Five more questions – courtesy of Thor

What, if anything, have you learned from your students, and/or the process of teaching?

Teaching continually confronts me with the dilemmas in my own process. When I talk to my students about their difficulties, their stopping places and moments of fear, I am able to see the similarities in my own situation. So from listening to the ways my students talk about what they do I have become a better reader of work. I’ve also learned not to spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not they like me. When I first started teaching I wanted to be every student’s best pal. That’s as bad as your parents trying to hang around with you all the time. Now I have better boundries around it all and it makes it easier for ervery one to relax.

What don’t you like about the art world? Are there frauds? Name names.

1. I don’t like the generalization “art world” as it lumps together many people who don’t neccisarily belong together : artists, certain writers, dealers, collectors, museum people, some notion of a public. We don’t talk about the “baseball world”. That being said, for purposes of answering the question I’ll talk about the group of people around the New York art market.
2. I don’t like assumed concensus, people who come to opinions without thinking about them. One of the galling things about being in the market is the unspoken assumption that everyone is on the same side.
3. I don’t like openings, which are really about people demonstrating to you that they showed up rather than anyone looking at the work in any real way. I go to very few, and when I have them I try to find some way to subvert them by doing a performance or something similar.
4. I don’t like the proliferation of prizes, art fairs and Biennials, for the same reason I dislike circuit parties.
5. I dislike the cult of youth that pervades the art world these days. It messes up my students, and it’s fair to say that art making is one of the things that you get better at the longer you do it. Do we want every field to have the emotional pitch of women’s gymnastics?

As for frauds; first let me say that I think it’s heartening that folks still worry about this. It means that on a deep level people want something important from art, given the way we have come to accept fraud in so many other fields as a matter of course. But in this case I think it’s hard to define fraud. On the part of artists I would say that there are failures, failures of nerve, imagination, growth, feeling. When someone tries to present these as not being faliures then I suppose you have a situation of fraud. For example, I think that for many years now David Salle has been treading water. His most recent show at Gagosian in New York was accompanied by an article in the New York Times that was full of praise for the development of the work. This I suppose was fradulent, in that it was intellectually dishonest. But when you try to talk about this as legal fraud you run up against a problem: who has been injured? The people who bought the pictures? The people who came to look at them? Also let me say that even if we could talk about fraud here the biggest art fraud in history could have gotten away with less in a life time than a VP at Enron could make off with in a week.
Here’s a clearer case: Thomas Kinkaide – the self proclaimed painter of light. Here is someone who has set up a huge business that traffics in asserted, simplified emotionality. It seems to me to be at its heart cynical and manipulitive of its audience on a level that Jeff Koons could only pretend to.

“me and my work”
“the types of work I enjoy”
“in terms of work”
“making work and seeing others make work”
Why not:
“me and my art”
“the types of art I enjoy”
“in terms of art”
“making art and seeing others make art”
Why this choice of words? Is this simply the vernacular from the “art world” that you’ve absorbed? What would Freud have to say about this? Discuss.

Two reasons: when I use “art” people tend to think only of my visual stuff, whereas I think of everything I do; sculpting, writing, teaching, lecturing, DJing, publishing, etc. as all being part of the same thing :”making work”. Secondly, “my art” just sounds too naff. I make things that make sense to me and then hopefully they will be useful for other folks as well. To the extent that they are then they become art.

Name some things that you personally “find really useful in a cultural sense.”
The plays of Richard Foreman – the books of Kathy Acker, Djuna Barnes, Samuel Delaney and Charles Dickens – the films of John Waters, Jack Smith and Terry Gilliam – the Music of Sun Ra, Patty Smith and the Velvet Underground – notebooks of Hokousai – the tattoos of Don Ed Hardy – the sock money – as a sculptor I wish I had invented it, and I still aspire to come up with something like it: a sculpture that just about anyone can make, that is ubiquitous and anonymous.

Who put the ram in the ramalamadingdong?

You know you did, dude.

0 Comments +

  1. As for frauds; first let me say that I think it’s heartening that folks still worry about this.

    1,853 New Yorker cartoons can’t be wrong.

    Thank you for such thoughtful and useful answers.

  2. who indeed?

    5. I dislike the cult of youth that pervades the art world these days. It messes up my students, and it’s fair to say that art making is one of the things that you get better at the longer you do it. Do we want every field to have the emotional pitch of women’s gymnastics?

    I expect someone does, and that they like the histrionics that ensue, despite whatever costs in pain and sacrifice.

    Some people do lose it as they get older; but this is VERY old, generally, not just like 40 or 50 or something.

  3. Re: who indeed?

    I didn’t go into this in the post, but it seems clear to me that the people who benefit most from this state of affairs are the gallery owners. Young, inexperienced artists are less likely to negotiate strongly for their own interests and can easily be dropped after the first flush of enthusiasm wears off. You don’t have to worry about cultivating collectors for them specifically, or maintaining large archives of their work. I think of this as akin to strip mining, as once you extract the resources you move on, without a regard for the aftermath.

  4. Re: who indeed?

    I didn’t go into this in the post, but it seems clear to me that the people who benefit most from this state of affairs are the gallery owners. Young, inexperienced artists are less likely to negotiate strongly for their own interests and can easily be dropped after the first flush of enthusiasm wears off. You don’t have to worry about cultivating collectors for them specifically, or maintaining large archives of their work. I think of this as akin to strip mining, as once you extract the resources you move on, without a regard for the aftermath.

  5. This is SO appropriate with Art Basel Miami Beach upon us. I’d love to add an article page with this on it for Miamiartexchange.com. Would you be willing to do that, with your byline, of course?

  6. crass consumerism?

    Why should our business be any different from other, equally exploitative ones?

    Because what we do matters more? Because art is actually about something?

    Even Julian Schnabel seems to save his real thoughts for his films.

  7. Re: crass consumerism?

    I actually don’t think that our field is any different, and that’s why I had such a hard time with the word “fraud”. I think that in any endeavor it’s possible to act in bad faith, but I find this to happen rarely on the part of artists. I do think that our current cultural condition swamps us with so much information that we can’t assign value, and thus become suspicious that we are being hoodwinked somehow.

    And Schnabel can actually paint when he feels like it.

  8. Re: crass consumerism?

    I actually don’t think that our field is any different, and that’s why I had such a hard time with the word “fraud”. I think that in any endeavor it’s possible to act in bad faith, but I find this to happen rarely on the part of artists. I do think that our current cultural condition swamps us with so much information that we can’t assign value, and thus become suspicious that we are being hoodwinked somehow.

    And Schnabel can actually paint when he feels like it.

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