Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Whither the salon?
From a comment by Curtis Faville that caught my eye on John Gallaher's excellent blog, Nothing to Say and Saying It:
I'm wondering what--if anything--was wrong with the old "salon" system, or the friendship system, or the editorial system--all of which pre-date the workshop system.
The great thing about private philanthropy is that it isn't democratic. I mean, if some rich person gives you money, you have no responsibility but to your own conscience. The "taste" part is nobody's business but the philanthropist's.
The problem with "public art"--of which the workshop system is an integral part--is that there must be the appearance of "fairness" and objective quality. As everyone knows, there's no such thing as objectivity in the media, and no such thing as objectivity in workshops. That includes the choice of instructors, the choice of students, the judging of work, and the familiar system of recommendation and promotion which institutions are designed to facilitate.
Art isn't fair. It isn't objective. It isn't respectable. It doesn't exist to make some people famous, or rich, or proud, or dignified.