Gatekeepers, critics, and invalidation.

Now I find recently even more “gatekeepering” and invalidation of integrity.

Financial Times in October 2010 did a piece about how the brilliant photographer Annie Leibovitz has no standing in the “art” photography market. Long short on it is because the gatekeepers don’t like the way she plays (who she is!).

As Jeffrey Boloten, a managing director of an art consultancy, puts it: “You do have to play by the art market rules.”  Apparently Leibovitz has failed this test, and therefore her credibility among the “movers, shakers and brokers” of the art world is low.

Well then isn’t it about time to dispense with the “movers and shakers”? I don’t suggest Annie follow the lead of Hazel Dooney an Australian artist of uncompromising personal integrity when it comes to her art and the relationship she has with the appreciators thereof. However, I would suggest a serious re-examination of how Annie wants to approach the marketing of her oeuvre.

I would consider the model of Jack Vettriano the painter/”postertier”. If only because Annie’s work falls into the multiply reproducable form and logically could (should) be marketed that way. To claim unexclusivity causes a lessening of the “art” of something as Mr. Boloten proposes “Rarity is essential and it is something that photography does not naturally have,” simply shows the gatekeepers don’t even know what art is. Vettriano’s work is not less impactful, or appealing, or interesting because you can get an example for $50, and more than a couple people have. Art is a communication from the artist to an audience.

And exclusivity, Ha! There are several hundreds of prints of various Ansel Adams photographs, and yet a single one, of over 1,000, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941” fetched $518,500 at auction.

Of course we’re not comparing apples to basketballs here as Adams is dead and the auction was secondary market, none the less 500k is not chump change.

The artist needs to be first true to their own vision, make their own statement, and bypass the gatekeepers. As the battle cry Ms. Dooney suggests “Art is war”.


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