On the New York Times Year in Review page for Art, Holland Cotter takes a tour d’horizon of the artworld, “When Art Stayed Too Long At the Fair,” and laments.
Once, we might have turned to contemporary art for alternative energy. But in 2006, it just complacently provided blasts of commercial triumphalism. The art fair matured into a kind of joke, a revenge on everything 1990s, with parties replacing politics and skill valued over ideas… But what’s the point of kvetching? Art has always been attracted to money, and vice versa. And it has almost always been a servant to the elite, an advertisement for the status quo. Every so often art forcefully and collectively proposes alternative models — but 2006, at least as played out in New York, was not such a time… So maybe we should stop pestering art to be some Utopian undertaking, some zone for alternative thoughts and forms, and just enjoy it for the high-energy, no-impact game of trivial pursuit it has become.
Following that logic, everyone who chose the arts over more lucrative (or, certainly, more predictably lucrative) professions is essentially wasting their time entertaining fashionistas and churning out tchotchkes until the next crash. I’m hoping Cotter’s playing devil’s advocate and trying to provoke a debate. Because if he’s a) serious and b) correct in his analysis then the artworld’s fucked. At least for now. Thoughts?