Saturday, January 31, 2009

Time for a cull in the art world?

"Drew Conrad: Cowboys, Lovers, Losers and Nobodies" 
currently on exhibit at Get This! Gallery 

On January 11th of this year, Waldemar Januszczak's article, Time for a cull in the art world: The art world is plunging along with the rest of the economy.  Hooray!, was published in the London Times.  This morning I sat down and drank my coffee opposite my husband and read and then re-read the piece championing the idea of a recession as the only logical way to reign in the "ugly and worthless" state of the arts that has emerged from 20+ years of rising prices and collapsing values.  It was a big pill to swallow for an art gallery owner.

I do agree with Januszczak that the recession could ultimately produce a "leaner and meaner art world" that has to fight harder for the attention of critics and collectors, benefiting basically everyone.  The art becomes better, the artists more passionate about their work, and in turn, the dealers more motivated and enthusiastic about what they are selling.  

There's just one problem. That already exists.

Emerging artists, new youthful galleries that opened to simply create a forum for these artists (like the artist-owned Get This! Gallery), and cities that have not quite yet experienced the influx of a full-blown art explosion (Atlanta for example), are in direct opposition to the "soft, blubbery, arrogant, self-congratulatory and decadent" art world edifice that Januszczak describes.  These artists, galleries and cities are vibrant, accessible, articulate, inviting and utterly humble.  So, my advice is that he visit some of these cities, artists and galleries that already have a perpetual "fire in their belly" and re-think his attack on the art world as a whole.

In his introduction, Januszcak recalls an interview that he had with dramatic German painter, Georg Baselitz, back in the 1980s when the art business was booming and Baselitz was fetching astronomical prices for his paintings at auction.  When Januszczak asked him if he felt any guilt, he simply stated, "What is better than a painting.  Nothing."  And, all I have to say about that sentiments exactly. 

Get This! Gallery just re-opened at 662 11th Street, on Atlanta's Westside.  They are open 11-6 Wednesday through Saturday.  Drew Conrad's exhibit will be on view through February 28th.


Things That Inspire said...

Although I do not have perspective on the worldwide art scene, and only have limited perspective on the Atlanta art scene, I wholeheartedly agree with the statement 'What is better than a painting...nothing'! I am amazed when I see women spending thousands of dollars on shoes and bags and clothes when their walls are bare and they have no original art. The shoes and bags and clothes will come and go, but a great piece of art can be enjoyed for decades and possibly even longer.

hmstrjam said...

I'm with Baselitz- too bad not many folks feel the same