Narrower Career Path For Artists

There’s no doubt that in the recent past commercialization has dominated the art world, and thus the criteria for determining what’s art and who’s an artist has undergone a certain contraction.  It turns out how this seems to be accomplished seems even more radical to what ought to go into defining art. A study published in the journal Science looked at data from 127, 208 auctions, 497, 796 exhibitions, 16,002 galleries, 289 677 exhibitions in 7,568 museums in 143 countries over the years  1980 to 2016 and the authors were able to track  the professional trajectory of about half a million artists. What it boils down to is that if you live in New York or London and can exhibit in one of the 400 or so elite galleries like Gagosian in New York City, then you’re set as an artist and your reputation is set for life. This is particularly so if the exposure is early in your career and preferably within the radius of MoMA and the Guggenheim. This select “network core” the authors admit is from “a dense community of European and North American institutions, underlying their access to a common pool of artistic talent.” This means that Van Gogh, Modigliani, even Picasso and Matisse might have had a very hard time being recognized. The gatekeepers of the art world are obviously very few and exercise an enormous power over a very exclusive system.   Communities not associated with the core, from Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia are isolated and share artists among themselves the article found.  It is a system designed to ensure the financial rewards of those associated with it,  and it would seem that when so many are left out, criteria for art would have to be redefined or bent to suit the needs of this narrow circle.  One must ask, what happens to all the artists who do not fit these narrow confines and whose work would likely expand the definition of art?