New Museum, Old Problems


Art, General Culture

The two most exciting things about New York’s New Museum are a) the building and b) the semi-hip abbreviation used when people talk about it: NuMu. Of course, that’s just me, and all I’ve seen at the NuMu was its very first show. Anyway, you have probably heard about the current kerfuffle about the museum, now elevated from Tyler’s blog to all over the web and media world via an article in the New York Times.

(slightly updated below)

Tyler’s blog contains a lot of posts about this, here is Jerry Saltz weighing in, as is Paddy (and more:”Let’s face it, that doesn’t look great for the museum. It’s not a great idea to be so closely associated with one commercial gallery. […] all these ties to one collector who is also a trustee make me nervous.”), and some people - for example Regina Hackett - don’t see anything wrong with the show in question at all (interesting reasoning: “About those ethical problems: I have them with museums featuring trustee collections only when the collections are mediocre.”) Just in case you’re wondering I’m siding with Tyler in this whole affair (because the idea of being a member of the “purity police” - Hackett’s phrase - is too tempting).

But my main problem with all of this is that I actually really like contemporary art, and I’d like to see more of it (even though not necessarily the kind of stuff the NuMu had in its first show). But what I’d like to see less are scandals and kerfuffles like this one, which will only confirm what a lot of people think about the art world, and especially about the contemporary art one: Namely that it’s all just nonsense, with a bunch of insiders having fun at the expense of those gullible enough to expect, well, better. That might well be the one thing that a lot of people - especially those who don’t follow the art world that closely, but who read the front page of the NY Times - will take away from this.

Good job, NuMu.