Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Flight to Quality, and a Flight from NYC

Recommended reading: a very timely article by the New York Times about the boom-bust cycle in the art market and the impact of the recent correction:

"The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art!"

I share the author's relief that the over-hyped art market is experiencing a correction, and that this is resulting in a "flight to quality," defined as skill-based figurative art. However, I don't share the author's view that the resurgence in realistic painting is due to the fact that paintings are easy to sell: the New York Times is betraying its conceptual bias here. The resurgence of painting in the past 15 years was driven by underground reactionaries who were bucking dominant tastes, and the movement to re-connect with traditional painting practices was discouraged by both critics (with cries of "kitsch") and galleries that prefer to sell "factory" conceptual art which is easier to produce quickly in large format. It is far more cost effective for a gallery to exhibit a "found art" plastic bag installation stapled to the wall alongside a pretentious essay (I'm not making this up, by the way) than it is to invest 150 hours over 2 months on the "slow art" process of making an 18x24 inch oil painting.

NYC Studios: Casualties of the Downturn

That being said, artists are really suffering right now and leaving the city in droves as studio rents and maintenance costs have remained high while art sales vaporize. The anecdotal evidence is accelerating: next Saturday I'm invited to attend the going-away party for a hyper-talented New York Academy of Art Postgraduate Fellow who is moving to Maryland on a permanent "sabbatical."

For those who care about the grass roots of NYC's cultural ecosystem, it's time to think globally and act locally: I'm organizing a regular salon event with the legendary celebrity fine art photographer Gilles Larrain to raise consciousness about this issue and engage people in the studio community. Here's the press release and web site, spread the word!


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