March 2, 2005


I love the idea of a reality show for artists.
"In the 1970's when I started in the art world, no self-respecting artist would have stood in line to try to get on a television show," said Jeffrey Deitch, whose gallery, Deitch Projects, is helping to create an art-reality show called "Artstar." "It never would have happened."
Back in the 50s and 60s, ordinary people got excited about art and followed the celebrity artist like Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. And Picasso was still around, with all his star quality. But ordinary people haven't followed art in recent decades. So art needs a reality show to make it relevant again. Artists lining up in SoHo to participate in the show is a nice follow up to the big Christo stunt in the park. Even if the art isn't all that great, it's good to make art popular again!

And maybe the show is good for the artists. Why assume the current system for selecting artists is better than a contest?
[M]any of the artists who were braving the icy wind on Wooster Street Monday morning said that if trying to break into the art world through television was a little silly, it was no sillier than many of the other ways that artists try to attract attention in the highly competitive New York art world.

"It's so much about luck," said Arnulfo Toro, 28, who recently quit a job working as a painter for Jeff Koons's studio, where he said he was dissatisfied by the pay. "You can be really bad and get the go-ahead and be really good and go nowhere. We all need a godfather to give us a start." But despite camping out in sleeping bags beginning at 6 in the morning to get a place in line, neither Mr. Arnulfo, a painter, nor his friend, Peter Knutson, 30, a sculptor, made the cut yesterday to a group of 32 semifinalists.
Finally, just as a matter of good TV: art gives us something to look at and TV is a visual medium. I note that the best episode ever of "The Apprentice" involved selecting and promoting an artist.

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