It’s no secret that the tuition for all kinds of schools has increased significantly over the last thirty years, and thousands of students take out huge government and private loans to cover their educational expenses. Those armed with BFAs are unlikely to make tons of money right out of the starting gate, as the familiar narrative goes. Yet we live in a time in which euphoric articles pronounce the MFA as the new MBA appear with alarming regularity. What should a young artist do?
“I was wondering whether anyone has anything good to say about age as an organizing principle?” someone asked during the audience Q&A for “Curators: The Younger Than Jesus Effect,” a discussion hosted by the School of Visual Arts. Jenny Jaskey, director and curator of Hunter College’s Artist’s Institute, recoiled, “No one thinks it is.” When the next audience member rephrased the query—Is there an artist under 30 that you do like?—the five curators on the panel, all based in New York, were smiling but clearly looked uncomfortable. Alaina Claire Feldman, director of exhibitions at Independent Curators International, said flat out, “I think that’s exactly what we’re here not to talk about…. I kind of refuse that question.” Then why, I scratched my head for the hundredth time, are we even here?
“People have lost faith in traditional democracy,” said the Belgian political theorist Chantal Mouffe. “They have a vote but not a voice.” But rather than call for revolution during her talk at Columbia University, she emphasized the need for better, more inclusive representation within institutions of power, such as when which leaders “come to power through election in order to implement a set of radical reforms.”
If a person wanted to learn more about an emerging artist, fresh out of graduate school, who caught the eye of an advisory board for the Brooklyn Museum, “Artist’s Talk: Caitlin Cherry” was not the place. Instead, an audience of several dozen mostly young artist types that gathered for tonight’s event was subjected to the opinions and interests of Nick Faust, an aspiring art writer with a following on Facebook who usurped the role of interviewer and relegated the artist to an uncomfortable sidekick status.
“What’s going on here?” is first thought a person might have on first encountering a painting by Dana Schutz. One might do well, of course, to ask that same question when viewing any work of art, but because Schutz has spent ten years plus creating pictures that, while largely figurative and representational, are highly unusual or improbable, extraordinarily goofy, and charmingly awkward.
Josephine Halvorson’s manner of speaking—straightforward and lucid with modest confidence—corresponds directly to her intimate oil paintings depicting close-cropped scenes of outmoded factory machinery, walls and doors of seemingly abandoned buildings, and interior views of simple homes, such as a few books resting on a wooden shelf or an empty fireplace.
The coffee break after the second section was much welcomed, but the talk by Amelia Jones, professor and Grierson Chair at McGill University in Montreal, did little to alleviate my annoyance from the previous section. Jones presented new research on how to think about art after 1960, proposing a shift from object to process and how this shift relates to globalization, digital networking, and a sense of placelessness.
In response to the uncertain future of the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA), and concerned with helping anticipate and facilitate new developments in art scholarship, the Getty Research Institute organized two meetings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the ARTstor office in New York on April 20–21, 2010.