Investment Potential

Today on the site we have Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies with guest Box Brown discussing The Cute Manifesto, BORB, and other sundry items.


Yesterday Tim linked to a post about supposed disinterest in "fine art" among the under-40 set. I can't remember if I'm supposed to care who Michael Lind is, but the article is pretty dumb. There is more writing about art and exhibiting of art now than in any other time in history, much of it done by people under 40! Art News, Hyperallergic, Paper Monument, artist's book fairs all over the place, a zillion little publishers of art stuff, galleries in every nook and cranny of Brooklyn, etc. etc. It's fucking endless right now. The real question is: Where's it all gonna go when the money runs out?

TCJ-contributor Craig Fischer is co-hosting a great sounding panel this weekend at Heroes Con. Go forth and enjoy it!

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3 Responses to Investment Potential

  1. Michael Lind primarily writes about political-science topics. He’s going afield in that piece, but I’d say it’s pretty much on target. His point is not that people aren’t producing art or writing about it. His point is that contemporary fine art has completely fallen off the radar of the larger culture. Implicitly, what he’s saying is that everything being done in the field is exclusively subculture now.

    As I said, I think he’s right. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a single fine artist to emerge over the last 25 years that could even begin to compare in terms of cultural prominence with the people who came to the fore during, say, 1975-1990. In no particular order, these are the people I’m thinking of: Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Gerhard Richter, Elizabeth Murray, Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Eric Fischl, and maybe a few others who aren’t immediately coming to mind.

    My impression of you is that you’re someone who militates against the lower status of work that hasn’t broken out of the subcultural box. If that’s the case, it’s not surprising that Lind’s piece would irk you. But I don’t think you and he are entirely at odds. He’s basically saying that the field hasn’t produced a breakout figure in a long while, and may no longer be able to do so. I think you feel that regardless of whether the field is producing breakout figures, there’s still plenty of worthwhile work being done. However, he is effectively sneering at you by treating subculture-only work as beneath notice, and I can certainly understand you sneering back.

  2. Alexa says:

    Banksy? Shepard Fairey? Maybe Kara Walker, though the only conversation I’ve had about her work ‘in the wild’ was with an art professor, but then, with whom did you have conversations about the artist you listed? (You also said Basquiat and Haring twice)

    Anyway the problem is more than him treating “subculture-only” work as beneath notice, it’s the failure of the fine arts establishment itself to notice “subculture-only” work. and bring them into the fold (that’s assuming, of course, that those artists would want to be in the first place). Alison Bechdel is a MacArthur genius and her work inspired a Tony-award winning musical. Julie Maroh’s work inspired a Cannes Palme d’Or honoree. What is it going to take to get the original artists recognized as “fine artists”? Comics as a fine art? If the question is “why aren’t fine artists entering mainstream consciousness?” but artists that are already in mainstream consciousness are shut out for not being in the “right” field of art, you’re dealing with the Hipster Paradox– the fewer people have heard of something, the “better” that thing is.

    And look at the late-19th/early 20th century commercial artists whose work is now regarded as fine art: Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha, Leyendecker, Rockwell. Is there some kind of grading curve or vintage required to move the popular and commercial arts to the fine arts? Why is Lichtenstein still regarded as a genius while the comics artists he cribbed from are still known only to comics historians?

    Lind also acknowledges the market forces that allowed Warhol and his successors to come to prominence but doesn’t even address the fact that the economy sucks and most college-educated millenials are deeply in debt because of that education. Instead, we’re philistines for wanting to talk about race and gender issues in popular culture–the part of culture we can actually afford to consume.

  3. Dan Nadel says:

    Well, nearly every museum, gallery, and art fair statistic would indicate that Lind is wrong. Museum attendance all over North America is up year over year. The opening of the new Whitney Museum of Art was a national event. Frieze, NADA, The Armory and numerous other affairs increase in attendance every year. The larger culture keeps going to see art and reading about art, too, all in increasing numbers. I don’t know of any other metric by which to track the larger culture’s involvement in art. Anything else is just sort of grumpy old man talk. As for comparable figures to those RSM names from 1975-1990 it’s a different landscape now but I think of the following artists off the top of my head: Barry McGee, KAWS, Chris Ofili, Damien Hirst, Cory Arcangel, Kara Walker, Kim Gordon, Sally Mann, John Currin, Lisa Yuscavage, etc etc. So, none of these arguments hold water. I’m not interested in a lot of these artists or defending subcultures but facts are facts. As for comic book artists somehow not being recognized by contemporary art — comic book art is a different class of object from contemporary art, just as poster art is a different class of object from comic art. So why would the contemporary art world be interested in comics any more than it is interested in film? It’s a different medium entirely. Galleries and museum have plenty of shows of comic art — I just curated a very popular Victor Moscoso show in NYC — but those works are artifacts — a different kind of object than a painting intended to be hung on a wall. Sometimes an artist like Crumb gets a foothold as a commodity and cultural icon, or Clowes as a popular museum attraction (like, say, a show about Brian Eno), but it’s a separate thing. More interesting examples are artists like Ben Jones and Jim Drain — people who made/make comics and have ongoing art careers.

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