By Ben Davis

9.5 Theses on artwork and Class seeks to teach how a transparent knowing of sophistication is sensible of what's at stake in a vast variety of modern art's so much power debates, from definitions of political paintings to the stricken prestige of "outsider" and highway paintings to the query of ways we retain religion in paintings itself.

Ben Davis at the moment lives and works in long island urban the place he's govt Editor at Artinfo.

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Extra resources for 9.5 Theses on Art and Class

Example text

31 A state of affairs that simultaneously celebrates art and devalues it is bound to provoke some angst. Returning to the orienting example of Frampton’s letter, however, it bears mentioning that there is a difference between his labor as an artist and the labor of the other workers he mentions as benefiting from his work. In fact, the difference is encoded in the nature of the dispute itself: MoMA’s security guards and projectionists cannot decide whether or not they want to perform their roles, at least not if they want to keep their jobs; Frampton, on the other hand, retains the autonomy to say no, and can therefore bargain for better terms (whether or not he is in a position to win them).

I found the outrage inspired by the New Museum show salutary but trivial. In 2009, there were bigger problems in the world. The minor revelation in Cave’s profile was the glimpse it gave into the background that informed Powhida’s art-world satires (for the occasion of that year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, he created a drawing called Art Basel Miami Beach Hooverville, depicting the art fair as a teeming Depression-era shantytown). “Mr. Powhida is not comfortable in this world,” wrote Cave. “He was reared in upstate New York by a single mother who paid the bills with a government job, and he has earned his own living for the past decade as an art teacher in some of the toughest public high schools in Brooklyn.

Photo by John W. Beaman ONE Art and Class It was an article in the New York Times in December 2009—art fair season in Miami—that touched off the chain of thoughts that led me to assemble my ideas on art and class in a systematic way. Damien Cave’s profile of Brooklyn artist William Powhida tracked him as he moved around the aisles of Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual stew of art commerce and excess in balmy Florida, recording Powhida’s reactions to the spectacle as he went. It struck me as a strangely poignant snapshot of that particular troubled moment in art history, describing an artist trapped somewhere between longing and disgust.

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9.5 Theses on Art and Class by Ben Davis


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