The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Art Star
It probably won’t surprise regular Art Fag City visitors to read that while I like the idea of an art world-based Bravo reality show, I’m not without reservations. Series such as these possess the potential to reduce the number of “artists only get famous after they’re dead” myths circulating popular culture, but just how much does an artist get out of participating in a show like this?
It would seem the outcome is mixed at best. Last week, Unutterable pointed us to a must-read NY Magazine feature on Bravo reality shows such as Project Runway and Top Chef, which exposed the cracks in the carefully constructed fantasy that gifted amateurs can break into the big time. Undoubtedly the most obvious art world parallel presents itself in the “Where Are They Now?” section of the article. “As a rule, it's the older, more established contestants who are best able to take advantage of their exposure, simply because they already have the means,” writes Jennifer Senior. This sentiment is reminiscent of those expressed by myself and Skowhegan’s Executive Director of Programs Linda Earle last year regarding their prestigious residency. Artists find it harder to capitalize on the connections made at the school when their careers are just beginning.
Although the NY Mag feature doesn’t touch on this point, the biggest problem the winners of this show are likely to experience will be having their art making practice pigeonholed. Successful artists already suffer from this tendency—it is a challenge to sell art that radically departs from work that already has an established market. But this phenomenon will only be exasperated by a series that generates notoriety through project based art work made within such a short period of time. Given that this preexisting rigidity in the market isn’t known to produce great results for art, the show seems poised to create just as many, if not more, artists unable to capitalize on their fame as previous Bravo shows.