The disintegration of globalization hits the art world

Organizations don’t want to be “world class” as much as they do; Companies often boast that they “hit the world”. Even the most universal competition, the Olympic Games, is loser that it luster.

why does it matter: Declining globalization has arrived, and the effects aren’t just being felt in earnings calls that include horrific words like “glocal” or “friendship.”

  • technical institutions, In particular, they spend much more time developing local communities, and less time trying to impress the global elite of critics and tastemakers.

What is happening: Art directors have begun to try to measure things like mental and even physical well-being as a measure of how successful their programs are, and they use terms like the “impact framework.” The idea, in essence, is that the arts are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

  • Cultural regions around the world They ask their local communities what they would like to see and experience. The desire to reach younger audiences often leads to concerts by famous musicians – an area of ​​the arts that has bounced back as fast as possible from the pandemic, even as audiences shun more novel material.
  • cities, After years of supporting large artistic organizations, we are beginning to focus on developing their “naturally occurring cultural areas” – one of the most popular phrases in the cultural production industry.

context: Global high-cost culture has become unusually expensive. This is partly due to the inherently low productivity growth (aka Baumol cost disease), in part because globalization has caused the demand for the most sought-after art and artists to increase from a handful of cities to hundreds.

  • The founder of an art institution in West Africa told me that in hindsight he moved too quickly to get an architect early. The local community often resents the expensive designs imposed from above.

The Blockbuster Museum displays, Like the Morozov group that just closed in Paris, or Cezanne The gallery, which just opened in Chicago, now includes a lot of financial and logistical muscle that, in an echo of professional footballOnly a small elite of institutions can hope to compete.

  • Everyone else is forced To make the virtue of necessity, setting a local agenda rather than a global one.

Global culture has spent the past century becoming increasingly homogeneous. That trend isn’t over yet – but cultural institutions are starting to think about the role they play in driving that bus.

Chinese Art Center Revolution

One factor driving the increased localization of the arts is China, unexpectedly, a country that has built 128 major new art centers over the past 30 years.

context: Opened in 1997, the Guggenheim Bilbao is trending toward cities trying to attract international tourists by building arts centers.

  • Most potential imitators have failed – and while notable projects like the Louvre Abu Dhabi continue to attempt the same feat, most of them are obvious vanity projects right from the start.
  • As one academic told me: “Rich cities are trying to become exciting cities, turning financial capital into cultural capital.”

The Big Picture: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong had established themselves on the international cultural scene and attracted millions of international tourists before the coronavirus effectively prevented China from such activity altogether.

  • However, other Chinese cities collectively account for the majority of new Chinese projects – and they don’t have the same ambitions. In a country the size of China, being a domestic arts center, rather than an international one, is a huge achievement, and well worth a major investment. Especially if the arts center looks great in photographs.

The Chinese Communist Party is now putting pressure on local governments not to spend lavishly on international architects. This does not mean the end of stunning architectural projects. It is likely to market the beginning of a new generation of Chinese architects more in tune with the regional cultural heritage.

Museums sell world-class art

If an art museum doesn’t want to be world-class, does it even need world-class art? The actions of the Toledo Museum of Art indicate that the answer is no.

  • The demand for museum-quality artwork from international artists remains very hot. So, in the face Aloud Cashsold the Toledo Museum a Matissea Cezanneand Renoir At auction in May for $60 million.

what are they saying: The goal of the sales is to double the amount the museum can spend on art each year, thus helping to assemble a collection not dominated by white European men, and which includes more “women artists, African American artists, or other races,” in the words of Gary Junia, who holds the title of “Director of Brand Strategy” at the Museum.

  • Giving up a masterpiece like the $41.7 million Toledo would be controversial. Museums don’t do that Just exist to improve the well-being of their communities; They are also centers of conservation and scholarship, and hold invaluable treasures in public trust.

Bottom line: The more art centers focus on parochial interests, the more likely it is that some of the world’s greatest works of art will end up in private hands.

  • The overarching logic is simple: If the museum had $40 million, it wouldn’t spend it on Cézanne. She would rather have $40 million from Cézanne. So, if she can sell Cézanne for $40 million, she should.
  • Given its natural inference, this reasoning involves a lot more backtracking than we’re used to until now.