Thursday, May 14, 2015

does zombie art rule the art world?


aLfRedO tRiFf

in this article for vulture, entitled Zombies on the Walls: Why Does So Much New Abstraction Look the Same? übercritic jerry saltz seems absorbed with the idea of "form."*
Now something’s gone terribly awry with that artistic morphology. An inversion has occurred. In today’s greatly expanded art world and art market, artists making diluted art have the upper hand.
what saltz means by "inversion" is that instead of driving new movements (as their counterparts did in the early Twentieth Century), artists now simply seek how to fit within a "global style catalog" --courtesy of the art market. the received notion inherent to postmodernism is that all has already been tried (but all this is blasé).

why this averment?    
A large swath of the art being made today is being driven by the market, and specifically by not very sophisticated speculator-collectors who prey on their wealthy friends and their friends’ wealthy friends, getting them to buy the same look-­alike art.
i'm surprised by saltz' sluggish tempo: contemporary art is precisely the business of "not very sophisticated speculators-collectors." who is naive enough to refrain from investing in trendy artworks just because the prototypes seem cacophonous?

saltz is discussing (not the exception, but) the rule.
The artists themselves are only part of the problem here. Many of them are acting in good faith, making what they want to make and then selling it. But at least some of them are complicit, catering to a new breed of hungry, high-yield risk-averse buyers, eager to be part of a rapidly widening niche industry.
c'mon jerry, artists want recognition & buyers normally buy actual trends. they are both concomitant elements in a market field, but not the cause.  
Galleries everywhere are awash in these brand-name reductivist canvases, all more or less handsome, harmless, supposedly metacritical, and just “new” or “dangerous”-looking enough not to violate anyone’s sense of what “new” or “dangerous” really is, all of it impersonal, mimicking a set of pre-approved influences.
let's come back to "pre-approved influences," which i call arthoodication. 

the rubells' arthoodication of oscar murillo, for example, is not a mere whim of über-collectors. there is a whole apparatus at work here: critics, exhibition spaces, magazines, curators etc. it takes time and effort to arthoodicate art. and not all arthoodication works the same way,


let's follow the logic. according to saltz, "galleries everywhere are awashed in brand-name reductivist canvases." but zombie formalism is just one drop in the bucket. with contemporary art one could use wittgenstein's idea of Familienähnlichkeit.

suddenly, contemporary art is plagued with "gender variants" of different pseudo families. suddenly, the unbeseeming prospect that zombie art may rule the art world becomes reality.

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* a point i don't want to pursue here is saltz's use of form, which he takes for granted. the easy way out is to use form as a crutch. what is the "content" of these paintings above? too easy to just assume that content here is, well, "abstraction." that won't do because the old form/content begs the question on the very thing saltz would like to define. someone could retort that the paintings have to look similar since they belong in the same form-field. saltz is left with a mere assumption of abstraction (as form) which he uses to demote this (zombiesque) form as derivative. does it make sense?

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