Saturday, July 7, 2012

Observations on Art 7.7

Due to the astounding number of magazine subscriptions I have I've become the unofficial gallery librarian. I'm always throwing new ones on the table figuring somebody should read them if not me so it wasn't surprising one of our friends picked up an old issue of The New York Times Magazine yesterday. What was surprising is that it was one I never read so when he said "I bet you loved this article" I had no clue what he was talking about.

It was an article about Edward Conrad, one time Bain Capital founder and Willard Romney employee, (The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy), who also happens to be one of the largest donors to Willard's campaign. What follows is the paragraph that got his attention and than mine.

"At a nearby table we saw three young people with plaid shirts and floppy hair. For all we know, they may have been plotting the next generation’s Twitter, but Conard felt sure they were merely lounging on the sidelines. “What are they doing, sitting here, having a coffee at 2:30?” he asked. “I’m sure those guys are college-educated.” Conard, who occasionally flashed a mean streak during our talks, started calling the group “art-history majors,” his derisive term for pretty much anyone who was lucky enough to be born with the talent and opportunity to join the risk-taking, innovation-hunting mechanism but who chose instead a less competitive life."

I get so effing tired of people who equate studying art history with something like basket weaving. As for competitive, it seems the man doesn't know much about the art world. He may have made a fortune with a company that destroyed lives in the name of profit but he has never dealt with Larry Gagosian, unless he has bought something from him. At a certain level I may despise everything Gagosian stands for but he is very, very, good at what he does.

What can you do with an art history degree? Let me see, curate museums and galleries, manage auction houses, value art and other antiques, work for a historic trust, be an administrator, a journalist, picture editor, exhibition organizer, or you can
just teach something you love.

I'm sure a man of Conrad's wealth has an impressive art collection. I'm also quite sure he paid a tidy sum to somebody with an art history degree to tell him what to buy, another to handle the transactions, and yet another to take care of his most awesome collection.

For the record Kate Middleton has an art history degree from St. Andrews University, I know who I would rather do lunch with.

Vent over, for now.

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