Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Has Mighty Casey Struck Out, or Has the Crowd Simply Missed the Home Run Cause They Were Checking Their iPhones?

Freude, schoener Goetterfunken...blah, blah, blah...
It's a paradox: how packed it seems to always be at MoMA, despite its $25 entry fee and the conventional wisdom that no one really cares about visual art any more. Usually, resentful New York artsies will explain it as having nothing to do with what's on the walls; MoMA has become a tourist attraction to be checked off on one's list as you exit their gift shop. If only they would just move on to Abercrombie & Fitch, like you know they want to, perhaps I could actually see the exhibition. The fact that easily half the conversations one hears in MoMA are in languages other than English supports the tourist explanation, and perhaps that's all it is. I know one finds the same sort of crowd at the Louvre and other museums with worldwide reputations. Still, it remains New York's functioning temple of the avant-garde and crowded or not, we New Yorkers still want to /have to go there. (Yes, yes, I know, you can buy a membership and go when it's not as crowded...but those events are not always in sync with my schedule, so let me bitch, will ya?). And perhaps it's this constant contamination of the rarefied air in this sacred place that causes it, but I find myself in agreement with Charlie Finch's conclusion in a report on a recent visit there. From Artnet.com:
MoMA's rigid Eurocentric habits, where the dry candy of the mind is everything and what dazzles the eye is nothing, ...[T]here is no joy in art, only a dull beating thud inside the head
And so I thought about that for a while...is there no joy in art any more? People do seem to have mostly glazed looks on their faces after touring New York museums or gallery hopping. Or is it simply that there's soooooo much art to take in, and in the museums (and sometimes the galleries) so many people elbowing you out of their way, that any joy found is quickly replaced by annoyance. One of the reviews for our current exhibition was NOT what you'd call a love letter (although the show has gotten tons of good press overall). This one reviewer, though, didn't like the show, and that's ok, but this part of her response gave me pause:
Filling an entire wall of the gallery, these 34 letters are a hilarious read, yet after trying to elbow my way through the opening crowds to read the text, I questioned the point of this action. [emphasis mine]
I couldn't help but wonder if the reviewer's response to the work might not have been different had she not had to elbow her way through to read the text. Just as I can't help but wonder if my last visit to MoMA wouldn't have left a different taste in my mouth if it hadn't been such a chaotic circus. See, the thing is, I do, almost constantly, find joy in the art I'm surrounded by. The works we have up in the gallery, the works we have up in our home. These objects will often completely delight me. But then, I have plenty of time alone with them. And they have plenty of time to catch me off guard, like a thump on the head meant to say, "Hey! Slow down, a**hole. This is your life you're rushing through."

UPDATE: On the same topic, consider this.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Gam said...

I wonder, do you think it worthwhile to have a Pre-vernissage event for reviewers only(invited or drop in with credentials). Where they alone are invited to a viewing among just a select few and maybe the artists in attendance?

It might sound like elitist manouvering, but then maybe in such a scenario they could focus and review the art work and not so much the party? Do they prefer day or night shows?

1/11/2012 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Critics generally come throughout the exhibition as fits their schedules. If someone wishes an early peek, we are always happy to facilitate that. But often, writers don't identify themselves. The one in question never asked for images or let us know she was writing a review.

1/11/2012 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Saskia said...

I couldn't agree more with the last paragraph of your post. It also highlights what in my opinion is the best reason to buy art; to be able to take your time and live with some of the art that you love. It's an entirely different experience than visiting a museum or gallery, especially for a revolving fare of art exhibits vs. going back time and time again to see your favorites from the permanent collection.

Of course I'm eternally grateful for museums and galleries to present so much amazing art that I can't or don't have the means to live with... or, just exposing me to new things. However I always find the format to be a bit of a compromise. It's a public walk-through. Even when you do find benches/ chairs, they don't exactly invite you to sit down and stay a while...

1/11/2012 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous GAm said...

Ed,

I alwasy figured your gallery would be accomodating and very generous with your time. But what if you extended that service instead of waiting to be asked. A bit like opening a door without being asked. Now that's customer service -

and you've already seen that the critic in question doesn't have the gumchin to ask for a prescreening and is distracted by crowds.

What if you did initiate a press preview as I think they do in cinema? Just wondering, I dont know the gallery circuit in and outs and you would. I just know that sometimes, it's better to offer then waiting to be asked.

1/12/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

people buy art for different reasons, but for some it's to soak up excess cash....the Hirsts are perfect for that.

1/13/2012 12:03:00 PM  

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