Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Art Market

Do people really believe the kitschy pictures of naked girls with pussy cats by German painter Martin Eder are any good or are buyers simply jumping on the bandwagon because his prices have reached $500,000? When we learn that a newish painting by the second-rate latter-day Neo-Expressionist Marlene Dumas sold for over three million dollars, does it alter how we think of her work? Does it alter the ways magazine editors or curators think about it?

The curator of Dumas's upcoming MOMA exhibition, the otherwise excellent Connie Butler, recently responded to one of my public hissy fits about the overestimation of this artist by saying, "Dumas has been making portraits of terrorists," as if to suggest that certain subject matter exempts art from criticism. In fact, this subject matter is not only predictable and generic, and in that sense utterly conservative, its perfect fodder for a culture in disconnect.

It's wonderful that mediocre women artists now command the same astronomical prices for their art that mediocre male artists always have. But do artists who don't sell for high prices have less of a chance to ever make money? Are Vito Acconci and Adrian Piper fated to forever being 'Lifestyles of the Poor and Famous' artists? If you're unknown and over 35 do you have a shot? In this era of the 30-month career, what happened to the idea of the 30-year career?
The Village Voice's Jerry Saltz intelligently rants and raves about the art market in a piece titled Seeing Dollar Signs - Is the art market making us stupid? Or are we making it stupid?

Read it here.