Today’s Guardian carries a depressing story about the rise of the ‘mega-gallery’ in Paris (and elsewhere). The article is prompted by the opening of two huge exhibition spaces in Paris by Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac and the Gagosian Gallery. Both spaces have opened with big installations by Anselm Kiefer both of which, from a distance, sound fairly awful (I first encountered Keifer in the late 1980s and never did see what the fuss was about-apparently I missed something). However, what is perhaps most depressing about these art-barns is that Gagosian have parked their’s next to the airport at Le Bourget. The article quotes one insider as follows:
“These galleries are a symbol of the business and marketing of art … It’s a war machine,” said Laurence Dreyfus, art adviser and curator of the Chambres à Part exhibit at France’s flagship FIAC contemporary art fair.
“Gagosian is especially targeting a clientele that lives in the air. They land, fill their boots, and take off again.”
Quite apart from Dreyfus’ bizarre Deleuzian allusion (and as though FIAC were not part of the same ‘war-machine’), the image of these airborne art-hoovers is striking. Once again the distorting role played by xenospatial ultrawealth is depressingly clear. These galleries are effectively saying that the only audience for contemporary art that matters is that which can whisk in and out through the airport – too lazy and stupid even to get a cab into the city. Contemporary art itself (once again) seems to have been reduced to Kiefer, Hirst and the rest of that very short list of multi-millionnaire ‘artists’ churning out the same old stuff.
On the positive side, at least the rest of us know where to avoid.