Live shows for spring 2020 cancelled or postponed.
The Bank Job, London.
My column from the previous issue of Sluice magazine is now online, on the pervasive metaphorical debt of the art world, the perpetual actual debt of artists, and lazy little millennial fucks. The new issue is out very shortly, with more of my columnage.
Towards a fair artist residency.
Folkestone, Saturday 23rd September 2017.
9am-12, Friday 9th June at The Brunswick Club, Bristol.
… every single year, guaranteed… BY NOT GOING.
I’m severely late on this one, because Frieze Art Fair [sic] was last October and at the time I was far too fucking busy touring Japan and having an amazing, inspiring time in the midst of the most staggering beauty to even think about paying £40 to be milked by a loathsome trade fair for oligarchs, blood money gold diggers and other moneyed Eurotrash, even if I’d been in London at the time. However, this is an excellent– and dare I say even Career Suicidesque– response rant by Morgan Quaintance to Frieze’s jaw-droppingly unironic and egregious discussion panel entitled Off Centre: Can Artists Still Afford to Live in London? During a ticketed fair where a person earning minimum wage would have to work for nearly six hours to afford the admission price, and putting your coat or bag in the…
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When I and a few enlightened colleagues started talking about the art world and money in about 2009, hardly anybody was interested and we were very often asked why we bothered. Within a few years, nearly every agency and artist-facing organisation was talking about artists, art and money if they had any sense. The mainstream art magazines like Frieze still don’t talk about it very much except in a celebratory way, as if there’s nothing at all problematic about the whole high-end art scene, because their reason for being and their main income is from courting the (rich) hand that feeds or fists at its own whim.
Likewise, I have asserted for many years that the real story at the top end of the art world is not how bad, irrelevant and vapid most of the art and most of its suppliers are– don’t get me wrong, they are all…
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A wee update on this story about a woman who attacked a fellow visitor to Art Basel Miami Beach last December, while onlookers interpreted the whole thing as some kind of performance art. The attacker, Siyuan Zhao, has unsurprisingly been found to be suffering from a serious mental illness. Eventually coming back to a somewhat even keel through therapy and medication after randomly stabbing a stranger, trying to kill a therapy bird (whatever that is) and hearing voices that said “she needed to protect the event from the Middle Eastern terror group ISIS”, Zhao has agreed to “deport herself” back to China where her family will take care of her.
“She was very psychotic,” Dr. Ilan Melnick testified. He also said: “She felt ISIS was going to be at Art Basel to destroy the art.”
Dr. Melnick possibly slightly stating the obvious there, especially in conjunction with his second…
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An interesting article by Daniel S. Palmer about what ArtNews calls the “hyper-professionalization” of some artists. I’d go further and call it something like “jobification”; the reduction of a vocation to a mechanical and wholly uncreative grind. As Palmer points out, it’s not even the best way for an artist to make money or for anyone to make money from an artist’s work, because it’s so shortsighted:
“The entire system seems designed, predominantly, to disappoint. What has arisen from these failures is a marked distinction between product- and project-based artists. Product-based artists have been led to think of an artwork as a product serving a demand, rather than a single step in a longer, sustained development, as is the case with project-based artists. Consider the most visible trend in recent years of Zombie Formalism, a kind of reductive, easily produced abstract painting, sold quickly to collectors queued up on…
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“Young collectors cocktails”
At PULSE (sic… they always style it like that) Miami Beach 2016 this December, there will be a “private preview brunch”, followed later that day by “young collectors cocktails.” I know, I had an urge to vomit too. The poor grammar here suggests that the cocktails will be made from young collectors; while I do think it’s a good idea for the 1% to be pestled and pulverised I’m going to assume they mean cocktails for young collectors.
These young collectors will probably only be slightly richer than the exhibitors, because it costs a (non-refundable) $275 to apply, plus a $2000 deposit against your final charge of either $4960 for a small booth with three lights– woo!– or a medium booth with a crazy FOUR lights for $6,200. You do get your $2000 back if they don’t accept you, you lucky thing, though $2000…
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“Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth.” (
Henrik Ibsen Hot Chocolate). Henrik Ibsen painted by Henrik Olrik, 1879.
From the book Creators: From Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney, Paul Johnson on the shitty, unfair and callously underappreciated lives of the world’s most undeniably creative people, who bring pleasure, beauty and inspiration to thousands or millions of people… plus Henrik Ibsen’s splendid but bonkers riposte.
“What strikes me, surveying the history of creativity, is how little fertile and productive people often received in the way of honours, money, or anything else. Has there ever been a more accomplished painter than Vermeer – a painter closer to perfection in creating beautiful pictures? How Vermeer must have cared about what he was doing! And how hard and intensely he must have worked to do it! Yet when he died, his widow had to petition the local guild for charity…
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“I can’t believe they’re talking about this shit with a straight face” of the week goes to a recent article on Artsy (aforementioned) on ‘The Secrets of Art Pricing‘. If they’re meant to be secret, should you really be telling us? Never mind.
Submarkets for individual artists, and markets within different periods for those artists, require their own brand of unique pricing lore. Case in point is the oeuvre of Lucio Fontana, who began puncturing the surface of paper or canvas in the late 1940s, developing the idea over the next two decades. “At different times, different colors are more or less popular,” wrote Melanie Gerlis, Art Market Editor at The Art Newspaper, in her 2014 book Art as an Investment?, referring to Fontana. According to Fontana specialist Luigi Mazzoleni, founding director of Mazzoleni London, “regarding the slashes,” the most popular colors on the…
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Some magnificent verbal kamikaze quotes from Australian gallerist Evan Hughes, on the occasion of closing down the business founded by his father and then run by himself.
PRODUCT FOR DICKHEADS
“… It was almost as if we were given permission to declare that the art world had been taken over by dickheads. Too much of the commercial art trade has become about the selling of product and the accumulation of capital, much to the confusion and disillusionment of young artists. ”
A commission for Malcolm Turnbull, Australian prime minister: “In the 1990s, when Malcolm was still a merchant banker, the Turnbull family commissioned one of my father’s artists, Lewis Miller, to paint a portrait of Malcolm. Unhappy with the work, Turnbull confronted my father at a function and exclaimed: “That artist of yours is no good; he’s made…
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About five years ago when I and a few colleagues started talking about the (mostly really shitty) economics and realpolitik of being an artist who isn’t one of yer Damien Hirsts, Tracey Emins or Turner Prize winner– and aren’t we all glad not to be?– everybody else’s reaction was what the who now? You want to talk about money? Why? Don’t artists just do it for the sake of art? Then hundreds of artists, arts professionals and art lovers turned up to the public discussions we organised on the subject. Now everybody’s talking about it everywhere, all the time, from Facebook groups like Stop Working For Free to art blogs like Hyperallergic. Books are written about it, although none of them are as good as mine. There are campaigns like W.A.G.E. in New York and the UK’s Paying Artists. The more the better because it’s still not enough…
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… of the art market. What were you thinking of, you dirty wee puppy? I’ll deal with you later. No, according to a University of Luxembourg study, the international art market is in a “mania phase” and the bubble is going to pop any time soon, leading to a “severe correction”. Countdown starting right now to an art exhibition called either Severe Correction or Mania Phase.
The contemporary art market has been a very bad, bad, dirty, disobedient and thoughtless pig.
The “zombie formalist” artists (i.e. makers of art as an asset class, devoid of narrative, representation, politics, ideology, etc.) and their handlers are partly to blame, but as the gentleman who created the term rightly says, and as I have also said in a various ways over the past few years about a hundred bloody times: “Since the entire market is entirely irrational, it can’t be rationally…
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“Unfortunately we have no budget to pay fees or expenses.”
a-n the artists information company have just published their draft recommendations and guidance on the payments and fees that should be due from publicly funded galleries to artists. FYI I’ve worked on the Paying Artists campaign and I work for a-n sometimes. I also think artists based in the UK should have their own look at it, so I won’t offer too much commentary except to pull out:
NOBODY IS ASKING FOR MUCH
Despite stiff resistance from an insignificant and usually bonkers minority of the public and a significant minority of people who work for public arts organisations, all of whom are baffled or bitter (or both) that an artist should get paid anything… the suggested fees for artists are far from outrageous and usually amount to no more than a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds…
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(Image via the sadly long-defunct http://lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.co.uk )
Findings have just been published from a national survey about the working lives of cultural and creative workers in the UK. It was carried out by Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield and LSE as part of their project Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?
The findings provide hard evidence for the common impression that the arts sector is a closed shop where most people are middle class and it also makes revealing discoveries about how gender and ethnicity can affect a career in the arts and how higher wage earners view the sector in comparison to lower wage earners.
They’re not kidding. People who earn over £50,000 PA tend to believe it was their hard work and talent that counted, while those earning under £5,000 (over a quarter of the respondents) believe that it’s not what you know…
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Ehhhhhh… nasty landlord.
South Korean pop star PSY, of Gangnam Style infamy, is not only trying to force an artist-led organisation out of a building he owns in the gentrifying Hannamdong neighbourhood of Seoul (so he can renovate it, presumably for higher rents) but has also launched defamation lawsuits against four of the artists for publicising his actions and criticising him. Don’t like going viral quite so much when it doesn’t flatter you, Mr Park?
Of course this is just one of many instances of the same crap that is happening in London and in other major cities in the developed world; as the rich get richer and the poor get punished, artists, the low paid and even reasonably well-salaried key workers like nurses and teachers are being exiled from the cities where…
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Discussions of economics and making a living from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854):
SELLING AND AVOIDING THE NECESSITY OF SELLING
“Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it…
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