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tom moody

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Carol Vogel's New York Times story today on the art world topic of "younger and younger, what can you do about it?":
Jack Tilton arrived at Columbia University on a recent Saturday with a camera around his neck and a venture capitalist by his side. It was a busy day for Mr. Tilton, a Manhattan dealer known for exhibiting the art of graduate students. He looked at the work of 26 students in their first year of a Master of Fine Arts program at Columbia, then struck out for New Haven to do the same thing at Yale. John Friedman, the venture capitalist, made that part of the tour a week later.
Tough lead paragraph, it's sad that it's come to this for Tilton--shooting fish in a barrel, hungry for love.

Update: Aaron Yassin says in the comments:
It's unfortunate that this is the topic for the rare article on the visual arts for which the New York Times chooses to devote one quarter of the front page. What bothers me as much is when Carol Vogel says this: "...while first-rate artworks for sale decrease, dealers and collectors are scouring the country's top graduate schools..." The implication that the reason for this phenomenon is that all "first-rate" work is hard to come by is preposterous. Rather, this seems typical of our culture’s infatuation with youth. Instead of just admitting this, Vogel has to make some other kind of excuse like focusing on buying the work of younger and younger artists is really because there’s nothing else available.
My reply:
"...while first-rate artworks for sale decrease, dealers and collectors are scouring the country's top graduate schools..."
is the widely-accepted wisdom of our current tulip mania bubble market. Almost no one in the market is in a position to disagree with this.

Vogel deserves more credit in my opinion for exposing this shaky logic to the world, by interviewing students embarrassed by the attention, school administrators mouthing fatuities, etc. She's leaving it to the reader to draw the conclusion that youth=value is demented, that the dealers and collectors are insecure and/or skanky, and that the schools are pimps, or at best, enablers.
The great unspokens here are that 95% of art graduates stop making work once they get out of the supportive, structured environment of school, unless they get "picked up," and then they start doing bad work about two years out of school (and stop altogether a few years after that). The five percent who keep making art, year-in year-out, pickup or no pickup, are nutty, driven individuals and a pain in the neck for dealers. But it is from that possibly sexually unattractive minority, not "the country's top graduate schools," that most work (and therefore most good work) comes. Youthful energy is important, but in more cases than "the market" is prepared to admit, it wanes quickly.

Update 2: It's doubtful there are hard statistics on the art world dropout rate. Who would finance such a study? Based on years of watching "scenes" come and go I'd say the 95/5 numbers are conservative.

- tom moody 4-15-2006 5:46 pm [link]