Sunday, October 28, 2012

Critic Dave Hickey Calls NY/London Contempory Art a Dead Zone, an Ossified Extension of Wall Street

This will come as nothing new to readers of New Orleans Art Insider, which has long noted that nothing of consequence has happened in New York or London contemporary art in decades, but it's interesting when one of our leading critics, Dave Hickey, phrases it with such blunt concision. From the Guardian:

One of America's foremost art critics has launched a fierce attack on the contemporary art world... Dave Hickey, a curator, professor and author known for his collection of essays The Invisible Dragon and his wide-ranging cultural criticism, is walking away from a world he says is calcified, self-reverential and a hostage to rich collectors who have no respect for what they are doing.

"They're in the hedge fund business, so they drop their windfall profits into art. It's just not serious," he told the Observer. "Art editors and critics – people like me – have become a courtier class. All we do is wander around the palace and advise very rich people. It's not worth my time."

Hickey says the art world has acquired the mentality of a tourist. "If I go to London, everyone wants to talk about Damien Hirst. I'm just not interested in him. Never have been... If it's a matter of buying long and selling short, then the artists he would sell now include Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince and Maurizio Cattelan. "It's time to start shorting some of this shit..."

Will Gompertz, the BBC's arts editor, concurred: "Money and celebrity has cast a shadow over the art world which is prohibiting ideas and debate from coming to the fore," he said, adding that "the current system of collectors, galleries, museums and art dealers colluding to maintain the value and status of artists has quashed open debate on art. I hope this is the start of something that breaks the system. At the moment it feels like the Paris salon of the 19th century, where bureaucrats and conservatives combined to stifle the field of work. It was the Impressionists who forced a new system, led by the artists themselves. It created modern art and a whole new way of looking at things.

"Lord knows we need that now more than anything. We need artists to work outside the establishment and start looking at the world in a different way – to start challenging preconceptions instead of reinforcing them..." More>>