View the archive of my two-hour class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about the remarkable advances that have refashioned art and the art world – and why today we’re living in one of the most momentous moments in art since the Renaissance.
I’m back! And I invite you to join me for my upcoming live class, Five Things I’ve Learned about Where Art and the Art World are Right Now.
Art remains the greatest operating system our species has ever invented. We’re living today in one of the momentous moments in art since the Renaissance.
And I’ve got a lot more than five things to declare!
Art remains a means of exploring consciousness, seen and unseen worlds. It is an instrument, medium, matrix, or miracle that transforms old impressions into new thoughts; that makes a thousand insignificant details light up and draw you out. But the first two decades of the 21st century have seen dramatic disturbances in the art world. Massive trees have fallen. The center is not merely holding but continually expanding, multiplying, superheating and cooling all over again, threatening to atomize or collapse, but ever re-forming. All of this has happened against the collapse of one of the longest lasting movements in art history: Modernism.
What does this all mean? Where are we now? What does every art lover need to know?
Join me as I share what seem to me the most essential changes of the last two decades. These remarkable advances have refashioned art and reshaped the world art that lives in. So much so, in fact, that today:
- The Art World Begins Again: The Art World changed more in the last 22 years than it did in the last 500 years. From 9-11 through two contested US elections, the Bush Cheney War Machine, the arc of history turning momentarily to justice with America’s first Black President, to the re-onset of the Long American Night in 2016, to a world pandemic, none of the art made in this century has been made under “normal” conditions. On top of that the ideology of the longest art movement in art history, Modernism, collapsed. We’ve learned that history isn’t linear.
- Mega is Everything: We discovered what happens when art and money have sex in public.Starting in the early 2000s money rushed into the art world; galleries mutated into mega-galleries with outlets all over the world; museums expanded exponentially; prices mushroomed; art fairs and biennials sprang up all over the world; auctions became big news; an iffy Da Vinci was sold for 430-million dollars. A filter of decadence hardened into entertainment culture and cynicism.
- Size Matters: Art has become huge and forward facing. Criticism has become about liking everything.The size and money and global scale of the art world meant more art from more places than ever before in the art world. We see a return of subject matter and new narratives centering around social justice, personal agency, identity, and global geopolitics. Museum atriums and biennials have filled with this art and the very long wall labels that explain this art – even when the wall label and the art seemed to have nothing in common. Criticism adapted to this change by becoming uncritical and liking everything. This led me to a new form of criticism – online. For free. Writing for the reader, not the artist, art world, collector, academia, or institutions.
- We are still responding to three pandemics, and they’ve changed the Group Mind. In 2015 came a rise of populism and ethno-nationalism. In March of 2020 came Covid. As the angel of death walked among us, we all returned to a condition of the caves, where art was made from the near at hand, in smaller spaces, where the studio and kitchen, living room, and children’s playrooms were the same room. In May 2020, George Floyd was murdered. The world rushed out to the streets again, demanding change.
- The beginning of the end of art-world-apartheid is now underway. After more than 60 years of liberals talking the talk, the art world’s has finally started to walk the walk. The system was broken; everyone knew it. For the first time in history more women and underrepresented artists are now being shown, sold, and written about. This is changing what art is seen and the audiences seeing it. This is already changing art. This is creating fantastic new tensions in art. We are finally seeing 51% of the story by women. We are seeing new narratives of discontinuity; the taking back of Africa and other ideas and isms. This is a rewriting of art history itself.
You and me. Two hours. That’s what we’ll be touching on as we touch digital antenna.
There will, of course be more, much more. I’ll share ideas from my new book, Art is Life; I’ll take your questions; and with luck, I’ll leave you asking many more.
Please come; the last time I was here, I had a blast.
– Jerry Saltz