The great thing about economic crisis is it compels New York Times reporters to produce articles like this one, forecasting and encouraging a revolution of New York City’s quickly fading art world. I do not read many articles about visual art, but this one is pretty fun. Here’s a choice ‘graph:
Why not make studio training an interdisciplinary experience, crossing over into sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, poetry and theology? Why not build into your graduate program a work-study semester that takes students out of the art world entirely and places them in hospitals, schools and prisons, sometimes in-extremis environments, i.e. real life? My guess is that if you did, American art would look very different than it does today.
Such changes would require new ways of thinking and writing about art, so critics will need to go back to school, miss a few parties and hit the books and the Internet. Debate about a “crisis in criticism” gets batted around the art world periodically, suggesting nostalgia for old-style traffic-cop tastemakers like Clement Greenberg who invented movements and managed careers. But if there is a crisis, it is not a crisis of power; it’s a crisis of knowledge. Simply put, we don’t know enough, about the past or about any cultures other than our own.
I guess the dying world could be called the art-industrial complex. After reading about how mutually-enriching the art world is in this article, I have to wonder, aren’t artists, at least the idealized versions, supposed to be people who turn away from society and think for themselves? I wonder how much that can happen in an establishment setting like the New York art scene.
As a journalism student, I notice that the writer of this article, Holland Cotter, as nutty as he sounds–and I love nutty–has authority in this article, which is something our profs encourage us to build. He clearly knows what he is talking about, or at least projects very well. This comes from years of “beat” reporting, or at least much research, which is why it is a bit sad that many people in the journalism world who know what they are doing are losing their jobs or taking buyouts. A new, smaller, more overworked class is going to have to take their places.