Art Theory? Art Criticism? Art News? The "Art World"?

stlukesguild

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I have always bristled at those articles declaring that this artist is the "artistic voice of our time" or that list of artists I've never heard of... and with good reason... are actually "The 10 Contemporary Artists You MUST Know". My question to the members here is just how important are Art Theory, Art Criticism, the Art News or Art periodicals, and the so-called "Art World" to you? In what way?
 
people can't name a contemporary artist
 
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I am fresh out of art theories, and I don't understand a thing the art critics and periodicals are on about. So I leave them to it. I guess they also have to make a living.
 
Yes, Brain. I suppose they do have to make a living. I often wonder how they are making their living. Who is caring so much about what they are doing. I mean, I know artists want reviews on their exhibits, but when writers and critics are writing things like The Top 100 Artists in 2020 You Should Know, I wonder, how it is in their, or any body else's interest exactly. Are the galleries slipping them cash so they can make sales on their new artists? I always wonder about that. Or maybe those artists really are just that exciting. Sometimes I see it, but most of the time, I don't. It's usually because of the galleries they are represented by, not because their art is all that. It's about who you know, almost always. And who has clout. That's how it's been in my neck of the woods anyway. Sometimes there are exceptions though, and it depends on the writer (and sometimes the publication).
 
Yes, Brain. I suppose they do have to make a living. I often wonder how they are making their living. Who is caring so much about what they are doing. I mean, I know artists want reviews on their exhibits, but when writers and critics are writing things like The Top 100 Artists in 2020 You Should Know, I wonder, how it is in their, or any body else's interest exactly. Are the galleries slipping them cash so they can make sales on their new artists? I always wonder about that. Or maybe those artists really are just that exciting. Sometimes I see it, but most of the time, I don't. It's usually because of the galleries they are represented by, not because their art is all that. It's about who you know, almost always. And who has clout. That's how it's been in my neck of the woods anyway. Sometimes there are exceptions though, and it depends on the writer (and sometimes the publication).

Well, I don't know, the whole "art world" is kind of irrelevant to the market I work in (which is the humble "something-to-go-with-the-curtains" market, and the "hey, this is cute, let's buy it for grandma" market). And in this market, it's pretty much impossible to make a living out of it anyway, simply because the supply is vastly larger than the demand. On the positive side, it is a market in which well executed work often speaks for itself, though of course it is as subject to crazy fads as any other.

Perhaps trying to make a living out of it is a disastrous kind of choice. It is basically a choice for poverty. One cannot choose poverty and then complain about being poor. :)

Either way, I'm not sure I could possibly care less what the learned critics write in posh magazines about art which holds no interest to me.
 
What is sad to me, is that art criticism up until the 1950s or even the 1960s was quite good. The critics tended to be talented writers in their own rite: Denis Diderot, John Ruskin, Charles Baudelaire, Walter Pater, William Morris, Émile Zola, Théophile Gautier, Kenneth Clark, Rainer Maria Rilke, Johann Goethe, Andre Malraux... I've read brilliant and thoughtful essays in old copies of Art News and Art in America... not so many in the same magazines over the last 30 or 40 years.
 
Haven't paid very close attention to the big art mags since I was in college in the late 90s. I read local stuff, but coverage is limited.

I would say "clout" is an issue for any art scene that's sizeable enough. Like, there are definitely galleries or specific artists here that get more attention than others. The Midwest is not really known for arts, so I think if anyone gets big enough to be known nationally/internationally at all, that's what gets picked up vs the smaller galleries or lesser known artists. Money and clout are very intertwined and a big part of it, but you would be surprised (or not, hah!) the level of petty bullshit that is involved as well.
 
Haven't paid very close attention to the big art mags since I was in college in the late 90s. I read local stuff, but coverage is limited.

I would say "clout" is an issue for any art scene that's sizeable enough. Like, there are definitely galleries or specific artists here that get more attention than others. The Midwest is not really known for arts, so I think if anyone gets big enough to be known nationally/internationally at all, that's what gets picked up vs the smaller galleries or lesser known artists. Money and clout are very intertwined and a big part of it, but you would be surprised (or not, hah!) the level of petty bullshit that is involved as well.

yes, well, it's a very incestuous world, at least it is here. It might seem like a big competitive thing to break into, and for most artists it is, but once you do, it's a very small group of people that run it. There's only so many curators that count, only so many active artists that "matter," and so many galleries that get the big attention. The "second tier" artists and galleries are just trying their best to break into the tier above, and all the other artists are just trying to survive one day at a time.
 
It has been my observation that most (all?) of the print Art periodicals have been missing from the shelves since March-April. Then again, I seldom purchase any of these magazines. The few I patronize are either media orientated i.e. Watercolour or Pastel, or focus on Western art i.e. Cowboy art.

I do occasionally view artnet online but find most of their 'reviews' not to my taste.
 
people can't name a contemporary artist

what people?

the people outside the art world

That may be true... but then how many people outside of the classical music world can name a contemporary classical composer? How many outside of the field of astrophysics can name a living astrophysicist? Art... like most disciplines... is an elective affinity. Individuals choose whether a given field is of interest to them and worth the effort to study.
 
I've long loved the closing lines of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities:

The inferno... is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

The Art World is full of crap... nepotism... pretentious bunk, etc... but if you dig through it you will find those rare gems. This labor has already been done for us when looking at the old masters. Finding work of real merit among contemporary art is far more challenging.
 
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