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"The Hideousness of the Art World"

“Even a show-off like me finds this new, super-rich art-buying crowd vulgar and depressingly shallow"..

“Being an art buyer these days is comprehensively and indisputably vulgar. It is the sport of the Eurotrashy, Hedge-fundy, Hamptonites; of trendy oligarchs and oiligarchs; and of art dealers with masturbatory levels of self-regard. They were found nestling together in their super yachts in Venice for this year’s spectacular art biennale. Venice is now firmly on the calendar of this new art world, alongside St Barts at Christmas and St Tropez in August, in a giddy round of glamour-filled socialising, from one swanky party to another"..

“Art critics mainly see the shows they are assigned to cover by their editors, and have limited interest in looking at much else. Art dealers very rarely see the exhibitions at other dealers’ galleries. I’ve heard that almost all the people crowding around the big art openings barely look at the work on display and are just there to hobnob. Nothing wrong with that, except that none of them ever come back to look at the art – but they will tell everyone, and actually believe, that they have seen the exhibition".

“If I stop being on good behaviour for a moment, my dark little secret is that I don’t actually believe many people in the art world have much feeling for art and simply cannot tell a good artist from a weak one, until the artist has enjoyed the validation of others – a received pronunciation. For professional curators, selecting specific paintings for an exhibition is a daunting prospect, far too revealing a demonstration of their lack of what we in the trade call “an eye”. They prefer to exhibit videos, and those incomprehensible post-conceptual installations and photo-text panels, for the approval of their equally insecure and myopic peers. This “conceptualised” work has been regurgitated remorselessly since the 1960s, over and over and over again".

“And it’s understandable that every time you make an artist happy by selecting their work, you create 100 people that you’ve offended – the artists you didn’t select".

The above are quotes from a fascinating article by one of the premier art collectors and gallery owners in the world, Charles Saatchi..
If you think that all this has nothing to do with us POD people, you’re wrong..it does…the fashion for certain things trickles right down to online sites..buyers of prints want to be in fashion too..
I am sure that many of you show art on the Saatchi website…have a look at the article and come back to discuss…
I am really interested in your point of view on this one..Janis

LINK

Comments

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 2 years ago

    Thanks Janis- Will do once I get a moment to catch up on your journals- always interesting !!

  • Great!

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 2 years ago

    Well the high end world of art is so far removed from my world that it is indeed very interesting to hear such a frank account of the “scene”. Anything connected with obscene amounts of money and social standing/competition I’m sure pans out exactly as he describes it. Its funny though, I have been to art openings where it is obvious many people are just there to hob nob and be seen- you can spot them a mile off as they show no interest in the art, just yack loudly blocking your view like those annoying people at the cinema who rustle their snack papers and chat away like they are queuing for a bus.
    I’m sure there are elements of the “rich & famous” who collect with passion and discretion but the scene he describes is no surprise. When you watch media coverage on some celebrities it seems they can even pay people to think on their behalf, its never their true style- in a endevour to be cool and unique they employ teams of stylists, private chefs, interior designer etc etc. We would all like to have more money but can you imagine not picking your own clothes or discovering a cool vintage piece of furniture for a bargain price or finding AN ARTIST you love on your own in some tiny overlooked corner of the world. It indeed must be quite a joyless existence at the end of the day.

    I do remember being at a John Lowrie Morrison expo (JoLoMo) in a wee gallery in Edinburgh (nothing fancy) and a piece was being picked up by private jet to go to L.A. He’s one of Scotlands most collected (and copied) artists with works in many celeb collections. I applaud his success as he’s just an ordinary talented bloke who worked hard and hit it lucky along the way- he has many high profile shows but also honours his regular smaller galleries so at least he’s accessible and ordinary people can still afford his originals too. Seeing first hand that transaction by private jet just brought home the reality that there are super rich collectors out there and sometimes they do indeed venture into the real world (a glimmer of hope after a rather depressing but insightful article by Mr Saatchi- good on him for saying it, whether its for publicity or not).

    So interested to see what folks make of it all- Thank you Janis x

  • Thanks so much for responding Anita…I was just about to shut this down..lots of views but no comments…
    I agree with you wholeheartedly…the curators and gallerists seem to have it all in their hands these days…they decide what is the flavour of the month and the moneyed collectors buy without a thought about the art, the artist, or anything else…so many lawsuits these days too…lots of corruption in the art world at the moment…
    I have stopped my regular gallery sojourn every Saturday…they’re all much of a muchness now…absolutely ridiculous pieces without skill or thought, because a celebrity bought something similar…
    Like you said, these “stars” are now becoming a dime a dozen… they are created by stylists, they can’t think for themselves, and the galleries play into that, hurting the genuinely talented who are mostly ignored…it really is sickening because I am seeing that kind of thing creeping into the museums and publicly funded galleries too…luckily here people speak out when it gets too ridiculous…after all it’s the tax payers money that is being spent…
    People might well ask what this has to do with us? it actually has a lot to do with us because of the trickle down effects of the art market in general…..people want what’s in fashion even if it’s just a copy….

    – © Janis Zroback

  • evon ski
    evon skialmost 2 years ago

    Please dont take this off, I wanna read, but just up to my eyeballs at the moment with work. I appreciate you sharing these interesting finds Janis. Sometimes, I have to come back when the world is quieter to read and digest thoughfully. :))

  • Will hang on a bit longer then…. :))

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 2 years ago

    Yes I do agree- it trickles down and I think as a result of the recession which has been hitting regular galleries quite hard it will continue to impact as retailers/dealers create this “market” out of keeping themselves safe- it’s an industry. I visited “gallery district” in Edinburgh last week and in the handful of galleries still surviving there (we have lost 2 last year) there was no less than 4 big name solo shows with another solo by JoLoMo (I mentioned before) starting on Satuday. I have never seen such “safe betting” by the galleries in such a short space of time- Big Pieces, Big Prices and lots of sales- so whilst this “investment” market is flourishing the regular buying public are being very “cany”. An established local artist told me that the market here has been sitting static for some time- small works under £ 250 are selling and larger investment pieces are selling, anything over £ 1,000 but the mid range market has had the bottom torn out of it- you can see this impacting with established artists painting more to the two price brackets………… its like seeing a big “class divide” in art, the poor taking what they can get for the most they can afford and then the other side where money is no obstacle. I think this was fair enough as a trend coming out of recession times but it is worrying that more and more galleries are not taking risks with seriously talented up and coming artists- they are being guided by this very “scene” he describes here instead of making new “scenes” and championing new names.

    Dont get me wrong I enjoyed the shows I saw very much, they were diverse and wonderful and included artists I really like (some not so much) and its sad that the “sameyness” is putting you off your usual visits, I think part of enjoyment is taken away when we stop and think for a moment about the underlying “art politics” which will likely always we there in the establishments.

    Luckily I dont see it in my home town so much, the galleries here are very much about supporting local talent at every point of their career.

    Luckily too that there will always be passionate collectors seeking to find something different and you can see that happening with the rise of the new internet “superstars”, self representing artists making it big on ebay and the likes. I think galleries should be paying closer attention to this trend and getting passionate about finding and really actively promoting new art, also embracing widening their outlets to online selling- not only for survival but to keep the art world exciting and alive. I guess its hard when sales are down and fellow galleries are closing around you but the ones who get back to “the art” will be the ones who rise again to top as innovators.

  • I wish it were so and I think it is but in a limited way…in general there is too much pandering to the nonsense that goes on in the upper echelons of the art world…there are galleries that still show well crafted work but the ones that get talked about, are the ones Saatchi me tigons in his article…it’s like if you don’t understand it it must be good..but it’s even worse than that..the critics don’t even look at the work..it’s like they don’t care..

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 2 years ago

    IMHO………………… I’ve only been doing this as a career for 5 minutes so maybe not qualified to say, just a bunch of observations raised by your very good post :)

  • That’s why I posted the article…love to read various points of view as well as to make people aware of what might affect the sale ability of their art…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • “If I stop being on good behaviour for a moment, my dark little secret is that I don’t actually believe many people in the art world have much feeling for art and simply cannot tell a good artist from a weak one, until the artist has enjoyed the validation of others – a received pronunciation. For professional curators, selecting specific paintings for an exhibition is a daunting prospect, far too revealing a demonstration of their lack of what we in the trade call “an eye”. They prefer to exhibit videos, and those incomprehensible post-conceptual installations and photo-text panels, for the approval of their equally insecure and myopic peers. This “conceptualised” work has been regurgitated remorselessly since the 1960s, over and over and over again"

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Quote from Saatchi’s article..

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelalmost 2 years ago

    Good article. It seems like that art world is a parallel universe to the one we are in, where people buy art they like instead of for bragging rights, investments, or because someone told them to!

  • I just added the quote that struck me the most to my answer above…it really resonated with me…having done the art walk weekly for a long time it was rare for me to see works chosen for their skill and talent…most were a sop to the current trend…
    Glad you enjoyed the article…thanks so much for adding to the discussion..

    – © Janis Zroback

  • IDGARA
    IDGARAalmost 2 years ago

    Thanks for posting this Janice.
    RB comment on Facebook:
    “the practice of art is not to make a living,
    I’ts to make your soul grow” – Kurk Vonnegut.

    (reading ) the article somehow seems to be trying to reduce us all into a game of
    Victim, – as Artist
    Persecutor, – as Art dealer
    Rescuer – as Art buyer
    (By the way, these roles are interchangeable: known as the "Rescuer-Victim-Persecutor " triangle))

    We can change for our selves this “scripty” box that some would have us in, not play the games and just grow our souls. Whatever dreams may come.

    Regards
    IDGARA

  • Oh yes we can, but unfortunately the art world is controlled by gallerists and curators and smaller galleries, museums and the like are buying into it, which in turn controls what the public perceives as the right thing to buy…no one pays attention to real talent, it’s all about conceptual, and installation works these days…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • evon ski
    evon skialmost 2 years ago

    I appreciate you posting this and had a variety of reactions . . . . from disturbed to amused and everything in between. The comments afterwards were pretty interesting as well. I think it was John Cage that said “you can fool the fans but not the players”.
    Art is such a vast subject, filled with rich and fascinating stories, of which this is one.
    I personally find opening exhibits wonderful on many levels. I certainly enjoy celebrating ART in general, artist friend’s achievements and showing my own . . . but I always come back to quietly view the art when it it is less crowded.
    For me the main thing I got out of this was the reverse message . . to be authentic and stay real and grounded no matter what. Money, fame, recognition, culture, ego and accolades must be heady forces to deal with . . . . ha haa . . . I have not been subject to much of those.
    Thanks again for posting Janis. :))

  • You’re welcome..I am so glad you came back to comment…my feeling is that people have the power to create change and you could only do so by being aware of the need for it…the art world should not be totally controlled by just a few…in the end nothing new will be shown except what the few want to sell…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 2 years ago

    Oh I def agree with IDGARA wholeheartedly- its interesting to be aware of these “games” but no use in blaming it for everything as we make our own world of art and we are responsible for it the end of the day…….. I think that’s what I meant earlier when I said it is soooo far removed from my world to bother much about even if on some level it impacts on the bigger picture I know it wont and hasn’t really affected everything or anything that I want to do so far……… I’m all for setting realistic goals which are attainable and approach it like that :).

  • Oh of course, but I always look at the bigger picture and we are the only ones with the power to create change…why should just a few control the entire art world?

    – © Janis Zroback

  • mYmEMine
    mYmEMinealmost 2 years ago

    Janis,
    I think about this subject a lot. I thought when I graduated from college with a BA in Fine Art I would immediately be on my way to fame and fortune in the art world. I took a portfolio to a commercial art studio in Atlanta. The guy shuffled through my work like he was dealing cards, occasionally he would say Hmmm, or just grunt or something. About half way through he looked at me and asked if I had a valid Driver’s License. I thought “Great get hired as office boy and work my way up”. Then he just said “Have you ever considered driving a truck”. End of interview. I walked out not only unemployed but with my first taste of the absolutely heartless cruelty and thoughtlessness in the art world. I’ve been the Art Director for a Movie Studio, a Mural Painter, Sculptor, been a member of multiple Galleries and have been in many shows. One show I was invited to be in had over 800 entrants and they picked 100 out of the 800-1000 entrants. My piece was picked to be one of the 100 to be in the show. I felt honored until I saw how they arranged the show. My piece was in a doorway and I’m surprised anybody saw it and more surprise that someone didn’t knock it off it’s pedestal and smash it. I didn’t win anything of course. Most of the stuff that won was abstract and more “contemporary” than my piece which was a terra cotta portrait bust. I kept plugging at the Galleries, won some honorable mentions, first place, second place, no sales. In one Gallery where I volunteered and was their Webmaster I was picked as Artist of the Month. I was the only artist who was ever picked for Artist of the Month who ever Sold anything during the reception and exhibit. I sold three pieces.
    After seeing that art is something that is done by the working class for the amusement or investment of the leisure class and the Art Critic rules the roost and the moneyed buyers take the critic’s word for what is good and what is not. From what I saw at the online Saatchi Gallery there are better artists here at Redbubble than in that gallery. I have seen a lot of absolutely worthless trash sell for thousands of dollars. One show had a whole wall of canvases. All the same size and color and the picture painted on each one was the price of the painting. Anywhere from $300 to $10,000. There are a lot of gifted artists that work their butts off and never get any recognition and never or hardly ever make a sale. They don’t travel in the right circles and don’t know anyone with money. I even saw a Director of a Gallery I was a member of tell the Curator that she obviously had no breeding or upbringing. The Old bat was a “Southern Aristocrat” and only her friends ever won anything at shows. I work in multiple mediums but they would let me show anything but my sculptures because they only had one other sculptor and the “Lady in Charge” has friends who were all painters.
    I got so sick of the butt kissing and the snobbery that I quit all the Galleries I belonged to and now I mostly do work for myself and if it sells fine, if not that’s fine too. I’ve never made a living doing art. I couldn’t afford all the Membership Fees, Fees for Shows & all the travel and Hob- Nobbing with the Society People we were supposed to see and be seen with. I felt like a Prostitute. So the art world can have all their Schmoozing and butt kissing. I’ll continue to do what I do even if it doesn’t sell. I get most of my satisfaction out of doing it, not selling it. I’ve given away more art than I’ve sold. Thanks for giving us a place for our opinions! :-)

    Philip

  • I guess your experience reflects the opinions outlined in the article…it’s hard because there is no clear measurement or consensus of what is good or bad in art as there is in other professions, so there is a lot of garbage going on and really talented people get left out in the cold…
    I remember being told by a gallery that my work was too pretty to sell, and since I wasn’t going to ugly it up for anybody I decided the gallery route wasn’t for me…
    I have had as much success as I wanted without them, but for those who do want that type of recognition it is really hard that the control is in the hands of a very few, not only from the point of view of sales, but also it keeps really great work from being seen…anywhere…
    I am happy to provide a place for you to voice your opinions and really pleased that you feel comfortable enough to do so…the forums used to be where I posted these topics, but not everyone belongs to the same groups…as long as people keep participating actively by adding their comments, I will continue to research and post these topics..

    – © Janis Zroback