Talent Agent Joshua Roth Talks Trash About Art World

Joshua Roth of United Talent Agency's UTA Fine Arts.Photo Patrick McMullan.
Joshua Roth of United Talent Agency's UTA Fine Arts.
Photo Patrick McMullan.

Seven months after Beverly Hills’ United Talent Agency launched UTA Fine Arts, which aims to manage visual artists, the New York Times’ Melena Ryzik has checked in on the progress of the agency’s campaign to bridge the worlds of art and entertainment.

The article points out that one of the biggest celebrity-art world crossovers of recent months was masterminded by Joshua Roth, who heads up UTA, which represents Kanye West. The recent Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) screening of the video that artist Steve McQueen made in collaboration with West, All Day / I Feel Like That, stemmed from a call by Roth to LACMA director Michael Govan.

Another showman, Maurizio Cattelan, will benefit from the agency’s attention: UTA will distribute and promote a documentary on the artist by filmmaker Maura Axelrod (who has also worked with Jeff Koons).

United Talent’s move into the fine art world was greeted with skepticism in the art world. Roth apparently didn’t feel sufficiently welcomed. “Sometimes people in the art world, without having all the info, will put a negative slant on things,” he told the Times.

Nice burn, Roth!

Another Hollywood agency, Creative Artists, will support filmmaking projects by New York artist Daniel Arsham, whom Ryzik implausibly lumps together with “multimedia phenoms” like Julian Schnabel and Steve McQueen.

The story closes with a revealing quote from Axelrod: “If you’re willing to participate in this system where art is being bought and sold as an asset class,” she says, “then you can’t object to art being part of the entertainment class next.”

But the notion of art as an asset class, while it gets people very excited, is suspect, and a lot of galleries lose money or make very little. But as long as people see the art world as a gold mine, we’ll likely see more people from other sectors aiming to cash in.

CORRECTION: This article previously indicated, incorrectly, that United Talent would support filmmaking projects by Daniel Arsham. artnet News regrets the error.

Related stories:

Hollywood Agency Announces Plans to Represent Visual Artists — Guess Who?

Do Artist Branding and Hollywood Talent Agency Deals Kill an Artist’s Soul?

Kanye West’s Video With Steve McQueen Owes Much to John and Yoko’s “Rape” Piece

Kanye West-Approved Steve McQueen Photograph Debuts at Tate Britain


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