Barry Schwabsky considers two exhibitions – Come Together: Surviving Sandy at Industry City, Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim Museum – and what they tell us about the effect of the art market on both blue-chip and lesser-known artists.
Schwabsky writes: "It’s a challenge for any artist’s work to withstand the exposure of a grand museum retrospective. Wool’s paintings do. Technically impeccable in their ultra-refined grittiness, on their own terms they maintain a great sense of unruffled presence, never recessive yet without palpable design on the viewer. They are just passively aggressive enough to provoke a curious viewer to try and draw them out… It’s no insult to Wool to point out that the star system so beloved of art collectors (and the museums they sustain) has little or nothing to do with the value of what modestly successful or unheralded working artists make. As an effort to show the breadth and energy of contemporary art at the grassroots, 'Come Together' was a success, but it offered no cure-all for the capricious inequalities imposed on the art scene by the vagaries of the market in a time of ever-increasing upward distribution of income. Every underdog is someone else’s overdog."