"In the last decade, art fairs mushroomed and became all-encompassing, fully comped VIP monstrosities and entertainment complexes for the one percent. So I went off art fairs. Way off. I’ve never told anyone this, but I hit my art-fair bottom at Art Basel, in Switzerland, where I was invited to be on a panel in the mid-aughts. I checked in alone to a hotel and had a meltdown. Feeling alienated, realizing a critic had no business there, intimidated by the socializing yet afraid to be excluded, I freaked out. I made up a story about an imminent death in my family, packed, and flew home early. I’ve been too scared to ever leave New York for an art fair again. But I’ve made peace with them. Last month I went to seven local fairs. I’ll go to Frieze and NADA in May. I’ll smile. I now like leaving my office and refrigerator, putting on real clothes, facing the larger world."
Jerry Saltz, on breaking down at an art fair.
I love that he wrote about this. But I call bullshit that he never told anyone.
(Source: New York Magazine)
"But now, all of a sudden, more art is coming from private places, looking almost outsiderlike, untaught, odd in ways that feel pressing, impatient, and important. In from the wilderness. A lot of it is smaller, made of less expensive or found materials, and more provisional, or at least bad in ways that aren’t so annoying. After too much art that made too much sense, artists are operating blind again."
Jerry Saltz, “Reject the Market. Embrace the Market.”
(Source: New York Magazine)
Implications of Art.sy: Pandora for Art
I have been thinking a lot about the VIP art fair. In an article in the WSJ today there was an article about “art darling” (ugh) Terence Koh using Skype to paint portraits. First of all, can we stop talking about Terence Koh? But more importantly, there is an interesting quote about the future of the art industry in relation to developing technologies:
“The art world is branching out online. Later this month, the first ever VIP Art Fair, an entirely virtual event, will present work for sale from blue-chip galleries around the world. This spring marks the launch of Art.sy, a new site that will attempt to pair collectors with art based on their personal preferences, similar to the way Pandora matches listeners with music.”
I’m not one who gets frightened by technology - I’m always super eager to learn more about innovations in regard to audio guides, smartphone and iPad apps, museum Youtube stations, etc. But Art.sy just seems too simple, like the creators haven’t thought through all the implications of the development. I guess one can look to Pandora and its effect on the music industry, in which case the technology didn’t have as much of an effect on the music industry as some predicted (…or not yet at least). Some people who hate the idea even get into it when they try it. I can’t remember what it’s from (a movie? a book? in relation to the atomic bomb?) that just because we have the technology to create something doesn’t mean that we should.
In the immediate future, nothing major will come of this. A few hip collectors will try it out. But if it gains popularity, we run the risk of eradicating not only gallery salespeople, but also collection advisors. These people will become glorified technical assistants before being dissolved altogether. No big loss - it’s a bougie job anyway, right?
But I find it hard to get excited about a world in which buying art online is the norm. here have already been some models for selling art online - one notable example being 20x200. They offer a great model, and I really believe in their organization. While I rarely shop online, I have bought prints from them before. But there is just something about seeing (and buying) a work of art in real life that can’t be digitally replicated!
In a recent conversation with my friend Nina, she reminded me that good gallerists don’t simply match collectors with what they “want” - they strategize on their behalf, thinking through the artists’ career, following the ups and downs of the markets, and making educated selections for them. “It’s not as simple as Match.com (which we all now doesn’t really work…)” she said, “Hopefully it will represent just another way of doing it - an addition to what’s already there.” I couldn’t agree more.