In an email received earlier this week the writer was saying that a particular curator had precise intuition of “what’s hot and what’s not” in the art world and that a specific subject was most likely “not”. So what is currently ‘hot’ in New Zealand art? A book I picked up today asked “is art whatever the people with the power say it is?” So is what’s hot basically what the ‘hot’ people say?
Also, what is ‘hot’ in a 20th century/contemporary sense? I’ll be honest – I had to look up the definition of contemporary art and there seems to be two. Its either art produced NOW (and what does that mean? – art made last year isn’t contemporary?) or art produced since World War II. If its the latter – I am all over it, if its in the present, well I guess I am lagging a bit on that. As an aside, when do contemporary artists cease to be contemporary?
In NZ art there is a line up of post WWII (contemporary?) artists that I call the ‘usual suspects’. Names that include Hanly, Walters, McCahon, Hotere etc. I guess my list was influenced early on by the book “Contemporary New Zealand Painters (Vol 1 A-M)” with photos by Marti Friedlander. I also see many of these artists have produced what is now called ‘investment art’ . The thought of buying art purely for financial gain is as bad to me as choosing an artwork based on the fact that it matches your couch. However it means you probably know the artists I am talking about.
Someone said the other day “XXXX is hardly mentioned these days in the canon of NZ painting–or is he?. What’s his position in NZ art history now?…”. Is there some sort of ranking system, obviously not official but based on what? sales/prices? My own view is hopelessly skewed because of my personal interests, research and those artists and their works favoured on a emotional basis so I can’t tell. I was going to do a quick survey of galleries, sales and exhibitions and see whats comes up frequently, but if Paton said there is a ‘glut’ of art, I think its positively a slurry. In Gaylene Preston’s recent documentary ‘Lovely Rita’, Graeme Sydney said that these days “artists are thick on the ground“.
You know, anonymous, non-sanctioned art is so much less complicated…
Well that’s a lot of questions. I’ll keep a look out for answers but I am unlikely to find them as I’ve never been one for trends and fashions.
So I leave you with a Marti Friedlander photograph of an artist who probably is ‘not’ (except in my universe) with some paintings and photos of some that are. A chocolate fish to the first person who can name her (its an EASY one).
EDIT: I guess no one likes chocolate fish – maybe too iconic?