Ah 2010. It is the beginning of a new year and a new decade, time to throw off the shackles of the "naughts" and begin thinking of the future. Tough as it may seem to think positive when we are in the middle of winter and the economy doesn't seem to be getting better, this is a good time to reflect on the horrors of the past year and hope that 2010 will be a step forward.
The new year (at least from a Western Gregorian perspective) has begun. This is a good thing. The past two years have seen many things slump – especially in the art world. We've all witnessed the collapse of the international art market as well as the closing of many galleries here in Boston. Times seem to be changing. There are actually spaces opening on Newbury Street. While large retail spaces like Louis close, smaller more niche stops like Jonathan Adler are opening. Art Basel Miami actually saw resurgence in sales after a significant slump in 2008. This coming Armory show in NYC should be quite telling. Are people buying art again and if so, what are they buying? Are we going to continue to see a shying away from large ostentatious work that signifies wealth or more meaningful work that might pass the test of time? Who knows? One thing seems fairly certain in this regard, people are tired of feeling bad about their financial circumstances (I know I am). Perhaps galleries will be more realistic and thoughtful about the art they present and just maybe collectors will shift away from bombastic art as well?
One thing I keep thinking about, as we transition away from a culture that is about spend, spend, spend, is that maybe this is a time for reflection about what is really important? It is time to reprioritize? I like making money as much as anyone. It feels great to have health insurance and be able to pay bills but the eagerness for stardom rings a little hollow when so many people are out of work and losing their homes. I don't mean to simplify what is an incredibly complicated financial situation that has had ramifications worldwide because there are many reasons why we find ourselves in this situation. But the quest to attain fame and fortune with our art has lead to work that falls short in critical discourse. Instead we saw artists opt for the large splash and the short term financial gain. And I think the art world has rightly suffered for this. It was inevitable. How can things keep going up? It isn't sustainable.
So, I think this collapse is a good thing. The past couple of years have proven that things needed to change. The heightened art market left to more and more people buying art but they were buying a lot of work that doesn't have staying power. It was flashy and, honestly, pretty insipid. Let's hope that the collapse wiped away the chaff. Those that have survived (gallery, artists, museums, etc) have proven their ability to weather a pretty big storm. Here's hoping that 2010 is a year that brings a return to quality art making and that there isn't another storm on the horizon.
Happy New Year.
Image courtesy of the artist.