Art During Recession Times
Art is and has been present through out the History of humanity. It is a fact Art dealers are facing hard times during this time of recession. People have cut down on exorbitant expenses for art yet art in itself has not ceased to exist. Art in itself is part of the core nature of human expression.
Karl Paulnack, director of the music program at the Boston Conservatory, tells the story of Olivier Messiaen, a French composer who was 31 when he was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Messiaen convinced a sympathetic prison guard to provide paper and a place to compose; in January 1941, his Quartet for the End of Time was performed for 4,000 prisoners and guards. To this day, it is considered a masterpiece.
Paulnack asks, "Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? … And yet—from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art … Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. Art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are."
Stephanie Sturton, 24, of Detroit said that she is more than $75,000 in debt for school loans; cannot find a part-time job, paying internship or full-time position anywhere in the arts; and is currently working as a contractor for her alma mater and teaching after-school art classes.
“The economy is so bad right now here in Detroit, Mich., that people are not buying art, they cannot afford it,” she wrote. “Therefore I am not making any money with my art. I am teaching pottery to mostly Detroit public schools which are closing.”
“I am a painter,” she added. “I do not even work with clay.”
Diane Leon-Ferdico, 63, an abstract painter who lives in Elmhurst, Queens, pays the bills working as an administrator in the Hebrew and Judaic studies department at New York University. She said artists should have a backup plan but should not give up on their art. “I’ve done it all my life and still have had a good balanced life,” she wrote. “This too shall pass. Artists must continue to create no matter what happens around them.”
“I feel that artists are well equipped to deal creatively with such situations and with a bit of persistence and optimism, can turn this recession into a point of strength.”
Ms. Navarro added that she hoped the economic pressure would weed out “market-oriented art that is being churned out by the bulk. Onward!”
The art world itself will see things differently, of course. It decided long ago that it was a special case, ungoverned by the usual societal rules. I remember, back in the 1980s, interviewing that dramatic German painter Georg Baselitz, the one who specialised in painting figures upside down, and asking him if he felt any guilt about the astronomical prices his pictures were fetching at auction. Baselitz, who lived in a castle at the time, took a big puff on his cigar and actually blew the smoke out in my face, with the words: “What is better than a painting? Nothing.” Conversation over.