Wednesday, December 03, 2014


The age of aesthetics inflation is offset, des-hierarchical, and structurally eclectic.

We are in a fragmented culture, Balkanized, where they multiply many different miscegenation, where cohabit the most dissimilar styles, where the cool trends proliferate without order, without temporal regularity, worthless unit. With transaesthetic capitalism triumphs a chaotic profusion of styles in a huge supermarket trends and looks in fashion and design. It's a jarring proliferation, unregulated, featuring contemporary aesthetic field, parallel to economic deregulation, which constitutes the turbo capitalism.

Found in all the great museums of the world works or exhibitions of these contemporary artists in vogue.

According to the World Tourism Organization, has become, with its 900 million international travelers, the world's first industry, representing around 12% of world GDP. Never exhibitions and museums were such frequency records, 8.8 million to the Louvre, 6.5 million for the Palace of Versailles, 3.6 million from the Pompidou Centre in 2011.

The inflationary dynamics not confined to objects, styles and trends but also to classified monuments (in France has 38,000 historical monuments and picturesque villages 300) and art exhibition spaces. First, museums and contemporary art centers: worldwide, the number of museums increases 10% every five years, was in the United States before 1920, 1200 museums and about 8,000 in the early 80. It is said sometimes, by grace, which creates a museum by day in Europe: more than 30,000 museums are now classified in the 27 countries of the European Union. Paris alone has more than 150 museums. The number of museums in France is the subject of debate: in 2003, France Museums Direction declared in 1200 in the category of "museums of France," but beyond this category some guides publish lists ranging from 5000 to 10,000 museums. There is hardly a community that would not have "his" museum, as identity affirmation signal and which is not least as susceptible tourist attraction center to generate visitors and therefore commercial repercussions.

During the 80s, the number of art galleries experienced a great increase and has almost doubled. In 1988, the number of galleries rose pair 848. Many of these galleries have a very short duration, which has caused, and its mortality rate offset by a high birth rate, the number remains relatively stable. The Bill'art guide 2004 edition had 590 galleries of modern and contemporary art and estimated about 6000 places "open to the public with the vocation to present all forms of art." Galleries, in fact, continue to multiply while the art market, leaving the limits of the West, globalizes. At present there are thousands of galleries and art spaces that present in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, thousands of exhibitions and tens of thousands of works of artists, they now are numerous.

Wave that also reveals a proliferation of biennials, exhibitions and international art fairs worldwide. After the Kassel Documenta and the Venice Biennale, we now have over a hundred biennials, which have hundreds and thousands of artists. More than 260 fairs are arranged annually around the world. Asia is already participating on an equal footing: the fair Art Stage Singapore met in 2012, 140 galleries and Hong Kong Art, twice. Which joins the parallel fairs or "off", joining younger galleries, less established and who are less known and less expensive artists. In Paris, in 2009, FIAC had 203 galleries of 210 countries, and even more 4 off fairs and 73 exhibitions. In 2010, Art Basel Miami received 2000 artists, 29 countries and 250 galleries, while a multitude of fairs and parallel events unfolded a little everywhere in the city. Fairs that are organized in network now, and that function as multinational Art: Art Basel, after Basel invested in Miami and Hong Kong, and the English Frieze fair spread to New York. And the process of expansion widened even with VIP Art Fair, the first art fair online that met in 2011, during a week, 130 international galleries presenting 7500 works and 2000 artists.

With the artistic capitalism, the small world of old-art led to the hyper-art, superabundant, proliferating and globalized, where the distinctions between art, business and luxury disappear. Here, the profusion (works and demonstrations) has nothing to do with the waste "damn part", according with Georges Bataille; it shows the new face of artistic capitalism, to adapt effectively to the global proliferation of large fortunes and collectors, investors and other speculators, created a marketing system and dissemination of art internationally.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Four main logic of the artistic capitalism

The general terms that specify the artistic capitalism can be reduced to four main logic:

First, the integration and generalization style order, seduction and emotion in goods for commercial consumption. Artistic capitalism is the economic system that works for the systematic aesthetization of consumer markets, objects and everyday context. Now the aesthetic paradigm is no longer foreign to industrial and commercial activities, but incorporated into these. Results from a mode of production marked by osmosis or symbiosis between the rationalization of the production process and the aesthetic work, financial spirit artistic spirit, accounting logic and logic imagine. In this configuration, the artwork is most often collective, entrusted to teams with a limited creative autonomy, framed by managers and integrated within more or less bureaucratic hierarchical structures. The fact is that it comes to creating beauty and spectacle, excitement and entertainment to conquer markets. In this sense, it is a strategy or a "charming engineering" featuring artistic capitalism.

Second, a generalization of the entrepreneurial dimension of cultural and creative industries. Now, the art worlds, are less and less "world apart" or an "economy in reverse" are governed by the general laws of the company and the market economy, with its imperatives of competition and profitability. With the artistic capitalism triumphs the management of cultural productions. Even museums should be managed as companies, implementing marketing and communication policies, increasing the number of visitors and finding new forms of revenue. In the artistic capitalism works are judged on the basis of their business and financial results, much more than by their proper aesthetic features.

Third, a new economic surface of the groups engaged in the productions provided with an aesthetic component. What was a marginal sphere has become an important sector of economic activity involving huge capital and performing colossal funds business. We are no longer in the time of small art production units but in the mastodon’s culture, transnational giants of creative industries, fashion and luxury, and the globe as a market.

Fourth: the artistic capitalism is the system in which they are destabilized the old artistic and cultural hierarchies, while interpenetrating the artistic, economic and financial spheres. Where worked heterogeneous universes are developed now hybridization processes that mix of a unique aesthetic way and industry, art and marketing, magic and business, design and cool, art and fashion, art and fun.

Monday, December 01, 2014

How to write about contemporary art

Orit Gat is a writer and contributing editor of Rhizome. She lives in New York, USA. Orit Gat article in the frieze magazine, Issue 167, November-December 2014, about Gilda Williams new book on how to write about contemporary art.

Let’s assume there is a crisis in art writing. The past decade saw a number of essays, books, panel discussions and events debating the state of criticism, the death of the critic and the demise of art publishing. So, let’s imagine that crisis: reviews always simply describe what is on view rather than say anything about it; catalogue essays never produce new knowledge, only serve to promote an artist’s market value; and the language of press releases, so often derided as hollow, has taken over. All those roundtables that bring critics back from the dead and onto the podium reflect a growing anxiety over the communicative possibilities of writing.

Gilda Williams worries about all of the above. Call it by any name – her slightly derogatory ‘art-patois’, mystical ‘speaking in tongues’, or plain old ‘artspeak’ – it’s all barely comprehensible to Williams. She sets out to correct this problem in a new book, How to Write About Contemporary Art (published by Thames & Hudson) which is structured to untangle the linguistic mess we have supposedly got ourselves into. In countless bullet points, she describes the field, its key players and its particular penchants (citing, amongst other things, a number of frieze articles), and then moves on to discuss style, the work of pitching and the different forms of writing in the contemporary-art context. Williams’s methodology is flawless. She brings in some 50 examples of texts, ranging from exhibition reviews to snippets of catalogue essays and artist statements, and attentively analyzes them. She highlights the use of active verbs, points out specific nouns, deconstructs complex grammatical structures and, all in all, seems to read these samples more closely than anyone has done before. In confident style – ‘Unless discussing a certain shark floating in a tank, or that porcelain bathroom fixture signed “R. Mutt”, never assume your reader remembers or has seen the art’ – Williams stresses that the essential approach to writing about art should be to answer three questions, easily summed up: (1) What is it? (2) What might this mean? and (3) So what? This formula is meant to answer what Williams sees as the inherent paradox of writing about art – ‘stabilizing art through language risks killing what makes art worth writing about in the first place’.

In the world Williams describes, the old-school critic is gone, replaced by a ‘jack of all trades’, but she does not dwell on the origin of this disappearance – the reality of writing about art, which is low pay, freelance hustle and a constant struggle to keep one’s ethics in check – or its consequences. While Williams acknowledges that writers are implicated in some way in the larger art economy, the conclusion she draws is that ‘today’s critics are not as powerful as they once were […] Occupying almost the bottom economic tier of the art-industry pyramid, critics are least affected by cycles of boom and bust. When art bubbles burst, art-writers often have more to write about and nothing special to worry about. As Boris Groys asserts, since nobody reads or invests in art-criticism anyway, its authors can feel liberated to be as frank as they please, writing with few or no strings attached.’ Does a position of power enslave a writer? Not necessarily. In fact, it could give the critic further traction and support his/her role as someone that should – and potentially could – keep the market in check. As for Groys’s assessment that no one reads criticism anymore, the conclusion that should be drawn from it is that what we urgently need right now is not more writing, but more critical writing.

No book could teach a writer to be interesting, opinionated, engaged or passionate. And that isn’t the objective of this one. Its goal is to take a discipline that Williams conceives of as highly unregulated – and professionalize it. In outlining exactly how an auction catalogue differs from a museum’s wall label and a magazine review, down to the vocabulary and tone each should accommodate, Williams gives insight to the inner workings of very different industries: academia, auction houses and mainstream and professional press. With an eye on the rise of numerous academic programmes in art writing, a book on the subject could be seen as a democratizing entity, but the difference between a book and a school is interaction. Even if one recoils at the idea of needing an MFA in art criticism in order to write for a magazine – another instance of an art world in which the terms of participation are a secondary degree, often accompanied by academic debt that few can financially justify – at least those programmes allow students a sense of community. Whether found in a graduate programme or not, it is the participation in discourse and interest in one’s contemporaries that makes someone a critic. Williams’s technique is married to the work of art – let the work lead you – which risks resulting in formulaic art writing that neglects the intellectual context from which the artwork emerges.

Art writing is not an industry in crisis – quite the opposite. Art publishing has developed into a realm complementary to the work, not one that merely describes it. The physical and conceptual expansion of what art can be has also produced a publishing landscape with a positive anything-goes ethos, which we should promote, rather than suffocate. Writing about art has become a space in which good writers can discuss anything, lofty or mundane, from politics to neckties, philosophical trends to internet memes. While Williams claims that art writing needs to be grounded in descriptions of the art – the ‘what’s there’ – I’d argue that this extended field of publishing is what makes for vibrant reading material, whether or not it ever mentions that this or that video installation has two screens and a total running time of 15 minutes. Art writing should be sharp and opinionated, but also sometimes flimsy and erratic. Art writing doesn’t need to be professionalized further – it needs to be granted room to experiment and expand. These more wayward forms of writing create an art world that is more perceptive, where what we read is equal in its intellectual ambition to the work we look at.