Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Super Foul Mood List of Pet Peeves

I'm in one of those moods so foul that even though my better self knows I should really keep away from the keyboard, my less-than-better self has rudely shoved my better self out of the way, grunting, "Step aside Tinkerbell, Papa's gonna drive this time."

What's put me in this puppy-punting state of mind is none of your damn business. Thanks for asking. What's important is how I intend to work my way out of it. Hence, my newly updated and freshly frothing list of pet peeves. You got a problem with any of these, you write it on some extra coarse sandpaper and then... [censored]...

OK, here we go. Ed's less-than-better self's revised list of art world pet peeves:
  1. Museums with no apparent crowd capacity limits. The thinking here must be that if the public are stupid enough to part with $20 for the privilege, they're most likely too stupid to realize that Monet probably didn't feel his etchings were more powerful if you had to try to view them through a forest of other people's heads. Just call it "speed contemplation," eh? I've had longer moments of jostle-free, meaningful reflection in a mosh pit.
  2. Popular filmmakers' portrayals of the art world. You'd think after (what is it now, 90?) years of living in Manhattan, that Woody Allen--of all directors--would have a much better sense of how to write what happens in the gallery world than what he offers in his laughably lame (and that's one of the only laughs you'll get from it) attempt in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." The studio visit dialog of supposedly London's top gallerist would embarrass a strip mall poster framer. The artwork they were touting as the next big sure thing in their space would embarrass the poster framer's dog.
  3. The "Is contemporary art too elitist?" question. To my mind that question is as relevant as "Are the Bulgarian names for the ingredients in this casserole too alliterative?" Who cares? The only question I see as truly important is "does the casserole taste good"? Likewise, for art, "is it compelling for me or not"? What's all this sphincter twitching over whether or not it also appeals to other people who consider themselves intellectuals? Do you force yourself to eat a quiche that invokes your gag reflex just because other people say they like it? If you like the art, enjoy it. If you don't, walk three feet (at least in Chelsea) and try something else. Then again, you can't know if you like the quiche until you try it, so don't be afraid to give new things a go.
  4. Hotel price gauging during big art events. Try to stay at Loews Miami Beach hotel between December 1 and Dec 5, and the starting rate is $539.00 a night. Book your stay beginning December 8 (same day of the week, only after the fair has ended), and the rate magically drops down to $299.00 a night. I know, I know, cry you a river that I can't afford to stay at some luxury hotel...but their towels are so-o-o-o-o-o fluffy! Don't even get me started on the insane gauging during the opening of the Venice Biennale.
  5. Running out of vinegar when trying to be a caustic curmudgeon. OK, so this has calmed me down a bit. Now it's safe for me to walk among my fellow humans. (I think.) Please excuse the flying digital spittle.
Do feel free to share you own art world pet peeves.

Labels: open thread


Blogger Saskia said...

1. It's so derivative! (the real question is, Is it well or poorly derived?)
2. People who call everything derivative but when critiquing your work, keep saying you should try things that are just like what they are doing.
3.I really, really, really hate it when people are dishonest with me. This happens to me more in the real world than the art world, but don't even try it, you will be sorry.

10/05/2010 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Artsy and its companion, arty. Hate the words, hate the people who use them.


10/05/2010 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Thanks so much esp for #3, Ed.

10/05/2010 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the list! You should do this one monthly.

---ondine nyc

10/05/2010 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger J. Wesley Brown said...

Allowing those canonized to get away with crap work. Move them aside for new talent. You should constantly have to prove yourself with new work. No resting on laurels! If a museum wants to show their stuff, show the earlier, good work and let this new crap find a home elsewhere.

10/05/2010 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

1. Galleries that reap the private rewards of public largesse granted in the form of museum involvement in their artists' careers.

2. The direction of art museums by people who are so non-visual that they cannot couch their mission in visual terms, such as Kaywin Feldman and Thom Collins.

3. The trite, empty, ubiquitous assault on convention, which is now so banal that the MFA Boston just described the work of Kristen Baker as "blur[ring] conventional definitions of painting."

4. Ass kissers.

10/05/2010 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is contemporary art too elitist?"

"Tell me: Do you think the assumptions behind that question are too elitist?"

"Fine. I won't buy your art."

"Your loss."

10/05/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

Anon -

This begs the question - Would you have bought it anyway?

Elitism is both a truth and a red herring. It is confusing the actor's work with his or her entourage when you ask if contemporary art is elitist or not. I love art, and I really like (most) of the folks I have met in it. But I am not there for them, despite most being pleasant to be around.

10/05/2010 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Lucas Spivey said...

On item #3

Noticing that items 1, 2 and 4 all require cash to experience art; let's not rule out that contemporary art might be discriminating, not on purpose, but in effect.

10/05/2010 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

galleries are free :-)

10/05/2010 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger ellen yustas k. gottlieb said...

Thanks, love reading you, Edward. galleries are free, more so, they have so much to offer, art, but not just buying it or seeing, becoming a new entity, a person that once didn't know he could love and understand art. how many times I saw that happened when people become art addicts, art lovers. More much more, like for instance medicinal effect of an injured soul (this is a fact that someone who had suffered loss of love, etc. always benefits from encounters with art in a time of need)
sincerely yours

10/05/2010 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger J. Wesley Brown said...

Ok, too much fun. A couple more:

2) Curators constantly poaching off the galleries. Go out on a limb and find something new you like and vouch for it! It used to happen.

3) It's 2010 - We're in the age of the internet, yet so many galleries (and museums, though the lesser culprits) have really crappy or even non-existent online features of their current shows. We don't all live in NYC and while seeing it online is certainly inferior, at least it's something. In an age where we dare to buy shoes and jeans online, sight-unseen, don't galleries realize they would be helping to spread the word about their artists and could potentially get some additional sales? How about staying home from one fair and using that cash to hire a web developer?

10/05/2010 10:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I like the art world. Most people are at least polite, if not necessarily nice. And at least some of them care about art and ideas. It's a better batting average than most other businesses.

10/05/2010 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Number 1 & 4! And baby strollers in crowded museums, little kids (who don't want to be in an art museum) crying and crying...

10/06/2010 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Museums with too few places to sit in exhibition galleries, or worse, none at all. I remember the Agnes Martin retrospective at the Whitney where there were no label texts to accompany the paintings, only a couple of quotes here and there on the walls. I can't quote exactly but to paraphrase one said: Anyone who can sit on a rock in a field for a while will be able to appreciate my painting. The irony of course being that the museum provided not one place to sit in the exhibition. I like to get lost in looking at art and like to park my butt while doing it, but museums are more concerned with keeping people moving.


10/06/2010 04:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J. Wesley Brown mentioned curators poaching off the galleries. That's a good one.

What about artists poaching the efforts of other artists? One artist bushwacks her way into new territory and the followers are up her butt to get what she has been working for. Yeah, yeah, everybody's bushwacking, everybody's climbing, but get out of my butt and off of my shoulders while I'm still on the move. (You know who you are.)

10/07/2010 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger J. Wesley Brown said...

@Linda - My day job is at major museum and a little known fact is that you can request a light stool to take with you and sit anywhere in the museum. I also saw them at Art Institute when I was there this summer. Not sure about other museums but it's worth asking!

@Ed - I've got a new pet peeve - cowardice:


10/08/2010 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. When people pretend that the art world is somehow outside the rest of the capitalist world.
2. People who run high end "shoe" shops and then complain about supply and demand "price gouging" based on supply as though they weren't doing it themselves.

10/09/2010 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger zebra factory said...

Some more for the list:
1. Poorly edited shows. Three good images loose most of their oomph if shown with two poorly executed works.
2. The 'filler' in some shows. Too often I'm seeing shows with price-friendly small works that lack the substance of the larger stuff. Pulls everything else down.
3. Blockbusters. Spend $10m bringing this or that to town for the generally disinterested masses (mainly for good PR numbers) OR spend the same money acquiring and supporting the local arts community.

10/09/2010 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger patsplat said...

My #1 peeve is the discourse about how practitioners should "take risks," and the absence of discussion about what constitutes a good risk versus a bad risk.

For sure, one has to ante up to participate in the art world. Make your art, organize your gallery, write your criticism with little expectation of reward. But to often we here critics encourage blind self-immolation. Every time someone is burnt out, the field as a whole becomes smaller and suffers a loss.

10/10/2010 01:25:00 PM  

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