Must Reads: Art Drama, Cosby Sweaters, and the “New Casualists”

Previous Story

Baltimore Exhibits Worth Seeing over the Holidays [...]

Next Story

Lenore Tawney: Photos from Wholly Unlooked For at MICA

Slate dot Com: Why the Art World Is So Loathsome: Eight theories by Simon Doonan

Freud said the goals of the artist are fame, money, and beautiful lovers. Based on my artist acquaintances, I would say this holds true today. What have changed, however, are the goals of the art itself. Do any exist?
How did the art world become such a vapid hell-hole of investment-crazed pretentiousness? How did it become, as Camille Paglia has recently described it, a place where “too many artists have lost touch with the general audience and have retreated to an airless echo chamber”? (More from her in a moment.)

There are sundry problems bedeviling the contemporary art scene. Here are eight that spring readily to mind: 1. Art Basel Miami.


Hyperallergic: Why Slate’s Takedown of the Art World Is Totally Wrong by Jillian Steinhauer

As a longtime reader and admirer of Slate, I’ve often lamented the fact that there’s pretty much zero visual art content on the site (although, to be fair, they’re only one of a handful of culture publications that ignores the category, and their new photo blog is great). So I was excited when I saw they had published a piece about the art world and Art Basel Miami Beach yesterday — until I read it.

The essay comes from Slate columnist and fashion maven Simon Doonan, who is officially the creative ambassador at large for Barneys department store. Sweetly titled “Why the Art World Is So Loathsome,” it lists eight “theories” about why that may be the case, starting with “Art Basel Miami” (is it catty to point out that he left off “Beach”?) and working through such categories as “Blood, poo, sacrilege, and porn,” “The post-skill movement,” and “Adderall a go-go.”

Now, I’ll give Doonan Miami Beach, which he dubs “a promo-party cheese-fest” — most people in the art world can barely stand the weeklong affair themselves, if they’re sober enough to remember it. But the rest of the piece reads as a bunch of tired and cliche generalizations about a scene Doonan clearly knows little about. I suppose the first alarm bell should have come when he invoked Camille Paglia in his opener. He mentions her no less than four times, calling her new book, Glittering Images, a “must-read.” This is a book that posits the death of the artistic avant-garde and hails director George Lucas as the world’s greatest living artist. So … there’s that.


The Brooklyn Rail: ABSTRACT PAINTING: The New Casualists by Sharon L. Butler

There is a studied, passive-aggressive incompleteness to much of the most interesting abstract work that painters are making today. But the subversion of closure isn’t their only priority. They also harbor a broader concern with multiple forms of imperfection: not merely what is unfinished but also the off-kilter, the overtly offhand, the not-quite-right. The idea is to cast aside the neat but rigid fundamentals learned in art school and embrace everything that seems to lend itself to visual intrigue—including failure. The painters take a meta approach that refers not just to earlier art historical styles, but back to the process of painting itself. These self-amused but not unserious painters have abandoned the rigorously structured propositions and serial strategies of previous generations in favor of playful, unpredictable encounters. Pervading the work of artists like Lauren Luloff, Cordy Ryman, Amy Feldman, and Joe Bradley is an enervated casualness that may at first recall sophomore-year painting class.


Hyperallergic: 5 Art Trends in 2012 by Hrag Vartanian

We hate to discuss art trends because it makes art sound like fashion, but, alas, they’re real and they happen. Remember that whole “paintings propped up on objects” trend last year, well, we spotted a few things in the last twelve months we wanted to point out as the year comes to a close.

Screenshots from Video Games
Sloppy Abstract Painting
Making Fun of Art PR
Cosby Sweaters
Total GIF Takeover



Art Fag City: E! Developing a Scripted Art Gallery Show by PADDY JOHNSON

Work of Art producers may have found many art worlders to be unwilling participants in their doomed reality shows, but Hollywood hasn’t given up on us yet. E! has now announced it will launch an hour long scripted show called Gallerina, according Hollywood Deadline. The show will center on a young woman who seeks to rise to the top of Bettencourt Gallery in LA, a prestigious new gallery at the center of the art world.

The show will be produced by Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) and Mike Tollin and written by Michelle McGrath. Hopefully McGrath will spend more time around the art world than the reality show mavericks at Magical Elves. Someone’s gotta represent us right.

Related Stories
Memento Mori at The Parlor, Figure / Narrative at C. Grimaldis Gallery, and Manifest Presence at Catalyst

Three Succinct Reviews including a group show about death in a former funeral home, as well as figurative narrative paintings from established masters Grace Hartigan and Raoul Middleman and a new generation of painters in Baltimore

Baltimore news updates from independent & regional media

Trumpeter Brandon Woody, Black boating on the Chesapeake, sewing your own clothes, Scott vetoes pension bill, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Magazine, and other local and independent news sources.

Text and Found Object in exhibitions by Kei Ito and R.L. Tillman

While Ito leans on a more personal narrative to probe the continued legacy of violence, Tillman dissects printmaking history, wartime advertisements and reminiscence in social media today.

The best weekly art openings, events, and calls for entry happening in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

This Week: Made in Baltimore Kiosk Opening at Open Works, BMA Violet Hour: Day With(out) Art, Bird in Hand Holiday Kick-off, Highlandtown Holiday Night Market + Art Walk, Baltimore Jewelry Center Holiday Sale + opening reception of Signs, Signals, + Symbols, MICA Art Market, and more!