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Friday 12.09.11

« Interior Margins conversation | Main | Monday musings »

Friday links

Well, the art world's still in the predictable post ABMB entertainment/money confluence backlash mode but as I pointed out just before the East Coast/Saatchi started publishing screeds... it really does matter how the artist and institutions lay the ground rules (Alfredo Jaar requires carte blanche). Here's the latest:

Anselm Kiefer (sometimes one of my favorite artists) believes art is, "not entertainment." Well he's right when it comes to his art, but there is certainly room for entertainment in art... for example Paul McCarthy's and Richard Serra's sheer audacity is entertaining. By simply suspending the humdrum of the everyday an artist can create big A "Art". In Kiefer's case he's working within an exceedingly serious historical discussion and his show at Tate Modern along with the New Clifford Still Museum are foregrounding a much needed counterpoint to the sometimes grating follies of art. I like to think of it as very responsible "older brother art". Maybe I'm just projecting... I am the oldest in my family so; Still, Judd, Newman, Serra, Martin and Kiefer all appeal to my "seriousness" fetish. Which isnt to say I don't enjoy classic Damien Hirst, Murakami, Tracey Emin and Jason Rhoades as art brats who fulfilled the need to laugh a little bit at how we fetish seriousness/higher aspirations.

Linda Yablonsky addresses the Miami hangover directly.

Edward Winkleman addresses Yablonsky and does a nice job of discussing the 99% and the influence of money. Though I think he's wrong about the naming rights superseding the work that director's do in the history books. For example if the Menil's can't overshadow Walter Hopps legacy in the history books... then no one can! At the Portland Art Museum both the current Robert J. Pamplin Director Brian Ferriso and his predecessor John Buchanan are discussed a lot more as watershed arts leaders than the man who endowed their position and he owns a newspaper! Perhaps that's why Eli Broad wanted Jeffrey Dietch? Whatever other complications exist he's one of the few people Broad can't overshadow. If a director is overshadowed by a patron, it means the director just isn't all that noteworthy or innovative. If anything the patrons today are less noteworthy than they were in the recent past, which possibly is lowering the bar for some directorships?

In Portland Art Museum news the same anonymous donor who funded a temporary curator of photography position has fully endowed it with a 2 million dollar gift. Great news but because I am a scold there is a HUGE lesson worth repeating. If this is a jaw dropping bit of philanthropy for other Portland art institutions to comprehend... it isn't. Yes it is noteworthy but the gift happened because PAM has had a very clear institutional plan where a patron can see how the institution is growing up and deepening its commitments. Rather than some shot in the dark the funding was an inevitability, which then asks specific patrons to step up. PAM has a wish list of other endowment opportunities here. You see, when other Portland institutions are purposefully difficult to comprehend, major gifts become incomprehensible. The argument that institutions have failed because of physical plant costs is only partly true... in the case of PAM, PNCA, Bluesky, Cooley Gallery at Reed, Hoffman Gallery at L&C, OCAC, Newspace and even the Museum of Contemporary Craft improving and owning their spaces (while simultaneously doubling down on programs) has forced the issue with patrons to find a way to save things they love. It's simply tough to love or even make a case for saving that which is standing still and not developing. Being elusive is not a good idea for any major funding initiative. I know the money itself is more meaningful to some other publications but the how and why here are much more important.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 09, 2011 at 12:09 | Comments (0)


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