Yokelist update: Is the architecture against us?

In April, we asked: “Is new museum architecture against local art?” Our point was that galleries for post World War II art in the major new museum structures like Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and Museum of Fine Arts are built to the scale of the international art Circuit, which is supersized. We asked: “But in Boston—and other non-art-world-capitals—which artists can afford to make giant paintings and sculptures? And if you make them, who can afford to ship and store them?”

This week The Art Newspaper notes that art on the international Circuit is getting even bigger because “the growth of private museums means alpha collectors have space to fill and the means to do it.” The newspaper reports that after a brief shift back toward “domestic-size art” at the beginning of the Great Recession, “judging by the two key art events this year, the Venice Biennale and Art Basel, the pendulum seems to have swung back towards bigger art, both for commissioned works and for those offered on the market.”

“The size of art also reflects the evolution of domestic, gallery and museum architecture, which are increasingly gigantic, and the emergence of artists in countries such as China or India where production costs are so low: where else but in China could you produce 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds, as Ai Weiwei did for his Turbine Hall installation?” András Szántó, author, consultant to cultural institutions, and contributing editor of The Art Newspaper said at an Art Basel panel on “How Will Museums Be Able to Collect?” in Switzerland in June, according to The Art Newspaper.

“Big works, however, are exactly what many of today’s alpha collectors want,” The Art Newspaper reports. “With the growth of private museums, they have space to fill and the means to do so. They also want works with huge visual impact: contemporary art spaces, be they private or public, need to grip visitors, give them an ‘experience’ and send them away thinking ‘wow!’ Size is one of the ways of achieving this. And the spaces available for art are breathtakingly huge today—just filling them can be a challenge.”

Picture above: Art Basel panel on “How Will Museums Be Able to Collect?” featuring (from left to right) Victoria and Albert Museum incoming director Martin Roth, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector, Chris Dercon, András Szántó.

The Yokelist Papers:
Yokelist Manifesto Number 1: Boston lacks alternative spaces?
Yokelism at the 2008 Boston Art Awards.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 2: Montreal case study.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 3: Hire locally.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 4: We need coverage of our living artists.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 5: We need local retrospectives.
Yokelism update: Coverage of our living artists: Sebastian Smee responds.
Yokelism update: Dangers of Provincialism.
Yokelism update: Re: Dangers of Provincialism.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 6: Could the CIA help?
Yokelism at the 2009 New England Art Awards.
Re: “Yokelism with your wallet out.”
Globe: The revolution begins with Harvard – a Yokelist response.
Yokelist questions Globe diss of Boston.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 7: Can you love Boston art and still love the Foster Prize?
Yokelist Manifesto 8: We need local art history.
Yokelism and the Maud Morgan Prize.
Yokelist Manifesto 10: Is the architecture against us?

7 Responses to “Yokelist update: Is the architecture against us?”

  1. Franklin says:

    Regarding size as a way of achieving a certain kind of visual experience: see also this.

  2. Caleb says:

    I do proclaim this a steaming mound of horseshit.
    Any broke artist with some ambition and an idea can go huge.
    Perhaps it’s more appropriate to exhort our local artists to show big ambition and big ideas?

  3. Franklin says:

    Are we mixing up scale and ambition now?

  4. Caleb says:

    Whatever you say, buddy.

  5. Franklin says:

    Don’t sass me, Caleb. Not all of us are interested in rallying collaborators and teams of unpaid schoolchildren just so we can get a wall covered, and that says nothing about our ambitions or ideas.

  6. Caleb says:

    Whatever you say.

  7. Franklin says:

    Of course. Thank you for this scintillating discussion.