Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bruce, T-Shirts, Museums and Marketing

It's Saturday and while other people are sleeping late, I've been writing away like mad. I've got a new piece up at Chez Namastenancy and another at the Examiner.

SF Museum Examiner

A press release arrived with today's collection of e-mail that SFMOMA, in partnership with the Gap, will be selling T-shirts with images from the Fisher collection. Some of the artists listed are nationally known- Kerry James Marshall, Ed Ruscha, among others. The list of merchandise is pretty comprehensive, including mugs, T-shirts, hats, notebooks, sketchbooks, luggage tags, business card holders, water bottles, coffee tumblers, and tote bags that will feature the 75th anniversary "starburst" logo. Print-on-demand posters featuring artworks from the suite of SFMOMA's 75th anniversary exhibitions will also be offered.

There's been a lot of discussion on various blogs, including Tyler Green's, regarding museum policies and ethics. Both the New Museum in NY and the MOCA have come under fire for hiring former art dealers as their new directors. The economy is the bed rock of all these money related choices. Some arts journalists and bloggers criticize these decisions but, lacking a royal patron, I don't see how else some of these organizations will survive. Some of us have lived in a little idealistic bubble, making art for art's sake and never examining what comes tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is here.The economy is bleak, there is little government support and if museums are to survive, they have to make difficult decisions. Some of those choices involve merchandising t-shirts and coffee mugs, blockbuster shows and private parties for those with some jingle in their pockets. In Cabaret, the ring master of ceremonies sang the catchy little ditty that money makes the world go round. It was true when the Parthenon was built, when Rembrandt had to declare bankruptcy, when Van Gogh was depressed over his lack of sales and it's true now.

The right man for MOCA: The Daily Beast Arts Coverage:

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