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Why Aren’t Books Per Se Sufficient for Public Consumption on the Art Market?


nada art fairThe irrational bibliophile in me

is rehatching an old egg because of

a trend I saw

last night at the NADA Art Fair, here in

Miami Beach. In case you are unaware,

NADA is a nifty acronym for New Art Dealers Alliance. Some of the art was quite good. I would even say that some of the art gave me pause, made me stand close, and inspect what the artist had done.

But, to be honest, there were other works that disappointed me, like a wall covered with photocopies of pages from random books, each page rearranged with underscores and blacked out strings of words. And a similar video installation turning through the pages of a book that had entire paragraphs blacked out

to call attention to the structure of the page as opposed to the content.

Some art smacked of Dettmer’s excavated books, cut up and contorted

to create something new and fresh. As if books weren’t already artistic enough.

As if books needed the help of artists to make them cool, meaningful.

Why aren’t books per se sufficient for public consumption on the art market?

Why do artists think they have to manipulate books and their pages to create

so-called art?

It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I see a book as is, and it is art. I don’t have to cut it up like Brian Dettmer

to expose the artistic value of what is already the finest work of art human eyes will

ever see and human hands will ever create. Books are art. Don’t you get it?

Seriously! I’m sick of seeing mangled books in the name of so-called art.

Sick of seeing pages of prose with certain words blacked out so that it reads

and looks entirely different from what the writer intended. How would you artists

like it if writers came along and cut up copies of your most prized paintings to

create something new and fresh? How would you art enthusiasts like it if writers


off part of Brancusi’s Bird in Space, or blacked out one of van Gogh’s shoelaces and

wrote this is a shoelace in white in its place?

or put a patch over Rodin’s Madame X, took their pens to the marble, and practiced


All in the name of creating something new and fresh?

How would you like that?

December 4, 2009 1:23 am

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