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The work of art, the work of curating


[ed. Note: James Rosenthal is responding to a post by Sid Sachs that was responding to an earlier Rosenthal post.]

Post by James Rosenthal

I’m sorry Sid Sachs misconstrued my comments as whining and felt compelled to post his rather authoritarian “been there, done that” response on Artblog. It is disappointing to think how many in administrative positions in Philadelphia don’t really appreciate the art world constructs that define the devising, marketing and distribution of art. Much has changed since the days when cavalier artists and critics seemingly reshaped everything.

The studio is no longer the only place where art is made and there is now room for all sorts of collaboration between curators, artists, critics and the public. In this sense, artists resemble film makers and musicians and this goes well beyond that tired “Van Gogh/Pollock” paradigm.

I’ve noticed that artists come in all sizes and persuasions but, for some reason, curatorial process remains much the same and often validates itself and art in traditional ways. At some level, it is the suppression of new ideas and attitudes by the status quo that slow new art’s momentum and it is the lack of new types of initiatives in our fair city that very much holds Philadelphia back regardless of what many think about how hard it is to change things. It is certainly not as simple as Mr Sachs suggests. Artists cannot afford to wait for recognition- they have to define their own context with or without the crucial currency created by exhibitions and often without any mentoring. Some do this by writing! It’s an absurd notion in this day and age to ask people to work in silence. I suspect curators of the old school are perhaps happier to wait for so-called geniuses (ie established artists) to die so they don’t have to interact with them in person which is far too much work. It would take diplomacy and a broad curatorial palette.

When Mr Sachs suggests that yours truly, “do the work” we know he is simply saying that I should do something he likes. So, who is the lazy one? As for his jaded attitude towards creating a new arts publication, merely an idea at the moment but a good one, we don’t need that kind of help, though his suggested title of Deadwood would be an excellent name for such a worthy enterprise. (images are from Rosenthal’s solo exhibit at SPECTOR.)

-James Rosenthal is a Philadelphia artist and writer.


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