December 22, 2007

Paintings with Expiration Dates

It is that time of year again. Officially 2008 with regard to new works. For the last month of the year I spend my time preparing the parts for mosaic constructions, making gesso panels, priming papers, and all other material preparations for the new year. It is a rhythm of working that is a result of both pragmatism and the way that art is arbitrarily assigned expiration dates in competitive juried exhibitions. That's right. Art work expires after two to three years.

Most curated exhibitions in museums and galleries ask for work completed within the last two or three years. This is ostensibly done to discourage people who have no new work to exhibit and are merely "recycling" old work. This edict can, however, inadvertantly penalize people who are very productive - producing more work than can be shown in a given year. The work can sit in a studio or gallery for a few years then cannot be shown in public exhibitions because it has "expired." It might never be seen after that.

This may also have the insidious effect on artists to not respect their history and to lose perspective on the progression of their work over time. It even gives some vendors and potential clients the idea that an "expired" work is now in the realm of bargain basement negotiations for price reductions like out of date clothing or a used car. So before we all start leaning in that direction, it may be a good idea at the end of this year to take stock on the way we view art and remind ourselves that although treated as such, it is in fact more than a commodity.

A somber, reflective note as the year closes. But there are many things to be optimistic about as the new year approaches, which I will write about later.

No comments: