On the Vanity Fairs Poll of the greatest living artists, Gerhard Richter was number one with 24 votes, then Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Cindy Sherman, and Ellsworth Kelly. These were the most voted for artists. Runners up were John Baldessari, William Kentridge, Jeff Koons, Ai Weiwei, David Hammons, Brice Marden, Ed Ruscha, James Turrell and Karen Walker.
Looking at these artists, it is a group of artists mainly directed inward. No powerful convictions. The artists of the 1980s and 1990s did poorly – remember Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente, Frank Stella received no votes, Robert Ryman also no votes, and Richard Prince one vote, and photography – nada! Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth a few votes, and as far as social performers, Marina Abramovic received three votes, and Damien Hirst received three votes. Tracy Emin deserved some votes! Painters, well Antonio Lopez Garcia received two votes and David Hackney three, which worries me. Of course some artists like Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly would have been included if they were alive. Vanity Fairs straw poll was chosen by 100 art world professionals (artists, professors of art and curators) makes you think.
I think there hasn’t been a powerful movement for quite awhile. In our prestigious museums most of the contemporary art has no power. It’s thin. Bigger does not make it better. And performance art well it is powerful in the moment but lasting, no. So I’m thinking…maybe he’s out there. The Marcel Duchamp of our time. Maybe he is one of our global street artists. The only artists, I can think of, that are confronting our society. Maybe it’s Bansky or Shepard Fairey.The big shifts in our world have been overlooked by the mainline artists, globalization, digital media, rampant capitalism, terrorism, media corruption religious fundamentalism, space exploration, did this all happen? If you look at what we see in contemporary art well you would think nothing has happened. But I haven’t given up, my next issue will be some up and coming artists that are dealing with some of these issues, that have touched on our time. Of course this is all from a western point of you. I think Ai Weiwei has the power to transform our world view and if you can catch his show at the Perez Museum in Miami you will be touched with the beauty and power of this grande artist. Bravo for the Perez Museum…. We need the Steve Jobs for art to rock our world. Wishing you all A Happy New Year!
The best book on modern art written in a long time is by Will Gompertz, a former director of the Tate Gallery and he has written this refreshing and irreverent overview of the art world and explains why your five year old really couldn’t do it. What Are You Looking At? Is a must read. And if you want to know how to forge a painting and a look into the world of struggling artists wrapped up into a literary thriller read, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro