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Puryear at MoMA

Post #1132 • February 28, 2008, 2:36 PM • 134 Comments

New York - I class Martin Puryear with Robert Irwin as a sensible, serious, genuine artist whom I wish I liked better than I do. Early Puryear, especially, satisfies any standard for elegance and workmanship. They represent some of the few examples of a refined abstract sensibility that uses narrative impulses without succumbing to them, which it would have done in less able hands. Probably nothing would look handsomer in MoMA's cavernous second-floor exhibition space than his 1996 Ladder for Booker T. Washington, extended exaggeratedly upward in its crafted yet rickety beauty. But his more recent works take on the quality of montage, even pastiche. A vague but identifiable Japanese aesthetic keeps the earlier works from looking too slick, and that handsome roughness has given away to an unhelpfully polished technique such as in his 2005 A Distant Place, or the 2006-7 C.F.A.O., which assembles an interpretation of a Fang mask, a wheelbarrow from the Calder studio, and Puryear's signature matrix of slats without harmonizing any of them. I thought in spite of myself of late de Kooning, not out of any sense of dissipation, but in watching a real talent in late career struggle against perfunctory performance. The exhibition has an unlinkable Flash site.

Comment

1.

Jack

February 28, 2008, 4:13 PM

Franklin, I get your drift, but this guy was never a de Kooning.

2.

opie

February 28, 2008, 4:38 PM

The operative word for Puryear's work is "handsome". It looks like art is expected to look, sort of like Scully. Solid, respectable, boring.

3.

Jack

February 28, 2008, 5:23 PM

Yes, but is Puryear as handsome as Serra? Can we get those "American Idol" judges to rule on this? I'm sure they're at least as reliable as what now passes for art critics.

4.

Eric

February 28, 2008, 7:25 PM

Let me be Simon.

Richard and Martin please stop embarrassing yourselves and get off the stage.

5.

opie

February 28, 2008, 7:46 PM

This should interest everyone:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/garden/28art.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

6.

ahab

February 28, 2008, 8:50 PM

Puryear's work is highly photogenic, and highly graphic, and (by those works I've seen in person) presence-free - meaning that they have not got that rightness of scale necessary for personal engagement. The noted elegance and workmanship are overlays of trades sensibilities, and not the sensitive feel for materials that his sculpture trades upon.

From the flash-site: "The sculpture is further characterized by Puryear's reliance on his own hand to create his work, as well as by an insistence on mastering his materials, often through preparatory drawings and maquettes, before dexterously translating this understanding to individual works."

I of course believe that Puryear creates his works personally, but his technique of mastering material by drawing it and making models may go some way to explaining the screwed-up scale and finish.

Now Chillida, whom George mentioned last thread, is (was?) an under-recognized sculptor. At least in North America. Even Serra, whose work often causes me grief, deserves a portion of the fame he has garnered. But, in my opinion, Puryear is not a master and naught than an example of what generally passes for sculpture over the past few generations.

7.

Jack

February 28, 2008, 9:18 PM

OP (#5), you really shouldn't have. It's nearly midnight, I need to go to bed, and now I'm so worked up I might as well have drunk a gallon of Cuban coffee. It's not that this excruciatingly pathetic stuff really surprises me, it's that it's made so...graphic. It makes the skin crawl. And these people are worried about EMBARRASSMENT? How the hell do they think this article makes them look? Sophisticated? I'm sneering so hard I've got whiplash here.

Well, as I said, I need to hit the sack, and this article is so rich I couldn't do it justice unless I pulled an all-nighter. There is clearly no correlation whatsoever between one's net worth and having a clue, artwise. Among such a plethora of priceless portrayals of our esteemed collector class, I was especially struck by this:

Jonathan Arnold feared making a mistake until he began working with Marcia Levine, an art consultant.

It's almost enough to make me cry myself to sleep.

8.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 5:45 AM

We built these really big museums and gosh darn it we need to fill it up with big art. If it ain't big do not apply. Good thing the makers of art history understand this and celebrate those artists who are best at filling our museum spaces.

Night of the Living Art Consultants...

"Open the door Barbara you need my erudition and scholarly veneer..."

9.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 8:05 AM

Sorry that my failed attempts at humor were not grammatically correct.

"We built these really big museums and gosh darn it we need to fill it up with big art."

should read,

"We built these really big museums and gosh darn it we need to fill them up with big art."

10.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 10:04 AM

I can't stop reading the NYT piece OP referenced in #5. It's like staring at a car wreck or roadkill. I assume the writer knew she was dealing with a bunch of exceedingly easy targets (they're not at all hard to find), and figured she could get some decent mileage out of their pitiful, uh, issues. The title itself suggests bemused disdain, and several turns of phrase in the text seem to corroborate that impression.

Still, these are presumably actual people exposing themselves, however unwittingly, not fabricated cartoon characters (which they certainly resemble). They're walking stereotypes, or at least that's how they come across (which no doubt serves the writer's presumed purpose). The Finks, for instance, are almost too over the top to believe, but I suppose such people exist.

My favorite, though, remains Mr. Arnold, and I quote:

Jonathan Arnold, a 45-year-old Chicago economist, also turned to a consultant for help. He dabbled with collecting in his early 20’s...and last year thought about starting again, but feared making a financial mistake. “If you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said, “it’s an invitation to be taken down.” Mr. Arnold asked friends whose collections he admired how they acquired their work, and came up with the name of an art consultant, Marcia G. Levine, of Levine Fine Art in Manhattan, who...creates collections for people around the world...Her commission, should you be new to this world, comes from the gallery...

Click on the side photo of him and Levine to enlarge it. Classic stuff. There's Arnold in all his wan, WASPY glory, surely smelling like "Eau d'Argent." And Levine, well, what can I say? Love the get-up (could she possibly be more obvious?), the predatory look, the I-know-my-shit demeanor...I mean, the rich schmuck is so outmatched, she might as well be his dominatrix.

The real question, of course, is WHY? Why are all these foolish people chasing after something that's clearly not their thing? Why can't they just pursue whatever it is that truly registers with them and floats their boat? Why are they wasting time, energy and (lots of) money on role-playing, projecting a hollow image and/or self-delusion? How did they get the idea that this makes any sense or accomplishes anything truly worthwhile?

11.

opie

February 29, 2008, 10:11 AM

Pretty much my thoughts too, Jack, except that in my case I am thinking I better get to know some of them "art consultants" and promise them a big cut.

Circle with the vultures - why not? It's better than skulking around in a raincoat lined with fake Rolexes.

12.

George

February 29, 2008, 10:15 AM

Jack,

Why don't you put their money where your mouth is and become an art consultant?

13.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 11:15 AM

Because, George, even if my taste could be scientifically proven to be correct, even infallible, my doing what you suggest would be no different, in principle, from what people like Ms. Levine are doing. It would still be cheating, still a crutch, still borrowed, still second-hand and externally applied.

It would still be objectionable because it would bypass, circumvent, violate or undermine what I consider a cardinal and indispensable aspect of a genuine, serious relationship with art: personal, individual, idiosyncratic, even eccentric looking, thinking, judging and responding to art yourself, not paying somebody to do it for you.

This whole notion of "anxiety," looking over one's shoulder and needing to fit in with the herd quite misses the point. People need to do it and get it primarily for themselves; they need to work for it themselves. To paraphrase the old Orson Welles wine ads, they need to do it the old-fashioned way and earn it.

14.

George

February 29, 2008, 11:32 AM

Jack,

It would still be cheating, still a crutch, still borrowed, still second-hand and externally applied.

This is a very self centered way of looking at what I suggested. There are a lot of constructive ways one could be an advisor simply by just helping another person develop their own abilities to judge art. An art advisor is not a dictator which seems to be what you are assuming.

15.

catfish

February 29, 2008, 11:53 AM

Puryear shows that hanging it all on making sure the art looks like art is no better a strategy than making sure the art does not look like art.

16.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 12:03 PM

It was John Houseman Jack not Orson Welles. Would an art advisor be sort of like an aesthetic sensibility trainer George? Hey if it means more artists will sell their work why not? I guess artists who don't want to sell their art "by the square foot" might not like the idea. It might offend their sensibilities. But just think about how many artists would lose their source of income if all of the know nothing dilettantes were eliminated from the art buying process? Wow that would certainly reduce their numbers drastically. Listen if the rich want to buy art that they have no feelings for or know nothing about why stop them? We need to continue to spend money to keep the economy going. Why is it any better if they waste their money on a gauche luxury item rather than a work of art they know nothing about but their expensive art consultant recommends they buy? The poor people who are educated and have a sense of what makes art good will never be able to buy this stuff. Will getting rid of art consultants improve the world? No. Rich people have to maintain a certain lifestyle. They have to buy commodities that reflect their economic status. If they want to buy an original painting by the “Painter of Light” good for them. If they want to buy a work of serious art that their art consultant recommends to them super. Academics, all of those people who have doctorates in the liberal arts and can’t find work need to do something. If they can’t get a cushy job at a university then they become consultants. You wouldn’t want to leave these educated folks without a job would you? You wouldn’t want to force them to take an office job, alongside with the middle class chaff?

17.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 12:03 PM

George, read what I said. Evidently you didn't catch my drift. How is it self-centered to turn down money for doing the work someone else should do (and want to do) for himself? Do you believe for one second that people like this Levine person are operating out of any kind of altruism?

I can't respect somebody who can't or won't move without the input of some sort of consultant, somebody who thinks you can buy connoisseurship off the rack like some dress, prêt-à-porter. I don't believe the kind of collectors profiled in that NYT piece are serious art people. Real art people don't operate that way, and I'm not interested in putting make-up on poseurs or wannabes, even though it can clearly be quite profitable.

18.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 12:08 PM

Right, Eric; I remember now. Welles used to say something like "We will sell no wine before its time," and Houseman used to shill for some investment firm, I think.

19.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 2:07 PM

Housman shilled for Smith-Barney for years and years. This was not as tragic as what Welles did. After all, he was a filmic genius who was destroyed by the Hollywood system.

Grammar check:

"You wouldn’t want to force them to take an office job, alongside with the middle class chaff?"

should read as,

"You wouldn’t want to force them to take an office job alongside the middle class chaff would you?"

20.

George

February 29, 2008, 3:50 PM

Re #16: Eric,

That was about as a pathetic response as I have ever read.

Would an art advisor be sort of like an aesthetic sensibility trainer George?

People collect things for a number of different reasons; for some it is the love for what they collect, for others it is a compulsion, and for some it is just an act of display.

So, if someone decides, for whatever reason, that they wish to collect art and they would like some help in starting their collection, then I suggest they are acting intelligently.

You and Jack both, are making a lot of unfounded assumptions about these hypothetical collectors. To assume that they are not doing their homework, studying art, visiting the museums and galleries, just looking, is elitism (snottiness) or ignorance on your part.

Further, you are making assumptions about the motives of these collectors which have no basis in fact, it is an act of prejudice on your part.

I suggest that you cannot share the reasons for your aesthetic preferences in a way which someone else, who is not already of the same opinion, can comprehend well enough to be swayed.

Hey if it means more artists will sell their work why not?

Was this the point? I do not think so. When I suggested that Jack become an art consultant, it was offered as a way of sharing his knowledge and opinion with other collectors, not dictating to them what to buy just to generate sales.

I guess artists who don't want to sell their art "by the square foot" might not like the idea. It might offend their sensibilities.

A stupid remark, it has nothing to do with the topic.

But just think about how many artists would lose their source of income if all of the know nothing dilettantes were eliminated from the art buying process?

Well there are know-nothing dilettantes in all fields.

Wow that would certainly reduce their numbers drastically.

If you mean it would reduce the number of artists, you are correct. I do not think you could make any inference or assumption about how it would affect the quality of the work made by the remaining artists.

Listen if the rich want to buy art that they have no feelings for or know nothing about why stop them?

Again, this is a prejudicial remark, applied to an economic class of people which has absolutely no basis in fact.

We need to continue to spend money to keep the economy going. Why is it any better if they waste their money on a gauche luxury item rather than a work of art they know nothing about but their expensive art consultant recommends they buy?

Now we are talking about economics? Not art?

The poor people who are educated and have a sense of what makes art good will never be able to buy this stuff.

Here we go, it finally comes out, class warfare. What makes you think that the "poor people" are any better educated, have better taste or are otherwise more qualified to judge art?

Will getting rid of art consultants improve the world? No.

Correct.

Rich people have to maintain a certain lifestyle. They have to buy commodities that reflect their economic status. … bla, bla, bla… You wouldn’t want to force them to take an office job, alongside with the middle class chaff?

I have a little know fact to share with you, extensive economic analysis has shown that art has been primarily supported by the wealthy members of society. Nearly all of the art objects, from the last say 500 years, art objects that we cherish and revere, were funded and supported by the wealthy.

From my point of view, if one has the ability to discern what good art is, and is willing to share this knowledge and process with someone else, then this is an honorable activity. Like any activity it can be perverted, but I was assuming that the readers here wouldn’t go down that path, maybe I was wrong.

21.

opie

February 29, 2008, 5:39 PM

Good grief, George. Eric was just saying isn't it better to have more money rather than less money. Elitist? Stupid? Class warfare?

Lighten up, fellah!

22.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 5:58 PM

Sorry if any mention of class issues is reduced to "class warfare" by people like you George. George, the defender of the rich, who never makes generalizations but only expresses simple facts free from all prejudices. I would think that it is obvious that you are the elitist in this little debate. George you are standing up for people who have already won so what is the point? Do you have a problem with the idea that, heaven forbid, economics might have a negative influence on the making and selling of art? Here are some of your profound insights.

Some collectors are good and some are bad. That's how it is everywhere, in every field. Why are you busting on good honest rich people who want help starting their art collection? So what if someone with a lot of money to spend on luxury goods wants to go to an art consultant so that they can make wise investments when they decide to start an art collection? (Notice I used the word investment, so yes in fact I do think that the money value and potential money value of the works sold through art consultants matters very very much.)

Some of them might tell the consultant, who has a really nice dark oak furnished office, a bowl of expensive chocolates, and an expresso machine and good wine within reach, that they don't know much about art but they feel passionate about wanting to own some good stuff, meaning stuff that matches the interior of their living space and will make an impression on their social circle. How many people go to art consultants so that they can buy art works that will sit in a locked chamber, only to be seen by the sole buyer? None of course. Buying art through a consultant is done purely for economic gain, good investment purposes, or to effect the way the buyer is perceived within their social network.

George if you think that your bland generalizations ("there are know-nothing dilettantes in all fields." "Nearly all of the art objects, from the last say 500 years, art objects that we cherish and revere, were funded and supported by the wealthy.", etc.) are news to me then you are the one who is "making a lot of unfounded assumptions."

"extensive economic analysis has shown..." That is a laughable rhetorical touch George.

"Nearly all of the art objects, from the last say 500 years, art objects that we cherish and revere, were funded and supported by the wealthy."

Do you think you are lumping an assortment of types together here George? Are you comparing the bozos in the NYT article who have anxiety about buying art (boo hoo) to the wealthy and powerful patrons who made the works of Da Vinci and Michelangelo possible? Fucking puhlease. You show me one art consultant who helped in some way to bring great art into the world, rather than help sell some prestige item that will go on someone's wall just in time for the big social gathering.

Art consultants represent one, and only one mind you, bad aspect of the professionalization of the cultural spheres. How many art consultants have you actually visited with George? You are probably friends with some of them, hence your vehement tone. They have nice full book shelves right behind their desks, making sure that the potential customers get the idea. "I am smarter than you and I will help make you smarter." Mental prostitutes in my mind.

Your comment:

"What makes you think that the "poor people" are any better educated, have better taste or are otherwise more qualified to judge art?"

I said:

"The poor people who are educated and have a sense of what makes art good will never be able to buy this stuff."

I never said that poor people are "any better educated, have better taste or are otherwise more qualified to judge art." You put those words in my mouth. Sorry if I feel utter contempt for those poor souls described in the NYT article who have anxiety about buying art. Call me a Marxist if you want George. Look at the wider context in which this faux drama is taking place. Just try to think about the majority of humanity rather than those poor misunderstood people who have helped make great art possible during the last 500 years.

"if one has the ability to discern what good art is, and is willing to share this knowledge and process with someone else, then this is an honorable activity"

Okay so an art consultant that recommended only works of art to their customers that they felt were good works of art and not wise finacial investments would stay in business for how long?

I could go on but I have to write another review tonight. I am not getting paid for this review and I am not getting paid for the one I just wrote. They take me hours to write and edit, not including the time it takes me to visit the gallery and take extensive notes. I write about works of art because I am passionate about them and the art works inspire me. No one told me which exhibitions to write about. I chose them all on my own. I usually write essays about artists who have not gotten any critical attention. No art consultant will be recommending their work to any wealthy person. But at least my essay will bring them some well deserved attention. I won't be making money off of my review. I will never meet the artist. I will not be given a work of art by the artist. That is why this quote really irks me,

"I suggest that you cannot share the reasons for your aesthetic preferences in a way which someone else, who is not already of the same opinion, can comprehend well enough to be swayed."

23.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 6:28 PM

George, you can play dumb, or devil's advocate, or outraged moralist (quite unconvincingly, by the way) or garrulous contrarian all you want; you certainly seem to like it well enough. I think you know perfectly well what I'm getting but you're being disingenuous, and even if you don't get me, I don't feel like spelling it out for you. Like OP or perhaps Franklin has noted, arguing with you is like kicking Jell-O, and I'm just not in the mood. I really ought to know better by now.

24.

George

February 29, 2008, 6:55 PM

re#23:

Well Jack,

You automatically assumed the worst when you read what I wrote earlier. I have no doubt that you do have some expertise in the field and that you could put this to good use helping other collectors who had something approaching a similar taste.

If everybody wants to bitch about how things are, fine, but it won't change anything. Things change, gradually, because people make an effort to change them. Money does drive the art market (not necessarily the art) and if those of you who have a different viewpoint stepped up to the plate, things would change.

You feel fine about espousing your opinions here, it’s essentially just hot air (all of us). Taking these opinions to the marketplace is something else because it has a layer of interpersonal and ethical complications laid on it. I think it is doable without prostituting yourself or leading the client around by the nose.

25.

George

February 29, 2008, 7:05 PM

re #22: Eric,

Good luck in the artworld, you’re going to need it.

26.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 7:20 PM

George if I knew more details about your glorious triumphs in the art world perhaps then I could gage my own success or failure. It is odd that you have been so nasty and taken my comments as some sort of personal affront, but that probably means that you are married to or are good friends with an art consultant, that you live off a trust fund and resent it when anyone, anywhere, at any time, discusses how the wealthy people who buy art might not be doing it for the most noble reasons, or you really think your "pathetic" opponents can't see through your rhetorical devices and straw men.

27.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 7:28 PM

Actually George I take back the following:

"It is odd that you have been so nasty and taken my comments as some sort of personal affront, but that probably means that you are married to or are good friends with an art consultant, that you live off a trust fund and resent it when anyone, anywhere, at any time, discusses how the wealthy people who buy art might not be doing it for the most noble reasons, or you really think your "pathetic" opponents can't see through your rhetorical devices and straw men."

Maybe you did get to where you are in the art world, wherever the hell that is, through hard work, talent, and determination. None of that matters to the art consultants though George. You will never sell a work of art through an art consultant, unless there is an art consultant who is like Lucy from Peanuts and operates out of a cardboard box that she has set up on the curb. I too wish you the very best of luck with your illustrious art career. Now I am off to write a review that will get read by the million plus readers who visit artcritical.com on a monthly basis.

28.

opie

February 29, 2008, 7:39 PM

George loves to poke, Eric. You are letting him get to you.

29.

Eric

February 29, 2008, 7:44 PM

One positive thing that has occurred tonight...I have improved my debate skills. I knew that would happen if I kept visiting this blog.

30.

Jack

February 29, 2008, 8:40 PM

The fifth line of # 23 should have read "getting at" (I hate typos, none more than my own).

George, against my better judgment, knowing your MO, I'll recapitulate my position:

Real art people, the genuine article, would shrink in disgust from the idea of (supposed) connoisseurship by proxy, especially paid proxy. They wouldn't be caught dead in tow to a Marcia Levine in some artsy Morticia costume. They wouldn't give a shit about gallery employees and their stupid little games. They wouldn't flee to some website selling cut-rate versions of already dubious gallery fare. They wouldn't be fixated on "edginess." They wouldn't have any frigging "art anxiety" or "art paralysis." They'd just dive in gladly and energetically, pay their dues (not consulting fees), and work things out for themselves.

There is no shortcut or free lunch or instant coffee, so to speak. My advice (gratis) to any aspiring collector would be: Either YOU get it, or you don't (in which case, don't bother).

I need not tell you, George, that whether or not you agree with my position is of neither consequence nor concern.

31.

George

February 29, 2008, 9:05 PM

Hey Jack,

I can completely understand why this is something you wouldn't want to do. I do not fault you for that.

I'm inclined to think that the market for this type of service may not be as onerous as you think, that there are people out there who seriously would like to collect art, are a bit confused by the process and would like some help. As in any endeavor, you will run into situations that you could live without, and you should assume you are free to say "thank you, but no thank you" or "fuck off" depending on your mood.

Further, it you could chose to only to deal with artwork that you loved and know something about, become a specialist in a niche market. Whatever, I’m just trying to point out that there are a number of ways of looking at this which are more subtle and potentially interesting.

Or not.

32.

Oriane

March 1, 2008, 8:39 AM

You guys crack me up, you really do. Sometimes I come here just for the entertainment value. That fact that anyone can get all fired up about whether the art consultant is the bad guy here is comical. The art consultant is just an entrepreneur taking advantage of one of those "problems" that rich people have in maintaining (and feeling good about) their lifestyle. The fact that the art consultant plies her trade using as a product something that we care deeply about (and that she appears not to care anything about) is I guess what engenders the strong emotions expressed here. The funny part of the article to me was that it was ostensibly about dealing with a particular form of anxiety. With all the possible causes of anxiety in the world today, this one seems trivial, does it not? I'm anxious about unemployment (being unemployed myself), lack of health insurance, the economy in general, the possibly endless and ever-expanding war in the middle east, whether the Repugnicans will keep control of the presidency, how much farther our civil rights can be eroded, how I (and others) can continue to make art under such circumstances... you get the picture. This article was just more evidence that the NYT is turning into a magazine on "lifestyles of the rich and wannabe rich".

Why should any of us care about any of these people on a human level? I mean, if we're involved with them economically, that's a reason for interaction, but it's just that: a business interaction. When you're in a business, you sometimes have to do business with people you don't particularly respect or like. That's life if you're lucky enough to sell your art for a living.

Just to save more typing (oh yeah, I also have anxiety about carpal tunnel and a compressed vertebrae which hurts when I sit for too long), I'm cutting and pasting what I wrote on Winkelman's blog here:

"The art anxiety article, as you pointed out, was in the House & Home section, a tipoff that it wasn't going to be very deep. So I was only mildly surprised that no one brought up the question of WHY people buy (or look at, or experience) art. The "anxious" guys were basically decorating their McMansions. So hire a decorator, and hire an art consultant. I don't have any sympathy for the poor (hah!) intimidated hedge manager or Top Orthodontist who doesn't know what or where to buy. It strikes me as similar to the tragedy that occurs when a society lady wannabe makes a fashion faux pas at an important event. The horror!

No one talked about what it means to look at art every day, to live with it, to learn from it, to get to know artists, how it changes one's life (did they? I don't think so). The NYT is going downhill fast with more and more fluff sections. But H&H is especially schizy; that article about the former gang girl had nothing to do with the other articles in the section. And the column about the woman who discovered "linkedin"? All fluff except for the one on Jen Bekman, which was very good.

Oriane

33.

catfish

March 1, 2008, 9:20 AM

Oriane, you say "I'm anxious about unemployment (being unemployed myself), lack of health insurance, the economy in general, the possibly endless and ever-expanding war in the middle east, whether the Repugnicans will keep control of the presidency, how much farther our civil rights can be eroded, how I (and others) can continue to make art under such circumstances"

Except for your being unemployed I don't understand how the other anxieties you list would prevent you (and others) from continuing to make art. Could you fill me in?

(I agree with you that the article in question is not worth fretting over.)

34.

Marc Country

March 1, 2008, 9:24 AM

I wonder if the famous Mr. Broad built his famous, ahem, 'art' collection with the help of art consultants, or whether he just relied on his own, ahem, 'taste'...

35.

Marc Country

March 1, 2008, 9:58 AM

Art Consultants: A Genetic Explanation...

36.

Oriane

March 1, 2008, 10:22 AM

Except for your being unemployed I don't understand how the other anxieties you list would prevent you (and others) from continuing to make art. Could you fill me in?

Catfish,
Anxiety, depression, hopelessness, economic insecurity, not being valued by the larger society, wondering if the world is going to be nuked, etc. all put a bit of a crimp in the creative impulse (not to mention the will to just keep getting up every day). Don't you find this to be the case?

37.

Jack

March 1, 2008, 10:51 AM

I'm sorry, Marc (35). This is like the Wal-Mart version of the NYT piece. I have my standards, you know.

38.

catfish

March 1, 2008, 10:53 AM

Oriane,

Mike Tyson once commented that when you're in a fight and you can no longer see out of one eye, you continue fighting with the one that is left. Thus I find that despair is a good enough basis to continue working - it certainly is the only one I have left. It hasn't crimped what I do or my desire to get up, etiher.

39.

Oriane

March 1, 2008, 11:27 AM

Yeah, that Mike Tyson is my role model. No, seriously, if that's working for you, more power to you.

O

40.

opie

March 1, 2008, 11:48 AM

" the NYT is turning into a magazine on "lifestyles of the rich and wannabe rich""

It has been for years and gets worse every day. Their liberal smugness is annoying enough to keep me away from all but the Science section, the Obits and the crossword, about the only places left where intresting facts can be found.

It seems to be that any artist who does not find the piece I linked interesting is not interested in engaging in the market. That is one's choice, of course, but it seems kind of self-defeating.

41.

Jack

March 1, 2008, 1:48 PM

Still, Marc, I haver to wonder, is there something sadder than a two-bit, bush-league, wannabe art consultant catering to ex-swimsuit models, with a name like Sarah Jane Bruce? As if wearing all-black had incredible magical powers...Sheesh.

42.

George

March 1, 2008, 1:51 PM

Art Consultant 4U

44.

Eric

March 1, 2008, 8:39 PM

"Become an art consultant -- do you like choosing and buying beautiful art? If you become an art consultant, you could make money by creating art programs for companies, hotels, office buildings, medical centers and upper income professionals.

Whereas art reps promote works sold by galleries or artists, art consultants consider each client's unique needs and budget, then consider hundreds of works before making a recommendation. And while some galleries serve as art consultants, they too tend to be limited to what the gallery has on hand. In comparison, an art consultant is free to choose any work that suits their client.

To become an art consultant, you'll need to draw from a specialized knowledge of art sales, art, entrepreneurship, networking and the art scene."

45.

George

March 2, 2008, 9:21 AM

re#44:

Do you know any art consultants?

46.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 9:34 AM

I have been at social gatherings where I had the opportunity to chat with a few of them, but I do not have any in my very limited social network. This lack of a social network is another strike against in terms of my ability to succeed in the art world. I am well aware of that. I am friends with artists and writers. That is about it. I would be more than happy to hear about any specific encounters you might have had with them that would destroy my very prejudiced, unsubtle, and no-nothing take on them.

47.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 9:49 AM

Obviously I have seen quite a few art consultants' offices. They are often stuck in between small, non blue chip galleries found in six through eight story high buildings in Chelsea. Usually the street level blue chip galleries exhibit artists who have been written about over and over again. If you want to find work that has received no critical attention you usually have to go into one of these buildings that have several floors worth of culture related businesses, including small film studios, artist studios, etc., or you have to walk one or two blocks east away from the heart of Chelsea's gallery district to the smaller out of the way galleries, that are situated in between warehouses, loading docks and that sort of thing.

48.

George

March 2, 2008, 10:19 AM

One thing you'll learn about a career in the arts, it is an interesting trip down the long road to poverty.

We happen to be in the most buoyant era financially, for fine art in modern history, no other period in the last 200 years comes even close. There are a lot of hangers-on, but it will not last. So while I debate with people here, get pissed off even, I respect other artists like Opie, who are still in the game after thirty years. A very, very high percentage of art school graduates find themselves doing something else ten to twenty years later.

I think you will find that people employed in the arts, artists, gallerist, museum folks, art consultants, critics, etc., people who are still doing after twenty years, are doing it for the love of art, and not the money, it’s easier to get rich doing something else.

Ultimately, I try to deal with people on an individual basis, rather than putting a label on them an stuffing them into a bag. If you talk to 100 people in the arts, people in different capacities, you will find that their opinions about what they consider is good art vary widely and frequently will be at cross purposes to yours. This just means that you disagree, it doesn’t make the other person stupid or bad.

49.

opie

March 2, 2008, 10:23 AM

But it might make them wrong.

50.

Jack

March 2, 2008, 12:25 PM

And being stupid or bad is hardly out of the question.

51.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 1:51 PM

George they only thing I disagree with in #48 is this (okay maybe it isn't the only thing).

"A very, very high percentage of art school graduates find themselves doing something else ten to twenty years later."

I went to a liberal arts school, granted it was only a SUNY school (which I had to pay off in full until my mid thirties), but I was amazed by how pathetically lazy the students in the visual arts department were. Granted there were a few exceptions but they were in the minority. Each student had their own workspace and seniors did not have to share a space. I was amazed that the visual arts building was usually empty at night. Most students didn't work on their art until it was towards the end of the semester and they needed to hand something, anything, in to their professors. This always amazed me. I was not an art major but I did more drawing and painting in my dorm room then most of the visual arts students were doing. Of course they quit before they even got started. It was probably laziness, mental problems, complete lack of direction, that lead them to the visual arts department. Almost all of the members of the hard working or driven minority gave art up soon after graduating. So I can only imagine that the majority of them didn't keep it up post graduation, gave it up much sooner than your projected ten to twenty years. The few students who might have stuck with it, I am entirely sure, continue to make art while holding down a primary job that provides them with benefits, if they are lucky. I have not read about a single one of them in the local or national art press. I remember my printmaking teacher used to tell me that no one who was in the arts program had ever made it as an artist, and I thought at the time that she was being pessimistic, but I guess not. For the most part, I would assume this is the case with most of the arts programs across the country.

I am familair with all of the generalizations you make about the economics of the current art world. We are in flush times. There is more money being spent on art degrees, art supplies, art spaces, works of art, the building and leasing of display spaces, then ever before. More and more art based careers, by necessity, have been generated by this economy. Art consultants make me think of Vonnegut's great first novel "The Player Piano".

"Specialization is the norm, and all of the wealthy upper-class people have doctorate level degrees, with eight years of schooling for everyone; consequently it creates a society of well-educated thinkers and not doers."

I know I am being low brow by bringing up a science fiction novel but I find that the professionalization of the art world, although necessary because there is so much money floating around and to be had, has not been good for the imagination in general. Obviously I am making a broad statement and I am not dealing with the details of all of the indivudual lives involved, but how is that even possible?

52.

George

March 2, 2008, 2:27 PM

Re: #51. Eric,

It appears you have difficulty in understanding this sentence.A very, very high percentage of art school graduates find themselves doing something else ten to twenty years later.

I was not making a pejorative observation about the graduates of art schools. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are emotionally well adjusted, intelligent or hardworking.

It was a comment about how hard it is to make a living in this field. This is not something new, it has always been the case and I doubt anything has changed since Rembrandt.

I can safely assume you have a trust fund?

53.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 2:51 PM

I was making a judgemental statement about all of those people (30,000 plus MFAs a year I think) signing up for art school. I stated that I was still paying off my SUNY undergraduate degree well into my thirties so I am not sure what you meant by,

"I can safely assume you have a trust fund?"

I have been finanically independent since I was twenty two years old. I work as a school librarian. I make art and write during my free time. I think the plethora of art students and art professionals, including art consultants, is a relatively new historical phenemona (they didn't exist when Rembrandt was around for instance) and there are more of them than ever before. I don't think it is a good thing for most people. In fact I think the pursuit of art, especially becoming an artist, for most people nowadays, is a self destructive act. It is not well thought, it is not pursued thoroughly and wholeheartedly, and it doesn't take into account the financial realities of adopting such a lifestyle or goal.

54.

George

March 2, 2008, 3:52 PM

Re: # 53. Eric
I was being facetious. I see that you have a day job like most other artists, that’s smart.

I also have some qualms about the professionalization of the art world, in particular on the production end.
The MFA mills are a Ponzi scheme generating more "artists" who become "teachers" in order to graduate more artists who will become teachers, whee! it makes me dizzy.

In fact I think the pursuit of art, especially becoming an artist, for most people nowadays, is a self destructive act.

I don’t think this is the case at all, it’s about sex.

It is not well thought, it is not pursued thoroughly and wholeheartedly, and it doesn't take into account the financial realities of adopting such a lifestyle or goal.

Maybe, but I suspect the type of person who would do this would make a good accountant.

I think the plethora of art students and art professionals, including art consultants, is a relatively new historical phenomena.

True but you are making several assumptions at once. Simply, because the population is greater, there are more artists. Because the art world is larger, there are more of everything.

There were art consultants thirty years ago, they might have called themselves something slightly different, but the idea was the same, they acted as an independent broker between a buyer and a seller.

As far as art students go, I think you have an odd perspective to your perception of them as a group. My original comments only suggest that they end up doing something else later in life, nothing else. I managed a software company for a few years, my best programmer had a sculpture degree from RISD.

Arts Management is a new degreed field of study, and one which probably has some merit as part of the new art professionalism.

Networking is an important concept.

55.

Jack

March 2, 2008, 4:08 PM

You see, George? Eric has a non-art "day job." Just like you.

56.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 5:06 PM

The reason why I think it is self destructive for most people to invest their own money in an art degree (obviously this does not pertain to situations where the parents are paying their way and the student will be handed some job upon graduation) is because it is really debilitating to have huge student loans fresh out of school.

I think that more practically oriented art programs would be helpful, if they are combined with skilled based core programs. A number of things make most art programs (undergraduate and graduate but for different reasons) as good as useless. Most of them have so little structure and are so lax when it comes to discipline and technique that a majority of BA holders graduate without knowing the rudiments of drawing and painting technique (or video and sculpting technique).

I am sure this has been the subject of earlier conversations on this blog. Secondly, the biases of the instructor get in the way and this leads to the copycat phenomena. This means students emulate their professors in some way and that is what gets them a good grade. You could say that it is more important that the students learn how to come up with a successful art world meme rather than learn how to draw and paint. I can't argue that in the face of the current art world. But I would say that the students lose out when they are not forced really hard to accomplish something.

I wish the system or the loop was as simple as you described it. How many adjunct or fully tenured art professors are there out there? Very few compared to the number of BA and MFA holders in the USA. The lucky ones get to teach art on a college level or in a well run well financed private or public grade school. Obviously these BA and MFA holders find alternate careers but what was the mental and financial damage of buying into the 'I want to be an artist' fantasy for so many years? Surely their must be negative repercussions.

I definitely find this endless treadmill of BAs and MFAs being set loose into a world that doesn't give a crap to be sad and tragic.

If it makes sense to teach nothing but networking skills (how to set you your own blog/website, how to get signed to a gallery, how to advertise oneself, etc., and 'art management' (as you put it) then that should be the sole focus for the four years the students are stuck in a BA program.

I think the problem is that there is a schizoid attitude that schools have about their art programs. Some professors are conservatives and teach basic drawing and painting skills, some professors are video/multi-media artists; the art history classes supplied are spotty and limited at best. The schools end up turning out dabblers. They don't really make students question why they are there and they certainly don't prepare them for the exigencies of the real art world. Even if a trendy school like NYU or Parsons decides to update their arts curriculum and offer self marketing courses which include a section on how to make a viral youtube video (this is a real course) just how many people can make a living off of their art? Statistically the picture is not pretty.

57.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 6:30 PM

"If it makes sense to teach nothing but networking skills (how to set up your own blog/website, how to get signed to a gallery, how to advertise oneself, etc., and 'art management' (as you put it) then that should be the sole focus of the four years the students are stuck in a BA program." (corrected version)

Maybe the degree program can be changed to Opportunism With an Artistic Veneer. I remember roaming the halls in the visual art building and being embarrassed for the students. This week they did still-lifes, the following week they did portraits, the following week geometric scribble scrabble. It was always the same. The one or two truly talented drafstpeople would create technically superior drawings or paintings that stood out like sore thumbs and all the rest would be the same mediocre dribble. I would shake my head and say "What is the fucking point of it all?"

I suppose I could be as cynical as George and say they are all there for the 'sex' and drugs and parties. Does the art really matter after all? But I take the imagination and creativity more seriously. Do away with these art programs. Get rid of art and music in schools and teach kids how to do real things again. Let them find creativity on their own. Force feeding it to them is bullshit and doesn't work.

58.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 6:44 PM

Let me modify my phrase before I get trampled on. By real things I mean this. I work in a school and I think it is a shame that we don't let kids do more hands on things. Let them learn how to build useful things. The skill set they will absorb will be invaluable. Forcing college students to learn a little bit of drawing and painting is as good as useless for a number of reasons. The fact that so few people are really cut out for art making is one of them. The other is that by forcing them to take bits and pieces of this and that, a little silkscreening, a little painting, a little drawing, a little art history, makes their education add up to a little bit of everything therefore nothing.

59.

Eric

March 2, 2008, 6:49 PM

I made general and therefore somewhat haphazard comments about a large subject that deserves more in-depth and nuanced commentary. Sorry but I am exhausted at this point in the day. Bringing up two young children is hard work. Glean what you want from what I rambled on about.

60.

dexter

March 2, 2008, 8:50 PM

re: 51

eric, your art school experience seems pretty standard. you've aptly described the experience i had, and it holds for the rest of canada, as i see it. in the art that is. given opie and franklin's backgrounds it probably has been ranted about in earlier places here, but i thank you for putting that together. it's an affirmation for me to hear this coming from NYC. already knew it to be the case, but nonetheless. us 'provincials' will always have a chip on our shoulders.

as for sci fi = low brow??? you'll have to qualify that one bub! vonnegut is great, by me. and george already mentioned william gibson in another thread. he's damn good. i can't envision a late 20th/21st c. literary world without credible science fiction. awesome writers both.

61.

George

March 2, 2008, 9:28 PM

Eric,

Networking is an important concept.

This was a hint, not something I thought should be taught in school.

62.

George

March 2, 2008, 9:35 PM

It's been a long time since I have been in an art school.

What I remember, as the most important aspect in art school was the ability to work alongside your peers. Most of the stuff we were taught, we spent the next few years undoing. The sex, drugs and rock 'n roll made it all worthwhile.

63.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 5:33 AM

If any one read the comments I posted last night I apologize for how sloppy they were. George you are right about the whole college experience. The social aspects of it are the most important. It is more important to find a mate, get a monkey on your back so that the transition to the work force will go more smoothly, experiment with blah blah blah. I guess it makes me mad to think that so many students fall into arts programs without knowing more about the consequences. If in fact the students who actually pay attention and absorb new knowledge have to 'undo' what they learned post graduation then that proves that it is a complete waste of time and money (money that students who are not having their education paid for will have to pay off for the next ten to twenty years of their lives [how many young lives get screwed up because of this albatross]). By the way, I don't know when you went to college George but in the late eighties when I was an undergraduate the sex, drugs, and rock and roll were not what they used to be. There were more nervous breakdowns/psychotic episodes taking place (crazies sneaking into the library overnight and running around naked in the darkened library space wagging a stick around in the air and screaming [this actually happened]) than there were orgies.

64.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 6:05 AM

I am embarrassed to even mention how deeply I am into science fiction. I use science fiction theorists a lot in my art writing. That is how much science fiction has permeated my thoughts. I have the March 2008 issue of Science Fiction Studies right next to me on my desk so that I can read it during bathroom and lunch breaks. I probably read more older science fiction than the newer stuff but I am working on that. I have been trying to put together a book about science fiction and the visual arts.

65.

George

March 3, 2008, 7:09 AM

Re: 63. Eric,

[SDR&R] what they used to be ...’twas it for me.

I suspect that a lot of college freshmen, 19 year olds, do not really have a clue about a lot of things, seems like it comes with the territory.

The "social aspects" of art school are important, I was mostly just alluding to peer interest or excitement about the arts, and the absorption of a generational zeitgeist that cannot really be imparted by an instructor.

66.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 7:56 AM

Although I do not thoroughly understand the phrase 'generational zeitgeist' I would say that the very last place you would pick up on it is in the art schools. Go visit the trendy galleries in a city near you (LA or NYC need only apply of course) to get a grip on the 'generational zeitgeist'. If anything I would say that most of the art work made in art schools is entirely conservative in terms of technique, subject matter, materials used, when it is compared to the art products produced by those in obeyance to 'generational zeitgeist' in the trendy galleries. The materials and equipment used by contemporary and trendy artists would never be affordable for an undergrad. How many charcoal drawings on newsprint do you see in galleries? Drawings of still lifes, models posing on a chair or platform, etc. Art students are encouraged to draw from life during the first two years of most art programs. How many straightforward (unironic, non-pastiche) life drawings do you see in the trendy galleries? It is rare that an art student would go beyond this phase by the time they graduate.

67.

George

March 3, 2008, 8:11 AM

Eric,

Don't try to make it so complicated.

Every generation has it's own set of influences, TV shows, news events, music, video games, popular books, clothing, etc. It's what makes a generation a generation. So if I say "sex, drugs, rock&roll" it means something different to me than it does to you or a 20 year old.

68.

wwc

March 3, 2008, 8:15 AM

You realize that the purpose of the charcoal-on-newsprint drawings of still-lives (lifes?) isn't to make things that would look good in Chelsea, it's to teach the skills of looking and making. Two years? That's it? 20 years later I'm still drawing stuff all around me a learning a great deal.

69.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 9:07 AM

wwc:

I hope you didn't take my comments as a put down of life drawing. I too have been doing ink and pencil drawings partially or entirely from life since I was in my teens (I never studied art in school but did take a few classes at the Arts Student League). I was trying to make a point about the alleged 'generational zeitgeist' amd how it was shaped by market forces and marketing trends rather than what groups of young people who are not completly jaded yet think and feel about the world. And yes, I agree that every generation has its own set of pop culture references, etc., to work with.

70.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 9:24 AM

wwc:

Also, please realize when I say "go beyond this phase" I am not suggesting that students fail to move onto bigger and better things after mastering life drawing. What I mean is that most students do not develop a recognizable, logo like format that will catch the attention of the trendy galleries before they graduate. Most of the art students who are grabbed up by galleries before they even graduate (students at Yale, Hunter College, etc.) have devised an easily recognized motif, style, or format. The galleries want a recognizable and catchy product, not humble and somewhat anonymous examples of life drawing.

71.

George

March 3, 2008, 9:46 AM

I was trying to make a point about the alleged 'generational zeitgeist' amd how it was shaped by market forces and marketing trends rather than what groups of young people who are not completly jaded yet think and feel about the world.

It’s about the spirit of the time for a generation. If market forces and marketing trends shape this, then what these forces cause becomes part of the spirit of the time. From my point of view it is neither good nor bad, it just is.

It seems to me that the best new art, art by young artists, is an expression of this spirit and may very well be reactionary and act counter to the popular trend.

FWIW, most young artists don’t, they just go along with what’s there.

72.

George

March 3, 2008, 10:00 AM

What I mean is that most students do not develop a recognizable, logo like format that will catch the attention of the trendy galleries before they graduate. Most of the art students who are grabbed up by galleries before they even graduate (students at Yale, Hunter College, etc.) have devised an easily recognized motif, style, or format. The galleries want a recognizable and catchy product, not humble and somewhat anonymous examples of life drawing.

How did we get here?

73.

wwc

March 3, 2008, 10:12 AM

Amen George.

Unless you're already sold out, who gives a damn about what the galleries want? Making art is a long game, not a sprint. I don't show life drawings, but I know I can draw circles around folks who never put in the time to learned to push a pencil. Of course, I never did master the investigation of hegemonic power structures and the juxtaposition of pop culture references in destabilized contexts or whatever...

"The public gets what they deserve, not what they demand,
Unless we all decide to be a business not a band"
- Agent Orange

74.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 10:17 AM

I am not sure if you meant how did we get here in terms of our rambling back and forth or how did we get here (the place I try to describe) historically.

75.

George

March 3, 2008, 10:17 AM

Yeh, if that's what young artists are thinking about something is really screwed up.

FWIW, Chinese artists are going to talke over the cutting edge. There's a lot of them, they just do it, there is affordable working space, there is support, watch out kids.

76.

wwc

March 3, 2008, 10:23 AM

Earlier I was trying to say that younger artists do seem to have this pressure to come out of school fully formed, and I think we agree that is a really damaging idea.

77.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 10:26 AM

I think it is definitely the case that 'kids these days' are obsessed with success, monetary success, becoming a celebrity etc. Of course their first priority is going to be success. Hard work, endless toiling, a private battle with materials ansd ideas, slow results, a series of minor breakthroughs, that doesn't sound sexy to me. 20 year old so and so has been signed by the blah blah blue chip gallery and there is already a waiting list for his/her new work. There. Now that sounds sexy. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll dudes. Yes rising China is going to transform everything, including the cultural speheres in the near and distant fuuture. No doubt.

78.

wwc

March 3, 2008, 10:38 AM

That all sounds sexy, sure. That kind of worldly success is great - I know a guy who is hitting those highs.

The thing about art though is that there's also value and triumph alone in the studio. One can't control whether you know the right people and get snatched up into the whirlwind of the art world, but you can control what you make in the studio. Maybe it's a thin gruel but at least it tastes good.

Do you think baby artists miss this point altogether? Do I emphasize this because I have had to have a day job since leaving school?

79.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 10:58 AM

wwc:

The only thing I would say wwc is that you should keep making things if you continue to get nourishment and meaning from the process. Whether you are a financial success or not, the only thing you will have in the end will be your own thoughts and emotions. All of the things that tend to come with success, a fleet of sycophants and acolytes, critical support (which is always fairweathered at best), money money money, usually tend to turn an artist into a self satisfied, narcissistic, gloating ball of shit. How many big success stories really continue to push themselves? Not many at all. It sucks to not being able to make things full time, without a financial care in the world, but the fact that this won't happen to you should not spoil the creative process. You make things, hopefully, because you have to and it provides your life with meaning like nothing else can.

80.

Eric

March 3, 2008, 11:03 AM

"It sucks to not be able to make things full time, without a financial care in the world, but the fact that this won't happen to you should not spoil the creative process."

(correct version)

Sorry for not proofreading this shit more closely.

81.

George

March 3, 2008, 12:30 PM

All of the things that tend to come with success, a fleet of sycophants and acolytes, critical support (which is always fairweathered at best), money money money, usually tend to turn an artist into a self satisfied, narcissistic, gloating ball of shit.

Well, I can tell you from experience both ways, success is better then nothing. It is a trade off. [To] be able to make things full time, without a financial care vs. the bullshit that comes with success (yes, I agree there is this) You can learn to live with it.

On the other hand, there are those who avoid success because they can’t deal with the bullshit. This is fine as long as they don’t deceive themselves. If they do, it creates another set of conflicts.

82.

wwc

March 3, 2008, 12:38 PM

I want success (and the delicious problems that come with it) as much as the next artist, but it seems that the way to long-term success is through the quiet, non-sexy hard work done in the studio. In a hundred years Damian Hirst will be an embarrassing footnote but Jules Olitski will still be looked at seriously.

And whether one is successful or not, at least it's fun to make stuff.

83.

George

March 3, 2008, 12:54 PM

In a 100 years, maybe less, I'll be dead and unlikely to care about either.

Olitiski or Hirst, these are opinions we like to believe one way or the other, the culture keeps score over time.

84.

catfish

March 3, 2008, 1:26 PM

Like George, I am weary of discussions of the future, especially those that are used to make some point or another about an artist's worth. We don't know the future. Because there are no facts associated with the future, there is nothing in the way of speculations about who will be imortant in 100 years and who will not. I would much rather read discussions based on experience in the here-and-now. If Olitski is better than Hirst, we need to get at that with the work as it exists and as we experience it, not as it might be regarded when we are all dead.

Of course, everyone, myself included, drifts into assertions about the future. It is just that they don't mean much.

85.

George

March 3, 2008, 1:44 PM

Cat,

I am interested in the future, insofar as I can make projections which make sense to me and which I can utilize and test over time. Essentially trading the markets is always a speculation on the future.

Now, with Olitiski or Hirst I could care less how it plays out, there is nothing there for me, on a scale of 1 to 10, they are both a 1. That means I would go see a show but I’ve never seen anything by either artist worth studying in depth. This is a personal observation based upon what I actually do, I just don’t bother with them. I have other painters I’ve looked at quite seriously, very few are contemporary artists.

In my opinion, too much time and effort is wasted bad mouthing other artists. If people don’t like Duchamp, great, no one is holding your feet to the fire and forcing you to look at him.

86.

Jack

March 3, 2008, 2:07 PM

Ah, George, thoughtful and considerate as always. Making sure to leave no doubt as to the reliability of your taste and judgment. It can't match Danto's rapture and subsequent drivel over Warhol's Brillo boxes, but it will do quite nicely nonetheless.

87.

George

March 3, 2008, 9:01 PM

Gangsta Rap

Less Gangsta, More Rap

88.

jordan

March 3, 2008, 11:18 PM

Puryear in Ft. Worth !

89.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 4:44 AM

George:

That is why I will be teaching a class on research methodology with an emphasis on plagiarism to ninth graders next year. Welcome to the age of appropriation mofo! Peace out yo!

90.

George

March 4, 2008, 5:47 AM

Yeh, when you read the article, it’s interesting and sounds plausible, but it was all fiction.

This was in the same section of the NYT as the article on art anxiety.

91.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 6:20 AM

I am not sure if the second sentence in #90 is a covert attack but I do know that I don't give a flying turd either way.

92.

George

March 4, 2008, 6:23 AM

Sheesh, I was only pointing out how these popular articles aren't necessarily rigorously researched.

93.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 6:48 AM

Sorry George.

Now that the Internet has become a part of the research model we should all assume that their will be a smattering of or dollops of plagiarized material in everything we read. Memoirs? Forget about it! Newspaper and magazines articles? See Glass and Blair. Non-fiction books written by highly regarded and respected authors, Liars.

94.

George

March 4, 2008, 6:56 AM

Yes, and also that they get chosen for their entertainment value, it isn't the science section.

95.

George

March 4, 2008, 1:09 PM

Re#85. Eric,
Ok, that was more like it.

For reference, this is the link to the painting by Gearhard Richter we’re talking about.

Now, I am curious if any of the other painters who dislike this work can also say why.

96.

Jack

March 4, 2008, 2:59 PM

First, I apologize profusely for presuming to venture an opinion on the Richter, since I am not a painter, which automatically makes my take second-rate, or worse. We all know that being an artist confers magical powers of discernment and taste not to be had by layfolk, so please bear with me.

The Richter in question strikes me as visually dull and lifeless, not to say dreary. Banal, actually. The color is indifferent at best, but perhaps I'm too kind. The whole business appears mechanically generated, impersonal, and, appropriately enough, it conveys a certain rigidity or stiffness. It bores me. Finally, considering it was sold for what could easily buy an infinitely superior painting (or several), I'm offended that something that looks so generic, not to say amateurish, could conceivably be valued so highly.

Again, I apologize for speaking above my station, and I beg the condescension and tolerance of my betters.

97.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 3:57 PM

"Ok, that was more like it." Is this slightly condescending? Hmm. Not sure.

Jack don't apologize to me for not being an artist. I work full time as a school librarian. I studied literarure as an undergraduate and library science as a graduate student. Yeah I make stuff and I write about stuff but so fucking what? Any so-called artist who looks down on non-artists is a...I don't want to curse any more than I already have on this blog.

98.

opie

March 4, 2008, 4:20 PM

I think Jack was being ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek, Eric.

99.

Jack

March 4, 2008, 4:26 PM

Eric, 96 was prompted by the last sentence of 95.

100.

Jack

March 4, 2008, 4:42 PM

Oh, and Eric, you mustn't mind Jack too much. He's a bit too fond of sarcasm for some people, but he can't help it. Well, yes he can, but he likes it. He finds it vaguely therapeutic, or cathartic, or maybe he's just nasty.

101.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 5:21 PM

Jack please don't stop being nasty and sarcastic. If you knew me outside of cyberspace you would know how near and dear to my heart nastiness and sarcasm are. I should have assumed that the drippingly sarcastic #96 was aimed at Artblog.net's number one nemesis George. Also, I was not commenting specifically on the painting that George linked to. I was making general statements about Richter's abstract work. My comments, in my opinion, still hold true even if you took that jpeg as a reference point. I really get enraged around artists who act like their shit don't stink (see the comics on my blog if you don't believe me) or who act as if their psyches are plugged into some beautiful transcendental realm that mere mortals can not experience, and I would hate to be accused of sounding superior to anyone else who is currently alive. Franklin I apologize for not staying on topic. I will try to make any future comments relate at least tangentially to your original post.

102.

George

March 4, 2008, 5:29 PM

Re:#97. Eric

No, I meant you answered my question in the way I had originally hoped.

103.

Jack

March 4, 2008, 5:44 PM

Oh no, Eric. You mustn't say such things about George. Nemesis? Don't be silly. He's like a piece of furniture, or an old shoe. Furthermore, George is useful, or at least purported to be--by Catfish, whom I genuinely like, despite not being...what was it?...ah, yes, despite not being as tetchy as some of us.

104.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 5:53 PM

Oh, okay George. This quote might explain the problem I am having registering the tone of your comments:

"If you don't consciously insert tone into an email, a kind of universal default tone won't automatically be conveyed. Instead, the message written without regard to tone becomes a blank screen onto which the reader projects his own fears, prejudices and anxieties."

This quote comes from a good essay length review in the NYRB.

105.

George

March 4, 2008, 6:01 PM

the reader projects his own fears, prejudices and anxieties.

So this is how I got to be the nemesis?

106.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 6:12 PM

I am still a newbie around here so I do not have the right to determine who is a nemesis or not. Jack said you were an old shoe or chair or something so take it up with him.

107.

catfish

March 4, 2008, 7:22 PM

nemesis = something causing misery or death.

George does not qualify.

Nemesis = the goddess of divine retribution and vengeance.

George does not qualify; he isn't even a girl, much less a god.

In fact, George is definitely part of the life of this blog.

108.

Eric

March 4, 2008, 7:32 PM

You could also say George isn't artblog's nemesis because he isn't "a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent." That is a secondary and not a primary definition of the word though, according to merriam-webster.com.

109.

opie

March 4, 2008, 8:02 PM

George isn't a nemesis. He is sort of the ol' professor.

110.

Eric

March 5, 2008, 8:16 AM

I apologize to George and the moderator for entering the word 'nemesis' into the discourse. Drive safely.

111.

George

March 5, 2008, 8:29 AM

Eric, No appology is necessary.

112.

Loren

March 5, 2008, 8:00 PM

Painting is dead

113.

Eric

March 5, 2008, 8:18 PM

I also heard that peace is dead, reading is dead, handwriting is dead, god is dead...the list goes on. I guess when someone makes more specific comments about something or someone dieing, like "Jack is dead." or "My hard-drive is dead." it just doesn't sound quite as exciting and profound as pronouncing something vague and general as being dead, especially when that thing can be used as a noun and a verb. Poor Loren. I wonder if she is upset.

114.

George

March 5, 2008, 8:32 PM

Yo, Lazarus give me my brush.

I have something to say.


Arise.


So, black and white.

115.

Liz Weber

March 5, 2008, 11:57 PM

Bid on the opportunity to meet Jeff Koons and go on a private tour of his studio, led by the artist himself.

Michael Govan (LACMA Director) has also donated a private tour of the new Broad Museum at LACMA.

The auctions end on March 6, 2008 at 3pm US EST

Bid on the chance to talk with these gentlemen about their thoughts on the new Broad museum and art in general. www.charitybuzz.com

The auctions benefit the Hereditary Disease Foundation.

116.

Oriane

March 6, 2008, 4:23 AM

Gentlemen?

I'd like to bid on the chance to never see a Jeff Koons again.

117.

opie

March 6, 2008, 4:51 AM

Are those folks for or against hereditary disease?

118.

Franklin

March 6, 2008, 5:16 AM

Maybe I should change that "no ads" guideline to "advertisers may find themselves turned into objects of comedy."

Hell, at least someone is supplying content around here.

119.

Eric

March 6, 2008, 5:49 AM

Franklin are you commenting on the hordes of spammers that have been plaguing you? You get sooooooo many comments as compared to the wasteland that my blog is on a day to day basis. The thought of getting over 100 comments on a single blog entry, especially one that focuses on visual art, boggles my mind.

120.

Franklin

March 6, 2008, 6:09 AM

No, that was directed at Liz Weber at #115.

I'm pretty blown away too. This blog is blessed with a bunch of smart, involved commenters and I'm grateful for them.

121.

Eric

March 6, 2008, 6:14 AM

You deserve every bit of your success Franklin. It is a great blog. Now I will finish reading a few critiques of Libertarianism and get back to you. A math teacher in the school I work at (we are the only Jews who work here) is a huge Ayn Rand fan and I assume he is a Libertarian in terms of his politics. That is about as close to the center as anyone in my school comes, everyone else being far right of my views.

122.

Marc Country

March 6, 2008, 6:19 AM

#115 had to be a joke. Jeff Koons has a studio? Whatever for? I can just imagine: various sized aquaria in one corner, various sporting goods in another, with "the artist" talking excitedly about that eureka moment when he combined just the right basket balls with just the right sized tank of water... Magic!

123.

George

March 6, 2008, 6:55 AM

122-sour grapes

124.

Marc Country

March 6, 2008, 7:05 AM

Come on, George... that was weak, even for you.

125.

Franklin

March 6, 2008, 7:06 AM

123 - glib conformist cowardice. See, we can do this all day. But let's not.

126.

ahab

March 6, 2008, 7:27 AM

123: How MC is not green jelly: his NESWorkshop has a soccer ball, and golf clubs, a darts alley, a bbgun range, a stereo, wireless internet, a smoking room, a minstrel's portico, you name it - it's a funhouse, minus the trampoline. He doesn't conflate mere diversions with art or art-making.

127.

Marc Country

March 6, 2008, 7:30 AM

We should totally get a trampoline... and George should get a book of Aesop's fables, before he clumsily misuses another classic metaphor.

128.

George

March 6, 2008, 7:47 AM

125- sorry I was busy, so it was a short remark. But the plain fact is that no one is bidding for an opportunity to visit Marc's or anyone else here's studio. The content of Marc's sarcasm is gleaned from what's available in the most common print publications, he doesn't really have a clue about Koons' studio at all. I can only assume that he is jealous of Koons’ success.

129.

Franklin

March 6, 2008, 7:52 AM

You can only assume as much, perhaps. I assume that he's motivated by lack of respect for Koons's work.

130.

Marc Country

March 6, 2008, 7:55 AM

Franklin wins! And the prize?... A tour of my studio!

131.

Franklin

March 6, 2008, 8:02 AM

Yay!

132.

opie

March 6, 2008, 10:24 AM

George, you are not thinking. You can assume all kinds of things. You ssumed only envy. That is not about Marc.

133.

George

March 6, 2008, 12:01 PM

132 - No, I was thinking "sour grapes" That's how it came off to me. I can understand not being interested, therefore non-responsive. Whatever, it's not worth arguing over.

134.

Jack

March 6, 2008, 2:34 PM

George, you're priceless. You take a cheap shot, knowing perfectly well the (deliberate) provocation will be answered, and then you act as if you couldn't be bothered, or try to appear above it all. Evidently you like the attention, such as it is, but this passive-aggressive (or aggressive-passive) routine is rather tiresome by now.

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