Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top Ten Things I Didn't Understand in 2010

I'll be the first to admit that I've never been the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but quite a few things that made headlines in the art world left me more than a little confused me over the past year. I do have this unsupported faith in accumulative human knowledge and experience and perhaps wrongly expect that we'll all learn from past mistakes and make better choices than our predecessors. Either way, here is my top 10 list:

In 2010 I didn't understand:

10. The notion that an art dealer is automatically a bad choice to head a museum, when clearly years of putting one's personal money where one's mouth is to champion artistic expression and studio practice is no more a guarantee that one will stand up to a bit of public pressure than never having done so is.

9. How the Republican Leadership managed to turn all our clocks back to 1989.

8. Why so many American art students feel that if they haven't attained certain career milestones (such as a solo museum show or having their work highlighted at an auction) by the time they're 25, they've somehow failed at their chance to be a success. Oh, no, wait....this is why.

7. Why there no longer seems to be a meaningful phrase in Greek for "conflict of interest."

6. Why there no longer seems to be a meaningful phrase in American English for "parody."

5. How so many super smart people fail to recognize that approaching the art market the way, say, David X. Li did the stock market, will not only most likely lead to a similar ending, but that it's distracting them and us all from art's more important value.

4. Why people were so willing to be so publicly concerned with how Marina Abramovic urinated during her performance at MoMA. I mean, I realize that hours and hours and hours and hours of waiting for one's turn does tend to make the mind wander, but what ever happened to keeping certain thoughts to one's self?

3. Why the European Commission is apparently willing to recognize video and media as "art" in competitions that their members jury, but not when it comes to taxing imports.

Why Tony Fitzpatrick isn't simply coronated King of the art world and empowered to run the whole shebang.

1. How to follow a conversation on Twitter without monitoring it constantly...and even then. How about a few freaking absolute links??? I mean, come on!

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Blogger LG said...

I once read that the question Nasa is asked most is "How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?". Go figure.

12/27/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Selena said...

RE: #8

I'm 23 and feel exactly that. I bang my head endlessly when I think of the monstrosity BravoTV created. I've got two more years to live and I have enough on my resume to seem somewhat dignified as an "artist" whatever that is, but I'll never make it until Damian Hirst decides to sue me.

12/28/2010 04:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

technique, maybe now it's all about how and not about why.

ah lists! I doubt you really want a response but I'll offer a suggestion for #8. I re-read an interesting essay/book in 2010, a statistical analysis of artistic greats - the thesis being that artitsts can be grouped into two poles on a spectrum of greatness if you will. The distinction being revolution and evolution if you will. The revolutionaries shake up the art world and the establishment, suddenly out of left field like a lightening bolt and typically when young they cause upheaval (for good or bad.

At the other end of the spectrum, the evolutionaries evolve their process over time. It's never good enough and they develop their why for's into their golden years where they are "suddenly" discovered.

One approach is earned discovery,constantly evolving, the other dispensing a sudden find, revolutionary. One best geared for youth, the other geared for the golden years. Like the difference between making or taking a decision.

While both artistic "stereotypes" have value, yet in an epoch of insistent innovation, it's easy to see why many youths prefer revolution over evolution.

still, 2010 lead us all to 2011!

thanks for your blogging Ed.

12/28/2010 07:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I think an art dealer is a bad choice to head a museum. Just because one has a few extra $ in the bank all of a sudden makes one a leading authority?

12/28/2010 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Wow...that's perhaps the lamest of arguments for why an art dealer is a bad choice to head a museum yet offered, complete with straw man argument, false assumption, and non sequitor. win the prize!

12/28/2010 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

I dunno, if the dealer can raise lots of money, organize good and even fun shows, buy new pieces, take care of existing collection + building, and bring in visitors, then "why not" to dealer-guy running the museum. If this mr. dealer is weighed down too much by preferences, biases and business connections/friends from gallery days, then maybe it's not such a good idea for him to run a not for profit museum. Rather than museum vs. gallery background, I suppose it comes down to skills + knowledge + ethics in making the hire. (Yikes, I mentioned ethics in my comments about the art world, maybe I'm on board for the lameness prize.)

12/28/2010 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I would agree with your final calculus, Marcus. It does come down to skills + knowledge + ethics. The central assumption I've seen insinuated again and again in response to this appointment is that a dealer is automatically more suspect when it comes to ethics issues. I think this is outmoded thinking and insulting to dealers who haven't had anywhere near as many scandals erupt over the past year, relatively speaking, as museum directors have.

12/28/2010 10:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

I was not assuming dealers are more suspect than anyone else. Both gallery and museum people have baggage, smarts and opportunities to "do the right thing".

12/29/2010 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

museum head ... maybe our concept of what a museum is and does needs more exploration.

Actual newsline from today:
Masterpieces by *******, ****** and more coming to *** in 2 blockbuster shows.

I know when i go to big shows at the museum they force you to exit through the gift/memorabilia shop. It's part of their show. Knowing the ins and outs of the financial side of the art world may not be such a bad thing. It may no longer be simply about masterpieces but more about blockbuster shows. And if it isn't, knowing either side of that art coin, would give you the perspective to highlight the otherside of the coin.

Actually think a duomvirate might be interesting. Like you say, its in the skills, the question is what does the museum wish to accomplish in order to know what skills to seek.

12/29/2010 07:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In that case perhaps we should allow collectors to be curators of museums too.

12/29/2010 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Who said they can't? The issue with the collectors in question is their relationship to said museums, not their curating skills.

12/30/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your #1 item and subsequent comments remind me of my artist friend who a few years ago persued (pursued?)NYC gallery representation. Like many artists, she was rejectioned and ignored. Her fate changed after she got a show in a prestigious midwest museum. A Madison Avenue gallery that had previously given her the cold shoulder, subsequently took her on and included her in shows. (My friend joked that she submited the same reproductions that the gallery did not find good enough earlier.) It's not that gallerists (is gallerist a word?) and collectors can't or shouldn't work for museums, it's just that museums have some sway and influence on the gallery market.

12/30/2010 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, if you look closely you'll see that tony fitzpatrick is the king of the art world and does run the whole shebang! happy new years, all.

1/02/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9. How the Republican Leadership managed to turn all our clocks back to 1989.

Good thought but back 1989 the national debt was $10 trillion less and the unemployment rate was almost 2% points less. Still, we can dream of those gauzy happy days.

1/05/2011 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So far, it looks like you should back off on number one. The long-term institutional values that a museum director must serve are so different from 'putting one's money where ones mouth is' that I'm actually shocked (as a big fan of this blog) that this is #1, not to mention here at all. As if offering to pay from one's own pocket the costs inherent in destroying an artist's installation that one had blindly commissioned did not adversely affect both the institution and the community.

1/07/2011 07:38:00 PM  

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