The great part of the Art World is that it is in constant flux and endless energy. Artists and other members of the community create more commerce, impact, reach & community with $100 then most corporations can do with $1,000. The Art World cleans up and resets urban landscapes, moves when the price gets too high and then does it all over again. Lower Manhattan is a testament to the Art world and not anything City Hall has singlehandedly done. Yes there are aspects that can drive you mad; as in the endless herding of cats, debating fringe points of view that even Fox News would balk at and the deep seated hatred/fear of money or success. That said though, I would take a smart art world person over a smart MBA any day of the week. Ideas come and go but drive and tenacious originality/agility makes them a reality. Vegas was once a dream like that.
For good or ill there was once a dream to make Las Vegas an art capital. To make what was already a destination place for many into something that would include an art & culture discussion. During the time of the drive to reinvent Las Vegas as a family friendly, high culture venue, many casinos built collections and galleries to showcase great works for a small admission fee. Years later that proved to be a dead end. People didn’t want to pay to see works that were not of the highest order of notoriety while in Vegas and even fewer would make the trip with that as a priority. The casino’s multi-million collections now adorn the check-in areas and the galleries are reconstituted for other uses. Interestingly enough once again the poor artist comes along and is renting out the space to work in for later exhibitions in LA. You can read more here.
All in all though that is the Art World every day and the Business world every fiscal quarter. You dream what could be, do as much preparation as possible, swing smart and hard and hope at the end of the day you get your investors more then they paid and build an core infrastructure that can grow into something more. Something better.
You go out swinging every day, hoping that you can find that one idea that is better then the rest and you can gladly spend a lifetime building into something that brings joy, growth and money to all who enter it. You suffer the pain, the failure and the missteps knowing that she is out there just waiting to be found, that opportunity to plug in your skills and view with the needs of the community. Thats why we do this every day, that is the art world where dreams die daily so that other, better ones, might take their place for us all.
- The Brooklyn Museum continues to try to position itself better to increase traffic, now by extending it’s hours to 6pm on Wednesday’s and 10pm on Thursday & Friday from 5pm. They plan to hire a few more part time staff to cover the extended hours but state that the current budget and suggested admission will more then cover that added cost. read more here
- Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition on Picasso that just closed pulled in a record 700,000+ visitors over a 17-week period. This makes it the most attended exhibit since the Impressionist art show in 2001. read more here
- The Italian state and the city of Florence fight over ownership of Michelangelo’s David. read more here it is a fight that is akin in logic and the boredom of lawyers who need to charge hours to the battle between the FBI & Wikipedia over it’s use of their seal in a entry on the FBI this month. read more here
- Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth contenders are unveiled, a cake, a cock, a organ, a topographic relief map of the UK, kid on rocking horse & a Field Marshal. The Bad at Sports oddsmaker’s take is as such: field marshal 1:1, cock, 2:1, organ 4:1, kid on rocking horse 6:1, cake 10:1, topographic map that can only be properly seen from above and below is nothing other then a jagged white shape 1000:1, an artistic discussion that the general public will actually engage in and might remeber for more then a year…… priceless. read more here & here
Director Thomas P Campbell who took over as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York 18 months ago speaks out in an interesting interview on how he sees the new landscape of Art and the public’s relationship to it and how he is looking to position the Met to best fit in that world.
The Met has long had a distant relationship with Contemporary Art for half a centurty now almost and Campbell talks about that shifting possibly since he feels there is more of an audience for it then before and there is enough context to properly align it with the 5000 years or more of collected art under the Met roof.
Most interestingly Campbell talks about Contemporary Art as being the first step in a “fundamental shift” in the Met’s operation and presentation of displays. The goal in making them more accessible and a less steep knowledge prerequisite to even simply engage shows. Saying such things as:
“We assume people know who Rembrandt is, for example. We have wonderful, thoughtful labels next to each Rembrandt painting, but there’s no overview of who he was and, frankly, considering our international audience, I doubt whether many of them do know who [he] was, or the significance of a particular period room, in a broader context.
“What I’m trying to do is to get the museum rethinking the visitor experience from the moment that people arrive at the museum: the signage they encounter, the bits of paper they pick up, all the way through to the way we deliver information in the galleries. And obviously that’s an enormous task. We’ve got a million square feet of gallery space and tens of thousands of objects on display, so nothing’s going to change overnight.”
Thomas Campbell who is not looking to do anything radical with the Met’s conversation and was largely apointed for that reason among others is also someone who sees the writing on the wall a bit it seems when after trying to describe a Titian bacchanal to a Italian teacher at Christie’s to no success with typical termiology shifted gears to saying:
“It is a drunken orgy and they are all having sex!”
To which the point hit home and Campbell said his lesson from that was:
“Academia at its best embraces and speaks to a broad audience”
It will be interesting to see where he takes the self described “inward-looking” culture that permiates the Met currently and many organizations in the Art world.
More can be read here
Looks like Francis Bacon is getting singed by the art press. The recently-opened Francis Bacon retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has critics seriously reconsidering this painter’s legacy. Some excerpts, and links:
Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine: “…the Metropolitan’s retrospective, like most Bacon shows, makes it clear that he kept working his theme until it became a gimmick. The calculated pictorial repetitiousness and lack of formal development wear thin. Except for a number of fabulous portrait heads and the astounding Jet of Water—made in 1988, just four years before his death, featuring an enormous streak of blue paint across an interior—Bacon’s formula had grown stagnant by 1965.”
Roberta Smith, New York Times: “The stately if cursory survey of Bacon’s paintings that opened Wednesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art suggests a more lasting pertinence: Bacon’s depiction of the love that until a few decades ago dared not say its name, much less demand the right to marry. Bacon convincingly painted men having sex and sometimes making love. Whether this makes him a great painter, it certainly secures him a place in the history of both painting and art. He emphatically turned the male gaze toward males.”
Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker, (online access to the June 1st issue is paid only); here’s an excerpt from the summary they make available: “Vamped with an eclectic mix of Expressionist tactics and decorative longueurs, Bacon now looks more prophetic than the Abstract Expressionists do about subsequent developments in art, starting with Pop and continuing through the so-called Pictures Generation. The key is his pioneering use of photographs and printed sources for his subject matter. While Bacon’s work is routinely celebrated as an authentic reactive to the horrors and the dislocations of the Second World War, it can come off as a pageant of hangovers and refractory lovers. Bacon’s striking formal innovations, in handlings of pictorial space, include swiftly limned cubical enclosures and evocations of proscenium stages, in which painted figures leap to the eye. His paintings, despite their extraordinary visual drama, thus lack a de Kooningesque sense of scale, which knits marks to the shape of the canvas and relates that shape to the viewer’s body.”
Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe: “…a lot of his work, with its teasing arrows and ashtrays, its syringes and swastikas, seems coyly involved in games of storytelling, and his drawing frequently feels flatly descriptive – exactly like illustration. Despite all that, I remember well the effect Bacon’s work first had on me, as well as its impact on several friends who have gone on to become artists. His paintings combined abject violence with a kind of immaculate beauty in ways that teenage boys are probably predestined to find alluring. I may be fussier in my mind about what succeeds and what doesn’t now, but I remain in awe of that early union of Bacon’s imagery and my own teenage hunger for maximum impact.”
And Jed Perl really hated it: “Bacon, who died in 1992 at the age of eighty-two, may well be the greatest exemplar of a wrongheaded tradition that we have ever seen. He had a knack for adapting all the wrong elements from all the right artists. He zeroed in on those moments when Van Gogh and Picasso were pushing their glorious anarchic energy to the brink of incoherence. This would have been fine, except that Bacon willfully ignored their ordering intelligence, preferring to sacrifice pictorial sensibility to literary sensationalism. What Bacon produced are not paintings, at least not satisfying ones. They are little more than rectangles of canvas inscribed with noirish graffiti: angst for dummies.”