Artists by row, top to bottom: Lucien Smith, Oscar Murillo, Parker Ito, Wade Guyton, Jacob Kassay, Lucien Smith. Courtesy of the Internet.
Print Issue 17 Pullout: Who’s Afraid of the New Abstraction? | SFAQ Online

For this reason all the critics who simply allow the market to dictate the terms of the conversation become willful participants in the silencing of political activity and discourse, they essentially let the wealthy few who benefit from the market win by accepting their terms as the terms of the conversation. Meanwhile they continue to write pallid defenses of the now empty and academic gestures of third, fourth, fifth generation neo-conceptual, performance, and installation art that finds sanction only within academies and institutions. An issue that is equally problematic, in my eyes. It cannot be so simple an equation as market interest in a certain kind of art means that it is inherently suspect. In certain ways the market may be more visible, vocal, and active than before, but again this has to do with larger socio-economic issues that have, with time, inevitably entered the orbit of art, than the “quality” of the work being produced at the moment. When Jerry Saltz asks, “why does so much new abstraction look the same?” I respond by asking “why does so much art, period, look the same today?” What are the larger systems that allow for an unprecedentedly large number of artists to share some part of the spotlight and to produce work that emerges from a similar set of precedents, deals with a similar set of issues and, yes, bears superficial formal similarities. A pious refusal of money, which I would point out is not even necessarily a possibility on the part of these young artists who have found their production quite literally annexed by speculators (save full-fledged dropping out of the system, and even then I’m not so sure since artists have concluded production on several of the bodies of work that, at one time or another, drew the interest of speculators), and the work has continued to be traded back and forth, often resulting in market ignorance of the subsequent work made by these artists.

Artists by row, top to bottom:
Lucien Smith, Oscar Murillo, Parker Ito, Wade Guyton, Jacob Kassay, Lucien Smith. Courtesy of the Internet.

Print Issue 17 Pullout: Who’s Afraid of the New Abstraction? | SFAQ Online

For this reason all the critics who simply allow the market to dictate the terms of the conversation become willful participants in the silencing of political activity and discourse, they essentially let the wealthy few who benefit from the market win by accepting their terms as the terms of the conversation. Meanwhile they continue to write pallid defenses of the now empty and academic gestures of third, fourth, fifth generation neo-conceptual, performance, and installation art that finds sanction only within academies and institutions. An issue that is equally problematic, in my eyes. It cannot be so simple an equation as market interest in a certain kind of art means that it is inherently suspect. In certain ways the market may be more visible, vocal, and active than before, but again this has to do with larger socio-economic issues that have, with time, inevitably entered the orbit of art, than the “quality” of the work being produced at the moment.

When Jerry Saltz asks, “why does so much new abstraction look the same?” I respond by asking “why does so much art, period, look the same today?” What are the larger systems that allow for an unprecedentedly large number of artists to share some part of the spotlight and to produce work that emerges from a similar set of precedents, deals with a similar set of issues and, yes, bears superficial formal similarities. A pious refusal of money, which I would point out is not even necessarily a possibility on the part of these young artists who have found their production quite literally annexed by speculators (save full-fledged dropping out of the system, and even then I’m not so sure since artists have concluded production on several of the bodies of work that, at one time or another, drew the interest of speculators), and the work has continued to be traded back and forth, often resulting in market ignorance of the subsequent work made by these artists.

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