Still Emerging After All These Years

With MOMA/PS1's "Greater New York, the Return" we are once again faced with that slippery concept of when an artist "emerges," which leads to oddities such as Scott Grodesky emerging twice in the pages in Artforum, in 1992 and then 12 years later. Why are we faced with this issue? Because "emergence since 2000" and "working in the New York area" are the only stated themes for the show. Important, career launching exhibitions used to have core ideas, reflected in titles such as "Primary Structures," Douglas Crimp's "Pictures," and "The Intrasubjectives"--OK, the latter isn't exactly on anyone's lips but the show included the major AbEx'ers. But since all the powerhouse academics have fled the artworld after using it as a seedbed for pet sociological theories in the '80s and '90s and ultimately killing the soil, and quirky individualism at the curatorial level isn't tolerated in the US anymore for a variety of political reasons, what we get are full time functionaries working in teams, and the only thing they can all agree on is geography and the date.

Yet arguably they botched even the latter, since one could make a strong case that all of the following GNY2005 artists emerged in the '90s and not the 2000-2005 period: Michelle Segre (Elizabeth Koury project room in '93 and Roberta Smith-reviewed two-person show at Lauren Wittels in '96), Randy Wray (solo at Kagan Martos in '96), Meredith Danluck (Andrew Kreps '97), Jason Fox (Feature '99 and group shows starting in '90), Robert Melee (Kreps '98, White Columns White Room '95), Wade Guyton (Kreps project room '99--yes, this one's a squeaker). Corey McCorkle, Steve Mumford, and Sue de Beer were also showing quite a bit in the late '90s. Whether or not the artists had solos or project rooms, all of the above were in group shows and many were written about in not very obscure publications such as Artforum and the New York Times. The upshot of all this isn't that it's unfair for curators to stretch an artist's period of emergence (and I know and/or have written about many of these artists and am happy they're still emerging) but that emergence as a criterion for a major museum exhibit is stupid and should be retired.

- tom moody 3-17-2005 9:08 pm

It's good, in this context, to find a selection of Steve Mumford's painted dispatches from Iraq, plainspoken journalistic pictures of a throwback kind. They announce a mature artist looking closely at what is urgently unfolding around him. Their traditional sobriety stands out in a show that, like the burbling young art world now, seems gladly co-opted and almost too able to please.

and mumford's work isnt [...gladly co-opted and too able to please]? bah!

- bill 3-18-2005 6:44 pm

Too able to please the Bush administration. That is a most stuffy and Victorian-sounding paragraph from Mr. Kimmelman. "One wishes to see a young artist be mature and perspicacious in his craft and not susceptible to influences of the fleeting and trivial sort..."

- tom moody 3-18-2005 7:05 pm

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