LEARN: How to Survive the Contemporary Art World

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Contemporary Art World But Were Afraid to Ask.

from The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style

There may not be an instruction book of how-to survive the contemporary art world, but Pablo Helguera has provided his readers with a handbook with the next best thing- a manual that traces the highs, lows, uncertainties, and insecurities that artists, curators, and writers have no doubt faced in their day-to-day encounters.

Helgeura’s witty and sarcastic account of the rituals of the art world reveals coveted information that few are willing to reveal are fundamental to an education not found in university texts.  Whether you’re an active player or a curious spectator, stop making up your own rules about the art scene and consider purchasing your own Manual of Contemporary Art Style to find out if your behavior is acceptable or reprehensible.

After reading and re-reading the “Manual” you will likely stumble upon etiquette you never knew existed, and learn a thing or two about contemporary art in the handy glossary of terms. Pablo Helguera is an artist who is not afraid to break his own rules.  A visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York Helguera’s own projects and has admitted to going against his own advice and matters of etiquette as presented in the Manual of Style.  In addition to his own complex art practice Helguera has worked in contemporary art museums since 1991, he transitioned to the museum culture and worked most recently as head of public programs at the Education department of the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1998-2005). Since 2007, he has served as Director of Adult and Academic programs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has organized close to 1000 public events in conjunction with nearly 100 exhibitions. In 2010 he was appointed pedagogical curator of the 8th Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil, set for September 2011.

The Readers: The Flaneur who prides themselves on keeping up to date in their reading materials and finds offbeat, quirky books irresistible,

The Pseudo Intellectual/ Dilettante who seeks acceptance in the illusive art world and will likely take the quick-witted sarcasm in the book seriously.

According to Helguera the Contemporary Art World is like Game of Chess and here are the pieces…

Museum Directors who are referred to as the “King” on the “Pieces of the Game” in Contemporary Art.

Collectors or Trustees dubbed the “Queen” as they are the “most powerful piece in the game and it usually the worst mistake to antagonize the queen since she is able to undo the careers of everyone else in the game, including the king.”

Curators are the “rooks” who have “unilateral power depending on support given by the queen and other pieces.”

Critics are the “bishops” who “move diagonally giving the impression that they do not have a particular bias left or right.”

Dealers are the “knights” who “travel far to international art fairs, carrying their artists with them.  Those who mount the right horse may indeed reach success.”

Artists are the “pawns” who are the “least and most important pieces of the game.” Artists working in all media will want to better understand how to less shamelessly promote themselves, sell their work, and will continue to produce quality work that will ensure the longevity of their career.

Art Historians are likely already familiar with the “Manners of Style” on a pragmatic level and have may have never applied such practices in the real world.  Most likely… this book will find itself on a paint cart in the studio of an emerging artist, by the nightstands of gallery assistants trying to make sense of the gallery hierarchy, get buried under the desks of experienced critics who plan to read it for Helguera’s sarcasm, and in the hands of novice critics who will likely take his words to heart.

More from the Author/Artist: http://pablohelguera.net, @Estheticist

Art Slant Interviews Helguera: http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/rackroom/6724

The School of Panamerican Unrest” http://www.panamericanismo.org/

New York based Helguera incorporates an array of distinct areas of focus in his own practices which includes a fascination history, sociolinguistics, the absurd, and memory.  His extensive public arts project titled the School of Panamerican Unrest was a think-tank that physically crossed the continent by car from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, making 40 stops in between and covered almost 20,000 miles.

by A. Moret

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