Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's too early in the season for the star of Bethlehem, so that glow in the sky last week could only have been the neon lights from "the most prestigious art show in the Americas," Art Basel Miami Beach:
photo by Casey Kelbaugh, New York Times

The Miami show, we are told,  brought together 250 "leading galleries" from around the world, "including the world's most respected art dealers offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers."

Photo by Casey Kelbaugh, New York Times

Don't bother looking for any crass illustration art at Art Basel Miami, Jocko.  This was 100% fine art, in all its finery.  The New York Times described it as "a holy gathering on the annual pilgrimage route of the super rich."  The number of private jets arriving at the local airport rivaled those of the Super Bowl, and a "line of quarter million dollar cars [was] idling while their owners waited for a parking valet."

You cannot attract such an audience of billionaires, socialites, celebrities and arrivistes with mere commercial art.  They would recoil at the notion of art commissioned for functional purposes.  Instead, such buyers must be flattered into believing they are purchasing something spiritual which demonstrates their sensitivity and perceptivity.

For example, in the panel convened to discuss The Future of Artistic Practice, the moderator began with a common theme:
Poetry is always what can't be sold....It has no usefulness.  It is merely useful through the ethical and aesthetic awareness that results from it. Poetry.... holds out in a world where people tend to lose all their spiritual values in favor of practical, predatory goals.  
This year more than 50,000 seekers of spiritual values clogged the bars and spas of Miami, buying at lavish prices.

And these weren't just your traditional tired old billionaires and hedge fund managers.  A whole new generation of the artistically sensitive has emerged:  Paris Hilton, of the Hilton hotel dynasty; Dasha Zhukova (daughter of a Russian oil mogul and accused international arms smuggler, wife of a multi-billionaire alleged to have made his first fortune as a ruthless Russian gangster);  Vito Schnabel (son of famous blowhard Julian Schnabel); Diana Picasso (great granddaughter of Pablo); even the tasteful Donald Trump dynasty was represented.  This new generation of talent is what comes of outlawing the guillotine.

Noted performance artist Ryan ("I'm an artist so I'm not, like, an asshole") McNamara took the microphone to speak about the artistic challenge of staging "subversive" performance art at the parties of such wealthy people:  "Halfway through the party I had these revolutionaries come in, run through the crowd screaming and then attack the cake with frosting... all they wanted to do was make the cake more delicious."

Also present was famed British artist Tracey Emin.

Art by Tracey Emin

The Saatchi Gallery describes this work of art as "a transient crowning glory," continuing (for the benefit of those who may have trouble recognizing glory): "Emin's triumphed over all and has money up the whazoo to boot." Emin was at Basel to share her technique: "I like to lie in bed in the morning for an hour just thinking, thinking thoughts.  And that's one of my favorite things to do."

Artwork produced using Tracy Emin's patented technique of "thinking thoughts"

Other great thinkers joined in to advance the path of culture.   For example, Jonas Mekas took the stage to read his poem which sheds light on the nature of beauty:
Their beauty
Was beautiful....
It was so totally somewhere else
And so far from what's on TV....
 If there was ever a time when illustration was more "commercial" than fine art, that time is long gone.  Today's gallery art is far more commercial.  But even worse, the quality and seriousness of fine art has been eroded by the current emetic marketing model.


Anonymous said...

Interesting Saatchi comments

David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc-- That's absolutely fascinating, thanks. I didn't know that Saatchi had come out and said this but he is certainly correct, and it certainly took courage to say it. But I don't know how you explain Emin.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little skeptical; I can't help but wonder if Saatchi feels he is no longer the center of a universe he feels he created, and the comments stem from indignation.

MORAN said...

"This new generation of talent is what comes of outlawing the guillotine."

It's not too late.

kev ferrara said...

Great post, David!

This "scene" is scarily reminiscent of the debauched European courts of old. And the "artists" involved are either too clueless to realize they are jesters, or are all too happy to play the part for the money.

It's interesting how in the arts integrity and self-respect seem to go together... or seem to both be absent at once.

अर्जुन said...

Maggots orgiastically gorging themselves upon a bloated corpse. (Save some for the cat.) ~ Here kitty kitty!

Anonymous said...

Lots of YouTube video.

David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc-- an interesting point. We'll have to wait and see how this develops to get a sense of his real motivation. I'm sure the people he stabbed in the back will have strong opinions about his announcement.

If he knew all these things and was able to string together sentences like this about the current art scene, I don't know how he could possibly have continued to fawn over artists such as Emin for as long as he did.

MORAN-- true, although even the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn't seem to have it in their hearts to storm the Bastille. Maybe this post will put them over the top.

Kev Ferrara wrote: "the 'artists' involved are either too clueless to realize they are jesters, or are all too happy to play the part for the money."

Kev, on the other hand, you have to hand it to the artists and their dealers. Like bacteria that starts the biodegrading process, they have found a way past the defenses of some of the most cold blooded swindlers the world has ever known, to start separating them from their money again.

Many of the buyers at Art Basel made their fortunes by being shrewder and tougher and more slippery than anyone else around. They could spot an accounting error a mile away. They could implacably order a hit on a Russian gangster who siphoned off $5,000 from an arms payment, or turn a deaf ear to the piteous pleas of widows and orphans evicted for falling $5,000 short on a mortgage payment to their financial institution, but if some huckster artist dangles a piece of shit in front of them and tells them they will be viewed as sensitive and perceptive in the eye of the community if they buy it, they happily write the check.

Swindling the swindlers can be a socially constructive role in my opinion, even if we laugh at the artists for taking their crummy art seriously.

Anonymous said...

This just makes me angry. Who appointed these fuckers to speak for our culture?


kev ferrara said...


These artists aren't self-made, they're the equivalent of the damaged people who move to the San Fernando Valley to get on the porn industry gravy train. They are just gears required by somebody else's machine. They strip until they strip. We aren't talking independent traveling minstrels here. There's no entrepreneurial aspect here to admire.

Which is to say, while I'm always interested in reading a good book or watching a good movie about con-men conning other con-men... in life, I simply can't bring myself to enjoy any aspect of the spectacle of leeches sucking on crocodiles.


I have uttered that exact sentiment so many times, I've exhausted my ability to find meaning in it. The point I'm at now is that the only way to change things is through spreading a mild activist protocol that looks something like following.

1. Label the people who buy the shoddy artwork as fools rather than clever investors. Bypass any discussion about the artworks themselves. (This removes the value of the artworks as conversation starters for middlebrows) Instead, yawn at merely outrageous/obnoxious artwork. Encourage yawning at outrageous/obnoxious artwork. (This removes the power source of the work, which is the frisson of taboo-breaking.)

2. Make quality artwork, show, exhibit, or otherwise promote quality artwork. Attend venues where quality artwork is displayed or sold, and buy some if possible. Do not attend shows you are "supposed" to attend just to prove to yourself that you are open-minded. Financial support is political support, no matter what the motive. If you visit a gallery full of obnoxious artwork, don't forget to sign the comment book with something like "boring" or "*yawn*"...

3. learn to argue aesthetics so as to remove the verbal advantage that pomo has in the marketplace (which allows them to use words to block the ability of quality artwork to have a fair viewing in the open marketplace.) Be unafraid to call bullshit on highly intelligent aesthetes who casually repeat received dogma.

4. Ignore all societal pressure to conform to the manufactured consent about the quality and/or importance of modernist or postmodernist artwork. Encourage others to dissent as well. Be unafraid to be labeled reactionary.

Anonymous said...

Kev, I like your solution although it will take a long time. Do you have anything quicker?


chris bennett said...

There is no other way.

I was in Cambridge last month and stopped off at an exhibition of this sort of nonsense; platitudes dressed up as object.

All I can tell you is that there is great fun to be had walking very, very quickly through the rooms casting a bored, but alert look about as you march from room to room without stopping because nothing is worth more than a moment’s glance.

The person/s responsible for the mess in the gallery, engaged in earnest discussion near the reception, notice you breeze out of the place after two minutes clearly looking forward to returning to a stroll in the sunshine.

Laurence John said...

Tracey Emin's longevity is very depressing. i had hoped that she would have faded into obscurity by now, but NO !

i thought these chancers were only meant to be allowed 15 minutes.

António Araújo said...

> into believing they are purchasing >something spiritual as a measure of >their sensitivity and >perceptiveness.

But they are. The exact measure, in fact.

António Araújo said...

David, the rich assholes are not being conned. This is just another commodity they buy on momentum tactics: you buy it because it is going up, and you pump it up until it's tme to short it; you don't even have to know what the initials on the ticker mean.

Those "artists" are used instead of real artists because, being talentless, they are exchangeable. Artists with actual talent used to have some leverage - they were hard to replace. Also, their rate of output was limited by physical constraints. Now, an artist that is all the rave can be replaced if he becomes troublesome - suddenly, for misterious reasons, he is deemed "out of touch" and "formulaic" - and output of "great art" can be tweaked up or down as the need arises to feed or starve the market demand.

It works prety well for those involved. The art market has become an exclusive game of the sellers and buyers, where the "artist" is just a quaint ancient symbol left there for decorative purposes. They might replace it with a doll.

Your other sugestion, though, has been crossing my mind lately. They do keep saying we need to get some manufacturing jobs back, and guillotine manufacturing (and operarating) may be quite labour intensive ;)

kev ferrara said...

Do you have anything quicker?


How about a hostile takeover of Artforum, the NYT and New Yorker arts pages, ArtinAmerica, any venue the Jerry Salz' of the world scribble in, and the hundreds of Academic outposts of pomo including the aesthetic journals... Find some way of disconnecting postmodernist and modernist artwork from the progressive/liberal/leftist political movements which tend to control art discourse, while convincing the same people that beauty, meaning, and narrative is not fascist nor de facto bourgeoise. Rerouting funding away from DIA/Whitney type institutions, sponsoring a TV show called The Next Great Illustrator...

Raise the rent on the largest pomo galleries. Maybe do lots of unnecessary construction work on the streets out in front of all these galleries... ;)

And even after all that, you'll still have millions of the brainwashed to re-educate, including most curators of major museums and most fashion-conscious wealthy art buyers. Not to mention all the people who just like pretty colors, bread and circuses.

I can't even think of a quick way to devalue the works as commodities. Because the value is set and kept up artificially by the cabal of people who have the money and the artworks. Essentially you would need to get all the coolest people in popular culture to suddenly adhere to the four step protocol I've already listed. Uncooling the work would certainly help devalue it. (This is exactly what was done to salon-era work during the mid 20th century.)

Its no easy task, any way you look at it. The issue is culture wide.

David Apatoff said...

António Araújo wrote: "the rich assholes are not being conned. This is just another commodity they buy...."

Antonio, you may be right-- this may be little more than gamesmanship with excess funds, like gambling at Monte Carlo or buying beautiful race horses.

Still, I can't help but think these people are trying to elevate their status in society by showing that they are not merely coarse plutocrats, they are aesthetically sensitive (because they have heard this is a good thing to be).

If you are willing to spend $5 million on a Jeff Koons balloon sculpture, you must really feel things deeply (or be so stinking rich you don't have to care about money, which is almost as good.)

When you have billions of dollars, own several mansions and several yachts, and you have already tested the limits of cocaine and prostitutes, after a while you have only a few options left. You can either run for office against Putin or you can claim the sensitive soul of an artist beneath your gruff exterior. Billionaire industrialist Peter Brant now buys crappy Jeff Koons sculptures because, as he told reporters, "my whole philosophy of life revolves around aesthetics."

This goes back to a quote from Erica Jong which I have posted in the past: "In a society in which everything is for sale, in which deals and auctions make the biggest news, doing it for love is the only remaining liberty. Do it for love and you cannot be censored. Do it for love and you cannot be stopped. Do it for love and the rich will envy no one more than you."

jaleen said...

Only a poet like you, David, could rival Swift as you do.

Excellent comments, everyone. I have to say i think Saatchi's recent outburst was just a maneuver to wrest back some coolness, after all the copycats made him look ordinary. He needs to distance himself from the hordes in order to remain a trendsetter, which is how he makes profits. He 'discovers', the rest follow, and then he flips his collection. As Antonio says, it's all just market manipulation in the last legal unregulated marketplace.

Tom said...


Alex said...

You know, if it was that easy to make millions of dollars in the fine art world I imagine most of the contributors here would be going for it.This tone of mocking superiority and contempt for Ms Emin et al just sounds like out and out envy.
Am I wrong when I say the same outraged attitude has been prevalent at least since the days of Duchamp's pissoir.

kev ferrara said...


There's always somebody that comes along and makes your exact assertion... y'all are just jealous!

And somebody always has to point out that any number of the artists discussed and admired on this blog (and among like-minded appreciators) was quite well-to-do, thank you very much.

Check your work next time before handing it in so quickly. It isn't about the money.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "They are just gears required by somebody else's machine...There's no entrepreneurial aspect here to admire."

Kev, I'm sure that's true for many, although I think you would agree that Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, John Currin and Julian Schnabel are pretty entrepreneurial. Whether the current crop of artists is being used as a tool to siphon money off of the rich or not, a number of the flavor-of-the-month darlings become independently wealthy and escape the sad fate suffered, to use your example, by the cogs in the porn industry machine. By the way, I would say on behalf of porn actors that at least they possess a genuine talent and furthermore they are not as pretentious.

I agree with your guidance to JSL. Your first suggestion, "Label the people who buy the shoddy artwork as fools rather than clever investors," is the reason for this post.

Chris Bennett-- Good point (unless you're one of those who considers a molotov cocktail an "other way.")

Laurence John-- i find Tracey Emin's random musings absolutely hilarious (although I find jenny Holzer equally clownish). And she is one of those vouched for by Mr Saatchi himself.

Desmond said...

I hope no-one's going to be disrespectful about Tracey Emin now that she's been appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy.

António Araújo said...

>(unless you're one of those who >considers a molotov cocktail an >"other way.")

The other day I painted one (my way of keeping from going out and throwing one) on my notebook; it had a label: "1 Liter of change we can believe in - harvest of 2011"
. I think I'll change it to 2012 and offer it as a new years gift to the first wild-eyed bloke I meet in the street. Spreading the love.

David Apatoff said...

Jaleen Grove-- I can tell that poor Mr. Saatchi is not going to be let off the hook lightly for his past crimes against culture. Whether his repentance is genuine or not, I think internecine warfare between leaders of this movement can only accelerate the process discussed by JSL, Kev Ferrara and Chris Bennett, above.

Tom-- Marvelous! More damning than any editorial could ever be. As Lily Tomlin once said, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

David Apatoff said...

Alex-- I think you raise a very important point, although in my view your conclusion is wrong.

Would people who mock millionaire conceptual artists change places with them? Quite possibly, but that doesn't mean the art is any good, or that the impact on society isn't pernicious. The reasons for trading places with Tracey Emin are the same as the reasons for trading places with Jessica Simpson or Kim Kardashian: you get to lead a glamorous hedonistic life without thinking or working too hard.

Anyone who is honest (or anyone who has read Plato) will admit that if this were a true choice, it would be a difficult one. But winning the "golden ticket" (please watch Tom's hilarious youtube video if you haven't already) is less a matter of choice than it is a matter of hitting the jackpot, and later figuring out what exactly you've won. It is probably fortunate for human civilization that most of us are never really confronted with such a choice.

If your question is about the quality of the art produced by these artists, my own view is that a very large percentage of it is fatuous. The art students on Tom's video have the marketing mantra down: "Technique isn't important, it's much more about the ideas behind the art" and "I am a conceptual artist, I work with ideas." But when you listen to their important ideas you realize that these are not serious people. They are not builders of civilization, they are not pioneers of culture, they are a bunch of clowns. Why would I turn to such artists to enrich my understanding of the human condition, even if Sylvester Stallone is willing to pay a million dollars for their work?

If your question is not about the quality of the art, but instead you are posing a thought experiment designed to tell us what we are made of, I think that is a far better question. Would I trade in my work to become Justin Bieber? That's a different kind of inquiry, and probably best answered in a different kind of forum.

Finally, I think you are very wrong to compare this kind of artwork to "Duchamp's pissoir." Duchamp was a true intellectual and innovator who took big chances in an era when there was real risk involved. He made a living teaching chess and traded his art for rent. He despised the commercialism of art, and when his peers finally began to prosper he abandoned art altogether for the purity of chess. I think some of Duchamp's solutions were half baked, but I think he was the antithesis of what we are talking about here.

Laurence John said...

quote from video linked by Tom, above:

" i shoplift things, i swallow them, i shit them out and present them as art objects"

honestly, this sort of thing isn't even funny anymore. it's gone way beyond cool-art-world-irony. it is pathetic.

अर्जुन said...

Molotov cocktails? High heels are still the fashion.

re: the Goldsmiths vid
Plays like an 'art' version of This Is Spın̈al Tap, but without the funny. ~ Golden ticket indeed!

Anonymous said...

But I don't know how you explain Emin.

Emin et al wasted and can't find their way home.

अर्जुन said...


Too much tea?

for anyone interested
~Key to the puzzle.

chris bennett said...

"I hope no-one's going to be disrespectful about Tracey Emin now that she's been appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy."

Looks like I'll be submitting used condoms to next year's Summer Exhibition then...

If this is true... then the place has truly gone to the dogs.

The days of the plastic arts as a public need are almost over...
Almost... Over…
The great wheels nearly at a standstill, as pigs and jackals clamber over them and an ignorant harpy shits down the funnel playing at being engine drivers.

David Apatoff said...

Laurence John-- I am not opposed in principle to art made from shit. I think Piero Manzoni's canned shit sculpture ("Merda d'artista") was audacious and clever and had symbolic value back in 1961. He priced it by the ounce, set by the rate for gold. I wouldn't buy it myself, but I think it was a valid cultural statement. But I agree with you, that young art student who stole things from stores by swallowing them, then lived off the proceeds as an art form, is pathetic. She takes seriously and celebrates what Manzoni used to taunt the art world 50 years earlier.

अर्जुन-- Spinal Tap is exactly right. Isn't it amazing that Goldsmiths doesn't see it?

अर्जुन said...

If not tea then coke?

Anonymous said...


Poo'r old Saatchi. Just woke up in the bed he made. The YBA are now the OBA. Who knew it could so be. And now we get to enjoy their spawn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this intelligent exchange. I was beginning to worry that I was all alone.

Joss said...

There will always be plenty of bullshit going on somewhere. It is just a matter of what we choose to focus on, or perhaps get obsessed with. When you do it for love the reward is the doing. The rest is immaterial.

Anonymous said...

Well this about sums it up, I guess.

अर्जुन said...

There must be a catch.

larry said...

I recently watched "Exit Through The Gift Shop" and while I personally believe it to be a hoax, those who wrote about Mr. Brainwash, the public who lined up to buy his work and the presidential campaign that bought into it, were most certainly not in on the joke. Mr. Banksy, by holding up a mirror to the world fine art, revealed how a no talent can become a star and may have created his most relevant work of art.

Mr Brainwash's work dominated three full pages of Scott Thomas's book Designing Oboma.

Alex said...


It's a game.Just a game.
We all know 'Fine art' stopped being about the skill of making things years ago, it's about creating a commodity that you can market till the next commodity comes along. All the pointless invective displayed here is just so much hot air and to adopt a morally superior attitude to something more akin to fashion than art just sounds childish.If any contributor here thinks they can do so much better in the 'game' go and do it and show the world how clever you are.
Make a quick million then come back to illustration.If the industry hasn't completely died in the meantime.

But if you don't want to be a participant stop moaning about it and stick to earning a pittance from your 'craft'.

chris bennett said...


You’ve missed the point entirely.
It isn’t a game. You say it’s a game.
The point of most of the posts here is exchanging opinions about how the art establishment has become a rigged business; a cartel of post modern practitioners and mandarins upholding a belief system that insulates their careers from charges of incompetence.

kev ferrara said...


Your last post was pointless hot air. Try to contribute something worthwhile next time, eh?

We are having a conversation. You are free to join it, or not.

David Apatoff said...

Alex-- I think I can understand some of the sentiments that motivated your comment, but I disagree with where they've led you.

I agree that whimpering is unbecoming. I agree that envy is an unworthy basis for criticism. I agree that there is a game aspect to marketing modern art. I agree that critics should put up or shut up. But I don't think those forces are at work here.

I would urge you to read Rebecca West's marvelous essay, "The Duty of Harsh Criticism." She complained about the passivity of critics in the face of unmitigated, pretentious junk: "we reject not even the most barbarous or most fatuous gods. So great is our amiability that it might proceed from the weakness of malnutrition, were it not that it is almost impossible not to make a living as a journalist. Nor is it due to compulsion from above, for it is not worth an editor's while to veil the bright rage of an entertaining writer for the sake of publishers' advertisements.... It springs from a faintness of the spirit, from a convention of pleasantness, which, when attacked for the monstrous things it permits to enter the mind of the world, excuses itself by protesting that it is a pity to waste fierceness on things that do not matter. But they do matter."

Like Rebeca West, I think these things do matter. Why should I leave preening fraudsters uncontradicted when they seek to establish the standards for our new culture? It's bad enough that the young and impressionable will survey the arts landscape and quickly recognize the easiest way to make a fast buck, but if they should have enough spirit left over to make a separate judgement about quality in art, why shouldn't they hear dissenting voices from more knowledgeable people?

I am very proud of the commenters above. I urge you to compare their comments to the Basel videotapes, such as the ones I have quoted here. In terms of vocabulary, historical knowledge, mature humor and subtlety of thought, they make the superstars of Basel sound like drooling children by comparison. If you are truly a fan of intellectual rigor, I think you will have a hard time disagreeing.

Anonymous said...
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Alex said...

Truth is I agree with you.But the skill of the game is designing the right idea for and of the moment to capture the interest of a Saatchi.
Was Keith Haring important in the history of art? Cindy Sherman?
Maybe Hirst or Emin will turn out to be important.Or not. But the reaction of pompous pretentious windbags like 'Kev Ferrara' just adds fuel to the outrage industry.Never sure whether to go for 'mocking contempt' or 'outraged scorn' in their reaction to something they're envious of- ie the feeling that as trained craftsmen some of that money should be coming their way, not to unskilled phonies who can't even draw like a 'professional'.

All this self-righteous clucking and the sense of entitlement just comes over as sour grapes.

chris bennett said...


There are sour grapes. There is a sense of injustice. There is anger that the venal is rewarded. That is understood and goes without saying. It's normal in such a situation. Merely the result of a set of circumstances.
But that isn’t the subtext of what’s being said here.

More importantly for you; why do you feel the need to try and point out that it is?

kev ferrara said...


You are a troll.

Nice try. Go away.

MARK said...

Alex -- you are saying the same thing over and over. We heard you, okay. Your opinion isn't that important or interesting that you have to say it 3 times.

Matthew Harwood said...

For the last couple of years, I've followed Art Basel Miami Beach vicariously through the blog of Washington, DC artist and gallery owner Lenny Campello. Yesterday he posted an overview of his experience at ABMB. For a different perspective from David’s post, check it out.

As a professional artist, I’m encouraged when I hear about a vibrant art scene where people are buying. Good for Miami.

Alex said...

There's a HUGE subtext of venal envy here ie:

This "scene" is scarily reminiscent of the debauched European courts of old. And the "artists" involved are either too clueless to realize they are jesters, or are all too happy to play the part for the money.

The venom drips out of every pore.

I assume the allegation of 'trolling' is due to the fact that someone has the temerity to express a different pov, and then has to re-state for dullards who can't see beyond the end of their own egos.Yes' I know that this is really only a bullpen for people with multiple variations on one opinion.But we try,nevertheless.

Anonymous said...
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kev ferrara said...


So far you’ve stated the same opinion 4 times. So obviously nobody is denying you speech. So you can relax the self-righteousness on that point.

However, when you do insist on your opinion, as here, while ignoring the information contrary to your argument, and then get emotional about it to the point of name calling, you will get branded a troll.

You don’t like my analogy? You don’t like my opinion? Fine, so what?

I mean, how badly do you need me to change my opinion so that it agrees with yours?

David Apatoff said...

Alex and Matthew Harwood-- Alex wrote, "this is really only a bullpen for people with multiple variations on one opinion."

The most important thing about these exchanges, as far as I am concerned, is that they provide us all with a more heterogeneous assortment of views. However, I think views are more likely to be persuasive if they say, "here are some redeeming features about Basel that you have overlooked" (as Matthew Harwood has done) than if they say, "None of this matters because it's all a game," or "Your opinions are wrong because you are motivated by envy," (as Alex seems to be saying).

I found Matthew's link about the 25 "satellite" art shows on the periphery of Miami Basel quite interesting. One was operating out of a camper attached to a truck. Others operated out of hotel rooms. I can't say anything about the quality of the art at these satellite shows because I did not see them, but they seem to have some healthy vitality and spirit, and to operate a safe distance from what strikes me as the debauched core of Miami Basel.

Seneca said, "If you would judge, investigate" and the kind of information offered up by Matthew seems fully worthy of investigation. It doesn't make me feel much better about the quality of the art I've seen or the philosophies I've heard expressed in speeches and panels at Miami Basel, but it does tell me there may be real nutritional content in the concentric circles around the central show.

Alex, its pretty clear from your comments that you know something about art and artists. If you've heard a good idea or seen a quality image come out of Miami Basel that you think I am overlooking, I would welcome that. Or if you believe the art marketing model from Miami Basel is a healthy and productive thing, I would be interested in hearing why. But if your contribution is that "it's just a game" so it doesn't really matter, you can't really be surprised at the reaction of people for whom it matters.

I don't deny that there has always been some logic to the position, "surrender-- art is just whatever commidity sells." Yet, there are lots of people over thousands of years who persist in believing that standards are not an illusion and that, despite the obvious difficulties of articulating standards, they are worth an earnest debate. I hardly think you are likely to budge the proponents of this age old argument by saying that they must be jealous because they don't earn as much (even if it is true about some of them).

Anonymous said...
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Tom said...

Hi David
This is from Jesse's Cafe today, he is writing about the commodities and the stock market but I feel the same thought could be applied to the current art market,

"There is  no additional commentary that is required: pure unadulterated market manipulation of the real world by the paper markets. It will have its time, and then it will fail. "


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Chariot du Monde (après Manzoni) / World´s shopping cart (after Manzoni)


fotografia ślubna said...

i love the picture with the woman, it is fascinating!

T Arthur Smith said...

Alex, are you a practicing artist? Because your perspective seems more as an outside observer.

Your argument thus far has been defeatist: the artworld has fallen, galleries are a scam, it can't be changed.

There are professional artists who would like to change this, not for themselves but FOR THE ART. Kev here doesn't care so much about his own work in the public eye (he's already a published comics artist), so much as Fechin. Kev loves Fechin.

Kev and Chris here do pretty well professionally. They've made it:

Kev's art: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=101106

Chris Bennett: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=156562

This is what Kev meant when he said, "Do your homework."

I appreciate modern art, I appreciate humorous art, and I can appreciate some PoMo work in that context, as well as the few PoMo artists who have integrity. But then there are times when I see something...

like for example, the Guggenheim in SoHo. I went there for a retrospective on Rauchenberg. The first thing I saw was a rectangular vat of bubbling mud, the size of a large trampoline. It was just bubbling away, and little bits of mud would go flying and hit a spectator. I had a momentary suspension of disbelief where I thought, okay, there must be a rational reason for this. Maybe it's written down somewhere. I walked around it, but no, it was just mud. bubbling. And I thought, "why? What does it mean? What's it about?"

And I turned to the beautiful Sarah Lawrence girl who came with me and told her, "I don't understand this," and she replied, "If you're going to talk so loud, I'm going off by my myself."

Now, maybe there's an answer, maybe it's up to the viewer to find meaning in it - many PoMo pieces are like Sudokus you have to figure out. But meanwhile, all I get to look at is this bubbling mud, or those giant collages with goats sticking out of them. Or Tracy Emin's used condoms.

Not all art is about puzzle making. I like puzzles, even if I suck at them, but I'd definitely like to see art as something else more often in contemporary art, and I hate to see the art I love pushed to the periphery.

You see, it's not that we want more money (everyone does), it's that these PoMo pieces very often hurt our eyes. Every time I look at an Eva Hesse or Sherrie Levine, I die a little inside.

And then when you talk to the average person on the street about art, that's all they associate it with.

Jennafer said...

"Their beauty
Was beautiful...."

In that,
It was full,
Of itself.

End scene.

Is there a way to whore "good" art out to these whales? Somehow, I think the answer is yes, and yet it's always the artists taking the easy way out that get written up. If you're so concerned, don't give them press.