The New Whitney Museum is open, and amaaaaaaaazing (Oprah voice emphasis) ! I swore I wouldn’t visit for the first month, because- crowds, ugggh. But, I broke that promise to myself and took a bit out of an afternoon to wander through the exhibit America is Hard to See. The premise of viewing America through the Whitney’s permanent collection seemed daunting and migraine inducing at first. I entered all like “Error: CANNOT COMPUTE.” But as I strolled through the floors, the myriad of connections that make up the nation began to seem natural.
Of course it didn’t take me long to find the first piece I wanted to pose with. Richmond Barthes’ “African Dancer” was near the start of the exhibit and was poise and grace and all that jazz in plaster sculpture form. According to the didactic this piece was most likely inspired by this bomb Langston Hughes poem, “Danse Africaine.”
The low beating of the tom-toms, The slow beating of the tom-toms, Low…slow Slow…low— Stirs your blood. Dance! A night-veiled girl Whirls softly into a Circle of light. Whirls softly…slowly, Like a wisp of smoke around the fire— And the tom-toms beat, And the tom-toms beat, And the low beating of the tom-toms Stirs your blood.
All of this got me to thinking about other images of dance that have stuck with me through the years.
In sculpture there’s another famous tiny dancer by Degas. He’s also known for his paintings of dancers by color.
In contemporary art we can recall the Ernie Barnes of Good Times fame. Those Keith Haring figures seem to get down as well.
Most of us grow up informally interacting with art. Because I can only process life as related to popular culture, I always saw connections between what was presented in the art world and my otherwise mainstream consumption patterns. The reasons behind this are as follows:
1. I was born and raised in the Art Capital of the World (New York-not Paris or wherever you’re thinking).
2. I have since chosen to live in or visit places with vibrant art scenes, and tend to partake in either the old formal art there or the newer art scenes (New York, Boston, London, Paris, heck…even in Lisbon).
3. My family and friends like to actively and purposefully seek out art. Some of them even create art.
4. I really liked history courses. And history teachers always want to reference what was happening in art at the time. Always.
So, with this being my life I can’t help but noticing the art world, as an establishment, cropping up in unexpected places. I came to the conclusion that Art is Now POP! It’s pretty much mainstream and everywhere.
This post’s title: “…the art world doesn’t belong to the art world anymore” comes from an article written by Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine. His argument is more about art, capitalism, and rich people. But if you think about mainstream and pop culture, a lot of it comes from what the upper classes have determined as worthy. So if the art world belongs to the rich, it is eventually going to be popular. And if Art is Now POP!, then it deserves the same treatment as everything else that’s pop. That includes tons of affiliates writing, commenting, and postulating.