For many people the current “Art” system is beginning to not work, and it’s not just in Santa Fe. Often it’s not working for the patron, who can be overwhelmed with mediocre production work that lacks both virtuosity and authenticity. And often now it’s not working for galleries. They are going out of business right and left due to clients’ diminished disposable income or increased apprehension about their own financial safety. And for many galleries their own increased operating overhead has become simply too much to bear.
And I hear now that often the current system is not working for the artist. Artists are too often asked to respond to particular niche, to produce a related and consistent body of work so there is time to build and market a reputation. This so that the market can respond. The market pushes the gallery to build a product identity instead of a process identity. In reality the artist must grow and change somehow or the work eventually founders. It might be a change in direction, a change in content, or even change in disciplines. But a living thing is either growing and changing, or it’s dying.
And perhaps content is too often driven by the markets’ idea of fashion. Thumb through the last five issues of Art Forum and then thumb through five issues from 10 years ago and you get the idea. The marketing people are telling us what colors are going to be “in” this year and too many of us fall for it.
So what’s up?
Well, my observation is that there are several things going on. Everything, not just art, is becoming too com-modified. Water, and Christmas, are in the same boat. Perhaps this is a function of a capitalist society where advertising drives values more than intrinsics. Perhaps art is fundamentally and uniquely at odds with this kind of valuing.
Or perhaps it’s a function of being told by arts institutions for decades now that everyone is an artist. And while this may be true technically, certainly not everyone is a good artist, or even a real artist. But we do wake up now and find an over-abundance of work, art-work, curatorial-work, and collected-work that is simply weak. It is far too often done by people who have had a great deal of encouragement but have not yet brought together the marriage of passion and virtuosity necessary to be “good”, they have not invested in the very discipled effort required to speak fluently and beautifully in the language they’ve chosen. And not enough people can tell the difference.
So perhaps some of this perceived failure of the art-system rests with the system and some with the three participating parties, not enough of whom have paid the genuine dues required for participation.
How do you see it?
- Susan on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Hector Carosso on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Rosa Mary Lerner on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Jeanette Koumjian on Culmination
- Joan Russell on So, what’s happening with the Santa Fe “art system”?