Blog / Leveling the Art Market

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By Andrew Hibbard

Cross-posted at The Chronicle’s Playground blog.

PaceWildenstein founder Arne Glimcher has an interesting piece about the transformation of the art market in light of the economy at The Daily Beast. He is proposing that the economic downturn has reopened the art market into an art world.

Being an artist has always been an imperative—art chooses the artist, but today artists seem to be choosing art. Chuck Close told me, “We thought we had a lifetime ahead, hellbent on purging our work of anything that had ever been done. Today, because of student loans, the cost of studios etc., some artists make ‘slacker art’ that projects the look of a mature vision without being mature. Innovation and personal vision became devalued.”

Not being particularly familiar with the finances of the gallery world, I have no doubts that the art world is reeling (see the Rose Museum), though this does limit my ability to assess the situation. Nonetheless, Glimcher’s point is an interesting one. If the art market has become so focused on names, is society really valuing art? And are artists trying to create their best art or just catering to the market? According to Chuck Close, yes. Glimcher is suggesting that this recession depression, while it might be harmful immediately, could actually benefit the art world and be a boon to creation. Art history textbook writers, take note and buyers be damned.

But in the present, the economy is serving as fodder for art. Just take Golden Belt’s Bailout Biennial, Art4Barter, recently highlighted in The Philadelphia Bulletin, is another one worth noting.

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