Read our review of Barry Avrich’s latest documentary, Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World, which features the likes of Marina Abramovic and Julian Schnabel.
Barry Avrich approaches the art world with a penchant for thoughtful wit and genuine concerns in Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World, his newest documentary which premiered this past week at the annual TriBeCa Film Festival.
The documentary is a responsible look at the top end of the art world- as responsible as one could consider the subject and all of its wild… tendencies. Capturing the arrangement from all sides, Avrich’s “Blurred Lines” is an organized primer of sorts on the state of the art world- or more correctly- art market: a robust network of very rich people, very powerful gallerists, important tastemakers, and of course, the artists. Avrich’s film gives a glance at every element of today’s art world, from fairs to auctions, giving a delicious insight to the workings and secrets of each sector.
For Avrich, it’s not about convincing viewers which is right and wrong- it’s about letting the audience decide for themselves. It’s a charming and often jarring approach, in which money-loving gallerists are pitted against “let’s talk about the art” gallerists. The documentary faces the “brand” artists (think Koons; Hirst), who managed (unwittingly or not) to make the art about money. It’s a critical moment that suggests that “do it for the art” is a half-way attempt to justify the innate to desire to simply get rich. If anyone is doing this right, and accepting that they want money and toying with perception and the power of money will get it, it’s Koons and Hirst. Nothing takes the eye off money faster than being able to laugh about its futility. This is what Hirst and Koons, among others, enable.
The inverse is the art that doesn’t involve money- Avrich taps Marina Abramoviç for this- her sensitivity toward performance and the fleeting, apparently un-buyable nature of it.
The auction houses are fascinating spaces that reinforce- and offer price upfront. Arguably- though never addressed straight on- is the idea that auction houses have made money and value the center of attention- it’s not gallerists: one of the chief complaints of just about everyone in Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World is the lack of transparency in pricing- and no one is worse about it than gallerists.
The film gets into museums and establishment, and the complication money has caused here- in that museums are vying for work at unsustainable prices, becoming increasingly reliant on donors and loans. Private collectors are opening more museums in their own interest- not a new phenomenon- but certainly changes the access for the public- and the prestige of being in particular place- which can do wonders for an artist’s worth.
Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World is informative and not overwhelming, and Avrich really does speak with the top of the heap in terms of who’s-who in art- Julian Schnabel, Marina Abramovic, Rashid Johnson, Vicky Ward, Michael Ovitz, Amy Cappellazzo, as well as many museum directors, including those at LACMA and The Met.
Final screenings for Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World are taking place tomorrow (27/3/17), SVA Theater, Beatrice at 3:00PM as well as 9:00PM Saturday at Regal Cinemas, Battery Park (11-10).