Now that 2009 is here I thought it would be good to take a look back at 2008 and some of the stories mentioned on the Myartspace Blog. Looking back it seems that 2008 was fueled by politics-- be it Barack Obama’s impact on art or the concern over the potential of the Orphan Works Bill being passed. Economic worries were plentiful in 2008. This will be the first of three entries covering 2008.
An art critic defends controversial photographer -- I had to disagree with the art critic Benjamin Genocchio concerning the Bill Henson controversy in Australia. In my opinion, Genocchio made some poor choices in his article about the steps that the photographer had taken in order to avoid a similar controversy at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York. The Bill Henson controversy has had so many plot twists throughout 2008 that it would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.
Shepard Fairey should be questioned -- I made it clear that the practice of Shepard Fairey should be questioned. There are too many contradictions surrounding his career and statements that he has made. It is amusing that an artist who has built his career on the backs of other artists, like Rene Mederos, demands that people respect his copyright protected works and the intentions of his work. It is even more amusing when you consider that Shepard Fairey is involved with the Manifest Hope exhibits-- which demands that people who submit work prove that they own the rights to the art they submit. I wrote Manifest Hope about this contradiction and received a reply from Yosi Sergant of the Evolutionary Media Group. His reply-- “Yawn”. Great to know that Manifest Hope is concerned with artists rights-- note my sarcasm.
Art and Recession -- It appears that the current status of the economy may have delivered the final blow over the success of the art market. Many had thought that the booming art market would continue to thrive regardless of the financial crisis facing the global economy. Today is a new day-- and it is not exactly better. There is great fear that the financial bubble surrounding the traditional aspects of the art market may finally burst. Could it be that the art world recession has finally come? Are we already there? These questions and more plague the thoughts of art dealers at this time. The need to adapt is now.
Art and the economy -- Nathaniel Stern offered his insight into the state of art and the economy-- and how it can help or harm an experimental artist. According to Stern, Experimental artists tend not to show at commercial galleries so much; the work is generally harder to sell (sometimes nigh impossible), and so I often rely on my own funds, grants, commissions, experimental galleries and museum spaces to create and exhibit my work. People like me often have full-time day jobs and live off writing or academia or the like. Given the monetary crisis, the number of people looking for these kinds of funds and art-related jobs will increase, while the amount of them will stall and/or dwindle.
Damien Hirst look into alternative markets -- Damien Hirst states that he has slashed prices and reveals plan to market clothing with his images upon them. The artist, businessman, and entrepreneur is now looking forward to selling his work for affordable rates within the context of recent global economic woes-- reducing the price of some works by half. Hirst has also said that he is looking at more realistic prices in general, "If I want to sell new work, I'll price it lower. If people have got less money, you can either just shut your door and say, 'Screw everybody', or I can wait until everyone can afford my work or price it cheaper." I’m not exactly a fan of Hirst’s work, but I’m very interested in his marketing strategy.
A crooked art dealer caught? -- It seems that a ‘prominent’ New York and Miami art dealer was arrested last week on charges of selling forged paintings. If the allegations are true the art dealer, Giuseppe Concepcion, set his caliber high. The alleged forgeries include works by several famous artist-- the likes of Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.
Contemporary Middle Eastern art -- Is contemporary Middle Eastern art the next big thing? Individuals who took part in a conference organized by ArtTactic in 2008 think so. The signs are already here-- Arab and Iranian art at auction had increased from £1million in 2006 to over £17million in 2008.
Damien Hirst and his wonderful toys -- In 2008 Damien Hirst received some royal treatment. However, it was not in the way that he would have liked. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Queen’s composer, attacked the “dumbing down” and commercialization of the arts due to the success of Damien Hirst. Sir Peter lashed out at bankers, educationalists, politicians and religion as the fuel for the “dumbing down” problem. During a speech he used Damien Hirst’s record breaking auction at Sotheby’s as an example.
For the Love of God -- I discussed a story involving Damien Hirst and a 16 year old street artist known as Cartrain. The Design and Artists Copyright Society, of which Damien Hirst is a member, contacted Cartrain after receiving direct instructions from Hirst. The society informed the young artist that he had broken the law by infringing upon Hirst’s copyright. Hirst’s demands were clear-- he demanded the original works and the halt of sales with the threat of legal action. Hirst also demanded the profit that Cartrain had made from selling his collages and prints. Four works were confiscated by DACS from Cartrain’s gallery on November 12th. Reports state that Cartrain only earned about £200 from sales of the work. I think in this situation Cartrain was working within his rights given the fact that Hirst’s images are known the world over. In that sense, Cartrain was simply exploring parody. Yes, copyright and the laws surrounding it can be a double-edged sword.
Art world trouble in Miami -- Gallerists, collectors, and art appreciators were fully aware of the dark cloud-- psychologically speaking-- looming over Miami during the recent art fairs. The ‘rain’ fell on Scope, Pulse, Bridge and other art fairs-- they fell on Art Basel Miami Beach as well. It was a psychological rain and with it came great concern and fear surrounding the stability of the current art market. The streets and busses were filled with rumors and dark predictions-- this collective voice of dissatisfaction blared throughout the length of the Miami fairs.
The real message of Hope behind Barack Obama -- A painting titled “Hope” by Victorian-era artist G.F. Watts influenced Reverend Jeremiah Wright as well as Barack Obama. It seems that “Hope”, painted by G.F. Watts, is deeply embedded within the psyche of Barack Obama. I can see why-- the piece is amazing.
Take care, Stay true,