POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Installation view of Skin Fruit at The New Museum
Art critics just don’t get it. Cronyism is a fact of life, and the sooner we start acting like doormats, the less The New York Observer’s Adam Lindemann will have to think about such pesky subjects. Here’s a list of reasons Lindemann offers in support of the New Museum’s “Skin Fruit” an exhibition of work culled from Dakis Joannou’s collection and curated by Jeff Koons and why he’s wrong.
Lindemann: Museums don’t have enough money to run properly, so this show is a solution.
AFC: This sucks, but it’s not like the only option at a museum’s disposal is to borrow from a collector who’s on their board and hire an artist who has no experience curating to organize the show. The New Museum could always launch fewer shows. I’d rather see a few really good exhibitions than a lot of crappy ones.
I should note that while I am sympathetic the idea that perhaps the museum got caught in a tough time, and this solution was the best they had, naming Jeff Koons as the curator undoes a fair amount of good will I’m willing to lend. It’s like the museum had a competition to come up with the show that employed the largest number of poor decisions.
Lindemann: But thunder has been drained from museums and commercial galleries are launching better shows.
AFC: That’s not true. The Met’s Picture Generation was better than any show I saw at a commercial gallery last year, including Gagosian’s much lauded Manzoni retrospective or Picasso (“uncut” as I like to call it). I’m tired of hearing about how the slanted scholarship of commercial venues bests the work of that done at Museums.
Lindemann: Sometimes a show devalues the work in a collection. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?
AFC: Typically in the lead up to a museum exhibition the value of the artists in these shows increases, regardless of whether it falls after the case. It seems exceedingly unlikely that Dakis Joannou would not profit in some way from this show.
Lindemann: In America, when you accept someone’s money there are strings attached. As such, we should just accept the fact that Joannou chose his friend Jeff Koons to curate the show, because if the museum didn’t it would loose Joannou’s support.
AFC: This is speculation and therefore not an argument for anything.
Lindemann: Joannou is not underwriting the show.
Lindemann: MoMA director Glenn Lowry told me museums are not a democracy and I believe him! The New Museum should work with their friends if they want.
AFC: Connections oil the art world, but they aren’t and shouldn’t be the only lubricant. The New Museum needs look beyond it’s doorstep every once and a while if it wants to build a reputation as a world class institution.
Lindemann: The idea that it’s wrong of museums to hang work that is potentially for sale is crazy!
AFC: I wasn’t aware there was much debate on this subject. What ethical debates over The Whitney Biennial and Younger Than Jesus have I been missing?