If it is one thing the Internet has proven over the last two years it’s that fine arts skill doesn’t necessarily translate well into the world of web design. Well, that, or the stereotype that artists are innovative and multitalented is completely inaccurate, because as a group they are performing disappointedly to say the least. Which ever the case, artists and galleries* have by and large been reluctant to embrace the “World Wide Web” (the new media community notwithstanding). Countless websites maintained by major artists such as Eric Fischl, Jeff Koons, and Lisa Yuskavage are poorly designed, don’t function properly, and more frequently don’t exist at all. While one could make the case that there is little incentive to build a website if the artist already has representation, this argument can quickly be countered by the fact that gallery websites don’t have complete online archives for artists. Zach Feuer Gallery has been smart enough to claim the domain names of some of their more major artists, mirroring the name to pages on their own site (for the non techies out there this means that www.danaschutz.com sends you directly to the artist page on the galleries site). But sadly, this technique is only new to the art world. To the best of my knowledge no other New York gallery does this, (not even Sikkema Jenkins, whose website is also designed by Kyung Jeon). At this point users are often just as inclined to type a name into the address bar, as they are to type it into google so galleries would be wise to consider doing so. If there was ever any doubt about this one only need ask when was the last time anyone googled Verizon for their url?
Even the art blogging world seems to be having a late coming of age. 2004 saw the rise of blogs in popular mainstream media, but the art community has started to see this medium explode only recently. This is surprising, given that the medium lends itself well to image reproduction and potentially gives a voice to those who haven’t had one previously.
There is some question as what all this means, and like most things, there is more than one factor that contributes to poor performance. While it is hard to have definitive answers to these questions, it is likely that the reason that the dominant fine art aesthetic has for some time felt out of date is related to the fact that up until recently artists have been so tepidly exploring digital media (at this point there is no reason we should be seeing “experimental” work with a photoshop clone tool). I am not suggesting that the communities failure to embrace the Internet and imaging software early on has been the result of the loss of the “avant-guard”, but it should be seen as a symptom of a larger problem. It is likely that the art world is finally exhibiting visible signs of wear for having lacked in analysis and critique for so long. The recent Jerry Saltz article Seeing Out Loud prompted much response from the blogging community on this subject in December, but there has to be a more proactive response on the part of art bloggers. Clearly, MAN is in the best position to do so since unlike the rest of us he is a paid blogger, and his work reflects it, (even if he doesn’t review art enough for my taste). Art bloggers simply have to be more innovative in their approach to finding funding to maintain better sites. It may not be the only way, but is certainly the most viable to infusing art criticism with, you know, criticism.