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As I made my way through the 152 booths, I thought about the moment in Titanic when the designer of the doomed luxury liner warns Kate Winslet to find a lifeboat because "all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic." When I tried this idea out on attendees, several said I was "a buzzkill." I asked, "Isnít the buzz already beginning to disappear?"moo moo >squeeeek clank< (sound of barn door closing)
If the art economy is as bad as it looks -- if worse comes to worst -- 40 to 50 New York galleries will close. Around the same number of European galleries will, too. An art magazine will cease publishing. A major fair will call it quits -- possibly the Armory Show, because so many dealers hate the conditions on the piers, or maybe Art Basel Miami Beach, because although itís fun, itís also ridiculous. Museums will cancel shows because they canít raise funds. Art advisers will be out of work. Alternative spaces will become more important for shaping the discourse, although theyíll have a hard time making ends meet.
As for artists, too many have been getting away with murder, making questionable or derivative work and selling it for inflated prices. They will either lower their prices or stop selling. Many younger artists who made a killing will be forgotten quickly. Others will be seen mainly as relics of a time when marketability equaled likability. Many of the hot Chinese artists, most of whom are only nth-generation photo-realists, will fall by the wayside, having stuck collectors with a lot of junk.