Even if it is by the guy who edits the offshoot art mag of N+1 (which I also read and like often…shhh!). It’s just a good explanation of what’s happening now in painting, which, as is usually the case, can apply also to the changes we are seeing in most mediums.
“A strange cycle has set in, whereby the most valuable attribute an artist can have is “promise.” With a lot of big bets being placed, the artist has to be both young and verifiable. In other words, marketable. But almost none of our superstar artists have delivered on their promise. The big investments from the last art boom in the ’80s, for example, have not matured in any sense of the word. Like the society-at-large, the art world is turning into teenagers and aging teenagers.
To really grow up, we have to be able to decide what is really good. Art world insiders have trends but few criteria. The word they most often use to describe art is “interesting.” Reactionaries have criteria, but no art. Their favorite art word is “bad.”
So the people with the most energy, a.k.a. the avant-garde, have a particular responsibility in this kind of situation. They have to find a way to use the word “good.” After that, we can talk again about something being great.”
When did we become afraid of greatness or at least acknowledging it? We say, I am obsessed with this or that old record is my favorite, but hero-worship and the actual admitting that someone else has done something phenomenal is seldom seen in these parts. It’s gauche now. But really, how can we ever be great individually without touching upon the idea that excellence exists, collectively? How can you be better than (or at least on par with) your idols someday if you break them down to nothing before you begin your own projects? I’m trying to make an effort to use “good” more often—not “I sort of love this,” not “eh, this could be better,” but more, this is GOOD and this is why. Criteria and discernment are helpful tools, but in a time of cultural paucity (and that’s what this decade is), acknowledging and crowning the winners becomes more necessary than ever. What makes this curation democratic is that everyone’s tastes are different—what’s good to you may not be to me. But I celebrate your desire to clip at the heels of your heroes, whoever they may be.