Massive Links! Matthew Collins’ Fuck-You to Art Writers | Jerry Saltz Tweet Watch | Will Trade Iguana For 360 Games

by Paddy Johnson on June 23, 2011 · 8 comments Massive Links

  • The 9/11 museum may charge 20 dollars for admission to help pay for the upkeep of the memorial, according to NBC news. CEO Joe Daniels says relatives of victims will be allowed to enter free of charge, though to my mind that’s not good enough. I don’t want to come across as unsympathetic to the financial woes of the museum, but no one wants to pay 20 bucks to visit a bad memory. Of course, monuments are suppose to remind us of bravery, and lost lives, and other noble characteristics. Count on New York’s financial district to interpret monetary exchanges as one such quality.
  • Matthew Collings’s unofficial polling techniques lead him to conclude that liking Cezanne is trending downward. In the process he says Karen Rosenberg, Jonathan Jones and Charles Darwent “wouldn’t know a brushstroke from a hole in the ground” — eloquently summed up by half baked here — and insinuates that Saltz is the “good writer” who hasn’t figured out Cezanne yet. [Update: bullet point edited for clarity]
  • People are talking about Jerry Saltz’s latest NYMag article Generation Blank (surprise surprise). He says too many artists are drawing on the work of previous generations and curators who can’t let go of the glory days facilitate it. This isn’t a new problem. Howard Halle discussed the homogeny plaguing the international art world on AFC last year in the comment section of the blog (I can’t find the link), and Mira Schor recently reminded readers she too discussed it in her recent book A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics and Daily Life. (Read Schor’s post on the new conservatism prevalent in the younger generations — it’s really great). I also spoke to a number of curators who were concerned about the phenomenon while I was in Venice. The question is, now that everyone’s talking about it, will a correction be made? In my opinion, this is going to take some time to fix. It’s not like innovative art isn’t being made, but even now that we’re Facebooked up the wazoo, there’s still plenty of excellent, original work being overlooked. There are more reasons than I care to list explaining this — the rules of social hierarchy being number one — which of course leads to the point that making art that looks like other art isn’t just a trend, it’s an investment property owned by collectors. Dealers, curators, and media will need to work very hard to get the money flowing in other directions.
  • Also on the @jerrysaltz watch; this tweet: “Michael Fried’s new “Four Honest Outlaws” lionizes 4 artists, ALL MEN, & cites almost no female authors. WTF! official art world?” Why do men get to be glorified outlaws? I’m pretty sure there’s a female artist who has also “found his [her] own unsanctioned path to extraordinary accomplishment, in part by defying the ordinary norms and expectations of the contemporary art world.”
  • This week in Facebook ads that make you go “ew”, Peter Combe fingers East Bay Bucket List for using your friends’ pictures as their ad square image. This came to his attention when he wondered what relation Swiss artist Beni Bischof’s floating car had with a company advertising 365 things to do in LA. The answer? Nothing. Livingsocial[ly].com runs the ads, an email service that sends you a location-based daily discount. Kind of makes you want to sign up, doesn’t it?
  • I LOVE Laura Brothers out-4-pizza. The live journal blog is most made up of non-objective abstraction, collaged together as if it were paper. The work reads as distinctly digital though, the horizontal ribs in an image vibrating anytime a user moves the scroll bar. Interestingly, the work has a shares an aesthetic with an analogue counterpart: Dianna Molzan‘s paintings. Dealers really need to figure out a way to sell her stuff. Artists should be paid.
  • The Craigslist windfall is upon us! This week, a Bronx resident will trade his Iguana for three Xbox 360 games: Call of Duty World at War, Call of Duty 4, Black Ops. Any takers?


Joshua June 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Paddy, I would argue that you hit the problem in relationship to Schor’s critique more squarely on the head– and that is an issue of a vested social hierarchy attempting to maintain its structural cohesion in the face of an expanding market place– not necessarily the issue of capitalism itself. One could argue that if the structures that guard the art world were not so firmly entrenched, and it wasn’t quite so autonomously structured from the broader market, we would be seeing more varied production. I would also argue that it is the theories of negativity that Shor is advocating that maintain a hegemonic claim on a particularly distanced criticality that is predominant in the current structure, precisely because it is zero threat to the existing social structure and has currency as commodity itself. More:

beau June 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I eagerly await evidence that vapid professionalism is solely the province of the young. Neither Saltz nor Schor have any to offer. It seems to me that the true champions of the vapid professional form (Hirst, Koons, Murakami, etc., all of them old) can rest easy, knowing their titles (and pocketbooks) are secure. If they are knocked from their thrones by some more vapid, more professional youngster, I’ll wager that youngster will not be Seth Price.Schor has a bunch of anecdotes about her apparently retarded MFA students. I also wish her MFA students were less retarded. I don’t doubt her stories are true, and even though generalizing those unfortunate experiences to her understanding of The Young In General is groan-worthy, it’s forgivable, I guess. At least her generalizations are qualified.Saltz, though, has no excuse. Even if the art he calls out in his article is, in fact, bad, and even if there is some kind of plague of badness among the young (which I doubt), his explanation of this badness is almost certainly worse. It boils down to two nearly equally insane and backwards points: 1) “understanding” limits “experience” (what year is it again? 1890?), and 2) trendiness is okay, but commitment to a position which sustains itself longer than a trend constitutes “obsessive devotion” and is “very wrong”. I certainly would not want a generation of artists in thrall to the romantic dogma of Jerry Saltz.And, finally, even if all of the work in Illuminations by young people (who, I guess, constitute a more or less homogeneous bloc) was crap, Saltz should be yelling at the curators who selected it, not at all young people or all art students. (Not that I even believe he really believes there is a “Lost Generation”. As vapid professional journalists say: “if it bleeds, it leads.”)

Joshua June 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Re: beau, it was a bit ironic to me that Schor’s whole article, while critiquing the influx of capital that has apparently led to this homogenization was also eagerly shilling a book. 

stylembe June 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I love the featured art. + Thanks for the Massive Link!!

Ben June 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

These articles strike me as gussied up anti-hipster rants. It’s especially troubling to me to be sandwiched between the hierarchies and structures of the art market, art schools, and other vessels for instruction, networking, and exhibiting, and this nebulous but powerful notion that we should simply be bucking the lot of it and going our own way the way previous generations did when those same generations past created the system we’re supposed to buck. Who’s the chicken, who’s the egg?

Okay, granting that we should go our own way (something I’m certainly not opposed to), there’s no more Max’s Kansas City or the Secession. Things don’t work like that anymore. Why should we desire to change the world? Haven’t we been hammered hard enough with The End of History? Why are we being instructed that we should like our poverty and our anonymity by those who own the biggest piece of the action? It reeks of vested interests. Sure there’s the internet, but that doesn’t put food on the table, for most of us, anyway. And besides: why is there all this complaining about same-y art, when it remains that the same-y art is the stuff that gets the play, even when it’s just to complain about same-y-ness?

Duncan Alexander June 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is insightful, thanks Ben. I like how the AFC readership is for the most part so jaded by Saltz that we totally swept this under the rug in favor of more GIF discussions. Paddy, do you think Saltz? is right? I would think that you have a unique vantage point on this with your location + connections as well as your ties t the web community.

Anonymous June 27, 2011 at 12:22 am

Saltz is certainly right about Venice showcasing a lot of art that borrows from the same periods. I could give many reasons why this has come to pass but the bigs as I see it are that curators who are more familiar with older work let that influence their taste; a wide array of collectors who best understand and buy contemporary art when it references other art objects or techniques that have pre-existing or proven value; and as a result of a discipline that’s so broadly defined, sometimes being self referential is the best way of identifying what one makes as “art”. I don’t think net art necessarily escapes this trend — lots of it references known performative or object based works — but I do see it as the field with the best chance of moving art forward. A lot of that is simply that it’s so hard to collect and display. Without much institutional and commercial support my hope is that it will and is being forced to define itself on its own terms. 

I worry what I’ve written suffers from both a pie in sky type attitude towards what kind of freedoms artists would have without the art market and institutional settings, and a certain jadedness that comes from seeing a lot of art. Still, most art isn’t very good and I do believe that what artists will and are doing with technology is the most exciting art there is right now. At the very least, we can thank browsers for eliminating the pervasive use of florescent and neon lights online. Net artists can emulate the material, but I’m glad I only have to walk through those installations IRL. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: