Kenny Schachter’s more than a little fed up by the Guardian’s take on the art market using Andrea Fraser’s over-wrought artist’s statement.
The wear-it-on-it’s sleeve lefty Guardian weighs in on the Banksy that was unceremoniously removed from a Florida auction last week, despite the fact there was never really a cloud over title. It was seemingly just a case of bad PR for the property company that nicked the mural from its very own wall (thereby depriving the community of their graffiti). But surprise, surprise, Jason Farago of the Guardian fulfills his self-fulfilling prophesy by unleashing a wholesale indictment on the art market. Spare me.
At least when Andrea Fraser got f*ed by the art world, she got $20k for her efforts and a notorious work of “art” to boot—put that in your pipe and…try and resell it.
According to the artist Andrea Fraser, whose trenchant performances often directly interrogate the social and economic principles of the art world, the lack of oversight and transparency actually form part of art’s appeal to the super-rich: ‘At the very top of the art market pyramid, the absence of regulation is widely seen as allowing practices in which a few very highly capitalized participants are more or less guaranteeing each other extraordinary rates of return. Powerful dealers are bidding on their own artists’ work to keep prices rising, and there are even a few instances of artists doing this themselves. The anonymity guaranteed by auction houses makes it almost impossible to know how much collusion there is.’ All of this has a direct effect on artists, and on the art they make. ‘The vast majority of artists are struggling, underpaid, underemployed, and under-recognized,’ Fraser said. ‘Like the majority of workers in other fields, they feel like victims of a system over which they have no control.’ Her students at UCLA, where she teaches an undergraduate course on the social and economic aspects of art, ‘find it pretty devastating’.
The artist’s comments above reveal a misunderstanding. The difference is that the Mugrabis and Gagosians of the world have to pay up when their guarantees or increasingly higher bids succeed. So what?
Rembrandt bid his works up at auction and its been rumored, David Hammonds, or at least he consigned a glass basketball backboard and net directly to Phillips some years ago. Again, so?
A certain amount of anonymity is natural in the art world and business in general—do you know who is on the other side of a stock trade when you buy or sell? In all probability, like in art, it could very well be someone that knows more than you, or maybe just needs the money, but whatever, its of no matter.
That the poor art students of Ms. Fraser at UCLA are “struggling and under-recognized,” well, guess what? That’s nothing new and too bad. Everyone (unless inherited, etc.) goes through it in one way or another, in all fields and from all walks of life. Please.
If Fraser was to remake her lovely artwork today, it should be rather an orgy or perhaps consist of 300 overly friendly worms tangled under a rock. But that’s how it is and always had been, its just bigger, with more people and money now.
And as to the entitled Postmasters Gallery, there are plenty of mid level survivors who are continuing to flourish. Sometimes we have only to look at ourselves, our business model and our roster of artsts. I’m just saying…
Thanks to weisslink.com for bringing following article to my attention.
And as the most powerful collectors and dealers use art for both profit and social prestige, shuttling from fairs at Miami Beach to tax-free storage facilities in Geneva, those lower down the food chain face a bleaker future. “The whole middle is basically pulverized,” lamented dealer Magda Sawon, whose Postmasters Gallery has been in business for 28 years but is being forced to relocate after a massive rent hike.”