To celebrate its 25th anniversary in September of this year, ART + AUCTIONmagazine asked 25 luminaries to reflect on the changes they have witnessed in the art world.
David Salle Artist, New York
When I came to New York in the 70s, it was common not to expect to be able to live from your art. I had very little idea about galleries or the business side of the art world. It all seemed pretty distant. When people started paying attention to my work, it seemed so unlikely that somehow it wasnt so remarkable. I made my work for a small audience of friends, other artists mostly, and that hasnt really changed. At the same time, having shows is a way of seeing if the work resonates with anyone else. Having that response, something coming back to you from the way the work is received in the world, can be important for your development as an artist. But you have to take it with healthy skepticism.
When I first started to show my work, the idea that artists were known beyond the art world was still a novelty that excited some people and offended others. I dont think it means anything particularly. The idea seems to be that artists are too malleable to retain their values if they come in contact with the media. Its silly. If youre an artist, its not going to change what you do, and if youre not, then it doesnt make any difference anyway.
I dont think there is much relationship between popularity, measured in prices, and meaning in art. Popularity in art is the same as in politics: Its the result of a reductivist message endlessly repeated. Sometimes the popular is also the best, but its not something you can count on. For all the apparent change in the art world, I dont think things are really much changed for artists. Historically, every kind of artist-patron relationship has already occurred. There is no ideal condition. I still spend most days in my studio, alone, and whatever happens flows from that.