RECEIVED A NEW book a few days ago and wanted to share a few thoughts about it with my readers. The book, i sold Andy Warhol. (too soon)* is written by Richard Polsky, also author of I Bought Andy Warhol, written some years back. Polsky founded Acme Art in 1984, an art gallery in the Bay Area of California — the same year I co-founded ART TIMES with Cornelia Seckel. He had begun his career in the art world a couple of years earlier; I had been writing artist’s profiles about the same time, writing for various publications since about 1980. So — generally speaking, then, our “art world” careers are commensurate in duration — but that is where any similarity between our experiences abruptly comes to an end. Oh, we both traveled the world a bit in our “art world” careers — I’ve been to Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and China for exhibitions, art studio visits or for giving lectures — Polsky to probably many of the same countries — but, again, not at all to the same places or to visit the same “art world” denizens. For one thing — and it’s important — is the term “art world”. I’ve kept it in quotes purposely, since — although there are plenty of ‘definitions’ — there is no clear or consensual agreement of what this “world” consists of. Even more troublesome is the word “art” — something that no one today seems to agree on. In regards to Polsky and I, there seems to be absolutely a glaring gap between what he considers “art” to mean and what I mean by the term. And as far as our “worlds” are concerned, we may well be referring to different planets. Polsky is dealing in the “world” of — what he calls — “high-end” art — a term he seems to like since he uses it often in his book to describe “high-end” dealers, “high-end” collectors, “high-end” buyers — in brief, “high-end” movers and shakers in his “world” of “high-end”, if not “art”, then surely of money transactions. To my mind, Polsky seems to only consider “art” as “art” when it translates into “high-end” prices. This “world” is far indeed from the one I’ve inhabited for the past thirty-or so years — especially since my “world” is heavily influenced by Oscar Wilde’s astute observation between “cost” and “value”. I have had some brushes with Polsky’s world — a visit to Sotheby’s (where I felt like an alien — and was, I suppose), a visit to my home by a dealer in “high-end” art who blandly stated that I had “shit” on my walls (“shit”, I suppose, was his way of saying “low-end”) but these, as I say, were merely brushes with a “world” I had no desire to inhabit. The artists I know, have written about (and have hanging on my walls) are, I suppose “low-end” since none (as far as I know) have brought in millions of dollars. Polsky, incidentally, tosses around millions much like our government tosses around trillions — most certainly an alien planet to me. So, I guess I’ll just have to plod along in my “low-end” benighted world with artists who can only dream about millions. Still, you might like to pick up and read Polsky’s book — it certainly engaged me — even if, at times, it made my hair stand on end and my teeth grind. One thing’s for sure — I could not have survived as many years in his “world” as I’ve done in mine.
*Other Press LLC, NYC, 2009. 269 pp.; 5 ½ x 8 ½; Where to See Artists; Sources. $15.95 Softcover.