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2009 Style Vs. Brand

Artists are beginning this new year with cautious optimism – at least the ones I know. A new political administration is coming in, and we are hoping that a new attitude will manifest, that the economy will change for the better, and that the war will end. But I’ll take a wait and see attitude regarding all of that blue sky speculation. In our little Art World we are hoping for a change of ideas, a new aesthetic discourse, and a better “business” model. I have no hope that those things will be changing anytime soon either. The artworld made its bed in the early 90s and it will continue to lie in it. Though we, and by we I mean Henri, will continue to battle for a better mattress.

These past few months since the Fall (both seasonal and economic), I’ve been ruminating on the changes that so much of the art world press has been trumpeting and wondering how all of this real world angst will affect our microcosmic art world. Specifically, we Henri -ites, wanted to know what was on other artists’ minds – so we reached out to some folks that we know, some we’ve begun to know, and some dear friends that we get to bandy with periodically. Basically, we wanted to know what goes on in the studios, and how does this work in the larger world. Now in those moments of calm in my own studio I thought about this momentous cultural upheaval as its effects began to take a toll on my friends and in my own life. I’ve been able to have a few wonderful discussions as I was eeking out some meaning to ascribe to this enforced change. I realize I’m circling right now, but that’s how I had to approach the dialogue. In the end what we kept finding was that this moment in history very well may be changing our ideas about how our larger art world and smaller studio world can and should work.

We’ve discussed some of this in form in the past. We have found that the art world has become more like a corporation and artists ply their trade more like auteurs or corporate executives. Many of these Postmoderns insist on linking these corporate practices to studio formulations of the Old Master tradition, but with a difference. Today is the day of the outsourced art product where “manufacturing” can be literally done through the computer and relayed to corporations that specialize in art making for artists. To say this has changed the look and feel of most art is an understatement. A type of “professionalization” has occurred as the MFA became a CEO micromanaging the specifics of the manufacturing of an art product. The term studio has been transformed from its former function as an atelier into that of an international corporate distribution center.

So I took it upon myself to formulate some questions. In the posts that will follow we’ll hear from a number of other artists about what they experience and recognize in their own studios. Some had a good time with it, some were brief and to the point, but it’s all interesting and exciting! Hopefully we’ll spark some comments about your experience of studio life as well. Stay Tuned!

One Comment

  1. For an illustration of the CEO model of artist, read Sarah Thornton’s account of visiting Takashi Murakami’s studio-factory in ‘7 Days in the Art World’…Truly horrifying

    Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 6:31 AM | Permalink

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