‘The Great Art World Reassessment’: A Heartwarming Bedtime Story by Kenny Schachter [VIDEO]

With the old art world receding into memory, Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter wrote a bedtime story to imagine where it can go from here.

Sweet dreams. Illustration courtesy of Kenny Schachter.

With the art world as we knew it receding into memory, Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter wrote a children’s bedtime story to remember how the industry evolved as it did—and to imagine were, hopefully, it can go after this reset. (You may note some similarities with the popular YouTube video “The Great Realization.”) Watch Kenny’s video here, and read the text below:


Voice of little boy: Tell me the one about the art world again, then I’ll go to bed.

Man on screen: But my boy, you’re growing weary, sleepy thoughts about your head

Voice of little boy: Please, that one’s my favorite. I promise, just once more.

Man on screen: Okay. Snuggle down my boy, though I know you know full well

The story starts before then, in an art world I once dwelled.

It was a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty

Back before we understood why hindsight’s 2020.

You see, the art world came up with auctions and fairs to trade across all lands

But they swelled and got much bigger than we ever could have planned.

We’d always had our art, but now it got so quick,

You could have anything you dreamed of, in a sale, and with a click.

We noticed dealers had stopped talking; that’s not to say they never spoke

But the meaning must have melted, and the art/life balance broke.

Collectors eyes grew smaller, every advisor had many phones,

They filtered out the meanings, but amidst all the noise we stood alone.

And every day the calendar grew thicker, until you couldn’t see the art,

So we flew in planes to find it, while down below we filled our carts.

We’d run around all day in circles, we’d forgotten how to look.

We swapped the galleries for art fairs—many populated with crooks.

We filled the museums with art stars because our haste was never capped.

Until each day you went to see them, you’d find what was already tapped.

And while we drank and smoked and collected, our gallerists taught us why

It’s best to not upset the status quo, more convenient to die.

But then, in 2020, a new virus came our way.

The governments reacted and told us all to hide away.

But while we all were hidden, amidst the fear and all the while,

The people dusted off their instincts. And let go of art-gossip bile.

They started looking again, and contacting all their friends.

While the airports gathered dust, they called to make amends.

And with the skies less full of voyagers, our lungs no longer wheezed

The studios bore new artworks that actually had time to breathe.

People started drawing, some painting, many more were making.

We’d grown so used to bad news, but some good news had us waking.

And so, when we found the cure and were allowed to go outside

We all preferred the art world we found to the one we’d left behind.

Old habits became extinct and they made way for the new,

And every act of creativity was now given its rightful due.

Voice of little boy: But why did it take a virus to bring the art world back together?

Man on screen: Well, sometimes, you’ve got to get sick, my boy, before you start to get better.

Now lie down and dream of tomorrow, and all the things that artists will do

And, who knows, if you dream hard enough maybe some of them will come true.

We now call it “The Great Art World Reassessment” and, yes, since then there have been many.

But that’s the story of how it started it, and why hindsight’s 2020.

Good night.

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