Abstract

December 03, 2014, 9:52am

Over Processed?

The art market is really a miracle of evolution…it is a machine…and all this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks. Like a shark, if it stops moving forward it will quickly die. To prevent this from happening, the art market has become exceedingly good at generating and packaging the next best thing. In the old days critics and curators thought long and hard about visual culture and classified periods of time and groups of artists accordingly. These days things are moving much too quickly. We used to think in terms of  –isms, but now we become briefly aware of trends.

At any given time there are numerous trends flowing through the art world. Of all the stakeholders, it is perhaps not surprising that dealers value their emergence the most. After all, there is great marketing leverage when an artist can be attached to something greater than his or her own individual practice. Collectors love trends to. It makes things super easy. Just look for something that people are excited about and buy anything that kind of looks like it. I see plenty of this in my art dealer life...these "collectors" typically have much better ears than eyes.

NICOLAS DESHAYES |Vein Section (or a cave painting), 2014, vitreous enamel on steel, powder-coated aluminum frame, 33 1/10 × 23 3/5 × 1 3/5 in, Courtesy of Jonathan Viner.

Of all the trends that will be on display in Miami this week, one strikes me as particularly pervasive: process-based painting. And one fair has more of it then any other: the ultra hip Nada Miami Art Fair. Even a cursory look at what treasures the fair will hold quickly reveals that an overwhelming amount work that belongs to the same family. Moreover, this work is spread across the stables of a wide swath of galleries. When looking at it, descriptives that come to mind include: abstract, anti-compositional, vintage, distant, cool, decorative, seductive, all-over, photographic, entropic, pattern, digital, repetitive, patina and processed. Artists that come to mind: Polke, Oehlen, Wool and Guyton.

There is no doubt that abstract painting has been the most exhibited art form over the past decade, and it has come in a variety of brands. Lately, there seem to be more and more artists who are defining their practice not so much with a specific subject or style, but by the way in which their work is made. Bleach, printing technologies, fire extinguishers, photographic chemicals, the sun and more have been deployed in the service of aesthetic advancement. The results are varied. Artists such as Hugh Scott Douglas and Sam Moyer, both of whom are on view at Miami Basel, are making substantial work and truly pushing the discourse forward. Many others are finding their way.

For those of you in Miami this week i will be curious to hear what you think. Are we witnessing the birth of Process-ism, or simply being offered this season’s hottest trend? - Steven Zevitas, Publisher

Listed under: Art Market, Art World

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