Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Artnet

Artnet's magazine has ceased publication. Yesterday was its last official day. 
This came as quite a shock to me, but according to other people closer to the operation, it's been struggling financially for quite some time. 
On Twitter, Tyler Green (who noted he had written for Artnet back in the day) compared the magazine to a "clubhouse," which in a journalistic context is perhaps not exactly a compliment, but in the context of the New York art world is not exactly an insult either. 
Indeed, Artnet has been, among the online art publications, the best at reflecting what the New York scene feels like from the inside looking out. Others have perhaps published more articles on a daily basis, but then Artnet never published anything close to as many fashion-, celebrity- or movie-based pieces as many of those other publications seem to, so after you subtract the articles on non-visual-art topics, perhaps Artnet's numbers are just as high (anyone willing to count?).
The people who have been regular contributors to Artnet are indeed quite impressive. Here's but a fairly recent list (there are far more Artnet alumni who have since gone on to other endeavors):

And of course, there is the amazing Walter Robinson. We haven't always been on the same page, Walter and I. Back in the day when blogs were first gaining audience, I objected when he published a few pieces that took swipes at the mostly unedited and far too frequently unseemly free-for-alls we call blogs. I argued back then that blogs were not attempting to replace edited magazines or newspapers, but merely expand the dialog beyond them, giving their readers more opportunity to express their views on the issues than mere letters to the editor. I'm not sure Walter ever agreed with me about that.
But if you've ever had the pleasure of talking with Walter Robinson, or reading his essays (his piece "The Quest for Failure" [kind of hard to find, but start here] remains one of the most insightful and honest explorations about what it means to be an artist in New York that I've ever read) you realize he's not only that rarest of people in the New York art world (a true believer), he's also extremely funny, charming, and (for an editor) humble. In short, you'll look far and wide before you find his kind in this city today. 
It would be remiss of me not also to mention that Murat and my first thought when hearing the news was to wonder where we'll get our daily dose of Charlie Finch now. Few humans you'll ever meet are as improbable as Charlie, as infuriating as he is lovable. When I reflect on why it is Artnet feels more reflective of what the New York scene is like from the inside looking out, it's hard to discount how many hours Mr. Finch spends in the offices and dinners of the art world's elite, gaining that perspective. His is virtually an anthropologist's approach and as many people in the art world as he's pissed off, he has educated (even despite themselves) far more. 
My morning surfing of the arts publications won't be quite the same now. I will sorely miss the smart, approachable, and authentic voice of Artnet's magazine. I am sincerely grateful for the kindness they have shown our gallery over the years and look forward to each member of its family finding new homes soon.

UPDATE: The news about Artnet just gets stranger and stranger.
The changes at the company are part of a larger power struggle between the current management and a group of shareholders that has recently been accumulating stock at a rapid clip. Until the announcement that Mr. Neuendorf would step down, and cede the title of CEO to his eldest son Jacob Pabst, 39, the family faced a proxy battle at its July 11 shareholder meeting, and still may lose the company. The threat to the Neuendorfs (Mr. Pabst takes his mother’s name) comes from a group of investors led by Russian art market analyst and former investment banker Sergey Skaterschikov, founder of the art market analysis firm Skate’s. In the matter of Artnet, Mr. Skaterschikov represents Redline Capital Management, where he sits on the board. Redline is owned by the Russian billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov and has recently purchased enough stock to own at least eight percent of the company. Its capital already outclasses Mr. Neuendorf, who is 74 and was described in a recent article in Der Spiegel as having to sell some of his art collection to cover his debts. As if that weren’t enough, Redline is joined in its efforts to control the company by Rüdiger Weng, whose company Weng Fine Art takes a commodities approach to artworks, and who owns four percent of Artnet, thanks to purchases made this year.
I'm personally no fan of the compassionless approach to the art world that Skate's Sergey Skaterschikov is known for (see here for example), and to be honest, having worked in another field where business-only types killed what had once been a more gentile and creative culture, I'm not at all interested in seeing the kind of bottomline mindset Skates' represents gain any further hold in the art world. The arts are supposed to reflect our more human side. You accept less money for working in them because it fulfills you in other ways. Once it becomes all business and nothing but business, you may as well make your money in finance or insurance or statistics.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Walter/Artnet was pretty much the only publication in the USA to care deeply about the Puerto Rican art scene, never being condescending towards it or labeling it "Latin Art." And it was the only big mag to take Chicago and the Midwest seriously.

Pedro Vélez

6/26/2012 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Not to mention covering scenes like African contemp. art diaspora, etc. I sincerely hope they will archive the magazine online instead of pulling the plug.....cf: Artnet --> nostalgia trip, yours truly, 'Into Africa' Archives ca.1999-2001: http://www.artnet.com/magazine/reviews/intoafrica.asp

6/26/2012 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry Saltz said...

R.I.P. Artnet Magazine.
Babe, I'm gonna miss you ...
Jerry Saltz

6/26/2012 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Don't miss Jerry's lovely tribute to Artnet on NYMag.

6/26/2012 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

To add to what others have said, Walter was always open to hearing from different voices in different places. I wrote a few features from San Francisco (and was paid!) starting with this interview with Kenneth Baker:

http://www.artnet.com/magazine/FEATURES/stender/stender10-7-03.asp

6/26/2012 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wtf , this sucks. Artnet was a big part of my Art World Home Schooling. I realy liked those Thomas Hoving Videos, they were my favorite. And then you have Charlie Finch who's gonna play the Badman in the art world now? Thank You to all at Artnet Magazine for turning me on to the Art world.

Best Regards
The ART Junkie

6/26/2012 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

As someone who was one of the first forty of fifty artists who subscribed to artnet.com (to help promote and sell my paintings), before it morphed into the online magazine (largely being charmed into this new world of internet connectedness by Walter Robinson as salesman), I'll always have a special place in my heart for him and the publication. Suffering both insults and kisses from Charlie Finch, I'd chuckle and keep in mind that aside from all the useful info I could glean at artnet.com, it was above all "entertaining". Perhaps not the best epitaph, but now, the show must go on. Thank you artnet.

6/26/2012 11:47:00 AM  
OpenID urbanmotif said...

I, too, am sad at the demise of ArtNet Magazine. I penned an appreciation on TruffleHunting last night and have been thinking about the palpable void that will be felt ever since. http://wp.me/pQLSv-rJ
Artistic dialogue will live and morph and evolve. The hunger is out there for intelligent coverage. There's just got to be a way to make it financially viable!
Cheers, Mario

6/26/2012 01:33:00 PM  

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