The Art Edge with Brian Sherwin


The Art Edge with Brian Sherwin

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The Mainstream Art World is a Celebrity Circus

This article is by Brian Sherwin. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. Sherwin is the Editor of The Art Edge. His articles are featured on the FineArtViews newsletter — which currently reaches 25,000+ subscribers. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, FineArtViews, Myartspace and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. Sherwin graduated from Illinois College (Jacksonville, Illinois) in 2003 — he studied art and psychology extensively. Click here to sign up for his newsletter.

Art museums roll out the red carpet for Hollywood.

Art critic Ken Johnson received a backlash from art world insiders after describing the mainstream art world as a ‘liberal festival’ in 2011. Johnson noted the social / political exclusiveness of NY art galleries and major international art fairs — and suggested that expressed views in art are ‘policed’ by the powers that be within those influential circles. In other words, certain views stand little chance of being exhibited in those circles. I agree with Ken Johnson. I will take his critique of the mainstream art world a step further by stating that said ‘world’ has become a celebrity circus.

The art world celebrity circus has infiltrated some of the most prestigious art museums in the United States. In LA we have seen the likes of Kim Kardashian and Christina Aguilera embraced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Hammer Museum sponsored a festive dinner co-chaired by comedian Will Ferrell. In NY we have seen The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) bend to the will of actor James Franco — all while artist Marina Abramović continues to hamper her legacy by serving as a celebrity hostess.

These events have spurred debate about the credibility of art museums in the United State. For example, the celebrity circus I speak of has raised questions — depending on museum funding — about how tax dollars are used to entertain celebrity guests. Are these spaces ‘for the people’? OR should they be viewed as an entertainment trend for Hollywood elite? Should tax payers be furious depending on the context? The questions surrounding these issues will continue to mount.

The negative opinions I’ve mentioned will likely be on the rise IF art museums continue to hand out trustee positions to celebrities like candy to a child. Dean Valentine, an art collector serving on the board of the Hammer Museum, raised concerns when he asked, “Do we care about art? Or do we treat a museum like just another bar or nightclub?“. I, for one, think it is time to hide the booze. The party is over.

In my opinion, some of the most influential circles of the US art world continue to discredit the role of art in society by reducing art appreciation to little more than a cocktail party stunt. They are doing this in the name of money and fame. Influential art world figures — ranging from museum directors to high profile art critics — are ‘killing’ the credibility of art by rolling out the red carpet. At some point we must question their professional credibility. We must support people who can take the Hollywood sunglasses off long enough to truly see the radiance of art today.

Andy Warhol once said, “Death means a lot of money, honey. Death can really make you look like a star.” — Warhol was right in this context. Allow me to twist his words: Art museums are dying from this misguided, fame-fueled celebrity circus exposure… no matter how much is raised from celebrity support. Credibility is hard to achieve. Our museums are throwing credibility aside for Hollywood glitz and glam — spearheaded by ‘professionals’ who clearly value rubbing shoulders with celebrities over serving as champions of art. It. Must. Stop.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Topics: art criticism | art news | art talks | art views | art world problems

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