Hey New York Times, I still love ya, but please, just shut up with all those pseudo-uplifting “joy of poverty” stories that you’ve been shoving down our throats lately. Here’s a small sampling of what I’m talking about:
2/12/09: The Boom is Over: Long Live the Art!. This is the one where Holland Cotter told artists,
“…it’s Day Job time again in America, and thatâ€™s O.K. Artists have always had them â€” van Gogh the preacher, Pollock the busboy, Henry Darger the janitor â€” and will again. The trick is to try to make them an energy source, not a chore.”
That bit has already been roundly ridiculed on various arts blogs, so I won’t flog it any further. More recently, however, the Times published another of its attempts at an emotional pick-me-up, Tight Times Loosen Artists’ Creativity (5/19/09), in which an artist named Liz Fallon from Portland, Me. is cited as an example of how artists are learning to exult in their new-found freedoms, now that they’ve stopped selling work and can support themselves with crappy part-time tele-marketing jobs:
â€œAs for myself, freed from the constraints of creating for a specific buyer,â€ Ms. Fallon wrote [in an email], â€œIâ€™ve experienced my own surge in creativity and have been producing a great deal more than I used to. While it would be nice to still be getting paid for my work, the need to be more resourceful is having a beneficial effect on the arts community around me.â€
In a follow-up interview Ms. Fallon said she supports herself working as a customer-service representative for a direct-marketing firm, and that the lack of commissions has enabled her to pursue new projects, like illustrations of classic childrenâ€™s literature.
â€œNobody wants me to do anything, so Iâ€™m just doing what I want,â€ she said.
Can’t offer a better retort than that already given by Susie Bright, who responded thusly during a related Facebook exchange (reproduced on the blog New Curator):
And again, on 6/9/09: Special Report: Contemporary Art: Getting Creative in a Downturn. Even the French are “getting creative” and (I love this) “rediscovering” drawing BECAUSE IT’S SO CHEAP.
“….In France, the slump has been marked by a return to traditional drawing, exhibited in a profusion of small-scale shows, often curated by art students….. Serghei Litvin Manoliu…said, â€œThe golden boy approach to art is over.â€ His show, the 21st Century International Drawing Fair, was a crisis-friendly, minimalist affair, offered unframed works for around â‚¬300, displayed on tables in a bare, loft-like space in the hip Marais district of Paris.
Unlike art produced mainly as a commodity for financial speculation, Mr. Manoliu said, â€œdrawing requires excellent skills.â€
â€œThe art world had lost every criterion of quality,â€ he said. â€œI believe this crisis is a fabulous opportunity for the arts.â€
I have time to read the new John le Carre, while nibbling at sweet tangerines in the sun. When a Sigur Ros album comes out, it fills my days and nights, resplendent. And then it seems that happiness, like peace or passion, comes most freely when it isnâ€™t pursued.