Monday, March 09, 2009

The Art Market – Not So Much

The Armory Show was this weekend, and having walked my feet off getting there and back, plus having recently taken in the ADAA Art Fair, I had thought to rant about the commodification of art. You do get to see a great range of gallery offerings in both venues, and, dollar consideratiions aside, most of it’s quite good. There are booths devoted to single artists (Gerhard Richter and Donald Sultan at ADAA), and booths devoted to single subjects (Dieu Donne for handmade paper at the Armory). But try as I might, I cannot warm up to art as a commodity and I have nothing whatsoever to say about the current state of the art market. I like to be one on one with a work of art and think of it as connected to its maker rather than as something to which a price tag has been attached. It doesn’t matter to me that if I had enough money I could consider owning it. I’m happy to look. I got really happy looking at some elegantly painted portraits by Elizabeth Peyton (see my December 1 blog), and admired the skilled draftsmanship of Danica Phelps at the Lower East Side Printshop booth. Dubuffet always makes me want to go out and play in the mud – and that’s a good thing. Louise Bourgeois doesn’t necessarily make me happy, but she does make me want to challenge myself, a very good thing indeed. There’s a razor’s edge to her work that will never appear in mine, but I like knowing that she can slice up my emotions with it. Yayoi Kusama’s variations on disorientation bring me up short every time, no matter what the medium, and I love the way that happens. But with so much talent, why does Richter pull his punches in favor of showing off his squeegee techniques? I’m not so happy about that because his doing so is market-motivated, about which I said I had nothing to say, but maybe I was wrong. Hmmmmmmm.

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