I came across a lively discussion of the state of the collector driven art market on Edward Winkleman's blog. It is certainly worth a read.
I propose that what is occurring in the art market is merely symptomatic of the larger global economic trend. Independently owned niche galleries are being pushed out in the same manner that Wal-Mart and other corporate fuedalist states have crushed the small business owner. Now, all across America, you can find a small selection of generic items amidst a vast categorical one-stop shop. It seems that the art market is becoming a high end version of this, the successful galleries offering the high turnover selection of name brand artists in every style, all under one roof.
Can we solve the recurring problem with a genre-specific band-aid or should we not get to the root of the problem and re-establish the vital diversity needed in our society at large?
Genetic diversity is necessary for a species to be successful. When the species lacks diversity, the species lacks adaptability and vitality. Diversity is necessary culturally for the same reasons. So, why would it not be necessary for art, when art is so integral to civilization as well as to each individual (whether they know it or not)? Below is one of the responses from the discussion which I find concisely states what I mean.
What I think is needed is a capitalism of ideas. Philosophies and criticism and aesthetics need to be able to partake in free debate, violent disagreement if necessary. Museums, curators, critics and even academics should fight it out, there is NO NEED for agreement, NO NEED for consensus, history solves that over time in it’s own way, the culture ultimately decides on what it chooses to value.
However, I do not think one can stop the weed without getting at the roots. We need to restructure the corporation to a more democratic system. As it is, the corporation is essentially structured as a monarchy. And because of the growing power of these corporations (Wal-Mart alone made over $360 billion in 2005, more than the economies of all but the 21 richest nations!) we must take notice. These should be labeled as they are: rogue monarchies, and all it would take is for them to hire a "security force" and they could be as dangerous as Napoleon, if not more.
That which I call the 'Art-Mart' is only a fever. The real sickness lies deeper down. If we value our diversity and our freedom of choice, we need to re-evaluate how we do everything. Society has become truly global. The world is changing, and if we want to survive, we have to change with it.