Go Pro: The Hyper-Professionalization of the Emerging Artist

In today’s art market, objects are created and judged like stocks. Illustration by Victor Juhasz, 2016. ©VICTOR JUHASZ

In today’s art market, objects are created and judged like stocks. Illustration by Victor Juhasz, 2016.


Late last summer I arrived at a young artist’s Brooklyn studio for a visit that I thought had been set up as an opportunity to get to know the artist’s work better. I’d seen his paintings in a few exhibitions, and had researched to learn more about them. We set up a time to meet after being put in touch by a mutual friend. I explained to the artist in an e-mail that I didn’t “have any specific exhibition project in mind, but just want to have an opportunity to learn more about your practice.”

When I arrived at the studio, an assistant greeted me, then the artist’s dealer, followed by another representative from the gallery, who said he was a director of museum relations or museum engagement or something along those lines. I quickly realized that, despite my explicitly articulated interest in having the visit be an opportunity for research, the meeting would be a lot more formal than I had expected. When the artist launched into a carefully practiced presentation about the work, it was clear which lines were excerpted from press releases or articles. A chronological recounting of the artist’s short career came next, followed by the story of how he began making the type of work he is best known for, and finally some information about upcoming institutional exhibitions overseas. When I asked about one body of work that had been skipped over, the dealer nearby interjected, “You don’t have to talk about that,” acting something like legal representation. (Coincidently, or more likely not, I later heard that the work in question had been the subject of a lawsuit filed by a collector.) When the presentation was over, I felt like the artist was a brand representative who had just delivered a meticulously rehearsed sales pitch. The lecture-like format made it clear that my feedback wasn’t going to be welcome, but as the visit started to wind down, I was asked a question for the first time that morning: “So, what exhibitions do you have coming up that you might want to put our artist into?” As I explained the research-based purpose of my visit (yet again), and went on to clarify that I didn’t have any shows in mind, I realized (yet again) just how complicit curators often are these days in legitimizing mediocre work being aggressively pushed for the sake of financial gain. The artist in question was still only 20-something.

When I think about this story, I can understand the widespread notion among curators and critics that the role of the emerging artist has changed dramatically during the past few years. In this case, the pressure from the gallery and the polished performance of the artist highlight a shift in artists’ objectives, driven by skewed priorities. The shift is further encouraged by the growing involvement of wealthy individuals in the emerging art market who first made their capital by investing in financial markets, real estate, or other related industries. Understandably, they approach their new interest in high-yield contemporary art with the same sharp business acumen that they have brought to their other investments. To this end, services like ArtRank have sprung up. ArtRank claims to offer charts “quantifying the emerging art market” by declaring which artists are worth buying under price points of $10,000, $30,000, and $100,000; who to sell because their prices are peaking; and which names can be classified as “early blue chip” or “undervalued blue chip.” This company’s quarterly published projections purport to allow speculators to “collect smarter” by making informed purchasing decisions about emerging markets.

With the rise of speculative collectors cashing in on younger artists—many of them just out of school—whose work is made cheaply and en masse, and resold at a significant profit, there has also been a hyper-professionalization of the role of the emerging artist himself. (My choice of pronoun is not by default: the artist in question is almost invariably male—the gender imbalance in the art market is on full view in this trend.) He has business cards, printed on fine paper stock. His website is pristine. His CV is extensive, and correctly formatted. He may have even hired a Hollywood agent. And yet the art market has refocused his goals toward short-lived commercial success rather than a career.

This unfortunate reversal, intensified by a growing collector base gravitating toward accessibly priced work, can haunt an artist who is just starting out. Certain young artists, championed by dealers or collectors primarily concerned with the bottom line, have achieved massive commercial traction too early in their careers, before such attention is appropriate. The success itself is questionable because of the means through which it often occurs: a dealer will buy a large number of works by a rising artist for himself (once again, male dealers seem particularly partial to this approach), and encourage others to do the same. Their colluded investment creates a market for the work virtually overnight, along with the attention reserved for the artist of the moment. When the artist realizes the extent of this manipulation, the break with the investor is typically followed by lawsuits and a dramatic crash in his prices, as well as crippled confidence—on the part of the artist and the art world itself—in the merit of the work. The mentality of prospecting in the emerging market leads many new collectors to purchase art merely as they would any luxury good—as a seemingly wise financial investment that will pay off quickly.

As the buying and selling of art has become more commercialized, so too have the artists, starting as early as their schooling. M.F.A. programs, rather than serving as sites for experimentation and refining one’s style, have evolved into monotonous trade schools and debt-generating networking clubs. (A recent survey of the most influential M.F.A. programs calculated that their average tuition came to around $38,000 per year.) Here, prospective artists perfect the studio-visit sales pitch. This has residual effects. Galleries recruit those who can afford to pay more for the top-tier programs, not because of their skills but rather because they exemplify a pedigree that can be incorporated as part of a salable package. That many M.F.A. graduates complete their training with crippling debt adds to the allure of commercial success. Once artists join a gallery’s roster, which is sometimes also called a stable (how telling that these terms evoke professional sports or horse racing), the cycle continues as business pressures lead artists to self-censor and to conform to market trends. Galleries—and often collectors themselves—encourage artists to churn out more of what works in the market.

The entire system seems designed, predominantly, to disappoint. What has arisen from these failures is a marked distinction between product- and project-based artists. Product-based artists have been led to think of an artwork as a product serving a demand, rather than a single step in a longer, sustained development, as is the case with project-based artists. Consider the most visible trend in recent years of Zombie Formalism, a kind of reductive, easily produced abstract painting, sold quickly to collectors queued up on waiting lists and hungry for innocuous, decorative works in a signature style, so much so that the name of the artist himself becomes the brand.

However, product-based art isn’t specific to abstraction or figuration (as an even more recent market shift may be demonstrating) but is the result of dealers and collectors encouraging artists to create more of the same kind of popular work. All too often, museum curators cave to these pressures, too, validating the trend by staging exhibitions of market-darling artists collected by their trustees with a lack of scruples that gives the worst insider traders a run for their money. The path of commercial success may be increasingly easy, but it narrows what could otherwise be probing, expansive, and serendipitous careers. This results-oriented focus can be contrasted to the idea that an artist should be allowed to follow a sustained project of creating art in a passionate and independent way, regardless of market feedback. That might mean changing styles over the years and being less commercially viable at points, but this long-term project will have a notable through-line of a consistent set of questions and issues. The project and its many manifestations are best identified retrospectively, but wandering and doubt are a generative part of it. With some notable exceptions (like Warhol and Courbet, who churned out work like machines), the most fascinating and important artists in history exemplify this approach by remaining true to what drove them to create, rather than caving to external responses. We should all be worried if these artists start disappearing.

Of course, galleries exist in part to create supply and demand for works of art in order to help their business and artists make a profit. I’m not saying galleries and artists shouldn’t make money off of what they do, but the manipulation of the market has turned emerging artists into a standardized product that can be easily sold. Painting—whether in the form of Zombie Formalism or some newer trend—is so prevalent in the art market because it is easily transportable and storable, new and yet somehow familiar, with vague jabs at art-historical touchstones. These easily recognizable products can be created in an assembly-line production manner that satisfies the neophyte collectors buying in herd fashion. The latest object might be very similar to the last one you saw, probably because it was produced under a deadline and amid numerous other pressures.

The product-driven market for emerging artists has resulted in objects that are created and judged like stocks, whose value and significance may be up or down each season. The cynical view of art as property—and specifically as a functional financial instrument—recalls Duchamp’s note for a reciprocal readymade: “Use a Rembrandt as an ironing board.” Or, to paraphrase, use a painting as a money counter. (Duchamp also wrote from Paris to the New York dealer Alfred Stieglitz in 1928, “The feeling about the ‘market’ here is so disgusting that you never hear anymore of a thought for itself—Painters and Painting go up and down like Wall Street stock.”)

But investors know better than anyone that speculative markets are highly volatile sectors, especially when they are opaque, unregulated, and exploited by heavily invested forces. (Zombie Formalism, for instance, which rose to popularity less than two years before this writing, has already fallen out of favor.) Trends eventually undergo market corrections. Fashionable bubbles pop. And so it is important not to confuse commerce with careers. The quick rise and sharp decline of many of the most notorious market-friendly names can still be transformed into something more sustainable. Over time, youthful mistakes can always be rectified. While people motivated by profit have had incredible power to influence trends and reputations, those with less financial stake ought to take it as their duty to resist these tendencies and to question the supposed absolutes of the market. Our present errors should serve as encouragement for the next group of young artists deciding between short-term rewards and the long game. In a moment of monotony and conformity, artists must reclaim their freedom.

Daniel S. Palmer is the Leon Levy Assistant Curator at the Jewish Museum in New York.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of ARTnews on page 42 under the title “Go Pro.”

Copyright 2016, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. 110 Greene Street, 2nd Fl., New York, N.Y. 10012. All rights reserved.

  • SJP

    Great article Daniel. As a fifty something emerging fine artist- with a successful illustration career- I know the business pressures but you can’t let that compromise the art and that is what happens to many artists. Yes, they become producers and not creators, just to pay bills and turn a profit, for a while. Don’t know that I can blame them or the galleries. Anyone who really needs to make art does anything to make it happen but your article does cause one to think of where their art would go if they didn’t have to do “more of the same” or go with the trends that sell.

  • This is a powerful profile of professionalism gone wrong! Thanks Daniel!

  • Wonderful article. Important lesson on ‘be careful what you wish for.’

  • Martin Mugar

    I used to get worked up when Jed Perl would voice his disgust with the art world in the early 90’s.I am no longer appalled.Glad you reminded us that nothing has changed although it does seem slicker.

  • Taylor

    Very good summary. The salient part is that it is all straightforwardly true, like an update for folks not involved in the art market, with not one polemical word. This is a good piece to pass around.

  • A narrow and slanted summary of the internal workings of the arts trade market. The notion that dealers make money off of artist is somewhat exaggerated. In reality Artist make money off of dealers and the intense work it takes to consummate a sale. To exclude the efforts and risk art professionals around the globe take with every work and artist in their program should be considered malpractice. Many sales these dealers take on additional risk of guaranteeing future value. The reference to artists from the 20th century. Reflects a total disregard of today’s arts world of limited borders and concentrated markets are long gone. Let’s remember role, collectors and creative competition have changed.

    • Taylor

      I checked out your site. Note that you might get a cease-and-desist for using the Frieze and Art Basel brands on your site as fake banner ads, copied and pasted as JPGs.

      • If that’s your best response, than my points must be valid. Your reply is typical of an extremist. Instead of a verifiable counter argument you’ve dipped to the lower denominator of human discussion -the name calling, insults which is common with false presenters and illustrates the a false agenda were 1/16 of reality is considered the truth.. Have the maturity to address a difference of opinion. Again your content is a narrow subjective view of dealer/artist relationship and if calling you out upsets you than there’s more going on. If what you are saying is true who the victims and violators, have confidence list them. Good luck and we hope you deal with the real issues you are battling with.

  • Linda Borne

    This article is not the quality of work this media is known for. THE EDITORS NEED TO CHECK IN. I agree with Global Art Network their on point.

    • Clarniluan

      Linda Borne! People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. You need an editor of your own, certainly a spell and punctuation check.

    • Alessandra Martellacci

      *edited for everyone’s comfort* ‘This article is not the quality of work this medium is known for. The editors need to check in. I agree with, Global Art Network, on their point.’

      It’s still poorly structured and the word choices are… odd, but I am not a content editor. :)

    • Richard Brooke

      Most of us normal people know what you meant- all good.

  • AmyElizabeth Malcolm

    Dear Daniel Palmer. I can seriously tell you that behind my studio is a corn field. My work is genuine and hidden. My inability to professionalize myself, cripples my exposure which only gives me more ways to create through the frustration of making statements that no one will ever learn. We are the real. The challenge for you is to find us without the gallery and mutual friend touches. I will finish my MFA this summer at the new SAIC Low Res program. This is something you should see. All ages, from all over the globe, taking our skills, most of us after years of work, and crossing over disciplines. Find us. You will have hope in the emerging artist again.

    • Agreed Amy. Our studio sits on the side of a mountain. Nothing but bears etc. out here. No MFA though, just raw talent developed over years of blood, sweat and tears. Also genuine and well hidden…. Emerging artist, young or old, would gladly welcome such an interested party. We are still out here Dan, waiting, hoping and full of raw, fresh art.


  • Clarniluan

    Traipsing up and down and the one-stop-artshop that is Chelsea in NYC every few months for the last five years illustrates the truth of this piece. Zombie abstraction – great and apt name –
    in gallery after gallery, so boring. And boring is all that “point and shoot” photography, albeit expensively printed and presented. And boring are the increasing number of paintings that look like they were painted by five-year-olds – authentic when painted by a five-year-old (who in reality is fine-tuning their fine motor-skills), but not even cute when painted by what you, the viewer, knows is a sophisticated adult. If I find one single exhibition that is exciting, I consider
    it a day well spent and don’t resent my sore feet and the $58 round-trip bus fare from upstate. That there are so many interesting artists that can’t get beyond “Go” adds to the frustration.

    Nevertheless, horrible to read about the way young artists are used up like this and then thrown aside like a used tissue – I have often lamented the failure of artschools to include practical courses to prepare students for the real world, as in: how the art world works, how to get started as a professional artist, sustain a career, some business training etc., but now things seem to have gone in the other direction.

    • R Currie

      The Zombie Abstraction as you and author calls them, is so bad why is it selling. All works of art is not design to simulate everyone, that is why artwork should be showcased specific market segment. The “Mona Lisa” is considered a poor work of art by some so called knowledgeable people.

      • Clarniluan

        I think the author did a pretty good job of explaining that – and we’re not talking about all abstraction but the kind that is a variation on an existing theme designed perhaps for collectors who are more interested in interior decorating than they are in art. Also your response is indicative of the whole problem. Artists aren’t producers of products in the same way that a wall-paper or a fabric designer is. Most artists are single individuals working alone in a studio supposedly challenging themselves to make art that is about something other than decoration, and pleasing their dealer.

        BTW, in all my years as an art student, artist, and art educator, I never met anyone who thought the Mona Lisa was a bad painting.

        • R Currie

          People who have little knowledge of the context of the arts market or the economic and career role of the arts in global economy are the ones with a false notion.
          “Most artists are single individuals working alone in a studio supposedly challenging themselves to make art that is about something other than decoration, and pleasing their dealer.”
          Those same artist are in the market trying to SELL those same works to the public, either through a dealer or other venues. At the end of the day those “single individuals” are in the same position as other artists trying to earn a living.
          You have no valid point.

        • Richard Brooke

          Evidently, you ever encountered anyone that has done any serious research on the “Mona Lisa”. Just like you haven’t met any real art investors or collectors, if you did you know this article was BS. What about what some think they know compared to what reality tell us.

      • pomodu

        “The Zombie Abstraction as you and author calls them, is so bad why is it selling.”

        Its selling because its trendy for young “neophyte” collectors with gobs of money to play the artworld casino, They need something fresh and new but still with the distinct vocabulary of post war art. Abstract paintings fit the bill and why it never goes completely out of style. They look art-like enough with their splashes and drips (how radical), are quick to make, are usually big by convention (i.e., can be sold for more) — you can look like a real chin stroking sophisticated bourgeoisie with one of these matching the sofa in your loft. They, however, have absolutely nothing to do with the wider culture at large or the times in which we are living, they engender no questions about politics or the human condition, in fact they lack criticality or irreverence of any sort. They are simply big stupid paintings that will be lucky to be worth anything in 40 years.

        Also I don’t know who told you the Mona Lisa was considered a “poor’ work of art – what a ridiculous statement. The Mona Lisa is neither good nor bad, its too famous an image that it transcends these categories. Its the phenomenon of its own existence that makes it the work that it is. Like all art the context surrounding it is what gives it its value, not what’s rendered on its picture plane.

        • R Currie

          Then Pomodu your comment – “Like all art the context surrounding it is what gives it its value, not what’s rendered on its picture plane – is evidence of your lack of awareness or support even in your own stated position. One thing about those “neophyte” collectors they are the ones helping these artists earn a living, keeping these artists inspired and making a different. Furthermore, your statement, they are simply big stupid paintings that will be lucky to be worth anything in 40 years” – is the same claims made about Warhol, Sherman and Jasper Johns works as well. I guess those naysayers were on the wrong side of history as well. Good thing there’s this environment called “Free Market” you may have heard of it? Based on your comments on what is and not art most art movements would never exist today. OM! Reference to the Mona Lisa a comprehensive research endeavor would provide the names of numerous establishment figures who had disdain for the piece and a little digging would reveal the battle to keep it out of the museum.

          • pomodu

            Thats not really true. Warhol and Johns fundamentally altered the way the public consciousness thought about art, what it could be, what constituted legitimate art practice etc. You can’t compare them to some 26 y.o. with the newly minted MFA degree cranking out over valued and derivative works. There is no new ground being broken, the current vogue for abstract paintings doesn’t mean anything, there is no relationship to the wider culture, just a quaint and facile nostalgia for a tired genres. But it sells and the average amateur collector doesn’t know the difference. Yeah, artists like to sell work, and yeah art maintains a relationship to the the free market – but only in that it exists in some parallel universe out side the logic of market capitalism. That, really is what keeps it interesting or in anyway urgent. And by that I mean that crappy painting X could be worth 100k or it could be landfill depending on a set of circumstances completely external to the work its self. Or that another, different gesture that is completely ephemeral or otherwise not commodifiable could be widely celebrated as an important work. The problem with the current hyper-capitalist and inflated artworld, beyond the rampant corruption or dodgy collusion between its agents. Is that it over-values the cultural import of certain works at the expense of other more difficult work. These same nyophyte collectors are conflating monetary capital with cultural capital in ways that are hurting the wider art world. Its object fetishism and not interesting art..

          • R Currie

            You need to check your facts about the rise and journey of both Warhol and Jasper. Maybe you will learn that a chubby curator name Henry launched their careers. PBS has a comprehensive bio. Here’s the funny thing your disconnected theory about what makes critical work. Is identical to the context of critics who hated Warhol work, I guess they got that wrong. All your philosophical writing means crap. What’s so ironic you know you have little knowledge of the economic role artwork plays in current world. The work you try to reference was not even appreciated during the initial years after execution. Do a little research before you attempt to postulate about events you know little about. Evidently, you only have academic and some book acumen. In today’s arts market street knowledge and marketplace application is what sustained a career. The real world is not the classroom atmosphere where your theoretic experiments have no consequences. People like you are problematic. You don’t buy artwork , you just talk trash. My grammar is good enough.

  • Gerry Bell

    It’s a shame Palmer had to be so coy about the artist’s identity – maybe could have given just a few more hints about what it was that attracted him to the artist’s work – some of its distinctive features? Without actually naming names.
    But his report confirms the impression that even to be ‘an emerging artist’ is to be represented by a gallery, to be able to afford assistants and hirelings. Right away you can see what’s wrong with the whole marketing approach.

    • Richard Brooke

      There is a lot wrong with how we – yes we include me at one point -as artist approach the marketing process. More revealing is how we engage the arts marketplace. We are serious about work and nonchalant about the arts market – where we must engage correctly – Most of us know more about how to mix paint than we know about how to find customers or sell our work. That’s a reflection on the individual not on all artist. But this article is an exaggerated narrative, filled with conjecture and does reflect the reality in the streets. Representation matters because most art buyers won’t buy work directly from artist. A valuable article would cover topic which change the lives of us all.

  • Cara Ober

    Is Palmer suggesting that artists shouldn’t attempt to make a living from their work? Or that they should be merely happy to for him to visit them and take up hours of time when they could be working on their art for him to ‘conduct research’ aimlessly? The experience he presents at the beginning of this piece is sensationalized and extreme – it represents 1% of 1% of 1% of artists in this country. It is not indicative of the reality for the vast majority of artists who might be pleased to host a conversational studio visit with him for no apparent reason.

  • DMTX

    Great article. It’s a sad state, that young “artists” are made to be prized poodles by these immoral art investors. I know if I was given the opportunity when I was 25 I wouldn’t have been able to say no, though my work would have suffered a horrendous fate. I’ve known too many “artists” who in their late 20’s or early 30’s went on to Medical School or Law School or so on. I generally don’t believe someone is an artist till they tell me they’re an artist at 35 or older. There are exceptions to this of course and sometimes it’s quite apparent.

    There are still good art dealers in NYC. There are lots of devoted artists who are not in it for the fame and money. So many of what I call blue collar art dealers have disappeared out of Chelsea lately because of the skyrocketing rents. I can see a time when there are only 5 galleries in Chelsea, albeit with 5-15 spaces each.

    Artists need to pay for studio rent, and galleries need to pay theirs. So to have the audience it requires sales. But that’s different than speculation. What’s the answer? I’d say if you’re an artist, make work that’s meaningful to you. If you’re a collector, buy art that you love and not because someone else is certain of upward value. A good collector is supporting an artist’s career, not looking for a fast buck. Though in the long run they tend to do fine.

  • LNC

    blabbering bullshit.

  • Richard Brooke

    This article is BS, those of us who are earning a living know this article is propaganda. The people who declare the content is true are either struggling, jealous or too ignorant to know better. If you’re a struggling artist, stop blaming other people for your short comings, make a valid argument for your work, do the right foot work. You knew from the beginning this field as a career has never been a DIY or easy, so get over the delusionl. For those” Vulture” who thrive on negative unsubstantiated, victimization stories- who are you to determine what’s art? To publicly belittle artistic style on one hand, then postulate about the right to creative experience in another you’re the problem. Finally, when did Art News become a tabloid? If you don’t like my comment structure or grammar, I don’t give a rat’s ass. Go buy some art, artist don’t need your sympathy, give them your support buying their work. Oh! the room becomes silent

  • Jamian Juliano-Villani

    This article is good. I’m an artist and I know what kind of bullshit artist and accompanying art market Daniel Palmer is talking about. This article is not telling you to not live off making art. It’s telling you to not let other people to make a living off of YOUR art. It’s also pointing out unfair advantages some get, a leg up if you will, and that there seems to be little or no conversation about *what the fuck you are actually making* but instead one surrounding prices, auction results, and investments that one could make off of artwork.

    if you did a studio visit with an artist, would you want a stupid bro-circus and a slideshow dictating what you could ask? isn’t the artist lucky enough to have a curator over that took time out of their day to see you? and you should give other people the same kind of respect and not assume they are an idiot who is there for street-cred or financial gain?

    what the fuck is wrong with people? i would have walked out of that artists studio in after thirty minutes (even if they totally are a piece of shit person, i think under thirty minutes for a visit is disrespectful, even if it’s totally awful). Also, the author points out how astronomical the cost of an MFA is. He isn’t saying it isn’t worth getting one. but rather the cost of an education in “art” is ludicrous. you don’t need to go to grad school to be taken seriously. maybe i just get all revved up about art talk, like i said, i am a painter living and working in NY. but it’s just art! and we all know how lame and insular the art world can be, Palmer is just pointing it out. like Ad Reinhardt said, “art is too serious to take seriously”.

    • Richard Brooke

      First of all you are all over the map and lost. What does this article have to do with auction houses, nothing. Evidently you have a lot of talk but little knowledge of how the arts business many sub categoriesfunction. Most people know that auction report on resold work and emerging artist are part of that scene. Whose really need a reality check? How’s the DYI working? more to come.

    • -/-/

      I am also in NYC and my whole professional and social life is in the visual arts. I was forwarded this article by friends; we all agree that it is dead on. But my advice to them, as painters, is to not worry so much about this state of affairs. Personally, I think the artist is mostly at fault for allowing others to control him. It’d be hard to turn down money and fame, but what he is doing is business and he’s got to take responsibility for who he works with and on what terms.

  • R Currie

    Here is what’s annoying, all the believers of this article are either artist who can’t grasp the marketplace or angry art teachers who disdain collectors for spending their own money and these so called art teachers mock the work of many artists and if they could stomp on creative freedom. At least the collectors are buying artwork, what are these other people doing – nothing of consequence. I say put your money where your mouth is or shut-up. If you like/support artist stop applauding bull shit stories and buy artwork because you support artist. For all the fellow artist whose having a hard time, your issue is in the mirror looking back at you. Ask yourself “why are people not buying my artwork?” You will find out none of the BS in this exaggerated article have anything to do with your situation. None of us create artwork – accept for commission work – for money, but the big BUT, most artists offer finished work to the public to be sold. Since, some of us – artist – don’t know or care to understand the process to achieve a sale, we don’t. When you learn how the arts market operates your artwork will find customers. Get help!

    • -/-/

      Should we “get help” by hiring “R Currie” who operates “Global Art Network USA”?

      It’s a dead give away you are trolling for customers. Your website is run by “R Currie”.

    • GoofyGotKilos

      What are you talking about

    • Linda Borne

      Well said RC, the vultures circle to find a victimization story, but they seldom show- up to purchase artwork. They then go around demagogue collectors about what they buy. Whose the real manipulator?

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  • Linda Borne

    The first two paragraphs depicts an organized and professional artist. An example of a person who has a grasps of his position in the arts and his personal mission. What I get from Daniel’s article, he is used to unorganized and disjointed young artists and was pushed back on his heels to encounter a meticulous and knowledge team, working for their vested interest, he could not manipulate. Many artist are so disorganized, we think all artists should be. All artists should have the foresight and tenacity to be as organized. To whomever the artist and his team, great example and model. The remainder of the article is narrowed negative conjecture, based on limited microscope view of huge industry.

  • R Currie

    This article is speculative beginning with the tittle. The direction of article lack credibility and exaggerations is shameful. Here is a excerpt, para-4;

    “With the rise of speculative collectors cashing in on younger artists—many of them just out of school—whose work is made cheaply and en masse, and resold at a significant profit, there has also been a hyper-professionalization of the role of the emerging artist himself.” (My choice of pronoun is not by default: the artist in question is almost invariably male—the gender imbalance in the art market is on full view in this trend.) He has business cards, printed on fine paper stock. His website is pristine. His CV is extensive, and correctly formatted. He may have even hired a Hollywood agent. And yet the art market has refocused his goals toward short-lived commercial success rather than a career.

    — What is a speculative collector? Maybe the author should had look-up the definition of the word. Buying art from anyone especially an unknown artist is risky (speculative- involving a high risk of loss), therefore the notion that speculative is exclusive to this exaggerate situation is false.

    • Monsoonking

      A speculator is usually motivated by quick profit. Therefore, a speculative collector is likely to consider the probability and magnitude of a profitable flip above all other concerns.

      A non-speculative collector may be primarily motivated by aesthetic enjoyment, artistic merit, or patronizing artists and artistic production.

      Of course almost all collectors will consider both artistic merit and investment potential, but there are certainly collectors who fall at opposite extremes.

      • R Currie

        Which is it, a speculative collector, speculative speculators or a speculative buyer , The point being the author spin this scenario into a negation connotation to dramatized a false scenario. Furthermore, if the collector and the artists had a sell/buy agreement, – which amazing was not mention but refer toward the end of the sentence – resold. where is the negative which is indicated in this writing – there is none.

        • Monsoonking

          The negative is that collectors driven primarily by a profit motive tend to herd around a certain type of art and artist (in this case “Zombie Formalism”) that’s hot and proven to flip. Artists, dealers, curators, and museums are swept up in tulip-bulb mania, and artistic merit becomes a secondary consideration. In sum, artistic production suffers as artists work to feed speculators rather than create meaningful work.

          You could argue that, in the grand scheme of things, this is no huge tragedy. There will still be artists creating good work and the artists and collectors chasing trends will eventually crash and burn. This is perhaps true, but it’s a shame to see throngs of artists dedicating their careers to brain dead practices in order to kowtow to art-world power-brokers.

          Also, you’re not fooling anyone. It’s clear that “R Currie”, “Linda Borne”, “Richard Brooke” and “Global Art Netwrok USA” are all the same person.

          • R Currie

            Wow, you know much about nothing and don’t quit your day job, because as an investigator you are shitty. You are nothing more than a theoretical artist. You labor in classroom jargon. Those of us who earn a living know what you talking is fantasy. You utter the same words countless other people with your mindset and founded themselves on the wrong side of history. They were the ones who crash and burned. Warhol, Picasso, Koons, and Sherman had people who were struggling claiming the same crap during their early days. What do you know about collectors, by your statement nothing., You are talking fiction or repeating what some other struggling artist, or exaggerating writer puts out. You support this type of narrative because you can’t take responsibility for your own business failure. Its gotta be those evil collectors, gallery operators, agents, firemen, fisherman and the old lady with the crane. You have not said one thing that’s new or viable. . Here is another point, who in the hell are you to decide what motives are good or appropriate. If you want to dictate motives go to a communist country. Finally, I’m honored to be among people who have the balls to callout bullshit. To the other me’s, nice to meet ya.. I have twins,

            Too many time people like you dominant these comments with philosophical BS and crap you heard mostly from struggling, non-entrepreneurial dreamers. Very little of your comment is going help anyone. So, don’t quit your day job.

          • Monsoonking

            Given that this confused screed contains nothing of substance, I’m not sure how to respond.

            Good luck with your art advisory.

    • Richard Brooke

      Good discovery and a valid comment. But let me make a point, the arts business is not just about transactions between an artist and collectors. There are a plétora of other business that purchase artistic product and hire artist. What Daniel’s spin in this article is a procurement transactions which is normally between mass retailer like Michael’s a craft and hobby business – purchase en masse and artists. Seldom will a collector be engaged in what Daniel’s alleged most collectors have their own business endeavors. So, Daniel’s mis- represented, or exaggerated the narrative in that paragraph.

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  • Martin Mugar

    Zombie formalism is about the commodification of art.It aspires to pure commodity and nothing more. The people who do it know that. When they become good businesspersons to maximize their return on investment ,there is a no longer any dichotomy between production and the sale of the product. It is all one in the same. So I don’t see why Palmer is appalled. It is just the same old story. More Warhol, more Duchamp, more Calvin Coolidge: the business of America is business.

  • chihhsing

    The author was remarkably patient to put up with such an onslaught. It’s like asking a date to join you for an innocent afternoon coffee, and having the person show up with a bunch of humorless chaperones. It’s not worth a second date.

  • Richard Brooke

    The real arts market is not designed around the classroom jargon and fantasy. This article is an articulation of fantasy, biases and exaggeration. The author went to meeting thinking he would control the situation, it was flipped and the dissatisfaction plays out in this article. When has purpose and organization been seen as a detractor. Just thinking, how many established artists would like to afford an assistant? In is situation the artist had assistance, dealer and museum coordinator my God, when has that scenario somehow defamation of the establishment principles. Also, If age was a measure of maturity this article must have been written by a teenager. Most artists encounter the average person, those same people in general won’t buy from an artist on the street, what does that tell you? think outside the canvas?

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  • John A Sargent III

    This is a commentary on the current mechanics/business of the ART MARKET. My takeaway is that the business is ‘the manufacturing of “perception” of value.’ Value used in the speculative context. This is not an article ‘about’ ART. Reading the passionate responses indicates this is touching a nerve. Whose smoke and mirrors has dominance is important especially in the high stakes brokered market of the arts. There are plenty of investors who stand to win and lose according to what story has precedence. Business is Business as Business does and “perception” is everything. Thanks

  • Nonameever

    Very few stables are restricted to housing track horses, and even with Thoroughbreds or Quaterhorses, the stalls are generally filled with breeding stock or geldings used as companions to the tiny number of stalls reserved for the track. Stables are usually filled with pleasure horses or breeding stock.

  • Merle

    Unfortunately much of the gobbledygook nonsense spouted by these usually young artists covers a lack of substance. And sadly they appear to have been taught this “art speak” by their universities.
    An excellent article with my only problem being the writer’s “… making money off of …” – what’s wrong with just “from”? I thought only poorly educated Aussies said that!

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