5/4/10: The business of art as art

May 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm (art, culture, interesting, life, Uncategorized)

Gracie Mansion art gallery(left); Sur Rodney Sur and Gracie, circa early 1980s(right)

Yesterday was the last day of classes at SVA, which means that already I have a million ideas about what to do next year.

One of the things I’ve been kicking around is this idea of offering a class called The Business of Art as Art. The idea of the class would be to investigate different historical models of doing business in the art world. Above, I’ve posted a picture of the art dealer Gracie Mansion and her co-conspirator; they ran a gallery out of her apartment and even on occasion, out of a rented limo. Their way of presenting art was very different than the white-cube standard that is the norm for showing and selling work, and yet they did it and did it quite successfully for years. In a way, their gallery became a work of art in itself, a living kind of performance art, or at least a very different way of trying to make a little money and while supporting art that they loved.

They’re just one example out of many (and I mean MANY… there’s no shortage of examples at all). It leads me think about things like “art in the age of etsy” and about how as a teenager, I was drawn to art not so much as a way of expressing myself, but as a lifestyle, as an alternative to getting a normal job and working 9 to 5 with someone else as my boss. Sooner or later, as an artist (or as anything else), you bump up against the idea of “how am I going to support myself?” and I don’t see a reason why the answer has to be “exactly like everybody before you has.” We expect artists to be original or different in their work (even if they’re appropriating, because re-presenting is never the same as the first time), so why not in the way in which they conduct what is essentially their own small business?

So this is what I find myself thinking about on the first day of summer – how I would structure a class like this, what we would talk about, and what, very specifically, the goals would be. Immediately I know I would want a situation where each student would start their own business (this would be a requirement of the class) and the business would have to, in itself, be a work of art. But beyond that? That’s what I’m thinking about.



  1. Sur Really said,

    wow. that’s what google alerts are for i guess. fascinating. enjoy your summer.


    Sur Rodney (Sur)

  2. 5/19/10: The business of art as art, pt 2 « working said,

    […] wrote a post a week or so ago about a class I want to teach called The Business of Art As Art, and I think this fits in perfectly to that. This is a project, designed to make money (this time […]

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