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Predictions for 2006

Post #722 • February 2, 2006, 11:27 AM • 18 Comments

My main prediction for 2006 is that I will continue to not read Artnet very often. Tyler quoting Kriston quoting quoting Barry Neuman (now that's what I call design) for a piece soliciting 2006 preditictions from known quantities in the art world:

I think it's a safe bet that there will be 50 to 60 new and bona fide (i.e., seriously authored by qualified people) art world blogs by the end of the year. Why is this significant? In some cases, the blogs may speed up the infotainment machine that's impacting the actual, hands-on, real-world art scene, locally and internationally.

An exercise like this article could only result in a page full of pseudoprofundities and drivel, typical of the signal/noise ratio that makes me avoid Artnet unless someone links to it or I'm having a slow news day. But this quote stands out for its sheer misunderstanding. Kriston points out, although mostly by implication, that the whole end-run around credentialling enabled by blogs promises to get some good writing on the table instead of the onanistic jargon-stroking that comes out of the so-called qualified people. Furthermore, if the art world is an "infotainment machine," I'd like to locate the gearbox and toss in a wrench. Test yourself: for you, did Art Basel/Miami Beach culminate in discovering a likeable artist you hadn't heard of, or the Taschen party in which the centerpiece was a naked transsexual in a pool? Let's forget about "seriously qualified" and start talking about serious. As in: I'm in this for the art; you can have your idiotainment machine.

Unsurprisingly, the hard thinking is going on elsewhere. Not long after I read the above, I came across Jason Kottke's analysis that pitted the NYT against blogs in a Googlefight. Now we're talking. I decided to try something similar: pitting the MSM against the blogs and other web-based, citizen-driven alt-news, hereafter called New Media (NM below), for coverage and reviews (not rehashed press releases) of art stories. My methodology: Tyler's Top Ten of 2005 list, plugged into Google, compared in quantity and position over the top twenty items. Deep links count for half. Since it's his list, Modern Art Notes counts for half on quantity and doesn't count towards position. Let's get slugging:

Search: Katharina Grosse at Solvent Space

1. Flickr (posted by Martin at Anaba) (NM)
2. deep link to above (NM)
6. Anaba (NM)
7. deep link to above (NM)
8. NYArtsMagazine (MSM)
9. deep link to above (MSM)
11. Style Weekly (Richmond) (MSM)
18. Modern Art Notes

Winner on position: New Media (1)
Winner on quantity: New Media (3.5 - 2.5)

Search: Jasper Johns: Catenary at Matthew Marks

2. New York Magazine (MSM)
3. Artcritical (NM)
5. Village Voice (MSM)
6. Brooklyn Rail (MSM)
7. The Thing (NM)
8. 3 Quarks Daily (NM)
10. Haber's Art Reviews (NM)
12. Artnet (NM)
18. (NM)
19. Brooklyn Rail (MSM)

Winner on position: MSM (2)
Winner on quantity: New Media (6 - 4)

Search: Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005

6. (NM)
17. The Rake (MSM)
18. EDQ blog (NM)
20. San Francisco Chronicle (MSM)

Winner on position: New Media (6)
Tie on quantity (2 - 2)

Search: Anselm Kiefer at MAMFW

1. Modern Art Notes (NM)
2. deep link to above (NM)
6. Glasstire (NM)
7. Dallas Observer (MSM)
9. Might Be Good (NM)
10. Modern Art Notes (NM)
17. Dallas Observer (MSM)
18. deep link to above (MSM)

Winner on position: New Media (6)
Winner on quantity: New Media (3.5 - 2.5)

Search: Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams

5. Studio International (MSM)
6. Telegraph (MSM)
8. New York Magazine (MSM)
10. Art MoCo (NM)
11. New York Daily News (MSM)
12. Social Affairs Unit (NM)
13. deep link to above (NM)
14. New Criterion (MSM)
18. The New Republic (MSM)
19. Jozan (NM)

Winner on position: MSM (5)
Winner on quantity: MSM (6 - 3.5)

Search: Ecstasy at MOCA

3. Buzznet (NM)
4. Flickr (NM)
5. deep link to above (NM)
6. LA Weekly (MSM)
7. Zero Perimeter (NM)
9. (NM)
10. Arthur (MSM)
11. (NM)
17. LA Times (MSM)
19. (NM)
20. Orange County Register (MSM)

Winner on position: New Media (3)
Winner on quantity: New Media (6.5 - 4)

Search: Thing at the UCLA Hammer Museum

6. Daily Bruin (MSM)
7. deep link to above (MSM)
14. Megan and Murray (NM)
19. (NM)

Winner on position: MSM (6)
Winner on quantity: New Media (2 - 1.5)

Search: Agnes Martin at Dia: Beacon

9. Artcritical (NM)
10. David Byrne Journal (NM)
12. Art in America (MSM, albeit via, so I'm throwing this one out)
14. Washington Times (MSM)
15. London Review of Books (MSM)
16. Brooklyn Rail (MSM)
17. Village Voice (MSM)
18. The Thing (NM)

Winner on position: New Media (9)
Winner on quantity: MSM (4 - 3)

Search: Surface Charge at Virginia Commonwealth University's Anderson Gallery

6. Style Weekly (MSM)
19. Modern Art Notes (NM)

Winner on position: MSM (6)
Winner on quantity: MSM (1 - .5)

Search: Slide Show at the Baltimore Museum of Art

1. NPR (MSM)
5. Washington Blade (MSM)
9. Cincinnati Post (MSM)
10. Baltimore City Paper (MSM)
11. Baltimore City Paper (MSM)

Winner on position: MSM (1)
Winner on quantity: MSM (5 - 0)

Final Score

New Media position wins: 5
MSM position wins: 5

New Media quantity wins: 5
MSM quantity wins: 4

So new media wins, by a tiny margin. More blogs are coming, present blogs are becoming increasingly important, and you're as likely to pull up new media as MSM when searching for coverage. A high-profile artist tends to correlate to more MSM attention; no surprise there. A low-profile artist or group show practically guarantees relatively greater attention from new media.

I believe that blogs and other citizen media are going to become to the MSM what galleries are to the museums. Blogs are going to do the hard work of discovering artists early on, and if they generate consensus behind them, the MSM will start covering them as well. That means that the MSM is going to have to do what museums do: present their subjects in grand productions, with long word counts, tons of images, bold critical perspectives, static and interactive media, and communications at a variety of education levels. Is that the trend in MSM art coverage? No. Quite the opposite, in fact.




February 2, 2006, 12:04 PM

I heartily endorse your contentious attiude, Franklin, but I am having a hard time evaluaiting what all this very complex comparing amounts to. Your closing summary would seem to be more or less self-evident. Good to know, but self-evident.



February 2, 2006, 12:11 PM

We call it Data Pr0n, OP. Sometimes the thing that everybody knows is false. This is not one of those cases. But I didn't formulate the conclusion in that particular way until I saw the proportions.



February 2, 2006, 1:43 PM

Franklin, it's nice of you to go to all that trouble, but you needn't waste time or energy on such things. Just consider the source and be done with it. I mean, the quoted passage doesn't even try to disguise its vapid fatuousness. It doesn't deserve to be taken anywhere near seriously.


that guy

February 2, 2006, 2:08 PM

You are difficult Jack because you know the difference. Unlike mek (and all the hopeless students she is defending) who obviously doesn't, otherwise she wouldn't get her panties all in a bunch as she is right now with oldpro. Once you've had a sip of that pleasurable cocktail, known around these parts as visual art, you just cann't but up with bull shit any longer. It is funny how that works.



February 2, 2006, 2:16 PM

Guy, that's not cool. Mek is overstating her case, but so was OP. I've been teaching for eleven years now, and I find that the smart kids are smart, the dumb kids are dumb, and I expect that to be the case no matter if we're talking about NYC or Miami. It matters much less whether they know art history than whether they want to know it. The untalented kids can do less looking at Rembrandt than the talented kids can do looking at cardboard.


that guy

February 2, 2006, 2:30 PM

Its true. But come on, IMing? She is bringing up things that have nothing to do with art. What difference could it possibly make if technology helps us communicate faster? This blog is a perfect example of how much improved the discussion can be. But neither this blog nor any other technology helps me differentiate between good and bad art. If students don't have the time to view art in books or otherwise, they have no business studying art. Plain and simple. I wasn't saying that all the students are hopeless. I see excited ambitious students everyday. I'm not convinced by her argument. And I think these last few posts belong on the last thread. sorry bout that.



February 2, 2006, 2:50 PM

Franklin, I said nothing about smart or dumb, talent or no talent.

I only said that 95% of the kids I talk to know nothing much about art of the past (the art, not the "art history") and implied strongly that this is a weakness in an artist. I would also suggest that it is a generational difference and a contributing factor to a lot of the insipid art of the present that echoes mediocre past art that the artists are unaware of.



February 2, 2006, 3:10 PM

My bad for not distinguishing art and art history. The most talented student I ever had came to me knowing little art and he remains far from expert. But what he needs to know, he knows well. I don't think there's any harm in knowing art of the past, but I do think it's something that, as teachers, we toss at students because we can't do anything about their talent. Your abstraction isn't coming out so well? Have you looked at DeKooning? No? Go look at DeKooning. Oh, you did? Have you looked at Hoffmann? Wash, rinse, repeat. It will be great if they know more art but really I'm hoping that they'll see something and get excited about it. Until that happens they're just slogging along, gaining information, and it may or may not do them any good as far as their art is concerned.



February 2, 2006, 4:17 PM

Well, I spent the wee hours of the AM in my dorm room at college copying pictures out of books, driven by frustration at my ineptitude. It was my education.

A good many of the younger artists I know are simply picking up easy hot licks out of the art magazines. That;'s why all this stuff we see looks the same, has the same readily identified period flavor.

What the hell, if what they knew (or did not know) led to better art I wouldn't care less, but i have to think when I look around that when it comes to making art ignorance is not bliss.



February 2, 2006, 4:35 PM

I don't think that feeling ever completely goes away.

And with that, I'm off to the studio.



February 2, 2006, 4:51 PM

Oldpro said in #9: A good many of the younger artists I know are simply picking up easy hot licks out of the art magazines. That's why all this stuff we see looks the same, has the same readily identified period flavor.

Uh, that seems to be true for the last 100 years, AbEx anyone, howabout minimal, nope? paint a candy bar, how about some curved lines and straight lines, DADA?

As for the present, the internet has changed everything, the reproductions are not as complete or as good as an art book but they are plentiful and free. All of Van Gogh and all of Picasso's works are now on the web, never before in history has an artist had access to such information. Bloggers are brining the latest art to their readers attention with a speed unprecedented in all history. It's a whole new ballgame.



February 2, 2006, 7:12 PM

I love this kind of information, Franklin. Thanks.

It was cool to see the Katharina Grosse stuff came up, but I wish my Surface Charge posts showed up also. I think I posted on Surface Charge about six different times. Why doesn't it show up, I wonder?

I am also happy to see the left-hand sidebar with the links to your recent posts. I'll go read about Ruisdael and Fra Angelico now.




February 2, 2006, 7:43 PM

i don't wear panties



February 2, 2006, 7:52 PM

George! AB-EX were looking at art mags for inspiration?



February 2, 2006, 8:29 PM


I don't know much about art magazines in the 50's, Art News, maybe Art in America Afriend lent me a copy of AIA from 1963, it was quite a hoot. If there is a good Art Library where you are, see if you can find bound copies from the 50's. I went to UCLA, which has a great dedicated Art Library (or did) and I looked through ALL the bound volumes they had, it was a learning experience.

What I meant was; they were all looking at each others work, today we have the internet and art magazines but what occurs is same. In spite of 'pluralism' there are definite substyles existing now. In the fifties they were copying each other, doing the AE thing,
Artists like Steve Wheeler (painting circa 1950) just fell through the cracks because there was only one acceptible style.

I think the same stuff that went on in the past goes on today because it is part of the human condition, the psychological makeup of people, only today it's happening faster and denser.



February 2, 2006, 9:02 PM

Beware: In the 30s & 40s, when the Ab Ex paintiers matured, there was virtually nothing about abstract art in the art mazazines, and there were not many art magazines.

After Tom Hess at ART NEWS started putting the Ab Ex artists in his magazine everyone started doing it, and by the mid 50s everyone was looking at art mags. I was, for sure. By the 60s we got slick mags like ARTFORUM. The change over that 10 - 15 years was tremendous.



February 2, 2006, 9:06 PM

George, be careful about making all-encompassing statements. Ab Ex was the dominant style with most of the prestige by the end of the 50s, but a lot of artists who were not Ab Ex did well and persisted if they were good enough, and in some cases when they were not very good, eg Ellsworth Kelly. It was not monolithic.



February 2, 2006, 9:32 PM

Op, ...but a lot of artists who were not Ab Ex did well and persisted if they were good enough

OK, I believe that, you're the expert, it was before I was paying any attention. I also noticed that a lot of artists in the magazines just disappeared from the radar in a few years, which is I suspect is the probably the norm. It doesn't mean they stopped working, more like they found a niche somewhere and holed up. The link to the reproduction of the Steven Wheeler painting is from a recent NY Times, I had never heard of him before.



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