The past year has seen collectors and auction houses creating their own art market. They’re essentially bypassing dealers, galleries, and critics, identifying artists on their own, buying works by those artists cheaply in great numbers, then flipping them at vastly higher prices to a network of other like-minded speculator-collectors. Thus, we’ve seen the rise of artists in their early 20s, male painters mainly, about whom the sole topic of conversation and interest is profit margins.
This annoying trend has been discussed in fits and starts — until this weekend, when the Artspace online magazine published Andrew Goldstein’s very long interview with the self-described “great collector” Stefan Simchowitz. (I’m one of his targets, though I don’t really care about that.) In 5,000 words, he manages to embody everything that’s gross about this new breed. Call it the New Cynicism.
Like many other middling collectors, Simchowitz is simply attracted to art that looks like other art. In this case, it’s easy-to-digest academic abstraction. What he does have is a knack for hype.