This week, American adulthood, women in comics, dealer/collector mistrust, artists expecting more from dealers, NYC etiquette, Fatih Akin’s new genocide film, bad ledes, distorting the Renaissance, and more.
A.O. Scott writes about the death of adulthood in American culture for the New York Times:
In suggesting that patriarchy is dead, I am not claiming that sexism is finished, that men are obsolete or that the triumph of feminism is at hand. I may be a middle-aged white man, but I’m not an idiot. In the world of politics, work and family, misogyny is a stubborn fact of life. But in the universe of thoughts and words, there is more conviction and intelligence in the critique of male privilege than in its defense, which tends to be panicky and halfhearted when it is not obtuse and obnoxious. The supremacy of men can no longer be taken as a reflection of natural order or settled custom.
… From the start, American culture was notably resistant to the claims of parental authority and the imperatives of adulthood.
And Maria Bustillos responds in The Awl with the birth of adulthood in American culture:
But is it “masculinity” that is in decline, or “maturity”? How tightly are the ideas of “manhood” and “adulthood” tied together? Not very. A closer look would suggest instead that adulthood is only just beginning to come to American culture.
… Educated Americans no longer think of their country as the center of the universe, but see their country as one among many; American novels, plays and stories seek a diversity of voices and opinions; same with the better American schools and workplaces. In my lifetime, despite some really terrible setbacks—in politics, especially—Americans have been slowly but steadily growing into the literal truth of the idea that all people are created equal, and that all voices should be heard.
So very ying/yang.
Robbins knows something about the glass ceiling for women cartoonists because she first hit it herself in the early 1970s, when she tried to join the male-dominated “underground comix” movement based in San Francisco. After the men cartoonists shut her out, Robbins joined forces with other women cartoonists to create their own women’s-lib comic books. She went on to become a well-respected mainstream comic artist and writer, as well as a feminist comics critic who’s written myriad nonfiction books on the subject of great women cartoonists and the powerful female characters they created. Naturally, Robbins has spent some time hunting down the original cartoons from the women who paved the way for her career, and as luck would have it, she found the very first comic strip ever drawn by a woman, “The Old Subscriber Calls” by Rose O’Neill, practically in her backyard.
If you needed more evidence of the mistrust and antagonism of the dealer/collector relationship, then check this great string from Art Market Monitor that ends:
In your email you are talking about the choice that I have made, the art world is very difficult to break in for non-insiders; pretentious gallerists like you refuse to sell to persons like me because “we do not provide an appropriate context”. Well, you are participating in the system that you are criticizing pushing me to buy the works that I can access easily and making the volatility of the prices a sell-fulfilling prophecy.
On my side, I will still try to support the younger generation, hoping that one day your world of privilege will come to an end.
Related: this seemingly fake — but hilarious — letter to an art dealer has been making the rounds online; I saw it last here:
Dear Art Dealer,
How’s business? I hope everything’s going well at the gallery. There are so many exhibitions, art fairs, and biennials to deal with. You must be exhausted.
You should take a break and spend a few minutes looking at my work. You really deserve it!
Because honestly once I blow up you’ll be asking me to show at your gallery anyway, so why not just get the ball rolling now?
PS: Remember you’re a tastemaker.
The story of one person’s choice to quit Twitter:
I called it my rosary, the thing I reached for when I felt anxious, after Metafilter stopped serving that purpose. As Twitter expanded and my own little slice of it grew as well, I called it my front porch and defended its quirks and downsides. But now the magic has turned, in ways that have felt irrevocable. I’m not angry at Twitter for changing, but I’ve been sad to feel that something so oddly entwined with my intellectual and emotional life is now beyond my use.
Nowadays many artists expect their dealers not only work for them in the primary market but the secondary market as well, according to Daniel Grant:
Another expectation, which may or may not be stated explicitly, is that the dealer will keep track of the artist’s work even after it has been sold. And more than just keep track but try to find buyers for works on the secondary market, even bidding up pieces themselves when artworks are consigned to auction.
“I have bid up prices to appropriate levels, when auction houses have estimated too low works by artists whom I represent,” said Manhattan gallery owner Renato Danese. “I want to protect the work from going below the low estimate or not selling at all, because that puts a cloud over the work and over the artist.” The secondary market is closely linked to the primary market, with disappointing results at auction potentially coming back to haunt works sold at the gallery. “I don’t like to spend fruitless hours explaining why a good piece went for a quarter of the price I charge at the gallery.”
He added that “artists expect me to protect their market and their reputations.”
Canadian artist, Garry Neill Kennedy, who was once a very Minimalist painter (back in the 1970s) has now turned his attention to banks, and he discusses his latest body of work with Canadian Art:
The interesting thing about Canadians is that we don’t really seem to care. Most people worship the banks as they do churches. It’s amazing how we let this stuff go by and don’t get upset about it. There’s a CBC program, I forget the name of it, and they talk about it as if to worship the banks is okay. Well, it’s okay, yes, but as we know from this guy Piketty — and that’s another story — the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. All the while we stand by and worship the rich.
… Well, as you know, the corporate monoliths have fully entered the art world. Maybe we should care about that. Think about how little they pay the art world and how much they get out of it. It’s a huge amount of PR.
lolspeak was meant to sound like the twisted language inside a cat’s brain, and has ended up resembling a down-South baby talk with some very strange characteristics, including deliberate misspellings (teh, ennyfing), unique verb forms (gotted, can haz), and word reduplication (fastfastfast). It can be difficult to master. One user writes that it used to take at least 10 minutes “to read adn unnerstand” a paragraph. (“Nao, it’z almost like a sekund lanjuaje.”)
The New York Times really did an awful job with ledes this week. These two are the worst. First, Michael Powell on the NFL’s disaster that goes by the name of Ray Rice:
And second, New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley writing about Shona Rhimes and her new series, How to Get Away With Murder:
Hamid Dabashi says German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin’s new Armenian Genocide film may be too late to really capture the big picture, but it marks a turning point for discussion of the genocide in Turkey:
As all other colossal catastrophes – from the Jewish Holocaust to the Palestinian Nakba – no epic narrative can any longer do justice to the mimetic crisis at the heart of the Armenian Genocide.
… The key issue in telling any epic story of dispossession, exodus, catastrophe or Holocaust is precisely the manner in which the story is to be told in the literary and cinematic context when all such grand narratives have become suspect. By virtue of a sustained course of more than 100 years of poignant and powerful remembrance, the Armenian tragedy has advanced far too deeply into our political consciousness for a tired old cliche kind of cinematic narrative to do justice to it. If a director is not aware of that fact, he walks perilously between tragedy and kitsch.
And I can’t decide if this dumb or fun, but to coincide with the London Design Festival design studio Barber Osgerby has installed two giant mirrors measuring about 10 x 15m (flat on one side and convex on the other) in various Renaissance galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum:
Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.