In today’s strained environment for arts support, the funding wonderland of Norway can incite jealousy. Yes, Norway is an oil-rich country; it also allots a respectable percentage of its oil wealth to pioneering art, making it a model for exactly what well-spent money for the arts can engender.
Especially in jazz. Public support has helped the country’s improvised-music scene expand from a handful of artists in the late ’60s to a thriving network of recording, performing and educational opportunities today. It’s not perfect, of course; I’ll address some chinks in Norway’s funding armor. But the country’s improvised music flourishes largely on public support."
I’ve never understood why jazz and classical music are consider fine art, ripe for public funding, while more contemporary expressions are generally not. I’ve thought of this as an American phenomenon in the past, but it isn’t.
Now that shows I recall seeing in the early 1990’s (that video was just a part of the performance, fyi) are being blandly and drudgingly imitated by some of today’s video artists, I wonder if this is simply a result of limited thinking. Unfamiliarity with a genre, especially a rapidly-changing one, leads critics and art communities to dismiss creative and exciting work until it can be categorized and anointed as officially “art.”
[I should add that I would frankly greatly prefer to hear Norwegian jazz than the thriving Norwegian black metal. While the immaturity of most black metal disqualify it from having an “art” label, its relentless literalism and pedantry could potentially overcome that. Perhaps, as a positive outcome, an embrace from the art world could cause its murderous nationalists to flee the popular music and culture scene.]
Still, it is interesting to see an imported genre of American music evolve as official “art” in another country. I can’t help but wonder how or whether the embrace of official art culture can lead, there as here in the US, to innovation instead of embalming.
Congratulations to Artforum on moving from a 1987 to a 1997 web publishing mentality.
I don’t understand how putting the magazine online in a timely fashion (with ads and for subscribers, like the New Yorker does) would devalue the brand any more than being known as “that publication that is always two months behind.”shaneferro)
The extremely high-priced market for living artists exists only because of a general lack of appreciation of art.
That sounds a bit counterintuitive at first. Surely people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a work because they love it, because it speaks to them. But even a brief thought about that statement reveals how ludicrous it is.
Art is personal. Its beauty and its meaning exists for the artist and exists in a different way entirely for a viewer. Viewers are all as different as the artists themselves. An emotional collector buys what they love, if they can be moved by it, and should not need to told by gatekeepers what they are meant to cherish. It simply isn’t logical that we would all hunger for the same things, or find the same limited amount of people to be producing exactly what we want in our lives.
Collectors that buy for investments, banking on increased values, exist in an isolated self-serving side market of their own making, rotating products between themselves & among blue-chip galleries & museums. The love of meaning, craft, beauty & personal emotion is very different here, sterilized and held apart.
True, some artwork will inevitably rise to the top, in its quality & expressiveness, and this is a wonderful thing. Its creators should be recognized. But if a majority of buyers had enough confidence in their own tastes, enough trust in their own emotions, the amount of this appreciated artwork would increase. The number of well-paid artists would be greater and the number of ridiculously-highly-paid would plummet.
This holds similarly true for music and other jackpot professions where most of the extremely talented will labor in relative obscurity and low income while a select few dominate. Again, the public is told what they should love, because the public wants to be told.
Have you ever watched an artist’s booth or small gallery as people consider buying? We don’t trust ourselves and we want our peers to look up to and respect our tastes. And this is quickly clear.
People will stare at a $30 work for ages, come back and look again, wondering how it will make them look. “I love it,” they’ll say, but they’ll want to be sure they live the rest as well. “What if this isn’t good art? What if other work is bad and I don’t like it?”
It doesn’t matter—I want to say, just take it home. You know you’ll spend more than that on a decorative piece from Ikea without much thought at all. Trust your own taste; you can always put it away or move it to a different wall later. You even spent more on iTunes this morning (after checking the reviews for approval of course.)
Look around you. There are most likely talented people nearby, singing & playing in pubs, painting, making pottery. Become a fan, a collector, a supporter, a friend. Don’t wait for approval, just embrace what you discover that you love. Revel in their successes and encourage them in their struggles. Our world will be more beautiful & diverse for your efforts.
There is enough art—real, personal, meaningful art—for everyone.