Thursday, August 19

No More Monets, No More Picassos, No More Pollocks, Etcetera

I have a theory. It’s just my theory and my theory alone; it’s not based on any scientific or statistical analysis of any kind.

It is based on knowledge obtained by my reading and observation in both the physical art world (gallery openings, art museum exhibits, art news and magazines in print) as well as the virtual art world (online art news and magazines, art websites, artist websites, art blogs).

My theory is: there will not be another artist to emerge and gain lasting, worldwide acclaim and fame.

What does that mean? It means that the “art world” is now so fragmented, the competition among the huge number of artists so great, and the use of the internet so pervasive, that no artist will ever again be able to attain a lasting place of prominence.

Why do I make such a seemingly ridiculous and ludicrous statement? Well, ironically the internet age has had the effect of flooding the art market, so that the ability of any single artist to break out and achieve worldwide fame is greatly diminished.

Opposite to what you'd expect, the internet’s ability to target narrow and niche markets will mean fewer artists, not to mention fewer art galleries and art museums, will be able to promote their greatness to a broad, worldwide audience as mass communications once did.

To put it another way, there will be no “group-think” agreement on the greatness of any one artist going forward.

Artists, of course, and art galleries and art museums will not agree at all with my theory on this. So be it.

However, name me one artist since, let’s say, 2005 who has exhibited, sold, or otherwise garnered worldwide fame anywhere near the scope a Michelangelo, a da Vinci, a Monet, a Picasso, a Mondrian, a Pollock, or a Rothko—I could go on. You could make a case for Damien Hirst, but even he gained fame in the last century before the advent of the internet. (And, yes, I am aware of the notion that an artist has to be dead before he or she can become famous.)

Good luck getting a video of an artist’s work to go viral on YouTube.

Art’s best days are not behind it, but the landscape has changed. There will be no new artists of lasting, worldwide acclaim and fame. 

Until next blog…


  1. Five years isn't really a decent time to measure a major change in art history.

    Jackson Pollack and Picasso were both world famous during their lifetimes.

    I think that right now photography is the major art form (ack!). Steve McMurry is a household name and his Afghan girl has been as mysterious and entrancing as Mona Lisa. For a photo taken 15 years ago it has had some substantial staying power.

    Who will be the next Jasper Johns? We shall see. I don't think the internet stops people from uniting in a reaction to a single image.

  2. I know exactly the photo of the Afghan with her piercing green eyes of which you speak, and I agree that an iconic image is what it's likely to take for an image to become well known worldwide--whether art or photography.