This week, Art&Seek will look at some of the biggest innovations in the arts over the last decade. We’ve asked local experts to blog each day about a significant advancement in how art is created or consumed. By the end of the week, we think you’ll see that things have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years.
Our first post on Monday came from Dean Terry, the Director of the Emerging Media + Communication Program and MobileLab at the University of Texas at Dallas. Today’s post is by Michael Auping, Chief Curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth:
In the artworld, the last decade was as much — or more — about architecture and money as it was about art. An unprecedented building boom in museums coupled with a radically expanded art market have made the past 10 years seem like a Gilded Age. New museum buildings or additions from Los Angeles to Denver to Chicago to New York to London by Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind, Herzog de Meuron, Sano and others gave rise to the term “starchitect,” making architects the subject of more attention than the art they cradle in their buildings. Collectors worldwide paid record prices for cutting edge art. As if on cue, it all seemed to come to a crescendo (and end?) with Damien Hirst’s daring move to take his new works directly to auction, selling 218 works for a total of $200 million, followed immediately by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., and a subsequent worldwide financial meltdown.
What this has all meant for art is still up for debate. Veteran artists like Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman have produced some of the best art of their careers. With the global expansion of the art market — now including major players from Russia, India, Japan and China — more artists are making a living at art than ever before, selling their work straight out of university MFA programs. In this context, artists seem to be responding in two opposite ways. Some make ever-more elaborate and expensive objects for this upscale market. Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami are perfect mentors for this model. Murakami has done design work for Louis Vuitton and creates retail shops as part of his exhibitions. Other artists, however, are retreating to more conceptual, situational or performative modes, where there does not appear to be an object for sale. Rirkrit Tiravanija offers dinners and discussion as an art form. As at the end of every decade in the world of contemporary art, it’s hard to know whether to complain or applaud. I do both, knowing that art always survives whatever context we throw at it.