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The big fat full-color investor’s report that has been kicking around my house since October has gone through some changes in the past few weeks. At first I thought Buckminster Fuller on Artforum’s cover could only mean that the economy’s screwed. His big fat face peering out from the corner of a black-and-white arial photograph said "There’s no money to be made anymore." And, truly, that might be what his work means to the artworld, but the mag is still it’s monstrously large self, packed with ads for art. Maybe next month there’ll be a skinny one, like the late 90s.

It was nice to see Chantal Ackerman get the nod (her current travelling exhibition started at the University of Houston’s Blaffer Gallery last winter), Ed Albee (he works at the same school) collaborating at Peter Strum in Soho, Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher (their piece at McClain’s Bloodline really stole the show) at the Kemper in Kansas City and Project Row Houses’ founder Rick Lowe garnering some credit for work done in Los Angeles on the Watts House Project. The Menil Collection’s Neohoodoo show ended up as #8 on artist Nicole Cherubini’s Top Ten. There was a lot of good stuff to like even before getting to dissecting R. Buckminster Fuller. It felt so depressing, it all seemed like a prognosis for slow, entropic death, the artworld chasing ephemerality until exhausted. 

Now in November, the Southeby’s and Christie’s auctions starting today loom over gallerists heads. In just happy things, 80s rock stars A.R. Penck, Cindy Sherman and Keith Haring all warrented big ‘ol advertising dollars for new shows. Well, maybe Penck isn’t a rock star. In just sad things, there was a lot of money spent on promoting Miami’s various December festivals and fairs- the events that have thrived in the pastdecade seem poised to be the canary in the mine for the artworld bubble. Neohoodoo is out there if you’ll be in South Florida this winter. Even more peculiar- the spotlight on Fuller, once shallow and subjective, has changed in the light of an American election.



cyclindrical fullerene


OK, the guy invented the geodesic dome and has an exciting techological breakthough named after him ("Buckyballs"; buckminsterfullerene) He rabbited on endlessly somewhere between Cy Twombly and Le Corbusier. He designed all sorts of shit that was never built. He didn’t pick sides, he made decisions. From ‘who cares’ to ‘I care’ is not  to be taken out of context; but it is a lovely repudiation of culture war values, identity politics and unilateralism. In the context of a presidential campaign extolling the same virtues the practical applications of Fuller’s societal reconfiguration come alive in grassroots organization, integration of disciplines and the proliferation of images and meanings.

Whatever was gained in leaving art’s essential commerce in a patronage system throughout Modernism, Fuller points to what we lost. Art was beholden to leftist politics as soon as the non-profit system was realized, and in the end the capitalism that took the place of the government after 1995 left the academic system in place that had bred the identity politics of postmodernism. Perhaps if a few decades we can throw another label onto the latter half of the 20th century in art, but for now it is defined as the answer to Modernism’s big questions and big statements. Fuller was experimenting as a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist" in the heart of the Modern world, in the 1930s and 40s. Hexagons and triangles and spheres amounted to an extension of the Bauhaus until you started to play with them. Sounding like a William Burroughs inflection of Thomas Friedman the artist points in the same direction as Nikola Tesla and John Cage. As autocratic as conservatism, liberalism is a wedge between the artworld and the public- but it is breaking down. As capital flees auction houses the shape of the artworld will change dramatically, and might effect me personally. I really wonder what it’ll look like.

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0 Response

  1. _scott

    i don’t want to sound argumentative but why not write a review of the show instead of tearing apart someone else’s? i get the distinct feeling that lomabardi isn’t too well received around here but given the hype around the opening, it seems like something at least worth covering, positively or negatively.

  2. Ivan L

    Well _scott, the short of it is that this is my blog and I can write about almost anything I feel like writing. The long of it is that i think that one of the main things that is keeping the Austin art scene from improving by leaps and bounds is a dearth of good arts writing. Obviously I’m not implying that this blog entry counts as good arts writing but it does count as a response to bad arts writing.

    I agree with you that the show is something worth covering, positively or negatively, and I certainly plan to.

    I think your comment that Lombardi isn’ t too well received around here is probably due to what I said at the end of the third paragraph but honestly, that assertion can aply toany show in Austin or almost any art show you ever see. So to clarify, that was definitely not meant as a bitchy remark about Gallery Lombardi.

  3. David O

    I’m reminded of that episode of The Simpsons where Ned Flanders tapes everything that comes on TV so he can watch it frame by frame to find all the evil parts and write letters, or in this case, a review of someone else’s review of a show, and their website shortcomings.

  4. _scott

    i agree with you that austin could use a lot more quality coverage but these days we take what we can get. someone mentioned on another blog that it’s “summer time and the living’s easy”, yet every artist i know is as busy as ever. and i don’t know any gallery owners who are taking a summer break. there were 3 openings in austin last weekend alone (angie renfro at workman, conjunctured co-op space first show, lomabrdi) and besides the austinists lomabardi review (which, btw, i agree with you on) i’ve yet to see an article about. not to mention i can’t seem to find anything about nat23 from any of the obvious outlets which to me borders on bizarre.

    talking about a dearth of “good” writing. i’m not seeing much of any writing at all. and a simple listing in the chron doesn’t count.

    to be clear, this isn’t a criticism of glasstire (i enjoy your site very much) as much as an observation regarding coverage of the austin art scene in general which, from where i’m sitting, seems to be alive and well.

  5. Ivan L

    …and let me add two more openings that happened last weekend: Justin Goldwater at Domy Books and Jesse Butcher at MASS Gallery. There’s certainly a lot going on and there have been some weird gaps in coverage lately…

  6. aarondubrow

    the Austinist has been advertising their need for fine arts writers for the last six months. No pay, but plenty of exposure. I applied myself before I found out I was going to India. Maybe you should become a contributor.

  7. Ivan L

    It’s pretty fucked up to ask for fine arts writers and not offer any pay other than “exposure.” From an entry at Gawker:

    “If you’re an employee or an independent contractor or a freelancer and some entity or website is making money off your labor, you deserve to be paid. It doesn’t matter how solvent the company is—they’re still selling ads and making revenue.
    It’s not only for your own good that you should demand to be paid, either. People working for free (or for depressed wages) drive down the pay for bloggers who do get paid for their work.

    Blogging for free, no matter what the circumstances, is not being a good, loyal employee. It isn’t a way to hang on to your job. It isn’t some sort of heroic act.

    Remember, free-bloggers: someone is making money off your work and your content. It’s just isn’t you.”


  8. assmaster

    I don’t think Lozano can take constructive criticism.

    “the short of it is that this is my blog and I can write about almost anything I feel like writing.”

    You should really consider contributing. It could do you and your writing some good.

  9. _scott

    domy makes me happy… and i did see a review of butcher’s show on the austinist. ok mountain has him listed for an upcoming show there as well.

  10. Rainey

    Friendly reminder: Glasstire pays its writers, and better money than a lot of pubs out there. We’re ALWAYS looking for good writers. Email us at info@glasstire.com with writing samples if you’re interested.

  11. David O

    I do free stuff all the time. As a matter of fact I lose money pretty much every week by cranking out an art show. None of the local galleries are crying to me about it though. And if they do I’ll tell them they best just keep on cryin.

    Blog on free bloggers! That’s the beauty of blogging, no one has pursestrings. And if you do it well enough you can probably sell some ads and get paid, all capitalistic and stuff, instead of waiting for the grant fairy to come and make you jump through some hoops. Get a job as a receptionist or something.

    And for the record; a workman is worthy of his hire. That’s why I don’t do the intern routine. And my place pays models a little more than the local going rate. But I’m not gonna yell at a model who works a free gig. Know what I mean, Vern?

  12. rachel

    Hi Ivan,

    you should come see the show in person, the virtual realm way is tooo far out. I didn’t mind where she wrote we were ‘fearless’ that’s a good word for the show. We normally do it every other year, but everyone thinks it’s an annual event, the last one we did was actually 3 years ago. It was so craptacular that people remember it like it was yesterday.

  13. rachel

    ha. good one. A couple of the erotica artists have told me about this place:
    I can’t believe it exists, this is the really scientific stuff here. ha. ha. that guy Kinsey was a real swinger.

    Ivan you should review our next show anyhoo. It’s a 4 person gem. Hector Hernandez, Enrique Martinez, Eric Uhlir and Mindy Kober. Sept. 13th “I’m watching my stories” Hector named it and I’m stoked how it’s coming together.

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