Post #531 • May 4, 2005, 11:22 PM • 20 Comments
From alternative investment funds specializing in fine art, to corporations, to individual collectors around the country using the web to access gallery inventories and auction house catalogues, more people are buying contemporary art now than at any point in the past 15 years. This increased demand has significant market impact. Established galleries are selling out shows of mediocre work by well-known artists. Many of these middling pieces are flipped on the secondary market within two years, setting auction records. Prices are unsustainably high at the top end of the market right now.
I had a sinking feeling about a market correction back in March, equally based on anecdotal evidence, but Todd is far more numerate than I am. Listen to him.
Young artists should first focus on developing a voice. Rather than rushing their work to market as soon as they complete academic programs, artists will need to give themselves more time to work and develop a mature style. As the market becomes more selective and rewards innovation over novelty, it will value work by artists who drive toward multiplicity and richness rather than those who simply exhibit something new.
I'm not exactly sure what he means by multiplicity, and I would suspect the opposite to be true - that in a conservative market, the artist ought to drive towards singularity, namely, having a distinct and continuous style. But richness, definitely. Quality, in other words. Integrity. I think this is a better long-term strategy anyway and don't seem to have much knack for novelty in the first place, but it sounds about right.
I have to confess that even in my moments of greatest enthusiasm about the local art world I have harbored a nagging suspicion about it - its hyperbolic expansion and the party-driven frenzy just don't seem like the stuff of long-term growth. Something hit a nerve, semiotically, when Nina Arias got, well, corrected out of Rocket. Arias was always great at getting the crowds in the gallery - and at a certain point, based on the little I know about what went down, that became detrimental to the operation somehow. At any rate, she's out, Nick Cindric is still there, and the gallery is still cranking along - Cristina Lei Rodriguez's show sold out and everything seems to be fine down there. And the last time I was at Rocket a cross young man whom you would have carded on sight - hell, the little sprite hardly looked like he should be driving - remarked sorely that there were no alcoholic beverages available. I thought, yeah, welcome to reality.
I'm biased because you'd have trouble washing your hands in the amount of alcohol I drink in a year. It's a great social lubricant, especially when greasing up a business transaction involving art, but it obviously can't drive the whole deal - the work has to attain a certain level or it's all a bunch of hooey.
Let me confess further that as soon as Basel announced it was coming to Miami, my first thought was: Well, time to leave. Because we just became the center, and things don't happen in the center. They happen at the periphery. You know, the edge. I'm glad I stuck around - my San Diego gallery found me at Art Center that fateful December in 2002 and they've been great ever since. But when you catch Mammon and Bacchus making out in the bathroom, it's time to thank the host for a lovely party and go home. I have never trusted Basel's breathlessness. I'm not moving to Peoria or anything, at least not yet, but I keep looking at Basel with all its hullaballoo and thinking, yeah, okay, so do we have plans for when we finish up with puberty?
Oh, look - Muh just linked to an interview with Mat Gleason:
Is the Brewery more often helpful or harmful to the artists living there? Helpful - and helpful in the extreme - the competitive presence of other artists forces people here to put up or shut up. Except when the artists fall into the party-people sinkhole, all the Art Center students taking ecstasy until Mom and Dad have to come pick them up and take them home. But for the most part, your art gets better after being here a while and interacting.
Yeah, that sounds about right too. Good luck making your work, people.