Sunday, May 03, 2009

Jerry Saltz at New York Studio School

Via Conscientious.

Some excerpts from an article by Hrag Vartanian on a presentation that Jerry Saltz gave at New York Studio School (April 22, 2009). Read the rest here.
In this sometimes tongue-in-check (sic) but always riveting multimedia presentation, Saltz mused about the last 15-year cycle of the art world... as he ruminated on where we stand today. The verdict: who knows, and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.

One problem with the art world, according to Saltz, is the plethora of over-academicized curators and critics that ... [have] taken the fun out of looking at art.

"In the art world," he explained "the pleasure police came in," and sterility reigned.

"I'm not against the camera," he said, referring to the preponderance of appropriation and photography-based art that are powerful, if overused, strategies, "but do something original with it."

Curators, too, are guilty of unoriginality. Worse yet, they are immune to its repercussions. "If curators do ten bad shows in a row," Saltz asks, "what happens? Nothing."

Another major problem ... was the overheated market; dominating all discussions of art for the last decade, it tended to choke out styles that didn’t fit into the commercial gallery system.

This overfed, over-monied art world, Saltz explained, was a self-replicating machine: people think that "the art market is so smart that it only buys the best work...[but in reality]...the art market is so dumb that it buys anything other people are buying."

This has led to the dominance of very few styles and of four artists in particular: Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Richard Prince... He posited that the major premise of Prince's art was appropriation, and that it was "the idea that ate the art world."

... he suggested there may be a silver lining and blue skies ahead. If the old rules are falling apart, maybe this is the time to challenge the status quo and make a change. He called young artists of today "lucky bastards" since the contraction of the art world is allowing new ideas to seep in.

Doing things differently, of course, is not easy.

The new art world, he conjectured, will be something we won't recognize, and will [require] new styles, approaches, and people rewriting the rules of art and how it is consumed.

Saltz... seemed to advocate for an art world that embraces the plurality of the world and recognizes the importance of art beyond a financial investment.

"The problem with the art market was that we were all in the same boat." We can only hope that this future art world would probably look like a massive fleet of modest-sized ships, rather than one ill-fated luxury ocean liner.

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