Saturday, January 20, 2007

Visions of Grandeur/Globalization; The Multinational Incorporation and Dehumanization of Art



The old MoMA was like a good book. You and Flaubert. You and Cormac McCarthy. You and Jane Austin. You could wander in. Visit a few old friends. You and Matisse. You and de Kooning. You and Picasso. You could go in to see just one painting and leave. You could have lunch in the garden and even read a book. And you always ran into a few of your other friends who also wandered in for the afternoon.

I think what people really hate about the new MoMA is the loss of intimacy and touch that is so much of what art means to us. The personal relationship with the work. It's not MoMA anymore, or even DADA, but the STATE. State of siege. It's not a good book. It's the airport. It might as well have moving sidewalks. It's the IMAX! It's the multinational incorporation of art. The international mallification of art. You're worse than cattle being prodded along; you're a bug on the windshield of the big multinational corporate art jet! Get on board or get out of the way! Whatever!

About fifteen years ago I wrote a big spread for the Christian Science Monitor on a Sol LeWitt show at the Addison at Andover that I had personally worked on to research the feature, and I ended it by asking if among other things LeWitt wasn't the father of careerism. I was getting at something but I didn't quite know what it was. This is what it was. Of course I doubt LeWitt can be held personally responsible, but his whole corporate approach to working inspired a younger generation of MFAs that might as well be MBAs.

I'm not going to go into how we got here. A lot of tributaries have fed this river. Expensive graduate schools that by the nature of economics demand strategies of a large scale. Contemporary art institutes urging on visions of grandeur. I personally experienced this over twenty-five years ago with an ambitious young curator at PS1 wanting me to be his discovery. Naturally I resisted. He was one of the first of this breed. He was really a young entrepreneur. PS1, by the way, may not have been that intimate in scale then, but it was in touch. It had touch. That made it intimate. But of course money and power are the big factors. People always wonder why I prefer galleries to museums and art centers. Scale. Intimacy. They are small money and power. Things can happen there. Institutions are ruthless, of course, and we have to accept that, I have to accept that, me and my bad attitude--busted. But look what happened when Marcia Tucker showed Richard Tuttle at the Whitney in 1965. She was fired by the board of directors. Galleries don't have boards! The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has more money invested in their front steps than the entire Boston gallery scene has combined. They need the Sol LeWitts. The Richard Serras. Artists on their scale. Forget some ratty Van Gogh painting his heart out in a garage somewhere. Not going to happen? Well, who knows? Art finds a way. Happy art-making.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with your sense of outrage about the dehumanizing impact of the new Internationalism in art. This is globalization at it's worst of course, and these self-agrandizing critics and curators are nothing more than parasites. That they are boobs with power is disturbing but shouldn't be surprising. Boobs with power run our lives from Washington, steal the message, and art and culture are a private affair at best. Perhaps for the better.

Anonymous said...

I think you spell aggrandize with 2 'g's. Boobs is interesting. Where are you from? Dehumanizing is right! I can feel it everywhere, including in my head, heart, and gut!

Peter Simon said...

Oh yes! Francine Miller leaves a host of offended ones in her wake, so don't think you're special! It was spam, after all! I am personally familiar with her messes. She was in Provincetown vistiting openings one time and I had to put out fires left and right. I don't know what it is but she rubs people the wrong way. Ignore it!

Valerie Gautier said...

You can't expect people who aren't artists to get this one. Move on.

Sean McFeely said...

I get this all the time... this intimidation--this feeling of unworthiness around these things--like going to school that first day--the buildings hanging over you--you're nothing. It's depressing! Who are these people? They treat artists like they smell!