Monday, November 15, 2010

Anti-Mainstream Museum's Mainstream Show

In Roberta Smith's article 'Anti-Mainstream Museum's Mainstream Show', written in March 2010, Smith criticizes The New Museum's exhibition of Dakis Joannou's collected artwork for being too mainstream for this particular museum. The show was called "Skin Fruit" by Jeff Koons, who is an old friend of Mr. Joannou's. It crowds up the museum's space, as it's a very vast collection of work, though for some of the larger pieces there might have been a better impact from them if they had more space to themselves. The work in this show comes from many blue-chip artists like Richard Prince, Maurizio Cattelan, Urs Fischer, Charles Ray, Chris Ofili, Takashi Murakami, and Ms. Sherman, but all these iconic artists and works brought together for one exhibition gives the show more of an air of being some auction display. There's little in common between all the pieces other than figurative quality, and the work is leaning towards older contemporary rather than newer work, which is what the New Museum was geared for. True, some of the pieces are powerful, but with many others crammed into the same place of the same epic nature, a lot of that energy is lost. It might have been a bad move on their part to host that kind of collection there.

I suppose the article makes a few good points, but was this simply an opportunity the New Museum couldn't afford to pass up? They were getting their hands on a fairly extensive collection, so are they supposed to just reject it if it doesn't match their values? Did they even consider rejecting it? And if they didn't or couldn't or wouldn't, couldn't they decide how much of that work is shown at a time so it's not crammed into the museum space? It sounds as if it could have still been a decent show if more editing was done.

Out of my own experience, I have little to say so far about my work and museums. I do have an exhibition coming up with two other artists, but I knew what sort of work they were doing beforehand. I can see how our work will relate to each others' and though we're not going to have a lot of work at our show, I think it might even be for the best. I've been to shows and exhibits that have overwhelmed me. In just a few weeks we're going to Art Basel where so much art is shown that you need to sneak in a camera to remember a fraction of the work you just saw. It takes the whole day to take all that in. It's incredibly overwhelming. Just after last year alone, I can't remember more than about fifteen pieces I encountered there, and I saw a hell of a lot more than fifteen pieces. And the fifteen I remember had a lot of space to themselves or commanded my attention based on my own personal interest. If I ever get work into a show, I wouldn't crowd the place even if I could. And since I'm no blue-chip artist and I likely might never be, the only museums or galleries that might collect my work would do so with their own creeds in mind. They'll be pickier.

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