The Bubble, The End is Nigh, and other predictions from the Chicken Little Parade
Blake Gopnik’s well reasoned if maybe a little (tinfoil-hat-to-keep-them-out-of-my-head) paranoid article Pop Goes the Art Bubble makes some good points about art as a market. It was a parting shot, as he and most of the Newsweek staff was canned the same week it was written. In the wake of Art Basel Miami Beach’s flotilla of art fairs, events, parties and actual art things, we should consider what we do in terms of the market. Simon Doonan offered an especially sour grapes article on Slate recently that was basically out of touch. Sarah Thornton won’t even cover it anymore, and who is that anyway?
Many of us make some or all of our living in the art market, even if we exist as a tiny barnacle on the aforementioned flotilla’s lead yachts. I wish I could say all of these predictions and condemnations are baseless, but I cannot. How many good impressionist works can you buy for the cost of one Warhol/Koons/Hirst/Basquiat? I love some of those artists, and I would probably sell a kidney for a Rothko, but does that relate to how they have become pawns in a game that so few can play?
What I despise in Doonan’s piece is this loss of quality argument. I have heard this before and it makes me twitch with anger. Whatever your notion of quality, it is there to find if you go looking. Hundreds of galleries present work at art fairs, in Chelsea and abroad. There are many options available, and if one shiny bright appropriation neon-tinted taxidermy in formaldehyde and dung can give you the notion that there is NO quality art, you are a sad old man. I know his partially tongue in cheek article is meant to provoke rather than really discuss, but lets be clear, there is plenty of good art being made, shown and sold.
So rather than spend a bunch of time worrying about what Rothko sold to what oligarch/sheik for what GDP of a small nation’s amount, let’s do a little work on supporting/exhibiting /writing about those who are working forward, not retreading the past for a commission or a story.