From the archive
[of the David Colman article on John Currin and Rachel Feinstein in the NYT Style section] I will say that it’s the conveniently swattable straw men that bugged me the most. The specious [or is it?!] notion that “the art world” somehow punishes those artists who aspire to—or even approach—their collectors’ lifestyles. When, in fact, “the art world,” such as it is, is all but obsessed with art’s wave/particle-like duality, its near-magical power to transform culture into capital and vice versa.
The art world has been laboring mightily for decades to accommodate and cater to the needs, desires, lifestyles, and politics of wealth-flaunters, hyper-capitalists, and consumptionists of all kinds, and it pisses me off to see all that hard work go unrecognized by the Style section, of all sections!
The idea that Currin and Feinstein's conservative political views somehow transgress anything but the feeblest cliche of liberal "art world" orthodoxies. I guess it's the notion of "an" "art world" that's so easily thwarted by John & Rachel's unabashed fabulousness that really gets me.
Such an art world is a fairy tale. There are also more art worlds, and a far greater range of political views within them, than the Style section cares to acknowledge. I can think of a dozen conservatives—even some card-carrying neo-cons—who are prominent, active participants in New York City’s art scenes: artists, dealers, and curators, too, not just collectors or museum people. This heterogeneity is who “we” are, and to pretend otherwise, or to ignore these differences is willful or naive, or both.
Or maybe it’s that political differences in “the art world” have long been tolerated, negotiated, or if need be, consciously set aside or even suppressed in the interests of achieving an art-related goal. And really, are there any political chasms that can’t be bridged by Blanchette Rockefeller’s noble response to questions of whether his years as an enthusiastic Fascist activist might preclude Philip Johnson’s election as a MoMA trustee: “Every young man,” she reportedly said, “should be allowed to make one very large mistake.”