Jerry Saltz's 18 Rules for Making it in the New Art World
Jerry Saltz's 18 rules of the new artworld here in New York Magazine that include some cool ones such as the one focused on collectors focusing on a few artists and sticking with them, a dig on the uber-curator (Obrist) who now talks about slow art but does it all over the world in one week (as a friend in Berlin recently joked about, too, and told the curator himself), and art that is almost impossible to collect (Sarah Sze who will represent the United States at the next Venice Biennale) or is only made by the post-Black Chicago artists (the recently hip Theaster Gates and the very trendy Rashid Johnson):
The Art World made it through the real-world crash relatively unscathed, but not unchanged. And even as money still courses thick and blue-chip through its veins, the system is beginning to reexamine itself. Last month during Armory Week, there was not just the big Establishment fair but a handful of smaller and less-Establishment fairs; a couple of anti-money, anti-Establishment fairs; and at least one anti-anti-Establishment fair, which was both a tribute to the Armory Show’s origins and a flip of the bird to its corporate values, and might also just have been one big art-punk hotel party (we’re still figuring that one out). And now, for the first time, London’s Frieze fair is coming to town; when it arrives next week, it’ll challenge incumbent kingpin Armory for supremacy in the city. Our art critic Jerry Saltz, for one, is excited by this, as he is by quite a bit of the new art he sees burbling out there, art that seems to be getting smaller rather than bigger, intimate rather than corporate, and intangible and performative rather than industrial and perfectly resolved—the stranger and more mercurial, the better. It’s a moment of weird equipoise, as the Art Death Star and the Rebel Forces are battling to the quick. To mark it, we’ve decided to present our own version of performance art: a tongue-in-cheek rulebook for how to make it in the art world now—as artist, gallerist, collector, hanger-on.
One tongue-in-cheek rule is "Be Ruthless" and relates the story about Deborah McLeod at Gagoisan's Beverly Hills gallery:
Are you interested in making a cruel and offensive offer?” e-mailed Deborah McLeod, of Larry Gagosian’s L.A. gallery, to client Thompson Dean, about a 1964 Roy Lichtenstein work. The son of the owner, Jan Cowles, was “now in terrible straits and needs cash,” McLeod wrote. “Come on, want to try?”
When the gallery got an offer of $2 million, Cowles’s lawsuit against the gallery alleges, it was $1 million less than the price Gagosian had all but promised Cowles’s son, but Gagosian took the offer, told Cowles’s son he could give him only $1 million, and pocketed the difference. Never mind that Cowles says she hadn’t given permission to sell the painting.
But let’s not pick on Gago: Art is the last billion-dollar unregulated market, a vast ethical gray area. Things get particularly squirrelly in the secondary market. Whoever brokers a deal like the Lichtenstein one has no obligation to disclose to the first collector what the second is paying, and none to tell the second how much is going to the original owner. The only new rule might be: Try to avoid e-mail.