Fame I

Fame is intrinsically valuable. Fame is a key metric of success for professionals in business, academia, politics and the arts. Fame also shapes access to resources and augments returns on individual effort. For the start-up, fame means access to prominent investors and talented employees; for the scientist, fame can determine the distribution of grants, labs and tenure; for the artist, fame wins benefactors, collaborators and marquee dealers. Thus, fame is both a means to success as well as an end in itself. [Banerjee Mitali & Paul L. Ingram Fame as an Illusion of Creativity: Evidence from the Pioneers of Abstract Art]

Jeff Koons Art Magazine Ads (Art in America) 1988-9

there is no New York avant-garde anymore. The same goes for Los Angeles, London, and Berlin. Everything is merged together. Each city shows similar artists, sells them to the same collectors, works with the same curators and museums. The same galleries are in the same art fairs at a time when the fairs are so expensive that it’s impossible to use them to experiment or take chances. Back-to-back art-fair busts can cost a gallery a quarter-of-a-million dollars in losses in ten days. And yet even though gallery foot traffic is at a trickle and more and more sales happen online and on the road, megagalleries keep expanding and even many Lower East Side galleries are already on their second-larger spaces. Never mind that curators and collectors who are in the same city forego gallery shows (!) and instead try to catch up in two days at an art fair in Hong Kong, Basel, Miami, New York, or London on their way to the next biennials. It’s a system no one likes, yet galleries can’t opt out because not doing fairs means sitting out this global economy. All this has led to many artists being spread way too thin — and work suffering. This can instantly be seen in the atrocious high-cost Met roof installation of Adrián Villar Rojas, a usually good 37-year-old who has been featured in scores of big shows and who is currently working on at least two or three other such projects to be staged in L.A. and Austria. By the same token, I love Albert Oehlen’s work but his just-closed Gagosian show of giant paintings was pure product. This isn’t an avant-garde; it’s an economy. [Jerry Saltz on the lost avant-garde.]

The most obvious change in the nature of fame over the last twenty or so years has been the increasing self-consciousness among the audience, the media, and the famous about the process, and the desire to stage that self-consciousness as part of the general staging of fame itself. Whereas in the past these processes were generally invisible or seemingly transparent, now they have become part of the story. Fame still has something of the magical quality of seeming to radiate from the famous person, but the knowing audience is also aware of and specifically made alert to the presence of publicists, spin doctors, paparazzi, and all the rest of the backstage and off-camera entourage that facilitates the creation of modern celebrity. Comments on both how the new sports star and movie phenomenon of the moment are handling their newfound fame and how public and/or media adulation has burdened their private lives have become obligatory parts of the story–ways to demonstrate their own self-awareness by both buying into fame culture and ostentatiously disdaining it. Brandishing this same self-consciousness has also led the media to assume that their stories have depth.” [Leo Braudy in conversation with Jennifer Geddes]

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