Monday, February 3, 2014

Senior Thesis: Update 01

Playing with columns at the Jepson Center, Savannah, GA.
Hello everyone! I am Lynsey Jordan, a senior majoring in art history. Like Rebecca, I am researching a paper topic of my choice: it is fun, difficult, but extremely exciting. I had never gotten to learn or research much about contemporary art in my studies in art history, so I decided to look into it more after Daniel's Rock Paper Scissors class. I have fallen into a love-hate relationship with contemporary artists Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, looking at why and how they are branded, which has included how business plays into the upper echelons of the art world. 

For my thesis, in conjuncture with my independent study, I have been reading a really fabulous book called Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, who has a BA in Art History and a PhD in Sociology. Her book, a non-fiction work, is an account of the conversations and relationships she’s had with multiple people in the world of contemporary art, talking to collectors, critics, art students, dealers, magazine publishers and editors, and the artists themselves. The differing perspectives between these groups of people (that sometimes converge) is fascinating. 

Since her book is so conversation-based and an account of personal details of those she encounters, the reader gets a more real sense of how shallow and money-obsessed the contemporary art culture is presently. She gets the “inside scoop” at the Art Basel, the world’s most famous and influential art fair, at Artforum, the leading magazine of the world of art, and even sits in on one of the most famous art criticism classes in the nation at CalArts. 

Most interestingly, she gets to explore behind the scenes of the Turner Prize, a controversial award and money prize given to a British artist that falls between “late emergent” and “early midcareer,” and it is very important that they choose an artist that is not “right out of art school.” This inner, exclusive contemporary art world that rotates around London and New York is surely the most talked-about part of the art world, but not the only functioning art world. This idea relates to my thesis, which I have been working on pretty heavily: the contemporary artists that get branded (like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst) are the ones that have been accepted into this inner art world, supported by branded galleries and collectors such as the White Cube, Charles Saatchi, and Larry Gagosian. Otherwise, new artists do not really become branded. It has become a special privilege. The majority of artists function outside of this popularized art world, and that is completely fine: new artists should never be discouraged because they never reached the branded status--it is not necessary to be in the “highest” art world because it surely does not necessitate good art. 
It's been translated into quite a few languages!


Earl Grey said...

A great resource on the notion of the art world(s) is Howard Becker's "Artworlds." Try to get that through interlibrary loan if we don't have it.

I look forward to hearing more from you!

Lynsey Jordan said...

Thanks Dr. Decker!