Around the Art World in Six Minutes
The drinking straw sculpture craze and more essential art news to start your week.
The Think-Piece: In a fantastic rumination on the effects of our culture-wide tendency to think of art-making as something other than work, New York Times chief film critic A.O. Scott draws some conclusions about where this devaluation of artistic labor may lead us. “The result is, or threatens to become, a stratification that mirrors the social and economic inequality undermining our civic life,” he writes. “The middle ranks—home to modestly selling writers, semi-popular bands, working actors, local museums and orchestras—are being squeezed out of existence.”
The Rant: The Los Angeles Times‘s Christopher Knight calls balderdash on Christie’s over the 235-page catalogue for Monday night’s “If I live I’ll see you Tuesday…” sale of contemporary art. He flips through the 235-page catalogue, published for the Loic Gouzer-organized sale, to ridicule its clumsy rhetorical tricks—and the accompanying skateboarding video (see above). “You can’t make this stuff up—at least, not with a straight face,” he writes. “Of course, the assorted hedge-funders, sheiks and vertical-real-estate investors looking to park their cash on the wall are probably not going to be reading this thing. (Why would they?) The catalog is a coffee table decoration, produced merely for display in the den.”
The Opinion: University of Pennsylvania bankruptcy law professor David Skeel takes a long look at the terms of Detroit’s proposed deal to satisfy its creditors, bolster its pension funds, and ensure the safety of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection, but finds that the solution is most likely illegal under the terms of US bankruptcy law. “Best interests means that creditors must get more in bankruptcy than they would outside of bankruptcy; and no unfair discrimination means that Detroit can’t give a much higher recovery to one group of general creditors than to another,” Skeel writes in the Washington Post. “The art-for-pensions deal runs roughshod over both requirements.”
The Interview: Wang Wei, who, with her husband, the businessman Liu Yiqian, runs two museums in Shanghai, discusses with the Financial Times‘s Georgina Adam how the couple goes about collecting art and running its private museums. “I first started to think of making a museum in 2003 but it only became possible in 2009, when our financial situation changed radically,” Wang says. “There is no plan, no budget. My husband makes money and I buy art.”
The Review: Reviewing Kara Walker‘s colossal sugar sphinx installation in Brooklyn (read artnet News’s interview with the artist), the New York Times‘s Roberta Smith finds that the work marshals an impressive platoon of symbol systems, metaphors, and allusions for a powerful and deeply resonant effect. “In addition to the Sugar Baby’s enlarged hands, pendulous breasts and her narrow, lioness shoulders, there is her magnificent rear, swooping up almost like a dome from a shortened spine, above shortened thighs and calves,” Smith writes. “From the back this dome turns into a perfect heart shape, buttocks whose cheeks protect a vulva that might almost be the entrance to a temple or cave, especially factoring in her boulder-size toes as steps. A powerful personification of the most beleaguered demographic in this country—the black woman—shows us where we all come from, innocent and unrefined.”
The WTF: Swedish furniture giant IKEA will turn its original store—located in Älmhult—into a 3,500-square-meter museum devoted to telling the history of the company, its products, and its workers. IKEA officials expect the museum, which will open in 2015, to attract some 200,000 visitors every year, AFP reports. “We intend to tell stories not only on our product range but also on how the IKEA business developed and about people, and of course to give a fun and interactive experience to visitors,” says Michele Acuna, managing director of the museum site.
The Extra-Curricular Double-Feature: A recent study of Canadians’ Sunday habits confirms what, anecdotally, all North Americans already know, Pacific Standard reports: Work is increasingly encroaching on our Sundays. “We are edging ever closer to a machine-tethered, work-chained, gruel-fed world governed by corporate automatons,” Ryan Jacobs alarmingly concludes. This trend becomes all the more alarming when read in conjunction with another Pacific Standard feature, this one by Tom Jacobs (no relation?), about a German study that found that children with more unstructured playtime turned out to be more socially adept adults. Taken in tandem, the message is clear: Everybody needs to work less and chill out.
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