Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Young Artists

When it was founded in 1977 by the legendary Marcia Tucker, the New Museum in New York was one of the first museums dedicated exclusively to contemporary art.  (You might say that the name and concept of a "new museum" are contradictions: aren't museum's meant as repositories for art and artifacts, to be preserved for the ages?)  Anyway, the New Museum bills itself as "a leading destination for new art and new ideas."  Are new art and new ideas largely produced by artists in their twenties and thirties?  A forty year old artist would have been excluded from the New Museum's original 2009 triennial as well as the second, recently opened iteration.



The art world understands the concept of a Biennial or Triennial as a general survey of significant art produced over the last two or three years--sometimes the art is unified by a theme, sometimes not.  In both cases--particularly 2009's "Younger Than Jesus" (according to the Bible, Jesus died for the sins of man at age 33)--the prevailing theme of the New Museum's triennial seems to be youth.  This year, the selection of artists is at least contextualized by historical events--"“The Ungovernables” is an exhibition about the urgencies of a generation who came of age after the independence and revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s," the Museum says.  But the oldest artist is 39, suggesting an age-based criterion was in play. 

Is this superficial?  What is the relevance of age?  Do you find the "revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s" to be a convincing means of bracketing artists under forty? 

1 comment:

  1. If this is a way of giving younger artists a chance to display and gain exposure, I think it is a great idea. It is hard for people to get a foot in the door and the more interesting takes on art available the better. If it is a way to create early links to these artists for market speculation and increased museum prestige then I think it is narrow-minded and dangerous. Age-based criteria are tricky and troublesome, but I guess we are a culture that places emphasis on youth and is obsessed with the new. Wasn’t Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings done after he was 33 and didn’t Rothko work on his mulitforms when he was in his 40s? Those are interesting developments that would be dismissed with this line of thinking.