Tag Archives: commercial

REPULSIVE

15 Mar
Bosch

“Young collectors cocktails”

At PULSE (sic… they always style it like that) Miami Beach 2016 this December, there will be a “private preview brunch”, followed later that day by “young collectors cocktails.” I know, I had an urge to vomit too. The poor grammar here suggests that the cocktails will be made from young collectors; while I do think it’s a good idea for the 1% to be pestled and pulverised I’m going to assume they mean cocktails for young collectors.

These young collectors will probably only be slightly richer than the exhibitors, because it costs a (non-refundable) $275 to apply, plus a $2000 deposit against your final charge of either $4960 for a small booth with three lights– woo!– or a medium booth with a crazy FOUR lights for $6,200. You do get your $2000 back if they don’t accept you, you lucky thing, though $2000 is probably nothing to anybody moving in these circles. “Drayage” is included, which is brilliant because there’s no need to have your staff equip the horses and harness them to the Pantechnicon.

Many purveyors of wall-based decoration will be there, but probably not a single person worthy to be called an artist. Horrific events like PULSEMiamibeach2016 are one of the reasons I have a GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG tag on this site.

ZOMBIE PROFESSIONALISM

11 Mar

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An interesting article by Daniel S. Palmer about what ArtNews calls the “hyper-professionalization” of some artists. I’d go further and call it something like “jobification”; the reduction of a vocation to a mechanical and wholly uncreative grind. As Palmer points out, it’s not even the best way for an artist to make money or for anyone to make money from an artist’s work, because it’s so shortsighted:

“The entire system seems designed, predominantly, to disappoint. What has arisen from these failures is a marked distinction between product- and project-based artists. Product-based artists have been led to think of an artwork as a product serving a demand, rather than a single step in a longer, sustained development, as is the case with project-based artists. Consider the most visible trend in recent years of Zombie Formalism, a kind of reductive, easily produced abstract painting, sold quickly to collectors queued up on waiting lists and hungry for innocuous, decorative works in a signature style, so much so that the name of the artist himself becomes the brand.

However, product-based art isn’t specific to abstraction or figuration (as an even more recent market shift may be demonstrating) but is the result of dealers and collectors encouraging artists to create more of the same kind of popular work. All too often, museum curators cave to these pressures, too, validating the trend by staging exhibitions of market-darling artists collected by their trustees with a lack of scruples that gives the worst insider traders a run for their money. The path of commercial success may be increasingly easy, but it narrows what could otherwise be probing, expansive, and serendipitous careers. This results-oriented focus can be contrasted to the idea that an artist should be allowed to follow a sustained project of creating art in a passionate and independent way, regardless of market feedback. That might mean changing styles over the years and being less commercially viable at points, but this long-term project will have a notable through-line of a consistent set of questions and issues. The project and its many manifestations are best identified retrospectively, but wandering and doubt are a generative part of it. With some notable exceptions (like Warhol and Courbet, who churned out work like machines), the most fascinating and important artists in history exemplify this approach by remaining true to what drove them to create, rather than caving to external responses. We should all be worried if these artists start disappearing.”

Read the rest here.

“GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS”

27 Jan

Some magnificent verbal kamikaze quotes from Australian gallerist Evan Hughes, on the occasion of closing down the business founded by his father and then run by himself.

Top Sydney gallerist launches blistering attack on the art world

PRODUCT FOR DICKHEADS

ArtWorldDickheadsE_Hughes

“… It was almost as if we were given permission to declare that the art world had been taken over by dickheads. Too much of the commercial art trade has become about the selling of product and the accumulation of capital, much to the confusion and disillusionment of young artists. “

REALISTIC PORTRAITURE

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A commission for Malcolm Turnbull, Australian prime minister: “In the 1990s, when Malcolm was still a merchant banker, the Turnbull family commissioned one of my father’s artists, Lewis Miller, to paint a portrait of Malcolm. Unhappy with the work, Turnbull confronted my father at a function and exclaimed: “That artist of yours is no good; he’s made me look like a big, fat, greedy cunt”, to which my father replied, “He is a realist painter, you know”. “

WWAVD?

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“I suddenly asked myself: “Would Vollard be doing art fairs and Artsy?” Maybe he would; we didn’t want to.” He’s referring to the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who supported many artists when they needed it most. As for Artsy… mmm… yeah…

GLORIFIED SHOPPING MALLS

ArtFairs_EHughes

“…It was just depressing to realise that the art trade is now centred on glorified shopping malls run by quasi-property developers (art fairs) and tacky mail-order firms (internet enterprises).”

LOW ART, FAILED ART

11 Aug

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Some reflections on the mainstream versus the highbrow by David Foster Wallace, from his collection of non-fiction A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I always liked his factual writing and journalism much more than his fiction. Thanks for asking, happy to set the record straight. The eponymous essay is not related to the subject of this post, but it’s also worth reading because I think it’s one of the best and most incisive things ever written about the baffling, illogical, mindless conformity of package tourism. The supposedly fun thing is a holiday on a cruise ship, which makes him wretchedly, hilariously miserable and confused.

The original context of Wallace’s discussions were mainly related to film and television, but I think the quotes are applicable to any medium including contemporary visual art. That’s why they’re here. Duh.

“Art film is essentially ideological: it tries in various ways to “wake the audience up” or render us more “conscious.” (This kind of agenda can easily degenerate into pretentiousness and self-righteousness and condescending horsetwaddle, but the agenda itself is large-hearted and fine.) Commercial film doesn’t seem like it cares very much about an audience’s instruction or enlightenment. Commercial film’s goal is to “entertain,” which usually means enabling various fantasies that allow the moviegoer to pretend he’s somebody else and that life is somehow bigger and more coherent and more compelling and attractive and in general just more entertaining than a moviegoer’s life really is. You could say that a commercial movie doesn’t try to wake people up but rather to make their sleep so comfortable and their dreams so pleasant that they will fork over money to experience it—this seduction, a fantasy-for-money transaction, is a commercial movie’s basic point.”

(Discussing David Lynch specifically, and the period between The Elephant Man and the late nineties when his art– or at least arty– films experienced something like mainstream success. Except for Dune, which was a critical and commercial disaster.)

“Some of which [Lynch’s art photos] are creepy and moody and sexy and cool and some of which are just photos of spark plugs and dental equipment and seem kind of dumb… Watching Dune again on video you can see that some of its defects are clearly Lynch’s responsibility, e.g. casting the nerdy and potato-faced Kyle MacLachlan as an epic hero and the Police’s resoundingly unthespian Sting as a psycho villain, or— worse— trying to provide plot exposition by having characters’ thoughts audibilized (w/ that slight thinking-out-loud reverb) on the soundtrack while the camera zooms in on the character making a thinking-face… The overall result is a movie that’s funny while it’s trying to be deadly serious, which is as good a definition of a flop as there is… the movie looks gutted, unintentionally surreal.”

While also nailing the main problems with Dune, Wallace articulates here what I see as the problem that also afflicts a lot of contemporary art: it too is funny while it’s trying to be deadly serious. Hence, Artbollocks Theatre.

“TV is the epitome of Low Art in its desire to appeal to and enjoy the attention of unprecedented numbers of people. But it is not Low because it is vulgar or prurient or dumb. Television is often all these things, but this is a logical function of its need to attract and please Audience. And I’m not saying that television is vulgar and dumb because the people who compose Audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests… the truth is that there’s some complex high-dose psychic transaction between TV and Audience whereby Audience gets trained to respond to and then like and then expect trite, hackneyed, numbing television shows, and to expect them to such an extent that when networks do occasionally abandon time-tested formulas Audience usually punishes them for it by not watching novel shows in sufficient numbers to let them get off the ground.”

“HOW CAN IT BE MONETISED?”

6 Jun

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THE VALUE OF NOT MAKING A SALE

An unfortunate side effect of cities like New York and London being internationally important to culture, innovation and the arts is that they also have more world class twats per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. Google Glass users have already become proverbially obnoxious Glassholes (and people are already taking steps to jam their nonsense, albeit only so far in a conceptual, provocative way), but really the specific New York Glasshole in question is just a stepping off point for a splendid and articulate rant by Omer Shapira, titled Nobody Goes to Art School to Make Money, so Fuck Off. Obviously an artist creative technologist person after my own heart.

Although, as it happens, I agree with Shapira on Google Glass and its ilk as well. When you’re interacting with a real human being to their face, your phone or camera or whatever should not be anywhere near your face. Turn that shit off for five minutes. It’s not Luddite or infringing upon your rights when someone finds it objectionable or creepy that you take their picture or record them without permission, especially if they didn’t initially know you’re doing it. Your manners and consideration for the rights of others are deficient, not theirs.

I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here’s a great quote so you have some idea of why you should, especially if you’re one of those people (or worse, one of those artists) who thinks that an artist being able to make a sale should always be the first or only measure of their importance or their right to practice:

“Like with any art school, people spend their NYU tuition, approximately equivalent to a small neighbourhood in Detroit, to be criticised and called out for bullshit for a few years. They spend time researching and prototyping for the sole purpose of presenting good artwork, not products with rounded edges. We put things in a gallery show precisely because those things might never belong in Best Buy. In some utopian (or extremely dystopian) cases, some of that stuff makes it to the wild, but that’s not the point in making design fictions. We try to communicate. We don’t try to idiot-proof, we don’t try to scale.”

(Note: the “fictions” he’s referring to are the projects developed by students on his course, so called because the pragmatic utility of these projects is not necessarily important, and in some cases never likely to be important. They’re expressing an idea, not answering a need.)

Shapira covers what I’m about to say, too, but it bears repeating: contrary to what some people on both sides like to imagine is a gulf between commerce and art, very often the biggest commercial or popular successes are the result of somebody– or a bunch of people– having lots of time, space and/or money to do stuff that everyone else thought was pointless and unpopular at the time. The same can be said for a good proportion of the best scientific research. Creativity can sometimes be monetised, but the best way to kill creativity is to cram it into a commercial workflow pipeline, head first. Creative people could and would carry on without capitalism, but capitalism couldn’t continue without creative people to feed on.

Nobody Goes to Art School to Make Money, so Fuck Off

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