Today, so-called Contemporary Artists are extremely
successful and hip but they are not the only active
artists around. There are still Surrealists in Paris;
Abstract Expressionists in NY, In Amsterdam and
Rome you can find even Impressionists who still
paint landscapes, flowers and nudes.
These artists have their own magazines, their galleries
and their critics. They make exhibitions and there
are collectors who are buying their works. A few
of them are even very expensive. Societies don’t
disappear easily; people use to defend their style
and their way of life. The Surrealists still give
a lot of importance to Imagination; Expressionists
still drink a lot etc. Most of these artists try
their best and a few of them are unusual and charismatic
individuals. But their efforts are meaningless because
"Art"- a Dancing Queen in Life’s nightclub
is bored by them and she moved to other tables already.
When Art abandons a group of people she takes her
gifts back. Radicalism, the spirit of invention,
any fresh beauty and sensuality dries out.
What remains is only fatigue because for last, Art
takes away the specter of Power and Authority and
gives to some people: a bunch of new "artists"
who nobody had even noticed! These New People, these
barbarians become the new Art Stars.
Ninety years after Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, it's
time for a change again. There is a new planet -the
Internet- and we already live in it, there are Videogames
that are changing the way we touch the World but
still, while the psychological space of the computer
screen is ever-expanding, Contemporary Art doesn't
care. Quite all Artists who dominate the Art Market
today are working and socializing in the "Real
World". Either they are Installation Gurus,
or Surprise Artists, Social Agitators, and Nouveaux-Pop,
or just plain Painters and Photographers; they all
search, experiment and build their work (and career)
Contemporary Artists are constantly busy with Real-Life
and they produce Real Objects: a big photo in a
frame, a small unframed photo in an empty room,
a video played on a TV or a video projection. New
British Art. An old object in a new combination,
some paintings, a text that is suppose to be more
important as an "image" than an image
or some over-scaled dolls and other colorful toys
with metaphorical power. Stuffed animals and things
sealed in glass boxes so that they will look German
and serious are on the top of this list. And of
course we still test "Art" with the ritual
of the "Exhibition": everyone is evaluated
according to his/her ability of delivering shows.
Contemporary Art has become the "Art of Exhibition".
In this sense, being an Artist is now an academic
career, as well as a respected University Professor
is expected to produce a number of papers; a respected
Contemporary Artist must fill regularly the large
empty spaces of the Art Galleries and Museums.
Installation Gurus and Surprise Artists, Social
Agitators, and Biennial Fighters, Nouveaux-Pops,
or just plain Painters and Photographers who know
how to entertain with their carefully planned exhibitions,
the clan of these artists, together with their curators,
collectors and dealers, is the Clan of Contemporary
Art. It is powerful and exclusive, filled with cool
young people. Few in this clan have the time or
the frame of mind to experiment with the Internet
and videogames. Well, it's a pity for them because
they will be left behind once Art is done with them.
They will still have their galleries their Museums
and collectors but it will hardly matter at that
point. They will seam old, irrelevant, in terms
of evolution; they will be left “a step behind".
Miltos Manetas, New York 1997-1999
Published at "100 Years after Les Demoiselles
d’Avignon", a book by Miltos Manetas.