Monday, April 17, 2006

Dealers are not post-grad study mentors....

Today's market for contemporary art is so hot, dealers and collectors are turning to art schools. "Though the conventional image of an artist's mentor is not generally a venture capitalist, such a presence is not so surprising in an era when collectors from Wall Street are underwriting high prices for contemporary art. The art world is, in the end, a numbers game: as collectors, art fairs and galleries keep growing, while first-rate artworks for sale decrease, dealers and collectors are scouring the country's top graduate schools looking for the Warhols of the future." The New York Times 04/15/06

Click HERE to read the entire article. If you click the link and read the entire article summarized above, it makes some additional genuine points regarding the danger of setting-up students to never mature as artists.

The entire idea of “students” becoming immediate long-term cash-cows reeks of ignorance in so many ways. Firstly, it proves that most art dealers don’t really understand the process of making art. The greatest difficulty in “art school” is the five to ten years it takes to unlearn everything you were taught. Sure the survey classes were great and the studio courses made wonderful inroads in teaching the importance of a dedicated work ethic (hopefully) – but come on, every artist knows the best way to do well in art school is by picking-up techniques and shortcuts via emulation of your peers and professors. I shudder at the thought of thematic influence of an instructor over na├»ve students (most of whom have never actually stopped going to school).

Secondly, dealers and collectors already have a wonderful place in the PR portion of the art world. Pulling them into the process of "making artists" is jumping the gun a bit. This can be likened to promising a child a toy for being good in a store, but instead of holding out the 'carrot' till check-out time, giving them the toy to play with as soon as they enter the building. By the time the shopping is done, they've already played with it... are now bored and don't know what else to do with their time.

Finally, the power of dealers to manipulate an artist’s content is much more likely if the artist has gone from pleasing instructors for grades to satisfying dealers for monetary gain. Is selling work for some good bank a bad thing? Of course not, just don’t sell yourself in the process – if an artist never has the opportunity to grow, then everyone becomes bored. The dealers and collectors dry-up and the artist is stuck storing a bunch of meaningless work that no one wants. There is only so much of you to go around and once your boring… it’s like you never existed. - DN

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