Articles | ArtSlant https://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/show en-us 40 The Fascism of Recent Art History: A Conspiracy of Hysterical Importance <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">History, it is said, is written by the victors. But consider who they were and the probability that the annals of human experience have been accurately recorded becomes mired in doubt. Maniacal emperors, murderous zealots, and despotic psychopaths have connived their way to power for millennia. Even those rulers who were moderate or beloved were not immune to vaingloriously tilting the scales of perpetuity in favor of their accomplishments, or those of their favorites, for that is human nature.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">And what of the vanquished? What of their stories: those who were present, who contributed, but were suppressed: the talented but disconnected, the brilliant but bypassed? For every <strong>Telford</strong>, <strong>Hume</strong>, or <strong>Watt</strong> inscribed for eternity as the discoverer of this or the inventor of that, how many more will we never know, who were just as close, no less visionary, but lacked the glint of timing, the benefactors, or the fateful stroke of fortune?</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">And so it is in the field of art where we are prescribed by those in power, the proletariat&rsquo;s tidy cultural diet of laws, from which we mustn&rsquo;t err for fear of being thought the ignorant carriers of aesthetic pestilence. In a perverse and reverse alchemy, art history is written around the golden careers of certain artists who are promoted as shorthand motifs for various styles, eras, or movements, with all others edited out or retained as footnotes, orbiting dust in the dark peripheral clouds of obscurity.</span></p> <table width="400" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>...at some point someone would have dripped and poured their way to renown in place of Pollock...</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Imagine that <strong>Picasso</strong>, <strong>Pollock</strong>, <strong>Rauschenberg</strong>, <strong>Stella</strong>, or <strong>Rothko</strong> had not lived. Were they the only ones doing what they did with paint? Geniuses? A ludicrous assertion; they and all others of canonical repute were simply&hellip;there. Noted by a gallerist, hinted at in a review, or assisted by a supporter. Picasso and <strong>Braque</strong> were not included in the first exhibition of Cubist work at the 1911 Salon des Ind&eacute;pendants, but they are considered the founders of the style. Sometimes politics, nepotism, race, sexism, or geography are factors, so that for every <strong>Jacques Louis David</strong> there are many more unknown <strong>Gabrielle Capets</strong>; for every <strong>Andy Warhol</strong>, there is a <strong>Carol Rama</strong> and dozens like her whom we may never know, as the painter <strong>Annie Kevans</strong> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/19/why-female-artists-airbrushed-history-annie-kevans" target="_blank">explores in her work</a>.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">The most famous artists known to us are so because the public has been deluded into believing that they were unique, by the unrelenting process of mythologization which roils around them, furiously maintained by collectors, auctions, retrospectives, museums, and critics. Art history may have had different players, alternative firsts, but at some point someone would have dripped and poured their way to renown in place of Pollock&mdash;it was hardly nuclear fusion&mdash;as every artist we are aware of today would have had their replacements. The names don&rsquo;t matter; it&rsquo;s the sociopathic recording of so few of them for easy posterity, and for commerce, that does.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">That process continues unabated as art world influencers promote the arrant nonsense that star artists are uniquely important, not because they are&mdash;no artist is, or ever was&mdash;but because too much has been invested in them to permit any other reading. The art world&rsquo;s Stasi mustn't allow its house of cards to collapse.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Such critical fascism is dangerous because it denies the true representation<strong>&nbsp;</strong>of what is <em>actually </em>happening in any given period, and prevents more reasoned and fuller discussion of a greater number of artists. It also petrifies contemporary art discourse within either the carcasses of a few artists who are long dead&mdash;whether literally or creatively&mdash;or the rising suns of younger, often, mediocre artists, swaddled in the invisible new clothes of their galleries&rsquo; press machines.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160517142941-16386124818_25749b03dc_o.jpg" alt="" width="500" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">One of 12 pieces from Richard Serra's <em>Sequence</em> arriving at SFMOMA. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfslim/16386124818/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Aaron Muszalski</a><br /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Of the former, such oxygen thievery is exemplified by <strong>Richard Serra</strong> and the ubiquity of his titanic manufacturing conglomerate. Nary does this McDonald&rsquo;s of the art world miss an opportunity to dictatorially stomp his jurassic footprint across the globe on the grounds of any museum that will house one of his insufferable metal tantrums. Concurrently the slobbering industry around him&mdash;headed by Zwirner and <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/416529-above-below-betwixt-between-every-which-way-silence-for-john-cage-through" target="_blank">Gagosian</a>&mdash;proceeds with a napalming program of international exhibitions and unnecessary retrospectives that do little more than highlight the utter bankruptcy and irrelevance of his work in 2016, while frantically beating the expired horse into one more hopeful critical shiver. The staggering arrogance and incomprehensible expense of his output beggars belief, but no doubt the money involved in the Serra industry will ensure that it survives. Imagine the vast spaces&mdash;literal and critical&mdash;that would yawn open to interesting, lesser or unknown artists if he were consigned to history&rsquo;s scrapyard. No amount of scouring could produce anything of note to write or discuss about him that hasn&rsquo;t been said, other than this suggestion. And business is brisk: the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has predictably calcified itself with a 214-ton Serra colossus, touted only by its measurements and stats. With Serra&rsquo;s output accompanied by fawning press releases <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/arts/design/review-from-richard-serra-steel-behemoths-that-get-into-your-head.html?_r=0" target="_blank">in the<em> New York Times</em></a> declaring him &ldquo;certainly today&rsquo;s greatest living sculptor of Minimalist abstraction,&rdquo; is anyone even considering alternatives?</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160517140736-4358851233_4dc11a7545_b.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="FreeFormA" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Felix Gonzales-Torres, Installation view of&nbsp;<em>Specific Objects without Specific Form</em>, Wiels, Brussels, February 2010. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcwathieu/4358851233/in/photolist-7DbfBt-7Dfzqh-7DfhMS-7DfQqm-4TtYnF-7DfdDf-7DcB7t-7DbXwR-7DeVgC-7Dd7ja-7DbKnM-7Ddg2z-7Df8y9-7DcWpc-7Dgr19-7DgPy3-7Db32T-7DcPUD-7DeKs5-7Db4Vz-7Dg6rW-7Dgkyy-4TybJh-7DcgWt-7DcHBn-7DfVkS-7DeZZ9-7DgiCG-7DckWz-7DeXpS-7DbmYV-7DbA4T-7Dgcgd-7DeNt5-7Dd5dB-7DddMr-7DgtGf-7DfEPh-7Dc63t-7Dby4p-7Df5JY-7DaQqx-7DeLRY-7DdbKe-7Dce6p-7DeBbw-7DaMqv-7DaBzX-9neWg1-oPRAjX" target="_blank">Marc Wathieu</a></span><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcwathieu/4358851233/in/photolist-7DbfBt-7Dfzqh-7DfhMS-7DfQqm-4TtYnF-7DfdDf-7DcB7t-7DbXwR-7DeVgC-7Dd7ja-7DbKnM-7Ddg2z-7Df8y9-7DcWpc-7Dgr19-7DgPy3-7Db32T-7DcPUD-7DeKs5-7Db4Vz-7Dg6rW-7Dgkyy-4TybJh-7DcgWt-7DcHBn-7DfVkS-7DeZZ9-7DgiCG-7DckWz-7DeXpS-7DbmYV-7DbA4T-7Dgcgd-7DeNt5-7Dd5dB-7DddMr-7DgtGf-7DfEPh-7Dc63t-7Dby4p-7Df5JY-7DaQqx-7DeLRY-7DdbKe-7Dce6p-7DeBbw-7DaMqv-7DaBzX-9neWg1-oPRAjX" target="_blank"><br /></a></span></p> <p class="FreeFormA" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="FreeFormA" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><strong>Felix Gonzales-Torres</strong> is an example of how one person&rsquo;s disproportionate presence as a go-to motif for a particular moment suffocates the reputations of equally deserving artists. As the Princess Diana of art he will never grow old, his work will not decline, his oeuvre redacted to perfection. Given what the art press, and the gatekeepers of his legacy have decreed of his talent one might be forgiven for thinking that artists stopped living with HIV, or reflecting upon its influence, immediately after his death in 1992, such is the dearth of coverage on the subject since. Gonzales-Torres&rsquo; cultish disciples have successfully positioned him as a one-man industry with a monopoly on deathly sympathies, trauma and romantic loss. From his feathered position at the De La Cruz Foundation to his crass, corrupt selection as the United States posthumous representative at Venice in 2007, his reputation has been burnished and distorted beyond all reason. How did anyone living know how he would have wanted his work represented at Venice? He was a fine artist, but not more deserving than many others working in a similar vein, or of lesser privilege. His works were simply better connected. How many are as familiar with the work of <a href="https://johnwilcoxart.com/about/" target="_blank"><strong>John Wilcox</strong></a>, who lived long after his diagnosis, until 2012? How interesting to know where the story went for artist chroniclers like him who survived beyond the holocaust of eighties New York. But perhaps survival isn&rsquo;t tragic or melancholy enough? Similarly, <a href="https://www.visualaids.org/artists/detail/robert-blanchon" target="_blank"><strong>Robert Blanchon</strong></a>&rsquo;s work is as elegiac, heartbreaking and potent as Gonzalez Torres&rsquo;. Both Wilcox and Blanchon were contemporaries of at least commensurate perception yet they remain woefully under known. And today, who is aware of the vital intergenerational resource that is <a href="https://www.visualaids.org/" target="_blank">Visual AIDS</a>, where younger artists living with today&rsquo;s HIV-related challenges are forging new ideas?</span></p> <p class="FreeFormA" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160517135541-P1190644.JPG" alt="Jeff_Koons" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Jeff Koons, <em>Tulips</em>, 1995&ndash;2004. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;Photo: Andrea Alessi</span></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">And on it goes; tired relics retain bloated art world real estate, from column inches to floorspace. If you like words, <strong>Barbara Kruger</strong> or <strong>Jenny Holzer</strong> are still obscenely, the textual standard, despite all&nbsp;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/45138" target="_blank">these new artists</a>; see those Faberge Follies <strong>Jeff Koons</strong> and <strong>Damien Hirst</strong> for outdated ostentation and pointless pop trinkets that no other <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">artists</span>&nbsp;producers could afford to make. For a refutation of such opulence note the gesture of British artist <strong><a href="http://www.kyoland.com/" target="_blank">K Yoland</a></strong> who walked out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas with half a million dollars, impressive and useless, shredded as they were. </span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Note <strong>Marina Abramovic</strong> for media saturation and Jersey Shore-style <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/59629-marina-abramovic-says-cruel-jay-z-completely-used-her-for-picasso-baby-stunt/" target="_blank">star-gazing antics</a> in performance art. If all performance artists were required by law to see <strong>Larry Kramer</strong>&rsquo;s <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Normal_Heart" target="_blank">The Normal Heart</a></em>, the discipline would be less populated and better for it. <strong>Richard Prince</strong>&rsquo;s primary auction activity comes in the form of desperate bids for attention through stealing from younger artists; <strong>Rachel Whiteread</strong> still casts space emptier than her ideas. Last year at Luring Augustine, the gallery was &ldquo;pleased&rdquo;&mdash;not excited&mdash;to present her show <em><a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/events/show/399018-looking-in" target="_blank">Looking In</a></em>. We might look to <strong>Rob Mulholland</strong>&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.robmulholland.co.uk/cloud-catcher/4568727580" target="_blank"><em>Cloud Catcher</em></a>, or &ldquo;<strong><a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/news-scandal-erupts-over-fake-invisible-art-stunt-120088">Lana Newstrom</a></strong>,&rdquo; for some fresh thought, especially considering that the latter artist herself was cast in empty space.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">See </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Cindy Sherman</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> if you are </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">James Franco</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, Pace Gallery, or you like masked portraiture rendered obsolete by every enhanced selfie on the internet. </span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Ai Wei Wei</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> garners continued accolades as the art world&rsquo;s biggest victim&mdash;despite stiff competition from </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Tania Bruguera</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, who at least is </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-tania-brugueras-cuba-20150108-column.html" target="_blank">aware of her privilege</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Is it brave of her to protest in Cuba as politics and normalizing relations with the west overtake her? Meanwhile, lesser funded, more vulnerable artists attempt to fight government abuses unheralded, and often die for it with </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Pavlensky" target="_blank">Pyotr Pavlensky</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/writing-on-wall-for-street-artist/story-e6frg6so-1226028339330" target="_blank">Kais al-Hilali</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/05/02/151852095/a-syrian-graffiti-artist-defiant-until-death" target="_blank">Nour Hatem Zahra</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, and </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/apr/12/voina-art-terrorism" target="_blank">Voina</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> among them. In their seriousness and anguish such activists do rather expose </span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Banksy</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&rsquo;s artistic wardrobe as all fur coat and no knickers.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Still other artists are promoted as stand ins for their race or cultural background at the expense of critical rigor. After the precision, wit, and social surgery of&nbsp;</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://observer.com/2013/08/do-you-recall-when-david-hammons-peed-on-a-richard-serra/" target="_blank">David Hammons</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><a href="http://www.artslant.com/la/articles/show/44350" target="_blank">William Pope.L</a></strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">, today the hackneyed use of racialized sexual clich&eacute;s by&nbsp;</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kehinde Wiley</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Kara Walker</strong><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;are still overly revered, as well as the art world&rsquo;s slavish adoration of the latter and hypersensitivity&nbsp;</span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://flavorwire.com/482585/kara-walker-knew-people-would-take-dumb-selfies-with-a-subtlety-and-that-shouldnt-surprise-us" target="_blank">on her behalf</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Of the newer generation, it is to be hoped that interesting artists such as&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.samvernon.com/" target="_blank"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Sam Vernon</strong></a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.allisonjanaehamilton.com/" target="_blank"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Allison Janae Hamilton</strong></a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;will have careers as illustrious as&nbsp;</span><a href="http://jacolby.com/home.html" target="_blank"><strong style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Jacolby Satterwhite</strong></a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&rsquo;s.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160517141611-20141015104018-COLEN_2013.0101.jpg" alt="" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">Dan Colen,&nbsp;<em>The Sorcerer's Apprentice</em>, 2013. Installation view at <a href="http://www.artslant.com/ny/articles/show/41065" target="_blank">Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2014</a>. </span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&copy; Dan Colen. P</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">hoto: Christopher Burke</span></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">A reason for younger artists being whipped up by the maelstrom even though the work lacks, is that they are perceived as embodying rebelliousness, or social cache, or prodding controversy&mdash;the vacuous <strong>Terence Koh</strong>, or <strong>Dash Snow</strong> and their ilk for example, mere flecks in comparison to the substantive <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/06/william-mortensen-photography-master-macabre" target="_blank"><strong>William Mortensen</strong></a>, or even <strong>Wolfgang Tillmans</strong>. Galleries are always looking for the new, the next rising sun, and quality is secondary. Here, <strong>Dan Colen</strong> is of note. His career with Gagosian Gallery <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/arts/design/10colen.html?_r=0" target="_blank">began in the toilets there</a>, where he first showed his work. The only pity is that it found a way out. His <a href="http://www.dallascontemporary.org/" target="_blank">current exhibition</a>&nbsp;at Dallas Contemporary is a rueful example of how effective a big name gallery can be in presenting visual gibberish as worthwhile art. Colen offers three groups of totally unrelated paintings: the first made with gum; the second consists&mdash;without apparent irony&mdash;of garbage; and the third is a group of paintings derived from Disney&rsquo;s <em>Fantasia</em>. This schizophrenic display seems to be made by three separate artists, and intrigues as to how many painterly personalities Colen needs? As one guest at the opening commented, &ldquo;how can he be trusted?&rdquo; And yet, the stage magician-ship of press and promotion is how people gain traction, market value, and a veneer of legitimacy that sets them on the road to historical resonance. <em>If</em> he is aware of such smoke and mirrors Colen&rsquo;s usurping of Disney&rsquo;s fantasy is quite smart. Currently Dallas Contemporary&rsquo;s series of exhibitions&mdash;including one by a fashion designer&mdash;constitutes nothing more than a billionaire&rsquo;s showroom, as the bewildered institution stumbles ahead in its process of artistic falsification. It is an appalling and financially motivated debacle that the board should be ashamed of, not least for the traitorous disloyalty they show to Dallas artists, in presenting such a cynical set of exhibitions as culturally valuable.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20160517140433-4631342905_1459db3a06_b.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Josh Smith,&nbsp;<em>On the Water</em>, 2009. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sixteen-miles/4631342905/in/photolist-84iUB5-84fQTK-84iUCo-5ZRzAZ-5ZVMrW-akn6GR-5ZRzG8-84fQRD-84fQQ2-84iUE9-u7dCDJ-tcwSth-tS6S4R-tcwSc5-tRXtfu-u9HgMi-u9b2sE-u7dEco-tRXUtN-tRXUKu/" target="_blank">Andrew Russeth</a><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sixteen-miles/4631342905/in/photolist-84iUB5-84fQTK-84iUCo-5ZRzAZ-5ZVMrW-akn6GR-5ZRzG8-84fQRD-84fQQ2-84iUE9-u7dCDJ-tcwSth-tS6S4R-tcwSc5-tRXtfu-u9HgMi-u9b2sE-u7dEco-tRXUtN-tRXUKu/" target="_blank"><br /></a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">Luhring Augustine describes&nbsp;<strong>Josh Smith</strong> as being &ldquo;distinguished&rdquo; by his &ldquo;<a href="http://www.luhringaugustine.com/artists/josh-smith/bio" target="_blank">mastery of multiple mediums</a>.&rdquo; Upon viewing, Smith&rsquo;s drooling mark-making and painterly drivel exposes this online <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/why-its-time-for-galleries-to-dump-the-jargon-8480622.html" target="_blank">biographical marketing tool</a> for the outrageous lie that it is. What arrogance is it that imagines such literary lunacy to be effective in the face of stubborn evidence to the contrary? And yet, seemingly, it is working. Smith has a career that most artists won&rsquo;t know. It is to be marveled at whether gallery or artist have even a twinge of discomfort at peddling such Trumpian fraudulence. So many are the superior alternatives for those whose work ought to get such exposure that it is meaningless to mull over, but the English painter <a href="http://www.jowilmot.com/" target="_blank"><strong>Jo Wilmot</strong></a>&rsquo;s complex union of bold yet nuanced color, seen in works of knowing, tropical decadence, and faded glitz are a solitary example of the general style.</span><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p> <table width="400" align="left"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="padding: 10px;"> <p style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: large; color: #1f1f1f;"><span style="font-size: x-large;"><em>The totalitarian propagandizing of art history to the benefit of so few leaves out, and behind, too many more.</em></span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">This cavalcade of examples whether well-known names of yesteryear constantly rammed down the throat of the collective viewership as being unquestionably vital to understanding art, or newer artists churned out and disproportionately promoted beyond their talent, the totalitarian propagandizing of art history to the benefit of so few leaves out, and behind, too many more. Of course there will never be room for all those deserving of exposure. Taste is mercurial as to defining who they are, and occasionally artists who enhance social dialogue </span><em style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">do</em><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> find their way to attention among the fray of powerbrokers&rsquo; agendas. But otherwise it is time to switch off the life support of exhausted careers, to render established names arrested and to engage in expansive research of as many practitioners as possible who are working today, so that in the future a more honest&nbsp;bathymetry of what artists are doing, and saying, in the early twenty-first century might be recorded.</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/16357-darren-jones?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Darren Jones</a></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: medium; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><em>Darren Jones is a Scottish, US-based critic and artist. His forthcoming book,</em><em>&nbsp;</em><em>with David Carrier,</em><em>&nbsp;</em>The Contemporary Art Gallery<em>&nbsp;</em><em>will be published in 2016.</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;"><em>&nbsp;</em></span></p> <p class="Body" style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-size: x-small; font-family: georgia, palatino;">(Image at top: Richard Serra,&nbsp;<em>Seven</em>, 2011, Installed at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, Doha, Qatar, 2012. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/7631852742/in/photolist-cCpeVY-dzqsNH-2z9xCV-kdDhh-4APQR-6g5j1Y-5Hnn29-9RF8Mq-4S8tax-8aPUsm-k9UHgi-anDJTX-c7rANw-6seZvp-9qa4gf-axK7Hn-kf7CX2-cEyfjE-axKaMe-29WLPT-6g1aGK-cCphHN-si38jR-5Jqw99-cCpvb5-78DjKs-5JqxxQ-29WLxx-dd6mFk-cCoSzA-6g5k35-aaZD5k-5HTASx-5JmioF-cCp2f5-2SpnYx-6g5hxy-cCpjL1-cCpsXG-cCpnLU-cCppWs-2M8gjx-8jdfsY-31Lx1z-5JqtBs-cCpAro-qd1APq-2a2azo-69ewSM-cCoYaw" target="_blank">Sarah Ackerman</a>)</span></p> Mon, 23 May 2016 12:41:17 -0700 https://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list https://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list Is the Internet Living Up to Its Promise as Democratic Equalizer of the Art Market? <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">On June 20, the Berlin-based online auction house Auctionata sold </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="https://auctionata.com/intl/o/125433/imperial-immortal-mountain-clock-guangzhou-workshop-qianlong" target="_blank">an 18th century Chinese clock</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Created by a Guangzhou workshop, the musical and automaton clock is ivory-mounted and adorned with figurines and pagodas set in a mountain scene. The bidding started with 300,000 euro. A mere ten minutes later the final bid of 3.37 million euro was made, setting a new online auction record. The buyer is an art world fixture: businessman Liu Yiqian, owner of the Long Museum in Shanghai. More remarkable, however, is that competing with Mr. Yiqian were more than 1,000 bidders from 35 countries, most of whom have never set foot in a live auction house but readily offered six figure bids via livestream or even over an iPhone app on a piece of art they hadn&rsquo;t seen with their own eyes.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20150715094726-Screen_Shot_2015-07-13_at_3.43.20_PM.png" alt="" /></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Screengrab of&nbsp;<a href="https://auctionata.com/intl/o/125433/imperial-immortal-mountain-clock-guangzhou-workshop-qianlong" target="_blank">"Important Asian Art"</a>&nbsp;auction results at Auctionata. Accessed July 13, 2015.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The art market took a long time getting to the internet. It&rsquo;s a late if not extremely reluctant adaptor. The general opinion was that art </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailesman/2012/02/14/vip-artfair-bombs-again-a-lesson-in-art-marketing-and-online-sales/">wouldn&rsquo;t be suitable for online trading</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">. Its uniqueness and physical qualities would render appraisal based on digital files impossible. The VIP Art Fair, the world&rsquo;s first online art fair that premiered on 22 January 2011, tried to refute these misgivings but stumbled upon technical difficulties. After heavy investments in software and personnel the fair made a comeback the next year but ever since its </span><a style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;" href="http://observer.com/2013/04/artspace-acquires-vip-art/">acquisition by Artspace</a><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"> in April 2013 no news about a follow-up has been released.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">There are no figures about sales at the VIP Art Fair but judging from reactions of participants they weren&rsquo;t that great. The pioneering initiative may have been handicapped by its head start. If it were to be launched today, it would be a completely different story. Over a span of only a few years the art market has travelled the same route as booksellers, fashion retailers and coffee merchants. And it has done so with a vengeance. In a <a href="https://www.hiscox.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Hiscox-Online-Art-Trade-Report-2015.pdf" target="_blank">2014 report</a>&nbsp;insurance company Hiscox assessed online art sales in that year to be $2.64 billion worldwide, a number that is expected to grow to $6.3 billion in 2019. The 2014 <a href="http://www.tefaf.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=15&amp;tabindex=14&amp;pressrelease=16959&amp;presslanguage" target="_blank">TEFAF Art Market Report</a>, commissioned by The European Art Foundation,&nbsp;estimated even higher online sales at 3.3 billion euro (approximately $3.6 million), comprising 6 percent of the global art market.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">The bulk of online art sales are made through auction houses. Specialized parties like <a href="https://auctionata.com/intl" target="_blank">Auctionata</a> and <a href="https://paddle8.com/" target="_blank">Paddle8</a> claim a large slice of the pie but traditional houses have also diversified digitally. Christie&rsquo;s, for example, organized an online only auction pilot in December 2011 of 1,000 items from the <a href="http://www.christies.com/elizabethtaylor/saleroom.aspx" target="_blank">Elizabeth Taylor Collection</a>. Since then, the world market leader has seriously stepped up its online activity, resulting in 2014 in no fewer than 78 e-commerce sales held across 21 different categories. Amongst the bestsellers were Richard Serra&rsquo;s <em><a href="https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/online-post-war-contemporary-art/pamuk-3/5941/" target="_blank">Pamuk</a></em> ($905,000) and Pablo Picasso&rsquo;s <em><a href="https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/picasso-ceramics-impressions-in-clay/service-corrida-18/5835/" target="_blank">Service Corrida</a></em> ($245,000). Compared to the auction house&rsquo;s total revenue of over $5 billion, the online turnover is modest at $35.1 million, but a growth figure of 60 percent is telling: the internet is the future.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20150715095450-Screen_Shot_2015-07-13_at_3.56.35_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Looking up close at Picasso's <em>Service Corrida</em>, sold online for $245,000 in 2014. Screengrab via<a href="https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/picasso-ceramics-impressions-in-clay/service-corrida-18/5835/" target="_blank"> Christie's</a>. Accessed July 13, 2015.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Not in the least because online is where the new buyers are. Christie&rsquo;s calculated that 32 percent of online buyers last year were new to Christie&rsquo;s. Of these novices a whopping 42 percent were under the age of 45. This is the demographic everybody in the art market is aiming for. Christie&rsquo;s archrival Sotheby&rsquo;s is following another strategy for reaching tomorrow&rsquo;s collectors community. It has <a href="http://www.live.ebay.com/lvx/sothebys" target="_blank">teamed up with eBay</a> and on April 1, 2015 organized its first online event. The photography auction with works by the likes of Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, and Richard Avedon resulted in a $5.17 million turnover. More auctions are likely to follow.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">According to the <a href="https://www.hiscox.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Hiscox-Online-Art-Trade-Report-2015.pdf" target="_blank">Hiscox online art trade report</a>, convenience is a very important factor in the success of online art sales. But a lot of respondents also cite the fact that bidding from behind a screen is a lot less intimidating than attending an actual auction. Moreover, they find it a lot easier to select works fitting their budget. That an online presence can lower the&mdash;for some people forbidding&mdash;threshold of a physical location, is something Christie&rsquo;s has experienced. The growing digital audience was echoed by a 39 percent increase in footfall to the Christie&rsquo;s King Street headquarters in London.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">What is true for auction houses is even more so for galleries. Hidden behind glazed windows or massive steel doors, with a laptop-absorbed beauty in Prada black as its stern gatekeeper: that&rsquo;s still the rather unwelcoming image a lot of potential art buyers have of galleries. In a recent survey done by Dutch online art platform <a href="http://www.welikeart.nl/" target="_blank">We Like Art</a>, 72 percent of 18 to 35 year-olds admit they find asking for prices in a gallery prohibitive. Instead they do their research online, where things can be a lot more transparent. And they often stay online, buying art from web shops and by email. This is a generation weaned on Amazon and eBay, not hesitant to spend large amounts of money online. The exclusivity of galleries&mdash;the unspoken set of rules, the cultivated inner circle, the lack of clarity about prices&mdash;is not something they aspire to; it&rsquo;s something they regard as an obstacle. The far more democratic internet levels the playing field for them and that&rsquo;s where they&rsquo;ll develop their taste and eventually build their collections.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;"><img src="http://dbprng00ikc2j.cloudfront.net/userimages/32120/1dkh/20150715104204-Screen_Shot_2015-07-15_at_12.38.54_PM.png" alt="" /></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">Screengrab of Gagosian<a href="http://www.gagosian.com/shop/parkett" target="_blank"> web shop</a>. Accessed July 15, 2015.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">Some galleries have picked up on this trend. Many have crafted an online presence through social media and newsletters. But most gallery websites still look like they did a couple of years ago: like shop windows flaunting the same stark white cube aesthetic of the gallery they&rsquo;re an extension of. Gallery owners probably think implementing a web shop environment cheapens their aura and thus shy away from it. But it&rsquo;s a way of thinking that is rapidly becoming outdated. If galleries want to appeal to new, young collectors, they&rsquo;ll have to embrace e-commerce wholeheartedly. With the older gallery-going generation fading away in the near future, it&rsquo;s actually quite simple: introduce a shopping cart on your website or perish.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/356010-edo-dijksterhuis?tab=REVIEWS" target="_blank">Edo Dijksterhuis</a></span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: medium;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="line-height: 26px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: x-small;">(Image at top: Screengrab of Sotheby's <a href="http://www.live.ebay.com/lvx/sothebys/auctionhouse" target="_blank">Auction House page</a> on eBay. Accessed July 15, 2015)</span></p> Wed, 15 Jul 2015 14:25:45 -0700 https://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list https://www.artslant.com/ny/Articles/list