These two quotes from Coco Fusco and Christian Haye's 1995 Frieze essays on David Hammons reminded me briefly of, say, gala artists and, say, Jacob Kassay, respectively:
'Visual art may be the obdurately white and upper-middle class field of our culture. I have a notion why. Art objects are tailored for physical spaces owned or controlled by the social elite. To make appropriate objects for or even (or especially) against the spaces takes even more than talent and more than technical know-how. It takes intimate familiarity with those rooms where art enters history.' Of course, critics also have a role to play as gatekeepers of history, and Schjeldahl is sly to entirely shift this responsibility to the museum.For what it's worth, I also want to see if anyone's discussed Alma Thomas's Watusi (Hard Edge) in terms of Henry Louis Gates' theory of Signifyin'. Will look. Also, Christian Haye, where are you these days?
During the 80s the road taken by many artists was to become known for creating a visual style and milking it for a lot more than it was worth. The road less travelled is to develop that autograph and then drop it in order to invent an entire new language.