Friday, March 14, 2008


When the Richard Prince show closed at the Guggenheim after being up for four months, I solicited mini-reviews as comments, and didn’t get a single one. I did, however, receive at least 10 emails from people, mostly fellow artists, telling me that they didn’t see the exhibition because of disinterest or lack of time, which is disinterest in disguise because if they really wanted to see it they’d find the time. But the other unspoken reason has to be the entrance fee. Duh! Because I have a press card I just never think about it. The Guggenheim doesn't put their entrance fee on their Web site that I could find, but I think it’s $17. The Whitney is $15 and MoMA is $20. And again, if people really wanted to see something, they’d shell out whatever. However for an artist to keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on in the four major New York museums, not to speak of places like the Cooper-Hewitt ($8), the Jewish Museum ($12), the New Museum ($12) and the Brooklyn Museum ($8), it gets very pricey. The Met’s “suggested” fee is $20, which is nice—try making a "suggestion" to MoMA sometime. So the question then becomes, who are museums for? If a museum does not exist to stimulate the art of its time, what is its purpose?


David said...

MOMA offers artist's memberships at reduced rates (if not free), a friend of mine has one. We have an out of towner membership which is also much reduced. And we have no problem paying less than full fee at the Met. Do you know if any other museums offer reduced rates for working artists?

CAP said...

The admission price is hard to pin just on a museum's role of displaying historical work to the public.

Ought there be a price and how high? - are a bit like asking the same of education. The funding does not come (just) from the government, so a museum can reason that it has to raise revenue somehow.

But actually I wanted to get back to Prince's survey at the Gugg. I too noted the lack of enthusiasm, somewhat at odds with the honor conferred by such a show.

He's had the Art 21 treatment, a slightly reluctant review by Eleanor Heartney in AiA, but I think there's the nagging suspicion that he's really second rate, that the text works come in way behind Ruscha and others, that the photography was just a couple of paces behind Appropriationists like Levine or Bidlo, and that the Nurse things are never going to 'bad' enough, or Prince a good enough painter.

But the guy is obviously connected, well liked in important places, so we all go through the motions of a Gugg retrospective, for someone whose work only looks a little scattered or thin for it.

Anonymous said...

I'll second what CAP said -- there is a nagging suspicion that Prince isn't worth the hype. The Gugg's high ticket price coupled with lackluster work might have kept people away. I went to see it as a "must-see" and left wondering why I felt I had to see it and why I keep paying so much. Unlike other museums that consistently have good shows and are worth buying membership for, the Guggenheim always seems scattershot and not worth building a relationship with.

birdspot said...

I see everything at MOMA because I have an artist's pass - I too was wondering if the Whitney and Guggenheim offer similar memberships? I would have gone to see Richard Prince but for the admission fee...

Philip Shade said...

To me museums, while nice, are more to enshrine a moment, or a movement. Not necessarily stimulate art and artists of their time. Keeping a collection and displaying it costs money. It's that simple

I think artists want to be inspired for free they should just look at the world around them.

If museums really are that important to an artists inspiration they should move down here to DC, all the museums are FREE!