Monday, March 21, 2011

Accelerated Nostalgia

The oldest item of clothing I have in my closet (and still wear) is a sweatshirt that's more than 30 years old. It's a hand-me-down, but it's super comfy and warm, and I have very fond memories of times spent in it, so I keep it and occasionally still wear it. I was thinking about that the other day when Bambino was watching American Idol and the ages of the contestants were roughly about half that of my sweatshirt.

I was thinking about that too when I saw that Artnet Magazine, the longest running of the online pioneers (I least it's the highest-profile publication of the earliest pioneers) is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Artnet Magazine editor Walter Robinson pens a refreshing look back as an introduction to the republication of several choice articles from 1996:
In those early days, "we’re just starting out" was one of my favorite excuses, and it was good for the first couple of years, at least. But looking back now on the texts that we posted -- and that is what we’ve done here, put up-to-date titles, blurbs and links to some of our earliest articles -- they need no special pleading. Quite to the contrary, I happily publish them again today, because of the commentary itself as well as the authors who wrote it.
And so he has, including
  • "Revenge of the Blockbuster," by Lee Rosenbaum, 3/18/96
  • "Six-figure sales at tune-up auctions, ADAA Art Show," by Judd Tully, 3/22/96
  • "Social Responsibility and the Art Critic," by Eleanor Heartney, 3/18/96
  • "Nari Ward at Jeffrey Deitch Projects," by John Good, 3/22/96
The first line of the article by John Good does give you a good sense of just how long 15 years can be in the art world:
We can't help but be impressed by the three shows produced thus far by the former Citibank art advisor and freelance curator Jeffrey Deitch in his closely watched new space on Grand Street.
In looking through the topics republished, though, I got a sense of why there was a initial sense of frustration from Artnet toward bloggers, including yours truly, who burst onto the scene about 5 years ago offering up our opinions on issues, as if such things sprang (like so many Athenian gigabytes) from our heads, that Artnet had tackled more than a decade before. Such is the nature of all new comers and new generations in all fields, though, and simply a part of participating in an ongoing dialog.

Still, if the date on Lee Rosenbaum's article was hidden, it would only have been her examples (and not the issue) that clarified the time-frame of her article on blockbusters:
A new breed of art impresario whose strong suit is showmanship, not scholarship, is moving in on the blockbuster business. As exemplified by both the "Wonders" exhibition series based in Memphis, Tenn. and the Florida International Museum, St. Petersburg, these presenters hire art experts as temps; shell out megabucks to borrow treasures from money-hungry foreign museums; construct lavish installations recreating the ambiance of tomb, temple or palace; charge hefty admission fees; and promote the whole package like an art theme-park. The goal is to attract thousands of visitors and millions of tourist dollars.
So I tip my hat to Mr. Robinson and his mighty team of writers with their formidable pens (ok, keyboards) for leading the way for the past 15 years. Here's to the next 15 and beyond!

Labels: art online, art writing


Blogger joy said...

For a couple of years I wrote a column for artnet called "Into Africa" (1999-2001). If there's anyone responsible for me getting my writing sh*t together it was Walter: an exacting editor and and excellent boss, he whipped my often sloppy, purplish prose into shape like magic. No nonsense. I owe him. Extra hat tips from this corner.

3/21/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Joy, I second that. Walter didn't know me from squat when I first proposed an article. He liked the idea, accepted it and PAID ME $. Props to Walter.

3/22/2011 01:53:00 PM  

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