Sunday, September 29, 2019

Taking aim at art world patrons - Sherman, Perry and Pohida

I'm beginning to think the new theme for art in 2019 is taking aim at art world patrons.

Below I've got three short items about three separate exhibitions which each include a penetrative comment on their art world patrons.

Sherman, Perry and Powhida sounds to me as if it ought to be a firm of upmarket American art lawyers!

Cindy Sherman - portraits of rich Society Women

Over at the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition by Cindy Sherman which has just closed included her very "near to the bone" take on the women of wealth of who become art world patrons known as the Society Portraits (2008)

This is an article which considers why she did what she did
Two of the portraits of Society Women in the exhibition of Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery

Grayson Perry - Super Rich Interior Decoration

Grayson Perry is renowned for taking an anthropological approach (quasi or otherwise) to making art using a variety of media. He's also a bit like marmite and engenders love hate relationships.  The RA used to hate him until they realised the public really love him - at which point they got him to curate their 250th anniversary show!
Perry also portrays rich women as contemporary art patrons

The first new exhibition by Grayson Perry since 2012 at Victoria Miro in Mayfair includes pots, sculpture, large-scale prints, a tapestry and a carpet.

Victoria Miro website has a slideshow which shows you items in the show and explains what you see

The introduction to the exhibition comments that
During the making of the work Perry had in mind Nam June Paik’s famous quote that ‘the artist should always bite the hand that feeds him – but not too hard.’ While some of the works appear to goad the wealthiest in society, indeed the very people who might collect contemporary art, richness here might refer to a profusion of decoration and abundance of reference as much as affluence.
The exhibition has provoked some extreme reactions in the press. These are the reviews by:
The title of the show came about when Perry was working on hanging the Royal Academy 2018 Summer Show, where he painted the main gallery an unexpectedly bright shade of sunshine yellow. One of “the more snarky, conservative” members of the Academy walked in “and he said to me, ‘Oh, I see what you’ve done there: interior decoration.’”
Perry was annoyed “for a millisecond, but then I was inspired. You can easily turn those snobby insults into an asset. You know, it’s like someone calling me a pseudo-intellectual. How do you tell the difference between an intellectual and a pseudo-intellectual? The pseudo-intellectual’s the one with the TV series, the book deal and the stage show.” He laughs, deliciously. “It’s bitter jealousy.”
Grayson Perry bites the hands that feed him in his new exhibition Super Rich Interior Decoration. Except he doesn’t really give them a serious wound. He just titillates wealthy fingers with a sexy nibble that makes buying his babbling ceramics, ranting wall hangings and anything-but-magical carpet feel naughty and fun for the super-rich art collectors who will shortly be rolling up for London’s Frieze art fair.

William Powhida - Complicities

William Powhida's exhibition "Complicities" is at Postmasters, 54 Franklin Street, Manhattan; 212-727-3323, in Tribeca - and of course, with impeccable timing - closes a very few hours before I arrive in New York! (Just like MOMA reopens the day after I leave!)

Powhida is an artist renowned for using art for social commentary. 

His latest works offer a broad indictment of the art world and key figures in it - specifically the Sacklers.

Reviews to date can be foundin:
William Powhida’s first solo show with the gallery in five years, Complicities, contemplates the nuanced and sometimes insidious networks of influence that undergird museum politics in our neoliberal age.

DO TAKE A LOOK at the image of the Sacklers on artnet. 

The Sacklers' Family Tree unpicks the who's who in the Sackler world and their perspective on and relationship to the Opioid Crisis and various other scandals. It also has a very useful zoom tool at the bottom which means you can actually study it. Absolutely fascinating.

The Sackler name is of course the one which is being removed from art galleries around the world - or changed to make it very clear that the portals of the RA are now endowed with the "Jillian and Arthur M Sackler Galleries" (i.e. the non-Oxycontin side of the family!)

The New York Times comments
the stars of the show: seven chart-paintings that map out such subjects as the family tree of the Sacklers, whose pharmaceutical company helped fuel the opioid epidemic, and decades of neoliberal economic and legislative policies under the last six United States presidents. There are fewer quips in these artworks than dense layers of information tracing an inordinately complex web of capital, culture and corruption. Spend time with them. The more you do, the more implicated and motivated you may become.

 A new trend? 

If I see yet more exhibitions taking pot shots at art collectors in the near future I shouldn't be in the least bit surprised!

Although there is a considerable irony in the fact that only the very rich artist can afford to prod and poke and laugh at the very rich art collector - unless they've made a career of it as Powhida has done!