Friday, September 7, 2012

Warhol, Picasso? Yawn

by Drew Martin
In the September 10 issue of Newsweek there is an interesting article by Blake Gopnik in the Omnivore section titled Warhol, Picasso? Yawn: New geniuses are just waiting to be discovered, which is about curators of the major museums who turn too a cliché list of great artists in order to sell tickets, rather than explore new talents. One senior curator confessed "We aren't choosing the wrong names, we're choosing the right ones too many times."

David Ross, a former director of the Whitney and MoMA in San Francisco, who is now at SVA goes so far as to say. "It's more evidence of the death spiral of museums." Gopnik paraphrases:

Today's institutions are forced to shout out the same 'show business' names because of the remorseless growth of their buildings and budgets, their faltering endowments, and a demand for earned income from corporate-minded trustees. When a director calls his staff to the table and cries "our yield is in the shitter-help me here, gang!" smart curators come up with big-name events that can also be justified on scholarly grounds.

Timothy Standring, the curator of the Denver Museum of Art's van Gogh show, defends "The more important the artist, the more narratives you can tell"... but Gopnik questions "Isn't there also the chance that less touted figures might yield fresher stories?"