I was surprised by Charles Saatchi’s article this past Sunday in The Guardian. I’ve always given him kudos for his artworld choices but at the same time I am furious by the fact that he has so much power he can manipulate not only the market but actual aesthetics. For example, remember that quite unsuccessful tv reality show “Saatchi’s school ofArt”? Kudos for having a show that u don’t even appear in but art and reality tv? Come on, can’t you find a more creative idea to push the artists you like? So I was surprised this Sunday because I loved Saatchi’s article. Maybe its because I am not a Hamptonite or a Hedge-fundy or Eurotrashy or an Oligarch but I felt it was time for someone, who people actually pay attention too, to actually say something about the craziness of the contemporary art world. I am not naïve Saatchi has kind of disappeared this year (he wasn’t even in the Power 100 for the Artworld) so this article does put him back in the media – so kudos for the strategy. Nevertheless, the article still has something important to say.
It’s a shame that all the art world events – the biennials, the art fairs, and the exhibitions – have become so popular not for the art or the intellectual stimulation or for the buying opportunity but for the glamorous socializing. Saatchi pointed out that the Venice Biennale has become a destination very much like St. Barts and St. Tropez. And do all of these people actually enjoy the art or understand how it can touch your psyche? Or is it just like buying a Louis Vuitton? With the added plus that you can pretend to be cultured. Not to mention the openings – now I am not hiding behind my finger I also go to openings to network and socialize as well but for god’s sake at least look at the art! The number of people who just go in for the wine and hang around in the middle of the room talking loudly about the arts and culture without looking at the art is unimaginable. I was heading to an opening last week and on my way, another Mayfair gallery (let’s not name names) had bouncers outside – I guess the people going into it were those “cultured” ones who really need a bouncer to validate the importance of the opening. It is silly isn’t it?
But lets not forget the dealers and consultants who feed this whole extravaganza. Whispering in clients ears about who is hot right now and where they should appear to establish their profile or just pushing bad art. To be honest they are businessmen so they are just doing what is good for their business – for me it’s the client (note I am not using the word collector) who is more at fault in this art world shenanigan. even if my love for art would not want to see a painting or a sculpture or a video work somewhere where its not appreciated.
Now there are other players in the artworld, such as art critics, but unfortunately they have become kind of irrelevant. Their power ended with minimalism and slowly collectors have taken over and have become the voice of the future of art. This is problematic because collectors in the first instance buy for themselves which is great but not when those choices actually dictate what is good or bad art. Not to say that art critics or curators don’t have other reasons to choose one artist over the other but at least on the whole they have an audience to think of.
So let’s hope our generation will open its eyes; stop being naïve; and actually believing in today’s art world craziness and actually look not at but into the art. And Kudos for the article.