Art Workers and Art Thinkers. Fascinating.
That's a quote from Art Powerlines' thoughtful digestion of that Times article about other people making your art. Jeffrey Deitch is convinced that the artist is a philosopher and not a craftsperson. And yes, I have too much personal experience with the tiered system:
Art thinkers, who all went to Columbia and Yale and don't know how to put a drywall screw into a wall but are expert networkers and self-promoters. They get their art made by art workers who blew in from skill-based crappy state school art programs like my alma mater and were never taught to always talk about yourself. Always.
I would like to add that this is a uniquely American system, in which the art workers are exploited specifically because they believe they could get somewhere... but whatever. That's griping, and griping places myself too squarely in one camp when what I want to do is offer Door Number Three.
There is a lot of art out there that doesn't have to be made by the artist, and if artists are paying fabricators a decent price, what is there to judge? But who on earth honestly believes that making is not thinking? Matthew Barney provides an interesting platform off which to jump, because he struggles with this system. Everything that is interesting in his work is about the experience of being an art worker. And his numerous faults are an active negation of that lowly, dirty status of maker.
This is unfortunate, not just because we have to wade through the effects...
(slicky-slick art objects that are not particularly informed or imbued or lavished or wrought, often paired with hours and hours of ponderous video that brings navel gazing to new heights of inanity)
...but because there is a baby being stuffed down the drain here. To state that the making of the thing matters not because artists are philosophers and not craftspeople is absurdly narrow. There are too many people who are actively thinking with their hands and bodies and coming up with new, relevant propositions for this classist system to make sense.
For once the art world is fair! Yes, this rich kid=brilliant genius, poor kid=exploited immigrant system is either being taught or tolerated at Columbia and Yale. But there are too many people doing something else for Deitch to conclude that this is the New Artworld Order.