Archive for Fall

Missing the Gallery Opening (but really, that’s fine)

Posted in Art, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16 October, 2009 by endlessslug

Today, a number of galleries are opening in Chicago.  I’ve been hitting the gallery openings for years – well ok, I took a few years (10) off, but I’ve been going back more regularly lately – and this week, I’ll have to miss the openings.  The weather was questionable, but seems ok, except my gallery-mate must work at her crap job, so I’ll be staying in today and going to the fencing salle later this evening to work with some new fencers.

The point of this post is in criticism.  I went to the new gallery openings during the big Fall Opening event, and wow was it all crap.  It was nice to see so many young artists getting gallery space and showing work, but I was left somewhat hollow.  The artists of today seem to be competing over demonstrating their use as corporate advertisers instead of doing anything more traditionally constructive.  It is true that most artists in history were craftsmen and women who illustrated nobles and the otherwise wealthy who wanted paintings of themselves, or landscapes for government and civic use, but did we not learn anything from the Modernists?  We are now firmly in the post-modern.  All the “paintings” I saw during the Fall Opening were very self-centered and really unappealing to anyone.  I’ll hopefully get some specifics posted with some criticism when I get home (I am elsewhere at the moment, house-sitting).  As usual, it was more about the galleries as installations than the work on the wall.  Ths is why I left the art scene a decade ago.  Sure the space work is in is important, after all, what is a painting but part of a wall?  But the paintings used to do something more to me than the gallery itself.  I almost miss the salon style presentation of cramming paintings relentlessly into a tiny space so that only the ceiling was visible.  Honestly, I really don’t care whether or not your gallery has wood pillars, antique-looking chairs, cool stairs, or a coffe shop inside – I came for the work you decided to present to me (and the rest of the public).  Instead I received a constant barrage of ignorance and disinterest in painting – only an interest in getting a job, most likely in marketing.  I do wish all the artists luck in maintaining a steady and healthy income, preferably from the work, or possibly in their forthcoming marketing futures, but let’s refocus a bit – ok?

We live in an artistic world where we must get utterances out as fast as possible in order to compete.  Quality has given way to quantity.  You must produce to sell to survive.  This has always been the case, but now students are not even taught basics.  There is some sort of honor given to the self-taught, whose work is complete shit.  Listen here young artists and art school admins: I can count the number of successful, self-taught artists in all human history on my left hand, and these artists are only marginally successful.  Learn art from the thousands of years of historical refinement before arrogantly assuming that your magic eye sees something no one else does.  It might! Sure! But you need to know how to re-communicate that to others efficiently and economically, preferably without mystery or narrative.  Learn about the academy before you attack it.  I’d like to emphasize the previous sentence.  Many great artists broke with the academy over the years, especially most of, if not all of the Impressionists.  But they all started painting there.  Learn the rules before you go breaking them so you can learn how to best break them and when it is ok.

My Fall Opening experience in Chicago was still a good time.  Lots of free booze and people.  Although I was unsure who was aware of the shitty art all around us.  I believe the gallery owners linked a ‘good time’ with ‘good art’.  Thus, people come away (I fear, no data to support this) believing that the aesthetic disasters they just experienced were somehow what art “is” and what they should strive to do or to seek out due to their very good experience at the show.  This is the Art Show Polka (thanks Johnny Socko).

So, missing the openings this weekend is not a terrible thing.  I’m fairly certain all I’d be doing is going to the city to see a bunch of people trying to get jobs designing Starbucks and when not in a gallery full of fancy walls, I’d be seeing a lot of complete inane shit.  We nod now to the gallery which showcased illustrations of dogs last month.  What a sad, sad thing.  It was like opening my aunt’s scrapbooking closet, stoned.