Posts Tagged ‘ Art ’

ArtFeed- breakthrough content or just more marketing?

the Brooklyn MuseumOne glance at Twitter or just about any art museum’s website reflects how their marketing departments seem to be the only ones interested in adopting social media tools.

Don’t get me wrong, I think advertising events and such is valid and sometimes even helpful, since these are institutions we’re interested in. And yes, selling memberships is a good thing… But I can’t help feeling a bit like Peggy Lee and breaking into a chorus of Is That All There Is. Since these are creative institutions concerned with the art and culture of our time,  their outreach can/should carry the creative content rather than just point people to it. Give me something different and creative…Something that will make me like you.

That’s why I’m curious about the Brooklyn Museum’s announcement that it’s  about to launch a special feed on Twitter that will showcase the ideas of a specific artist once each month. It’s part of a special $20 “Social Networking Membership” called 1stFans, that combines this special art feed with exclusive events one day per month, free movie passes, and other sundries. They brazenly proclaim at the top of their page that 1stFans + Twitter = ART.

Man, that’s a huge statement to back up.   Huge.

When thinking about this initiative I have two concerns and a lot of hope. I mean, sure… I worry that they cannot back up their art claims, but Im also concerned that their packaging is all wrong.

I’m most interested in the art feed because I’m hopeful that it will not only present as a more interactive and creative way for people to experience the vision of the museum, but that the social dynamic will become a component of the art itself. They’re saying that they’ll have guest artists who will exploit the medium and create an interesting dialog. In fact they’ve even announced an open call for artists to participate. The museum has currently closed off access to the feed unless you’re a subscriber, so I’m in the dark as to how it’s being presented, but it’s a cool idea if they do it right.

Even if they do, Im concerned that combining it with membership could kill it. Look, if I still lived in the NYC area I’d probably join, in that I’d be coming to the museum anyway, and would want to connect in as many ways as possible. But I’m in Chicago now and while I’d like to connect and align myself with the BM brand, it’s not worth it to me….thus, I’m outside the fence, jumping up and down hoping to catch a glimpse…not a good brand impression.

This underscores a broader issue: People don’t pay for content online. In his most recent Digital article in Ad Age, Mike Vorhaus tells of a recent survey where they gave users the option of eliminating all display ads on their favorite sites for just a few dollars per month…a surprisingly low percentage said they would. People expect the internet to be free, and they virtually demand their social nets to be free. That’s free from cost as well as free from overt packaging. When the marketing groups get involved, it leaves  an odor that seems to drive away mass viral adoption. (and I say that as one who LOVES & respects marketing)

Combining membership dues with social networking could be a fatal step in the BM’s efforts to innovate and provide something really cool. If it’s a true art-as-social-media play, then take the walls down and open it to the world. The buzz and global acceptance will more than compensate your efforts. Add some other perk to the membership package if you need to, but don’t put up a wall between me and social online content.

It feels more like the guy with the idea for a Twitter art feed is getting comped based on the number of memberships he sells. It’s happened a thousand times – an early adopter puts too high a price tag on a great idea and falls victim to someone who comes along and does it dirt cheap (in this case, for free.). There could be far more negatives for the BM than positives, and their efforts could be nothing more than trailblazing a path for someone else to come along and do it right.

The Brooklyn Museum currently has 1196 followers on Twitter. The ArtFeed, which was launched just a few days ago has 12. Let’s see how this plays out…I wish them well.

OK, everyone in NYC, go see the Morandi show before it closes!

I’m feeling sad and a bit anxious that the Giorgio Morandi show at the Met is closing on Dec 14th, and it’s looking increasingly like I’m not going to make it. Morandi has been a major influence for me since I was in grad school at Bard, and it’s always been a challenge to place myself directly in front of good examples of his work.

Oh sure, there was a small minor work at the MFA in Columbus in OH (no, that’s not an oxymoron)…but it was a constant source of frustration that they presented it horizontally, on a table, under thick glass. Seriously, I’m talking about a painting here. Can you imagine?

Still Life- Georgio Morandi

Still Life- Georgio Morandi

Then there are the handful of works viewed out of context at various museums across the country, including  a small work at the Art Institute here in Chicago, memorably titled “Still Life” (Yes, they’re all titled “Still Life”). But to see multiple works in one place and dig into the nuance and subtlety of the work? THAT is a hard thing to come by. It got me poking around the web looking for comments about the show and how it was being received.

The one article that caught my eye was an October 28th posting of Bones Beat in the Village Voice. Bones starts off by admitting that he/she had met Morandi and forgotten him. Bones then notices that Morandi was an anagram for Mondrian (which I found pretty cool…Ill repeat that one and take credit for it). Bones goes on to say that Morandi is forgettable because he painted basically the same works over and over again, with tentative brush strokes, in a repetitious fervor that makes it impossible for people to recall a single, specific work. He goes on to say: “By the electrified, hungry standards of the last hundred years in art and society, this makes for boring, bland art that will struggle for footing.”

Ouch.

See, that one hurts because part of me thinks he’s right, and it makes me wonder if I want to be a part of the art world that would take such a position . I mean, compared to Jeff and Damien, Morandi is an awkward schlep…Koons married a porn star (who he provocatively presented in his work), cast Michael Jackson and his chimp bubbles in porcelain, and is basking in the glow of a recent retrospective.  That’s nothing compared to Damien Hirst, who sold a stuffed shark this past September at Sothebys in London for $17.2 million dollars. He also has presented rotting cows to simulate copulation, and displayed sheep preserved in formaldehyde and maggots attacking a cow’s head.

Now consider Morandi, who spend his entire life in the same Bologna apartment with his mom and three sisters; teaching in the morning and painting in the afternoons. Every afternoon. Without fail. He walked through day after day, trying to do what he loved, overcoming the monotony and repetition by clinging to the things that gave him hope. I think Morandi’s repitition is a point of commonality for most people…they all scramble to work, watch their days blend together, and try to remember points of significance along the way. And yet Giorgio doesn’t quit, and he remains heartfelt and genuine.

So yeah, to a world that likes to show up on the free admission day at the local art museum, visually skim across the walls, extract the controversy, and quickly categorize the experience, Morandi is sadly forgettable. And yet, when you connect with his work within the moment, and you feel him optimistically working it out fresh and new each day- his work can be as irresistible as a whisper and as satisfying as an erotic touch.

It’s easy to miss genuine heartfelt emotion in this world we live in..most of us probably brush right past it 10 times a day.

I’ll come back to Morandi in future posts and explain what I mean…for now, just get to the show if you can- don’t brush past it.