Jerry Saltz piles on to his wife’s recent review of James Franco’s exhibition of work mimicking Cindy Sherman’s film stills. Sherman has wondered in the press why Pace Gallery is showing the photographs. Saltz thinks he knows the answer:
[T]his is what happens when one of these massive megagalleries loses its bearings and vision. Pace has all of this space all over the world. It has several galleries in New York and ones in London, Beijing, and of course, Menlo Park, in Silicon Valley. All these vast spaces must be filled with stuff at all times in order to maintain the operation. Spectacle, success, and supply-side abundance begin to take over. As overhead and corporate merchandizing increase, quality and aesthetic complexity begins to decrease. The gallery begins to seem lost, irrelevant, clueless.
With “New Film Stills,” Pace has backed itself into a corner with no credible way out. The gallery can either say We’re publicity whores and want long lines to see bad gewgaws by a celebrity. Or it can say We love this art. Neither is a defensible position. And it must be having deleterious effects within the gallery. And not just with the diligent staff; Pace artists must look at this show (and others at Pace, like the recent Raqib Shaw double exhibition), wonder what is going on in their gallery, and dream of leaving.
Which brings us to the depressing part of the megagallery game: Artists in these galleries are trapped. Many of them are in overproduction and maintain huge staffs and can only go to another megagallery. Many others weren’t that good to begin with and probably can’t go anywhere at all.
Jerry Saltz on James Franco’s ‘New Film Stills’ (Vulture/NYMag)