Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Politics Of Culture

In a recent article for the IHT, The troubled marriage between art and money, Alan Riding discusses the politics of money when it comes to art, the quagmire museum curators find themselves in throughout the world, and the subsequent debate it is triggering in France.
This follows Riding's interview of Frédéric Martel for the NYT, American Culture's French Connection, about the English version of Martel's book De la Culture en Amérique, in which the author "challenges the conventional view in Paris that (French) culture financed and organized by the government is entirely good and that (American) culture shaped by market forces is necessarily bad."

As Riding writes, "Long before Salvador Dalí earned the anagram nickname of 'Avida Dollars,' little survived of the romantic notion that art was above money." A tough call for the French, who have a particularly psychorigid notion of culture. The debate over culture and money is currently raging in France, as evidenced by the reaction of curators in the French daily Le Monde, Les musées ne sont pas a vendre [Museums are not for sale], which prompted a caustic rebuttal by blogger Lunettes Rouges, L’art, quelque chose de trop important pour être confié à des conservateurs? [Art, something too important to be put in the hands of curators?]

The good news is: there is debate. Which means change has a chance. The articles, and Martel's book, are worth the read for those interested in the subject. [related]
[see Google for a translation of the French articles into English]
illustrations: Merchants of the Temple, by El Greco & Mickey weather vanes Google Images