Having perused at least a dozen articles about last week's Art Basel Miami Beach extravaganza, the message I get is that the art market is back, along with celebrity-studded parties, mega-galleries expanding their international franchises, collectors with more money than god, corporate sponsors, seven-figure sales, and super-star artists.
As I've mentioned before, I'm not against making money, and hope that Offramp Gallery will be able to participate in a few fairs soon. But would I trade the cappuccino-fueled conversations at Offramp for an international team of lawyers, accountants and sycophants? Would I give up the salon-like atmosphere that the steady stream of artists, writers and musicians to Offramp affords, to jet-set to every art fair in the world? I don't think so, and I'm fairly certain I would be miserable if I did.
But what about the dedicated artists who work hard all their lives, juggling their art career with several part-time jobs, with precious little to show for it in terms of money, security or material comfort? Why does there seem to be so little middle-ground in the art world? Is this a reflection of the economy as a whole, where the rich are getting richer as the middle class disappears? Or has there never been a place for artists in American life?
What do you think? Should every artist and every art dealer strive for jet-setting super-stardom? Or should we embrace the starving-artist-in-the-garret-art-for-art's-sake lifestyle and quit grousing? Is the not-for-profit world going the same way as everything else -- billionaire funding for museum wings to house their own collections on the high end; the imminent closing of organizations like the Municipal Art Gallery here in Los Angeles, on the bottom?
I know that's a lot of questions for one blog post, and I am the first to admit I don't have the answers, but I can recommend another great book to shed some light on the subject, Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World. Structured around seven aspects of the art world, each one a chapter in the book, we are given insider access to a Christie's auction, a CalArts crit class, the Art Basel fair, Artforum magazine, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami's studios, Britain's prestigious Turner Prize, and the Venice Biennale. It's a great read that you won't be able to put down.
Image of the Week
The opening reception for ArtZone will be on Sunday, December 12, from 2-5pm. The exhibition is at Offramp for eight days only with these special hours: