June 5, 2007
"Is your interest in emerging artists limited to photography or do you look at painters as well? If so do you have a couple of names for me. [clip...] Also I'm moving to New York August 15th. Do you have any tips on how to find good artists?"
The truth is that I don't keep up with the non-photography parts of the contemporary art scene as much as I'd like to. If you were to press me I might mention someone like Natalie Frank. Critics imply she can't help but give into her pre-raphaelite urges to make things visually lush, but that's exactly what I like about the work... the thumbnail on the top of this post is one of her paintings. It's titled War. These are best seen in person.
I also like many artists like Rachell Sumpter whose work has a lighter feel, but is witty, relevant, and sometimes happily subversive. The piece below is titled Baghdad Boogie.
And then there are artists like Yang Shaobin who has recently been making portraits of miners in China (he's not exactly an emerging artist but...) who I admire but never think I'd like to own one. That's how I decide if I really love something. The desire to possess is my ultimate approval stamp.
As for finding out about new artists the easiest thing to do is to wander around NY with a gallery guide, mark the galleries you like, get on their mailing lists and start going to shows. And then of course there are scores of art blogs. One of my favorites is paintersnyc (2 of the artists above were blogged on paintersnyc) . The artists highlighted usually have new shows and the blog always inspires fun comment threads.
I painted (badly but of course with great enthusiasm) when I was in my 20's and in my own life the collection of specific paintings that mean something to me is much larger than the collection of iconic photos with similar impact so perhaps I should pay more attention to painting... and yet I can't help shake the feeling that contemporary painting forms almost no imprint on culture at large, that the canon is ossified, and that what's left is artists making art for each other or to be hung above sofas in fancy apartments... My wife says that today everyone thinks of themselves as an artist or a potential artist which might be part of the problem.
The reason photography is so exciting is that the canon—especially the art photography canon—is still largely unwritten. Photography is a medium in it's infancy and its artists don't suffer the weight of history nearly so much as those who paint. Also, perhaps just perhaps, because it transforms easily into bits to be seen on computer screens photography has a chance of staying relevant in a world less interested in the work of people who do something as archaically wonderful as putting paint on canvas.