Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Charles Saatchi

Power in the Art World ...

An article in Weekend FT (june 3rd) by Anthony Haden-Guest reviewing "Avant-Garde to Pluralism" (essays by Irving Sandler) about the distribution of (taste-making) power in the art world. By art world Sandler meant 'certain artists, certain art editors, art critics, and a few historians, certain museum directors and curators, dealers, collectors', all networking. Before the advent of the (art) market as such, power (taste-making power) was mostly with artists. (say until the 50s). When Europeans and then American begin to buy contemporary art (mainly abstract expressionism) power shifted to collectors. When the abstrexssionist bubble blown up power shifted to critics. Critics were Kommissars of the ideological purity of artistic "schools", having to denigrate in an anti-trotskiite stalinist fashion those who belong to the "wrong" school. Colour-field abstraction, minimalism and pop art were the "isms" that critics championed with exclusivist love and hate. The big critics era (who got the highly talented deserved flak from Tom Wolfe in his famous essay "The Painted Word") was also short-lived. By the late 60s power begun to shift to art dealers. For some time, with the decay of importance of schools as such announcing present day pluralism, dealers were in control. In our time, Sandler defends, power has shifted to collectors (collector-dealers as Saatchi or dealers-collectors). They in turn have highly-paid consultants, rather than rely in art-critic journalists. ( What about artists that seem critic-proof, asks Haden-Guest, don't they have power?). Who has the power now but the Pinauds and Berardos, says I.

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