Recession Brutalizes Art World, Jeff Koons Doesn’t Seem to Notice


What better way to kick off the week than by lamenting how badly the economy is screwing the art world? New York Magazine’s Intelligencer pronounced today that the recession would definitely not be good for the arts. For all of us with the silly, romantic notion that poverty breeds creativity (no one is, ahem, pointing fingers at the New York Times), NY Mag writer Alexandra Peers wants you to know that you’re wrong.

Peers makes some points that even the most romantic among us might have to grudgingly concede. Less money will mean fewer dancers, fewer literary advances, fewer art sales, etc. She did not, however, mention the possible benefits of dwindling art scene funds. More experimental theater pieces performed under bridges? Less drunken fights between pseudo guttersnipe artists involving broken Grolsch bottles? More emaciated painters toiling in their garrets by candle-light? Less art advisors?

We’re not surprised she couldn’t see the silver lining — she quotes John Good, director of Gagosian Gallery.

Improbably, USA Today also jumped into the End of Art conversation. Their article scores more downer points than New York Magazine for its straightforwardness. Instead of providing a clever interpretation of the art world’s failure, USA Today relies on a pathos-inspiring list of every regional theater, local opera house, and small symphony orchestra that has gone under in the past six months. Oh, Utah Shakespeare Festival, we hardly knew ye.

Even Frank Gehry is feeling the boom time hangover. In a recent interview on the architect’s 80th birthday, he reported to Christopher Hawthorne that the past year has been full of major disappointment. Not only did his development plan for Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue bottom out, but he had to put his Brooklyn-based Atlantic Yards project on the back burner. We tried to muster sympathy for the starchitect. But, we were too thrilled about the Atlantic Yards’ failure to really feel for him.

Just when we started to give up hope, we came upon this gem about Jeff Koons. Apparently, the artist never received the memo that his industry is wheezing its final breaths and is cheerfully plugging away on a 25-million dollar sculpture of a train dangling from a crane for the Los Angeles County Museum We could go into grim, nagging Marie Antoinette references, but we won’t. Keep living the dream, Jeff Koons, keep living the dream.