Closing soon!

Michael St.Germain's sculpture exhibition at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire closes Friday, February 1st @ 5 pm.

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A comfy middle-class life...

"Allan Kaprow, who established the idea of the performance-art 'happening' in the 1950s, and probably qualified as a genuine bona fide cutting-edge figure in his time, wrote an essay in 1964 called 'The Artist as a Man of the World.' He posited (and this was probably quite an annoying idea to many people living in cold-water lofts in Soho at the time) that what artists wanted was a comfy middle-class life the same as most people. He thought that the profession of artist was not that different from any other specialized job. And in many ways perhaps he was teasing, but it's an interesting thought."

Perry, G. (2014). Playing to the Gallery. New York, NY: Penguin Group LLC. p. 85

Collectors can also buy respectability...

"On the flip side, collectors can also buy respectability with their art. Their wealth may come from dodgy sources, but buy blue-chip or difficult , culturally high-status art, and their image is polished just like the patrons of the past burnished their image paying for chapels in the grand cathedrals."

Perry, G. (2014). Playing to the Gallery. New York, NY: Penguin Group LLC. p. 25

The right nods and knowing winks...

Grayson Perry:

"The art that ends up, today,  in a public gallery didn't get there by public vote. It's been through a series of juries- unofficial juries at private views and sales and fairs around the world- it's been given the right nods and the knowing winks. This consensus is very necessary as there aren't many people in the art world who have the confidence of a totally fresh good eye: people who can look at a work and see high quality in it without listening to the consensus or even reading the name of the label. And it can be very hard on artworks, the weight of that consensus..."

Perry, G. (2014). Playing to the Gallery. New York, NY: Penguin Group LLC. p. 30

A monstrous anomaly...

Meyer Shapiro

"From an economic viewpoint the art of painting is a monstrous anomaly. Of a thousand paintings made in a given period, perhaps fifty will be sold. Of the fifty painters who produce them, perhaps no more than ten sell more than two pictures in this period. And yet, despite the great supply, the cost of paintings tends steadily to increase, and what is more astonishing, the number of painters also increases. These men * create objects for which they have no market, no orders. They create from a necessity that is not economic, yet they hope to live by their creations. And with this peculiar impracticality, this isolation from ordinary social principles, these producers are intensely proud, self-assured, and feel superior to the producers of merely marketable goods."

* written in 1957

Schapiro, M. (1999). Worldview in Painting- Art and Society. New York, NY: George Braziller, Inc. p. 196

Oscillations of taste...

Meyer Schapiro:

"Whoever has followed the oscillations of taste during the last twenty years must have observed the instability of these judgments; even Cezanne, who has entered the books as the classic modern, has become a bore to many painters, and one may predict that if Georges Seurat's star is rising, he will appear before long as a dry and pompous intellectual, dreadfully stiff, a willing accomplice of the mechanization that was overwhelming modern society and was forcing more sensitive and humane artists, like van Gogh, into an anti-mechanical art of spiritual protest. I do not share these opinions. I simply point to trends of aesthetic doctrine in order to show that our liberality toward the most varied styles and our eagerness to enlarge the aesthetic horizon do not exclude a certain narrowness and arrogant partisanship in taste, especially when we attach ourselves to the newest creative ideas in art."

Schapiro, M. (1993). Worldview in Painting- Art and Society. New York, NY: George Braziller, Inc. p. 234

c. 1960...

"The present state of the art market is disturbing to artists and others. The extraordinary prices paid for contemporary and older art seem pathological. Any abnormality creates uneasiness and questioning. If prices represent intrinsic value, it's hard to reconcile $100,000 for a Blue Period Picasso or $80,000 for an Andrew Wyeth with prices once paid for a Rembrandt; or with prices recently paid for the greatest modern masters. It suggests insincerity, speculation, and the tri- partite play of self- interest, pecuniary interests, and social status in the acquisition of art. Moreover, the presence of these acquisitive interests in the market affects museums, the general public, and artists. The market was never innocent in its judgment of art, but this new awareness of art as a precious speculative commodity now corrupts all awareness of art. The knowledge of prices and possible gain through art enters into common perception of art. It also makes artists keenly aware of sales price as a measure of value. Attached now to the speculative market in increasing dependence, art becomes also an object of intense publicity. The literature of art assumes a new banality and a striving for public attention. There is a new and distasteful aesthetic of art propaganda.

There has been a change in the catalogues of shows of dealers and museums in the fullness of biographies and the cunning selection and suggestiveness of items- the list of exhibitions, owners, reviews, articles, and books, the dossier of the artist as an advertisement..."

Schapiro, M. (1993). Worldview in Painting- Art and Society. New York, NY: George Braziller, Inc. p. 202

Brilliant people...

"When I moved to New York in 1968, I fell in with a group of young artists whom I was often awed by. "What will they become?" I thought. They were so brilliant, so bold. And as the years passed, I found out something that my elders could have told me. There are many brilliant people- they are born every day- but those who end up having sustained artistic careers are not necessarily the most gifted. Over time, our group lost many of its members- to bad divorces, professional disappointments, cocaine. The ones who survived combined brilliance with more homely virtues: patience, resilience, courage."

Acocella, J. (2007). Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints. New York, NY: Pantheon Books. p. xi

On artistic borrowing...

Les Murray:

"Artistic borrowing... leaves the lender no poorer, and draws attention to his riches, which can only be depleted by neglect and his loss of confidence in them; these cause them to be lost. Borrowing is an act of respect which may restore his respect for his goods, and help to preserve them. And he is at all times free to draw on them himself."

Hughes, R. (1993). A Culture of Complaint. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 93

Concerning wall text...

Daniel Buren:

"The importance of the texts should not be exaggerated, and the reader should be aware of the facility and illusion which they may engender, the facility that would permit one who has read the texts to feel exempt from looking at the painting, thinking them explicit in the texts, and forgetting that the painting explains and inspires the texts."

Crimp, D. (2016). Before Pictures. Brooklyn, NY: Dancing Foxes Press. p. 38

A hunger for the new...

1.) "...the art world, a competitive, volatile subculture whose economy depends on perennial renewal of novelty both in art and in opinion about it."*

2.) Steve Martin, when asked if he’d like another bottle of Château Latour: “Yes, but no more 1966. Let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine, the freshest you’ve got. This year’s! No more of this old stuff. He doesn’t realize he’s dealing with sophisticated people here.”**


*Baker, K. (1988). Minimalism. New York, NY: Abbeville Press. p. 14

**Quote from The Jerk (1979): source:

Present as past, past as present...

"Barr's dialectical vision of modern art remains instructive for early twenty-first-century students of contemporary art history. Barr understood the time frame of modern art to include both the present and the distant past, especially as the latter was rediscovered and reimagined in the current moment. In 2009, the art historian Miwon Kwon offered a similarly expansive view of contemporary art as that which is ""presumed to embody the newness of the present""  but can also ""engage prehistoric artifacts, revive ancient techniques or materials, and invest in outmoded images, ideas, and methods. That is to say, contemporary art may be of the present but can newly mobilize the past.""

Meyer, R. (2013). What was Contemporary Art?  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 188-189

On understanding contemporary art...

"In 1932, he* wrote: ""Modern painting may seem confusing but it must be remembered that the whole history of art as well as much scientific and psychological knowledge is available to the contemporary painter. He picks and chooses what he wishes."" By acquainting ourselves with the histories and knowledge that matter the most to the living artist, viewers may come to understand an otherwise inscrutable work of contemporary art. And in doing so, we may, according to Barr, ""give the picture, itself, a chance to live!""

*Alfred Barr, first director of MoMA

Meyer, R. (2013). What was Contemporary Art?  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 162

Art's relation to time is plural...

Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood-

"No device more effectively generates the effect of a doubling or bending of time than the work of art, a strange kind of event whose relation to time is plural. The artwork is made or designed by an individual or a group of individuals at some moment, but it also points away from that moment, backward to a remote ancestral origin, perhaps, or to a prior artifact, or to an origin outside of time, in divinity. At the same time it points forward to all its future recipients who will activate and reactivate it as a meaningful event. The work of art is a message whose sender and destination are constantly shifting."

Meyer, R. (2013). What was Contemporary Art?  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 17


Everything is for sale...

Richard Feigen:

"Certainly, as museums' costs escalate, and as their management becomes corporatized, they look more to corporations for funding, and the projects being funded relate more to the sponsors' products. The Metropolitan Museum showed Cartier jewelry and Versace dresses, the Guggenheim BMW motorcycles  and Armani clothes. Clearly, the reason these companies spend all this money is to burnish their products in the museums' aura.

It is precisely this that concerns me more than the simple conflict of interest, the museum selling its prestige to market commercial products. The Brooklyn project at least involved art.* Not so with dresses and motorcycles. This is the more troubling conflict. To the broad public, anything exhibited in these institutions is high art. So if dresses and motorcycles are exhibited in a museum of fine art, the message is that they are art. The public is being deliberately confused for commercial purposes."

* the exhibition "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection"

Feigen, R. (2000). Tales from the art crypt: the painters, the museums, the curators, the collectors, the auctions, the art . New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. p.110



Art serves social purposes...

"Moreover, art historians have developed much more penetrating explanations for the making of art. At the root of many of these explanations is the realization that the making of art is a social, not a purely personal, activity. Art serves social purposes, though it is manipulated by individual people in social contexts to achieve certain ends. Art cannot be understood outside its social context."

Lewis- Williams, D. (2002). The Mind in the Cave. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p.44

What society values...

Larry Salander- "Our society now values a Warhol for three times as much money as a great Rembrandt. That tells me we're fucked. It's as if people would rather fuck than make love"

Amore, A. (2015). The Art of the Con. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Trade. p.64

For real?

"The notable connoisseur and onetime director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas Hoving famously claimed in 1996 that approximately 40 percent of all art in museums is either a fake or a forgery. More recently, Yann Walther, the chief of Switzerland's Fine Art Expert Institute claimed that estimates of 50 percent of art on the market being forged or misattributed are likely conservative. Whether or not theses figures are accurate, there clearly exists in the art world a problem with fraud."

Amore, A. (2015). The Art of the Con. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Trade. p.9

Language as boundary, language as bridge...

"When it comes to fully experiencing a work of art, language can be as much a boundary as a bridge. Art criticism, no matter how eloquent and erudite, attempts to use one language to describe another, very different language but with no dictionary to assist the translation. Painting, sculpture, drawing, and other visual media on the highest level represents the creation of a language that is not read or spoken. It is comprehended with the eyes, the mind, and what we might call the heart,  our internal capacity to be deeply moved. This can render us speechless, when we find it difficult to put our responses into words. And why not, since we are dealing with a wordless language, like music?"

Findlay, M. (2012). The Value of Art. New York, NY: Prestel Publishing. p.189