Unprecedented chumminess

What will save us from the insularity of the art world? Museums are considered guilty of isolating their audiences, selling and renting out their walls when approached by say Armani, BMW or Saatchi. In an unprecedented show of chumminess, Sotheby's and Christie's were recently exposed for being in serious cahoots -- stiffing artists or their estates, collectors, galleries and even, of course, the government (ie. us) out of millions of dollars. Or how about the eerie fact that a handful of artists keep popping up on the international scene, only perpetuating the globalist ideals? What's even more curious is how it's taken for granted that the art world has become incredibly academic. 

Contemporary art is being created more and more by graduates, for graduates, directed, administered and curated by graduates. A unique breed of nepotism is engendered by certain art schools, granting incredible opportunities for certain careerist individuals. While the grand universities are entrusted to educate and nurture diversity, we tend to adhere to their immediate intellectual models. There are other pluses to getting into the system, to being accredited and hired by institutes. Here's an example: the artist Rochelle Feinstein has a free studio in Tribeca even though she teaches at Yale and received a Pollock-Krasner grant in '01. Or, how about Charles Saatchi preying on the English art schools looking for the next big big thing. Who's losing out here? 

Our only sign of hope, to my mind, is the fact that non-profit entities and alternative spaces are supposed to expose contemporary art to wider audiences. Franklin Furnace went to a more democratic space: the web

An online project called Artboom.net by Yucef Merhi offers excellent insight into how an artist meets and greets a cosmopolitan population. 
Undoubtedly, making art attainable or understandable to the crowds can be tricky -- yet too often it's treated as strictly a business. Alternative spaces are slowly disappearing, and any non-profits that provide meager support to visual artists are increasingly under-funded. Hope wanes. And disappears when already highly competitive studio residencies and commissions that can provide emerging artists with free studios are conferred to those people "on the inside" or with just the right schooling. 

I argue that the art community has been mislabeled "insular." All it really needs is close attention and active, engaged participation. Maybe all these issues will be addressed by an upcoming "2-day Symposium focused on the insularity of the art world" with a whole host of heavy-hitting art pros taking part at ArtPace. Here's to hoping... 

Contributing Writer


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Nam Jun Paik

Douglas Kelley

Camilo Álvarez

Pictures taken from Artboom.net