This week, the philosophical meaning of beauty, Ai Weiwei’s LES education, mega-exhibitions, online fakes, Chardin’s strange self-portrait and more.
Former Hyperallergic contributor and aesthetic philosopher Nick Riggle pointed out to me that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy now has a long entry on “Beauty.” I liked this clearly written paragraph:
Both Hume and Kant, as we have seen, begin by acknowledging that taste or the ability to detect or experience beauty is fundamentally subjective, that there is no standard of taste in the sense that the Canon was held to be, that if people did not experience certain kinds of pleasure, there would be no beauty. Both acknowledge that reasons can count, however, and that some tastes are better than others. In different ways, they both treat judgments of beauty neither precisely as purely subjective nor precisely as objective but, as we might put it, as inter-subjective or as having a social and cultural aspect, or as conceptually entailing an inter-subjective claim to validity.
A fascinating look at where Ai Weiwei learned the art of protest, New York’s Lower East Side. Though some of the statements are a little over the top and obviously written by someone out of touch with young New York, the point is clear. The Chinese artist learned a lot about the power of media during his time in downtown Manhattan.
In the last two decades, another pivotal element has pushed itself into this mix: the repeated mega-exhibition — the biennial or triennial — now so widespread as to have become an institution in itself. We may situate it, logically, in between concrete institutions, such as museums, and supplementary ones, from kunsthalles to online sites. Indeed, biennials have evolved into internally diverse displays that, recurrently, spread themselves out across the exhibition venues of their host city, occupying and transforming each site, while also connecting them, at least for their duration. Biennials may thus be regarded as “structural” — they have become fundamental to the display of contemporary art.
This week, Katya Kazakina of Bloomberg broke the news that LA’s MOCA will not be having its landmark gala this year and everyone is wondering what that means. Anyone have any thoughts?
In the Brooklyn Rail, John Elderfield writes about the Louvre’s strangely wonderful “Self Portrait or Portrait of Chardin Wearing an Eyeshade” (1775) by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.
Grant Snider takes a stab at “Sketchbooks of the Pros” and it’s hilarious.
Private sales are becoming a bigger chunks of the sales at major auction houses, according to The Telegraph:
The main common denominator between the two auction houses was the increase in private sales — that is, those conducted privately and not at auction. Sotheby’s had risen by 15 per cent to $513.6 million (£323 million), while Christie’s had jumped 53 per cent to a record $661.5 million (£413.4 million). Private sales and exhibition activities are now accounting for up to 18 per cent of all sales at the two auction houses as they encroach further into what was traditionally the art dealer’s territory.
And that’s not the only news in private sales. A new superfirm is emerging, according to Carol Vogel at The New York Times.
The piece demonstrates that creativity and intellect flourished in the Iron Age, though cities and kingdoms were small and independent — unlike the centralized system of the earlier Bronze Age. “This counters our intuition that big empires are what produced creativity,” Dr. Harrison said.
With the rise of online art sales, there’s another concern … fakes. Check out this shocking stat:
A recent study by statisticians at George Washington University and the University of California, Irvine, estimated that as many as 91 percent of the drawings and small sculptures sold online through eBay as the work of the artist Henry Moore were fake.
Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.