The Great Art Bust of 2009!

Posted by on Feb 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

Here is a recent Holland Cotter article from the NY Times about the end of the art boom and its possible aftermath. His description of previous contemporary boom/bust cycles is very interesting.

Here is a taste:

Will the art industry continue to cling to art’s traditional analog status, to insist that the material, buyable object is the only truly legitimate form of art, which is what the painting revival of the last few years has really been about? Will contemporary art continue to be, as it is now, a fancyish Fortunoff’s, a party supply shop for the Love Boat crew? Or will artists — and teachers, and critics — jump ship, swim for land that is still hard to locate on existing maps and make it their home and workplace?

I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise. Crazy! says anyone with an ounce of business sense.



  1. Akbar Lightning
    February 17, 2009

    love it, affirms my belief in the need for dialogue. great find mark

  2. Byron King
    February 17, 2009

    I’ve been personally battling this making objects that can sell or not sell which is usually the scenario for a year or two. I wanted to make a pact to make nothing that could sell. But personally I like drawing and object making and get pulled back to it after any time off.

    There were so many great lines in this article I can’t quote enough of them. Nice find Mark. I enjoyed it, but wonder how other cities or small towns throughout America have experienced these historic times. I mean for an artist in the middle of Alabama without an Internet connection it has always been about the art. The creation and expression of it. There never was an art market or critics or dealers in their story.

    So I think to most of American artists nothing will change. We’ve all had day jobs and never had a taste of what the article is talking about. Nice to hear “day job” not being a dirty word anymore. But since most American artists don’t make art for a living does any of this really apply?

    And we’ve all known what type of art to make if we wanted to make a living doing it. The traditional landscapes, etc. etc. But we don’t make that do we. We stay true to our wacked out visions regardless of the economic times. And that is the way it will be forever. To me it’s just nice to be alive and be able to make whatever we want and not be burned at the stake for it. A few centuries ago all of us would be hiding out like roaches.

  3. ac
    February 19, 2009

    The proof is in the pudding. Abnormality will begin to sell like hotcakes once the love boat crew has bought enough of the landscapes that its expense out ways its brag ability. Then they’ll go slumming once in hopes for a new cocktail tale that can lead to a shift in power. Remember everyone wants to be the captain or maybe the professor. Who rockin the boat!

  4. morrison
    February 20, 2009

    love boat for artists trying to make money, need to learn how to grow the vegetables for the future…

  5. Byron King
    February 21, 2009


  6. Frank
    February 22, 2009

    I don’t see landscapes, traditional or otherwise, as being a sure path to make money anymore. The problem is there is too many artists for the money out there to spend on art. The big time industry is too successful for it’s own good and art schools are shooting more and more graduates out. Jax alone has 4 different art “schools” in 4 different colleges. Maybe a bail out is in order…? I say in jest.

    I’m amazed at the success in sales and attention street artist are getting.

  7. Byron King
    February 22, 2009

    The ’70s economy, though stagnant, stabilized, and SoHo real estate prices rose. A younger generation of artists couldn’t afford to live there and landed on the Lower East Side and in South Bronx tenements. Again the energy was collective, but the mix was different: young art-school graduates (the country’s first major wave ), street artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab Five Freddy Braithwaite, assorted punk-rebel types like Richard Hell and plain rebels like David Wojnarowicz.

    Here too the aesthetic was improvisatory. Everybody did everything — painting, writing, performing, filming, photocopying zines, playing in bands — and new forms arrived, including hip-hop, graffiti, No Wave cinema, appropriation art and the first definable body of “out” queer art. So did unusual ways of exhibiting work: in cars, in bathrooms, in subways.


    Jax Art History Podcast Series


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