Last week we spoke about the role of museums in the art world. This is something that I have been thinking about on my own time when visiting museums and galleries. My biggest thought is that these institutions are deciding what art is important and what art goes together. When an exhibit is organized, it is the role of the curator to decide what artist will go best together to get their vision across. The audience is then guided into thinking a certain way.
At the Clyfford Still Museum this past semester I saw the selections of Stills work chosen by Julian Schnabel. The public has never seen much of this work. What was presented was what Schnabel thought was necessary for getting the idea of what he felt Still wanted his audience to feel. I also realized that this meant that there were a lot of other Still paintings that the museum had that have never been shown to the public. This meant that somebody was deciding what the imporatant pieces of Stills work to evoke the emotional response that Still wanted to present. I find this problematic especially with abstract expressionism because everybody has his or her own response to each work. I find individual works to mean much more than others contradicting another person’s feelings completely.
I continued thinking about this concept of the museums being in control over the way we consider art history while visiting the Portland Art Museum. They had four different floors of contemporary art. These were then divided into different movements of the contemporary art history. These were decisions that the museums made. The museum or curators then decided what artists would be placed into each movement and what artists would work well in conjuncture with another. They were writing art history.
I have no problem with the role of museums in art history as long as you are aware of it and capable of making your decisions. The museums are by no means wrong and are essential for preserving art history.