Slow news week over at LA Culture Monster? It sure seems like because there’s not much other explanation for Christopher Knight’s moral outrage over the artist rankings on Art Review’s Power List. The horror — only three made the magazine’s top 25 — none the top ten. Forgive me if I’m not enraged that Jeff Koons wasn’t ranked higher.
The sad truth of the matter is that Art Review’s list is probably a fairly good indication of the amount of power artists have in the art world. Very few reap in giant monetary rewards, and like it or not money increases an individual’s influence in the art world. This in turn effects one’s influence over production and activity, all factors that determine power rank (not cultural value) at Art Review.
Knight suggests that because artists don’t buy ads in Art Review its editors have deemed them less important. It’s a point with some merit, though I’m still inclined to think the ranking has more to do with the magazine’s editorial slant. More than any other glossy art publication Art Review brands itself as a trade magazine implicitly concerned with the business of art. Like Forbes or Business Insider, photographs of the professionals themselves — dealers, curators and collectors — often grace the cover their magazine, not art. Artists are not known for making business transaction happen, even if their art does.
The question left unanswered in Knight’s inflammatory post title “Art Magazine to Artist: Drop Dead”, is what can artists do to empower themselves? Naturally I think the internet will inevitably be of some help in this respect — but mostly because I can only assume at some point the same changes forced upon the music industry will eventually occur in the art world. Digital printing will continue to gain popularity, 3-D printing will make significant advances — the market may well be flooded with multiples in the future (or at least, as we’ve already seen COLLAGE). Filesharing crippled the music industry, and though musicians suffered, ultimately it sparked a a surplus of creative activity. Ten years from now I predict we’ll be experiencing the renaissance in art making many critics erroneously claimed would come from of the market two years ago.