long for a great piece of art to be seen.

What I've seen and heard during #class has been encouraging overall, one of the most encouraging was the "Collecting with you Eyes" panel and listening to Barry Hoggard and James Wagner talk about art

to save time here is a portion of their statement from the "Hoggard Wagner Art Collection" website:

Barry Hoggard and James Wagner are small-scale but zealous patrons of
all the arts, with particular devotion to the visual. They have
separate blogs covering art and politics ( and
and together maintain an opinionated New York visual arts calendar (

I sometimes do work as an art handler, and have been to quite a few apartments that look like theirs, of collectors from different era's going as far back as the sixties these are the little guy collectors Ed is always talking about (well little as compared to say Broad) they spend what they can, and buy what they love and keep things going, and I think they both said if they had more money they would buy more art.

Ed has many times sang the praises of such collectors and hearing them talk I now know why.

Yes there has been a lot of kvetching at #class, but that is understandable, part of the problem is a bunch of poor artists trying to live in the richest city in the country, but there really isn't a solution for that aside from artist stageing a mass performance piece called "Exodus", but I will ad that it is representative of the larger problem of poverty in America, if our country would stop being so stingy and acting paranoid and catch up to the rest of the western industrial nations and take care of each other instead of judging each other it would solve a lot of the problems artists face as well, it used to be Europeans envied America for our freedoms and wanted to come here, now I envy European countries for their ability to balance social democracy programs with capitalism and take care of their own.

3/15/2010 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger "Shut Up Already I'll Look at Your Art!" said...

If anyone is interested Ed will be demeaning artists tues. at 2:30 in a fourth session of "Shut Up Already...I'll Look at Your Art!"
(all those wishing to picket or stage protest in defense of the exploited artists please do so in the designated area behind the police barricades.)

3/15/2010 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been earning a living as a practicing artist since my undergraduate studies. In no way have I been lucky, and in no way have I 'sold out'. I have been steadily working, rather, obsessively working at my craft almost daily since I received my education. Some years the income is great, some years (last year) are brutal. I panic and I do often wonder when the next sale will take place but I have never tried to change my work for financial gain. That said, since I was 20 years old (I am now 31) I did make it a goal to live off of my practice. I have a lot of early work out in the world that I regret but those sales allowed me to continue to pursue a daily practice. I have learned about my work and myself skipping Columbia and Yale and have managed to find representation without assistance. I am not trying to rub anyones nose in my mediocre success (and it is mediocre at best), but I am suggesting that if you (as an artist) want something from your 'career' go out and find a way. I come from a regional place, smallish population and small collector base. I wanted more for myself so I packed up and moved to New York. I struggled for two years, hustling. I felt like a cockroach. I poisoned myself living and working in one room, a room with no belongings. At the point which I was ready to pack up and leave I found a great dealer who is doing everything within his capabilities to support me. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes they don't.

3/16/2010 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am starting a movement right now!

Having Jasper Johns being my main influence, I will take his ideas and advance them, with my work and the work of those who join this movement being the proof of this progress, while remaining true to the dialogic between his work and our own individual creations.

I the artist, make work that can only be viewed in person.

-It can not be photographed, as its size offsets the focus of detail.

-Therefore it can not be viewed on a computer, slide or any kind of photo reproduction.

-It can not be digitally altered, facebook tagged, twittered or viewed on a phone.

The disconnection between people, the galleriest, the curator and the artist is fueled by the disconnections that keep us safely tucked away from real interaction that art thrives on.

I ASK YOU! If an artwork is NOT reproduced on the web, does it exist in this era?

The risk of going out and interacting with artists in their environment will be the only way to view this art. Gallery's seem comfortable enough going to the latest new born MFA show and plucking the virgin talent before they even know what will happen.
Let them come to all of us and do this.

To you artists, your work must be enough to impress someone who comes to see it and can't take it with them on their iphone. If they want someone else to see it, they will simply have to exhibit it, write about it strongly enough to attract viewers and take the same risks you take allowing them to show it in their space.

I once heard "I can see this Francis Bacon painting on my computer screen" NO YOU CAN'T!

Artists that create their work on a computer or digital device, have no fear! As long as it can only be viewed in person and doesn't require detail images, you should join as well.

NO MORE ONLINE GALLERIES, it's time to start writing and organizing tour groups. You think the the web brings art to the public? That's a screen saver.

This movement will be the movement that the web-based artists can look forward to changing, but until then I will continue making art under this light.

So I will now stop complaining and continue creating under these obstructions ... and stop existing.

SIGN OFF ISM ... or at least take a break and come over for a drink.. ism.

3/16/2010 02:21:00 AM  
OpenID delsel said...

I'm with James Kalm on this one--

Any real artist regards money as merely a resource (albeit an important on) and by no means the primary motivator. The acquisition of money can only be good for art if it directly results in better art and greater opportunities not a higher standard of living.

Therefore any and all whiners should reexamine their motivations concerning their interest and engagement in art.

Plenty of people will make a great deal of money off of mediocre art, that does not concern me. Far more important is the question of how one: Makes the best possible art while finding the appropriate audience and resources to sustain it's continued growth and evolution.

I understand the desire to gain access to the inner sanctum of the art world, but one should not be blinded by money or influence the real prize is found in engaging the audience of one.

The Image Association

3/16/2010 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

...if travel agents had the same fears when tourists took photos of their vacations destinations and journey's...

So how come we inherently know the difference there, but haven't passed on that message in the arts?

3/16/2010 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Acquiring financial resources allows one to continue to pursue ones practice. Artists should start becoming aware that it is a necessity and it is possible without sacrificing quality.

Guilty me for also wanting to live a little bit better than a poor student in to my 30's 40's 50's and 60's.

BTW. I am a 'real artist'.

3/16/2010 09:28:00 AM  
OpenID delsel said...


You don't have to convince me, anyone can call themselves a "real artist". Consequently, I am one as well, however debatable that may be to some.

As long as in your upward mobility you are not losing your intensity and immediacy as an artist, I see nothing wrong with improving your standard of living. If however, you are operating as a cottage industry as James Kalm appropriately termed it; then I would term you a businessman first and an artist second.

Do think about this critically before may find yourself in agreement if you consider.

3/16/2010 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't this end with "how can you decide what is the best art?" Who decides? The power structure already in place? Gallery owners? A new Art World Order? Most artists think their art is good art, worthy of being shown. Some think their work is the BEST - Attribute this to you can't be in a creative field without a fairly good size ego or you'll never survive. There is no definitive answer here.

I don't care for the whining and complaining either, whether its the artists, collectors or galleries doing it. But those aren't the only whiners and complainers - in search of better/higher standard of living, career, funding, etc. Researchers, scientists, teachers, etc. do the same. These past several years, who hasn't experienced a pay cut, job loss, dept. funding cut, or whatever? And we all know its human nature to complain. George pointed out that he's freelanced forever and never knew where the check would come from. I commend his commitment to his art.

Artists should stop believing all the various myths in this field. They're absurd!

ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SITUATION - DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! - TRY OPTIMISM, because EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING. Keep working, keep participating, make the work, put it out there. Your break may come - or, it may not. With age, you will have to decide how to accept where you are at, and what will you do if you can't achieve what you hoped to accomplish as an artist. You may have to face that you will only exist on a lower level, so if MAKING ART, is, as you say, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU, then only time will tell if you keep making it.

Being an artist is a life(style) choice, and you have to deal with that, and know you will make compromises (to maintain it) along the way, or drop out.

The popularity of artists, musicians, actors, is always going up and down. There are many visual artists fortunate enough to be represented by several galleries at one time, who may find that demand for the work they've been doing has dried up. They may fall out of favor for years before their place on the "wheel of art" comes round again. So don't begrudge any fellow artist their success, as it doesn't usually come easy (although you can believe the myths if you choose).

Chuck Close recently said something like, "Real artists show up and do the work every day".

George said: "Put up or shut up".

Nuff said.

3/16/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Like Somebody Cares said...

We are surprised that with so many smart people writing in that this has gotten nowhere other than to polarize into the Whiner Family on side and the Have Family on the other.

To say there are no problems and that those who call out for a fair shake are whiners shows a total disregard for whatz right in your face. The unregulated industry of art is full of nepotism, cronyism and a host of other things that makes government look like choir boyz. Pleeeeezzzzzzzz!!!!

Don't you respect when otherz question the New Museum, like Finch and Powhida, are they whiners too? How about Roberta Smith calling for more inclusion in museums? What about the anonymous Bruce HQ folks? These people are the ones who are brave enough to speak the truth about the plutocrats at the top and the jet set artists who man and women the biennials. And what about media equity? Some great galleries and artists NEVER get reviewed. We could keep a whole blahg on this subject and we do.

So what can be done? The artists need to organize and demand a seat at the table. This is starting and it's about time. Every group needs a leader, where are our leaders? Maybe some were identified at #class. But it isn't easy and we don't blame them for fearing that they run the risk of pissing off the artists and curators on the inside because we all know you can't get in without a letter of introduction.

There is a shift and Ed is helping way more than any other gallerists that we can think of. Ed gave you all a seat at his table. We would say you all could have used it in a more productive way to organize instead of only talking about money and staying on the PROBLEMS without getting to the ACTION part!!!!

It's amazing to us to see these dialogs and push back taking place, it's great!!!!!!! Yippee!!!!! Let's not let it peter out. Other movements have been snuffed out by being ignored by the media and the haves, or lost momentum over time, or lacked leaders who were about to organize the troops. We really hope that the web will help keep this going and that artists will Come Out and Stand Up!

lovvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeee ya!!!!!!!!!!!

H+H artblahg.blogspot

Oh yeah. Anonymity as a tool has a long and illustrious history by smart people. Take Ben Franklin, Voltaire, all resistant groups, etc. etc.

3/16/2010 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you're interested in doing anything with your art in addition to physically making it, you will become involved with the business side of things. Thereafter, it will be mostly, if not entirely impossible to be separated from it.

As Joanie said earlier: Most artists underestimate the amount of time that you have to spend on marketing, pr, networking etc. to get your work out there.

There are many levels to the art world, and artists who operate as a cottage industry, choosing to work at one of the levels other than galleries, but are able to earn their living through their art are fortunate. Robert Motherwell was once described as being a "cottage industry" from his studio in CT at the height of his career. I'm not saying he EVER was a businessman first, but what difference would it have made?

I believe most artists make work for themselves first, but ultimately they want or need to show and sell it. What level they can exist on is determined by their art.

I interpreted Kalm James' comment in a different context.

3/16/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

@Anonymous starting a movement...

LOL, you're funny! Also you're missing the point that today art is about the idea, not the object, making technological distribution the medium of choice.

However I like your idea of a movement (just had one, thank you:) but would suggest that you study the artist Murakami (Takashi not Haruki) who built a highly successful career for himself by analyzing the art market and acting accordingly. Branding is the key to sucksess.

3/16/2010 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

The main problem with the Johns/AbEx analogy is that currently there is no dominant movement for artists to react against

Fine, but there are a lot of other things to 'react against', pars, engage... take the dominant culture for example. There. That should keep most of us busy for a lifetime.

3/16/2010 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous fala said...

I have a day job because I don't make enough money from selling my art - yet. This double edge sword allows me to make exactly the kind of work I want to make independent of the pressure of sales (and I get health insurance and a retirement fund – which compromise as it is, isn’t all that shabby.) The other side of the sword is that I am unable to dedicate 10 hours a day to making art because I am commuting to and from work, and at work, five days a week, 10 hours a day – imagine what could be accomplished 10 hours a day in the studio? I can. I am happy that I have the ability to make what I want with whatever materials I want, but on the other hand I am constantly frustrated that I do not have enough time to make as much of what I want. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if everyone just shut up, buckled down, did the work and worried about the money later that it would create not just better work out there, but a better market and art “scene” in general.

Re: expectations, entitlement, etc - I am not expecting anyone out there to decide I should be the next art star, I don't expect to ever be rich from making art (it would be nice, but I’d be delusional if I thought it were a realistic expectation.) Of course I'd prefer to be making art as my primary source of income instead of having a day job, but things could be worse. So, yes, I am whining that I am not making a living from my art but my whining stems from the fact that I’d much rather be in my studio.

SUILAYA is hilarious. I thought as much from the beginning, and still think so. SUILAYA addresses the issue of artists not getting their work seen by seemingly important people – which goes back to the issue at hand. Who’s in control? The artists or the galleries? Who can create the most change? The artists or the galleries? If we as artists all cry “poor me” when a gallery doesn’t decide to represent them, then we are not doing anything. If we all said, “forget the galleries” and did whatever we wanted independent of what is currently fashionable in the art market at large, then perhaps the power would return to the artists who are as Ed said, catalysts for change. I don’t have a solution for the artist-masses, I believe that artists might be better off deciding that they should do what is right for them as individuals and not aspire to be like Jasper Johns or Damien Hirst – because they did what was right for them as individuals not because they wanted to be the next Jackson Pollock.

3/16/2010 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Klow said...

Wow. So, I’ve been insulted and exploited? Please.

I’m one of the artists participating in the Shut Up Already program. I took it for what it is: (chuckle) – Hey! I can submit an image! And it will be viewed by Ed! Cool!

I had no expectations other than that. I didn’t know there would be a Shut Up Already blog, with slide shows of the images, so my expectations have already been exceeded. I had no such notion or fantasy that someone was going to look at my image and it would lead to gallery representation. I’m just happy for some exposure. To me, it was a tongue-in-cheek offer of exposure, nothing more.

And I’m thrilled I’ve been a part of an exciting gallery/online experiment with #class.

That’s good enough for me.

3/16/2010 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous ak said...

I just wanted to say I'm with you 98%. Self-pity is uninteresting and so is the idea of compensation simply for making art. If you really want to make art stop complaining. Either you do or you don't. If you kinda want to make it, are half-into it, then you complain and feel sorry for yourself. If you want to make it then it doesn't matter if some gallery likes it or not. There are a many reasons why some artists make it and some don't... i don't agree completely with Edward: I think there is a little more to it than just the work itself. But that's far and away the most important part. I think from our vantage point and exposure to information/gossip it's easy to think without instant success you have somehow failed. and that somehow all these artists from other generations just made it into the canon of art history or recent art historical relevance with nary a struggle. They probably were motivated by the same struggles that elicit self-pity out of certain people.

3/16/2010 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Kianga Ellis said...

When you are right, you are right. Ed, you are right. Full stop.

3/16/2010 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Marco said...

"I do feel that competition (for the limited rewards and resources available to artists) brings out innovation and hard work, and those lead to better art".

I disagree with this comment.

Most artists are engaged in other work for income. If you have a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) and have to compromise time to make your work, I think you are wasting so much valuable time that could be spent engaging in making and forming ideas.

If there could be a system that free's-up time for artists to make works, such as, if an artist pays for space to have a show, say an artist run space. So... the artist has three self paid shows say, ( and have proof). The next show is paid by the government.

We need of new ideas, instead of these blockheads with no imagination to run things. (I'm talking about the Australian government here)....

In a interesting book "Contemporary Europe Art Guide" by Mark Gordon, states, that governments are responsible for how the art scene thrives in a particular country. It's the amount spent and infrastructure built for artists to tap into that makes it all happen. A good example is Germany.

Love your blog Edward, keep it up - you sound like an interesting person.


3/17/2010 06:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Lisa Klow:
Nothing personal and no offense Lisa - glad you are happy, and can skip merrily along the yellow brick art road with your expectations (of SHUT UP) exceeded(?) with your 10 seconds of exposure.

Regardless of how many viewers each spend 10 seconds looking at your image, you are receiving very little, worthy exposure. We surmise that if viewers aren't interested in your genre of work it will be less than 10 seconds, as unlike Ed, not all agreed to the stipulation of 10 seconds).

Many viewers are only coming to the site because it IS perceived as "a joke", and that's also their opinion of much of the work - hopefully not yours.

However, think about this for a moment, IF artists would hold themselves and their work in higher esteem, not allow the doubts and insecurities of sometimes (perceived) lack of career progress (as its "not a sprint, its a marathon") we would THEN be making the CHANGE, that in our opinion, is part of ED's point (not the only part, but the beginning of what he means).

The Shut up project is a poorly conceived idea, that should be insulting to artists who are proud of and value their work. SHUT UP is strong language and if you dissect the underlying message in the title, artists would understand who and where it was taking aim. The projects appeal is to the unrecognized. The post it was based on was about the incessant, bothersome (rightly so) requests to ED, to review submissions, and the gallery was no longer doing so - it couldn't possibly keep up with the volume.

Yes, there's the "I thought it was tongue and cheek" rationalizations for sending in images, but why allow your work, that you are committed to, take seriously, and are proud of, be used for something that was admittedly "a joke" and has nothing to do with ART. Perhaps in the end, when SHUT UP will "reveal" (ooh, the suspense) and say their idea, and the project was ART, performance or whatever genre/form you care to call it. If you want exposure, there are literally thousands of FREE web sites where you can have EXPOSURE for your work to be seen, commodified, seldom-sold, praised or ridiculed. But do so with caution, just as you should be cautious approaching galleries, for at the lower levels where "pay to show" galleries masquerade as legitimate, its a snake pit. *See the above comment by Joanne Mattera (artist/blogger undeserving target of a vindictive websites' rath for exposing them for what they are. Yes, she makes light of it, she can, because she's strong, confident, established enough, and has SELF ESTEEM - but the fact is that it happened as a RESULT of her STANDING UP FOR ARTISTS, and of her belief that artists SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. In this particular case, ICO gallery exists by taking the hard-earned money of unsuspecting artists.

Although that might be a bit of a reach - as so far, Joanne has been PC as to commenting about Shut UP and the firestorm in this post, but I don't think she put an image of her work on there. Nor did some of the other well known commenter/artists on this blog. They thought/knew better. Can't say if Jen and Bill did.

The number of comments in agreement with our pov show that many other people consider the project was, well ... we hate to use the word "demeaning" again, but there it is. Yesterday, SHUT UP even "joked" further about Ed getting ready to "demean" artists with more viewing. Hardy Har Har, "tongue in cheek".

So the participating artists got their 10 seconds of recognition from a gallery, and now no complaining for one year!
Uh Huh.

3/17/2010 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Marco said: If there could be a system that free's-up time for artists to make works, such as, if an artist pays for space to have a show, say an artist run space. So... the artist has three self paid shows say, ( and have proof). The next show is paid by the government.

Ed, what do you think of this idea, or a form of it? I doubt the government would ever subsidize it, given the mess we're in. How about with a commercial gallery?

1. Could a legitimate gallery work out something like this without it being seen as negative, bad for artists, or the gallery accused of becoming a "pay-for" space?

2. Are we coming into a time when galleries will ask artists to "share" more expenses?

3. Is that appropriate?

3/17/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Anon, Shut Up Already, Can I See Your Art?

Because to me the project is not so much about Ed than the artists participating and the interaction. Isn't there a blog where people can comment about the art afterward? Isn't this some project that has an ongoing life post the event that you so decry? Doesn't it extend from Chelsea? Aren't we branding this project at the moment by talking about it? I do believe in the potentiality of this project to create a Susan Boyle. Yes, people were laughing at Susan. They thought she had a good voice, but never expected her album to outsell so many other artists (not with her "bad looks" and what other rubbish you've read). I think this project is interesting enough that it might be done oce a year, asking a different group of dealers or curators, really like a You've Got Talent show, but without the pressure of television and the entertainment industry.


3/17/2010 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're kidding right?

3/18/2010 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...


Does SUILAYA have the potential to create the next ________________ of the art world? Anythings possible I guess.

Thing is, at the end of this SUILAYA, how many galleries will change their review policy regarding artist submissions?

What if all galleries adopted a 10 second digital image review policy for artist submissions, one image per artist?


3/18/2010 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'd say the fact that we're even discussing these questions in this public forum suggests that SUAILAYA has been helpful, Bill.

3/18/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I think its helpful to discuss these questions and people's pov in a public forum too. Its why I enjoy your blog so much.

A lot of these question/pov's have been tossed back and forth many times, in previous posts on this blog. There are certain people who participate on this blog who write and inform very well. And it's interesting to reference back to some of the earlier posts in the archive and piece them together with the same individuals current comments to form almost a complete conversation.

A couple people have written enough material for a really good book of essays!

3/18/2010 01:46:00 PM  

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