Money Makes Art
Artformz is very pleased to present an exhibit that addresses the current global concern for “money”. How money, the abundance of it, or the utter lack of it affects everyone’s lives is the topic of conversation everywhere. One can read the newspaper, research on the internet, log on to a blog, or read art journals and hear an astounding array of opinions and projections about the state of the art market and its affect on art making. With discussions of cultural planning setbacks, to the elimination of art grants, to cutting art from school curriculums, to the question of how artists’ works are responding or not to the economic shifts – Artformz decided to see what some artists have to “say”, to “paint”, to “perform” or “construct” in reply. More to the point, the gallery artists were challenged to create freely in direct response to the title. Ambiguous? Yes, purposefully so. And the result is an expected wide range of interpretations and takes on the theme.
The outcome has been decidedly personal with each artist coming up with decidedly different work in each of their own styles, yet all reflect the current focus on currency. Everywhere there seems a conversation of sales, consumption, need, the economy, the paycheck, the job, retirement, bills, mortgages, college funds, layoffs, and studio rent.
Just as expected the phrase “Money Makes Art” could be interpreted negatively or positively. Artists who embraced the market will probably define our era. We have only to look at the overwhelming success of Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst to see just how money, and lots of it, certainly helps to make art, and lots of big art. Even at a much smaller level, all artists understand that with more money there are more supplies and more art gets made. Of course, this creates a downside if an artist compromises production so to ensure that the much needed “money” is coming in. This can have a devastating effect on artistic integrity, resulting in inferior work. I heard an interview from 2007 between curator and critic Karen Wilkin and artist Larry Poons. He states an interesting experience. In 1968 he was showing at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, and Castelli had a dealer who made an offer of $10,000.00 for his painting. Poons quickly realized this meant his career was on its way. But then he made the decision to leave the gallery, saying he didn’t want $10,000.00 a piece for his work. He felt the pressure would be too great to not do anything differently. Of course, he adds that knowing everything he knows today he would not have left Leo Castelli Gallery!
And the dilemma persists as artists tiptoe through this recession. While we listen to the hype and propaganda on how everything is getting better, the work struggles to get made and each artist finds there own creative way to survive. Money certainly does facilitate making art, but at the same time, the lack of an abundance of money in the wrong hands may just possibly make better art.
On the evening of November 14, at the exhibition’s opening reception, Artformz will hold a special event welcoming award-winning journalist and art critic Elisa Turner to the gallery. She will conduct live interviews with participating artists, presenting the public with some inspired ideas on money and the making of art.
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Elisa Turner has written reviews, features, profiles and news stories as the former Miami Herald art critic and as the Miami correspondent for ARTnews. Today she continues writing for ARTnews and other publications, including the Latin American art magazine Arte al Dia, based in Miami and Buenos Aires. In 2007 she wrote the foreword to the celebrated Miami Contemporary Artists (Schiffer Books) by Paul Clemence and Julie Davidow, available at www.amazon.com, and museum bookstores. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and ArtTable, Inc., a national organization for professional women in the visual arts. Her column on the current pulse of the art scene “ArtCentric” can be read in Art Circuits in print and online at www.artcircuits.com where you can also catch her newest creation the ArtCentric Blog.