Christopher Glazek’s New York Times article “The Art World’s Patron Satan,” on the controversial art-dealing practices of one Stefan Simchowitz, has produced nothing short of a tsunami of response and commentary. That includes thousands of words from the dealer himself on various Facebook pages, including those of New York bloggers Paddy Johnson and Hrag Vartanian, and, of course, his own. New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz, who called Simchowitz a “Sith Lord” in a March 2014 blog post, has self-defeatingly penned another 1,400 words, ensuring a response from a prolific commenter whom Saltz seems to hope will just go away.
But now there’s a whole new level of commentary, and this by Glazek himself. The New York-based writer is a former senior editor at n+1, and now executive editor at Genius.com, a site now in beta which offers the opportunity to “annotate the world” by allowing members to comment on topics ranging from news to rap lyrics to sports and the law. The author has posted an annotated version of his own Times article, revealing some of the results of his research, quibbling with his editors, contradicting assertions from his subjects, and allowing Simchowitz and others featured in the article to weigh in on the story.
Glazek isn’t happy, for example, with the (fantastic) title of the piece (“‘Patron Satan’ isn’t clever,” he writes). No, that was decided on by his editors. He refutes a claim by Maxwell Graham, of Lower East Side gallery Essex Street, that he had never done business with Simchowitz. (“Emails, invoices and interviews suggest otherwise,” he notes.) He reveals that he wanted to call Simchowitz’s physique “Angela Merkel-esque” but was told that the paper cannot call the German chancellor fat. “Fair enough,” he concedes.
Some of the annotations aim to be purely informational, as when William Nelligan explains that “conceptual art prizes the ideas or philosophy underpinning a work of art over its material execution.” (He names Marina Abramović and Olafur Eliasson as examples, which, let’s not comment on that.) Elsewhere, Glazek expands on his own points. In the original article he characterizes the deals some young artists have made with Simchowitz as “Faustian bargains” (Amalia Ulman and Kour Pour are two artists who Glazek interviewed for the story). Glazek expands on this point: “In my reporting, though, I didn’t uncover convincing examples of artists whose careers had been obviously damaged by Simchowitz, whereas I uncovered several examples of artists who had been unambiguously helped by him.”
Yet other comments are gleefully absurd: Glazek characterizes Simchowitz in part as an “industrial scion,” prompting Genius Peter Nowogrod to annotate the word scion with an image of the Toyota Scion. Other pictures include an image of a totaled bus (related to the opening lines in which it’s explained that Ulman had been in a bus accident, the incident that prompted her to first get in touch with Simchowitz).
It’s worth a gander. Check it out, and if you feel up to it, sign in and join the fray!
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