When you are young and impressionable, or old and a fool, it can be difficult to know when to call bullshit on people in the art world. If you respect their exhibitions, art, or published works, it’s easy to accept grandiose statements or bitchy comments said in an imperious tone. It’s everywhere too; since Queen Bitch critic Clement Greenberg—who I still love—droll condescension has been the go-to attitude for anyone in the arts with, or pretending to have, authority.
This attitude can be incredibly intimidating when it’s peering down its nose at you. Stepping back to observe it through the distance of video, like blue-chip collector, investment firm owner, and writer Adam Lindemann above, the behavior is embarrassing and sad. Next to his tempered wife Amalia Dayan, co-owner of the UES gallery Luxembourg & Dayan, his pompous approach is a spectacular failure. Even if Dayan is just a skilled politician, (probably inherited from her grandfather Moshe Dayan), she seems more intelligent and nuanced just by not taking a black-and-white stance like her husband. (If you don’t know who Moshe Dayan is, you are either a) younger than 25 years old, or b) not Jewish. Look him up, he was awesome.) If I were a collector, I’d trust Dayan.
If you want to be reductive, droll condescension perpetuates in the art world because people are insecure: about their position, their ability to sell paintings, how much money they have. It has permeated the culture and is picked up as people’s front line defense mechanism. Acting as if you know everything and know better than everyone in order to convince others of your value works for people does work for the Adam Lindemanns. But it’s not necessary. Being genuine and thoughtful, Amalia Dayan-style, works just as well. This is real Mom Advice, but when confronted with a curator or critic who is trying to make themselves look big by bitchily diminishing others, remember it’s coming from a sad place. Ninety-percent of the time they’re talking out of their ass anyway.