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.