Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bad Artitude

Over this morning’s breakfast of Fruity Cheerios, I flipped through a 2-year-old magazine. This issue contained an article entitled, “Braving the New Art World.” I’m assuming that the economic “downturn” that occurred since this article was published has given this new art world a kick in the pants. Perhaps there are fewer buyers (read investors) these days, but I’m guessing that the attitude is still there.

The hedge fund managers that the article states are the ones tossing money at celebrity artists have probably done an about face. No doubt their purchasing power has been replaced by another group of those art buyers who must show the world they have deep pockets and high, selective taste. I am not a part of this group. Nor will I ever be. Yeah, I know, never say never. But I do not think I will ever have the money or the bad artitude to collect with impunity. My desire is to LOVE what I purchase. Or, at least to love what I may not be able to purchase. I do not wish to collect to show others that I have the means to collect. I have no desire to place an investment on my wall, no matter how trendy, to gaze at every day.

I would rather attend my local art fair (which isn’t really all that local, its just nearby), than wear some lacerating high heels and Prada attire to patronize Art Basel Miami Beach with a pack of hoity toities in similar garb. Art buying is not a “scene,” at least not for me. I do not feel the need to have my artwork assault me with images of evisceration, rape, or feces, disturbing art being quite popular these days. On the other hand, I do not want a work I’m considering purchasing to require a user’s manual to understand its deeper than deep meaning, also quite popular these days.

This article informs me that I must do a lot of research before I am educated enough to considering purchasing art. I must visit dozens (at least) of galleries to see the “newest, most compelling work,” first. I’ve got to read the art magazines and ask questions in museums and at those dozens (hundreds) of galleries. Then, and ONLY then, can I try to prove my worthiness to a gallery owner. Heaven forbid I just walk into a gallery with cash falling from my pockets and orifices. The dealer wants to sell to important collectors. Those whose names “everybody” knows. Not to little ole me. Gosh, I’m so stupid. I don’t even know any “important” collectors, let alone be one myself. If little ole me is lucky, I could get put at the bottom of a waiting list. For an important all-white work of monkeys being eviscerated. That may or may not come with an owner's manual for understanding. Now, if I’m lucky, really lucky, I could get on the waiting list to purchase a half-million dollar work of a handful of words stenciled on a white canvas in black letters. What the . . . ? I could go to the local sign-maker and have him whip me up something for $30.00. But then when I threw a wing ding at my home, I couldn’t just say “Look here, I have a piece by Ed the Signmaker.” No one would give a sh*t. And frankly, in the crowd I hang in, no one would give a sh*t if I owned the $500,000 piece. Perhaps I just have a bad artitude. I refuse to give into this elitist thinking in regard to art. I’m one of the lowly idiots that thinks art is an expression rather than a commodity.

Then, there is the matter of the required, page-long artist statement. Overworked artist’s statements just leave me exhausted. I just can’t make the connection between an artist being able to use the words context, dichotomy, manifested, inferred, ostensible, divergent, conceptual, and juxtaposition, and fine art itself. Are artist’s statements that use such words just a method for weeding out the weak-minded. These statements imply “If you don’t get it, you don’t deserve to have it. Fool.” If an artist talking about his or her work causes my dictionary to burst into flames, well it just isn’t worth it to me. I’ll never make it in this world as a collector.

The word dichotomy is a must-use word in artist’s statements. Wanna know what it means. My not-so-trusty old American Heritage dictionary defines it as:

1. Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions; schism. 2. The division or subdivision of a class into two mutually exclusive groups.

So, there you have it. Art buyers can be divided into two mutually exclusive groups. Those who buy it because they love it, and those who buy it just to impress others. Am I making this too simple? You tell me. Am I right? Or do I just have a bad artitude?


Ellen said...

Oh and you forgot the word 'discourse' in art lingo, (another term for just talking or writing about stuff).

In a lot of ways the Art world to me is a lot like fashion, here's a 'high fashion' world of labels, players, stars and cutting edge (so we're led to believe) designers and then there's just clothes. If it fits on your body and you like it, who cares where you got it.

jason said...

Hmm...I wonder, did Matisse have a page long "artist's statement"? Did Leonardo?
Makes you wonder, you know?

Leslie Avon Miller said...


Nellie's Needles said...

There are a lot more of "us" than "them". Too bad the "thems" have the monies that spotlights and gives credence to questionable "art".

No matter, the "us"es will continue to create because we really have no choice if we're honest with ourselves.