The Fever Peaks

Posted · Add Comment

In April 1987, New York magazine ran a story on “Art Fever,” picturing socialite art collectors on the cover and evoking the hum of art rapidly transmuting into gold in the text. By 1989 the business press was routinely showing graphs that proved the superiority of art over stocks as long-term investments, and art-talk events across the land took on the flavor of “Cashing In”—a panel held, please note, at a business college.

A Crisis of Critique

Posted · 1 Comment

Lately I’ve thought about the difference between a work of art that is about a particular subject and one that is a critique of that same subject. Many in the art world operate with the mindset that an artwork dealing with a political, social, or economic issue actually critiques that issue, usually from a leftist perspective, but rarely does the work transcend the kind of factual commentary that states “there’s this thing going on in the world that you should know about” or “my work is about this thing going on in the world.” While I don’t recall Mika Tajima specifically referring to her work as a critique during her artist’s lecture at Parsons the New School for Design, others have noted the approach.

First, Do No Harm

Posted · 1 Comment

“Is it ethical for an artist to make work that sells?” was the first question asked of Randy Cohen, who responded by saying that terms like “sincerity” and “ethics” do not apply in aesthetic situations—you judge an artwork on its own merits. He then asked the room, “Is it shameful to produce work that people enjoy?” If a person has an urge to make money, he mused, then art is a quirky field in which to earn a million.

Closed until Further Notice

Posted · 1 Comment

For over two weeks this month, the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, and other national memorials, parks, and zoos closed their doors and locked their gates because the United States Congress shut down the federal government. The National Museum of Serbia has been closed for fourteen years, the artist Saša Tkačenko told a small group that gathered for a salon at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn. And the Museum of Contemporary Art has been shuttered for six years.

Certificates of Authenticity

Posted · 2 Comments

The second and final panel on the symposium for the Jewish Museum’s exhibition Jack Goldstein x 10,000 featured presentations by two artists—Kathryn Andrews and Paul Pfeiffer—who emerged a couple generations after Jack Goldstein. Neither artist was directly influenced by Goldstein, as they arrived at their aesthetic approach prior to gaining knowledge of the elder artist’s work. One of two panel moderators, Claire Bishop, described the situation as “reverse engineering.” While hers was certainly a clever use of the phrase, the concept is standard operating procedure for scholars making connections between the art of different decades. That doesn’t mean artists don’t have a say, and here is what they said about Goldstein and influence.

Picture This

Posted · 2 Comments

Following the symposium’s keynote presentation, the first panel featured two figures from the highly influential Pictures Generation—the artists Robert Longo and Matt Mullican—along with Morgan Fisher, a substitute for the absent Troy Brauntuch. The panel’s moderator, Julia Robinson of New York University, introduced the speakers and loosely moderated a discussion on their personal and professional experiences with the artist Jack Goldstein, the subject of a retrospective at the Jewish Museum.

Gold Records

Posted · 2 Comments

An afternoon symposium that coincided with the Jewish Museum exhibition’s Jack Goldstein x 10,000 began with a keynote presentation by the artist and filmmaker Morgan Fisher. Upon accepting the invitation to speak, Fisher stated that he purposely didn’t read the literature on the artist that he hadn’t already, in order not to be an “imposter” among the critics and historians. Thus he spoke of what he knew.

The Emaciated Spectator

Posted · Add Comment

What is an audience? Anyone and anything, really: concert ticket holders, participants in a political rally, a random gathering of passersby. A filmmaker or playwright certainly wants to fill theater seats, and an author aspires to place on a best-seller and/or best-of list. An art dealer seeks both wealthy collectors and gallery foot traffic, and an artist desires the respect of fellow artists or the attention of a powerful curator.

Catchers of Light

Posted · Add Comment

To celebrate the paperback edition of The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, the author, critic, and professor Lyle Rexer led a panel of four contemporary artists: the Canadian Jessica Eaton, the Finnish Niko Luoma, and the Americans Yamini Nayar and Mitch Paster. The woman who introduced Rexer pronounced The Edge of Vision—originally published in 2009 and accompanying a touring exhibition of the same name—the first book on the history of abstraction in photography. If her claim is true, then it is an accomplishment. If not, then the book’s subject and the curatorial conceit would seem to provide a good if overly broad survey.

How the Ruling Class Stole the Idea of Contemporary Art—and How to Get It Back

Posted · 2 Comments

At the end of the first chapter of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, the New York–based art critic and editor Ben Davis writes that a “theory of class might provide the missing center of the debate about art.” Indeed, the use, value, and status of art—especially in relation to politics and economics—have been the subject of a constantly flailing conversation since the Occupy moment, since the Great Recession, since the Bush years, since the rise of the biennial, since the Culture Wars, since Reagan, since Conceptual art, since Duchamp—okay, you get the point. It’s exactly this kind of exasperating, roundabout conversation that Davis wants to displace, and his new book does exactly that with resounding success.