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Tuesday 12.26.06

« Robert Colescott at Laura Russo Gallery | Main | An Interview with Marne Lucas »

Making the most of predictable end of year stories

Probably just to prove that he's still consistently the best art wordsmith out there, Peter Schjeldahl penned this wonderful bit on the most over exposed and obvious story of the last 3 years, art fairs & markets. (OK Dave Hickey can lick him at will but this "festivalism" subject is just too boring and too much of a weak F. Scott Fitzgerald impersonation to require very serious literary treatment). Being ahead of the fairs is tough but the only thing that separates someone with an intuitive eye and someone who looks at art through its effects on the fair swarm.

Still, Schjeldahl has done it best with this nugget:

"The typical contemporary-art object, judging from Miami Basel, is well crafted, attractive, interesting enough, and portable. It may be figurative or abstract and in any conceivable medium: a pleasantly ungainly painting by Peter Doig, a tiny sculpture by Tom Friedman, a video stunt by Tony Oursler. Not only is there no leading style; there is no noticeable friction between one style and another. These impressions might fade if you focussed on any particular work, but fairs destroy focus. Thousands of works coexisted cozily in Miami, sharing a pluralism of the salable. Talent counts; ideas are immaterial. Exactly one work drew raves from art people who still crave audacity: the New York dealer Gavin Brown left his large space almost bare but for a crumpled cigarette pack (Camels, perhaps to evoke the Middle East), which, attached by a fishing line to an apparatus high overhead, slowly and hypnotically flew above or skittered along the floor. Conceived by the Swiss artist Urs Fischer, this squandering of prime showroom real estate on the trashed container of an addictive product was a smart insult to the occasion, though an awfully mild one. (The piece sold for a hundred and sixty thousand dollars.) A decade ago, much new art was eyebrow-deep in critical theory. Now it seems as carefree as a summertime school-boy, while far better dressed..."

He didn't even give the 2006 Whitney Biennial a real review, dismissing most artists effectively with only a few words. I think there is something to all this lack of friction and the very convenient shape of contemporary art at fairs.

Also, Tyler Green has started the end of the year top 10 list frenzy. I'd add Nick Cave's Sound Suits at the Chicago Cultural Center and Richard Tuttle at the Des Moines Art Center.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 26, 2006 at 13:40 | Comments (0)


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