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Archive for May, 2008

28th May 2008

What Creates an Art Museum Blockbuster Hit?

The public came to see the King Tut exhibit in 1976 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art because they were curious, but also to be inspired by the splendor of it all. That original show drew more than 8 million people. It was the original museum blockbuster hit that inspired a trend that has become a part of almost every art museum’s agenda.

Considering the number of international art museums that exhibit special shows to entice their community members and tourists to travel through their doors, only a few are actual box office hits in any given year. Just as Hollywood measures its box office hits based on variables, such as budget size and comparisons to other similar product, so do museums and the art world. The ticket box office for a huge hit in a small city might could seem tiny compared to a huge hit at the Met, but the size of the venues, the budgets and the local community are all taken into account when determining a hit – or miss.

Museums promote their shows by touting that their special shows are a one time, or limited event. The King Tut show revealed the recently discovered tomb contents to the American public for the first time. It was a rare and limited event. Every two years the Whitney holds its biennial, always a hit, although some years more so than other.

When Christo and Jeanne Claude’s exhibit the Gates was on view people flooded into Central park to see and walk under and between the billowing saffron colored gates. Yes, it was spiritual with the metaphor of gates and the billowing saffron material but it was also slam dunk rivetingly different for Central Park and it was well known that the installation was temporary. The installation did not have to be temporary based on the materials used. The structures were constructed to withstand any stresses that the public, including rowdy teenage boys could inflict. The billowing material could have been replaced whenever needed. However, an ongoing exhibit quickly becomes commonplace and a temporary one is an even. That The Gates would never be resurrected in Central Park made them a must see destination.

How limited an event is any specific show really?

When a curator and team has diligently worked to assemble from collectors and museums all over the globe many of the finest works from a great, but long gone artist, that is a limited show.

When a show is assembled from works in another museum, for example the Van Gogh Museum that show is certainly not as limited, even if it is the first time ever shown in the USA. Why? Because although traveling to NYC is possibly less expensive and more convenient for many Americans, especially those on the East Coast, people can also go to Amsterdam to see the works at the van Gogh Museum, once they return.

Yet, people flocked to the recent van Gogh shows. Vincent van Gogh is a box office star. Why?

Researching all of the museum shows that are acknowledged blockbuster hits, almost every one had a spiritual or religious component. We do not think of Vincent van Gogh as a religious painter, but he did and his religious passion communicates in his strokes and works, even when his imagery is secular. Monet passionately painted the light, which as a somewhat devout Catholic he knew resonated with spiritual meaning. Warhol. Who we now know was religious throughout his life, threw our media and values back at us, giving them meaning while questioning the meanings we had previously assigned to the post war society first exploding with images thanks to new and emerging technologies.

Every blockbuster hit seems to have had a spiritual component that reaches and inspires people.

Obviously, but not usually commented upon, there was a religious or spiritual component to the King Tut exhibit. The beliefs of King Tut and his society are not those of almost everyone who attended the shows in the USA, but how that society looked at death fascinated people. Death is the entry to the beyond and usually involves a person’s spiritual beliefs and understandings.

When a person has a product that is valued, word of mouth recommendations follow. There is a huge difference between learning to appreciate or recognizing the value of a product and having it impact you so you are inspired. The King Tut exhibit inspired those who saw it and they told other, who told others… Momentum builds and one has a hit. It happens for products, movies, music groups and museum shows. It happens for products that work best to do the job they are supposed to do.

Art that inspires us and changes how we see our world is the key ingredient for a big box office show.

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments No Comments »

23rd May 2008

Who is Impacted When an Art Museum Show is a Blockbuster Hit?

Art museum blockbuster hits are now as common as they are for other venues that sell tickets, such as film concerts and theatre. Only Ticket sales define the blockbuster’s success, not reviews or the current price of the artists work at auction.

Blockbuster museum shows are a recent development, considering the length of the history of art. It all began in 1976 when the King Tut exhibit drew more than 8 million people to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thomas Hoving, the Met’s museum director at the time, is credited for this innovation. Hoving publicly says that “It’s not true “I stole the idea from the Europeans. But I’ll say it was my idea.”

Thomas Hoving has a special knack for recognizing a good thing, especially when it comes to art. He continued launching blockbuster style shows and changed art museums forever.

Art museums considering what shows to include during a year can be compared to a hungry person. The best and biggest, in NYC that would be the Met and MoMA can afford to eat in any four star restaurant. The may even be comped, or at least served a free drink or desert. The perks and prestige decline along with the stars of the restaurant until one reaches a small local museum, or university museum. The small museum – not necessarily small on space but small in membership and budget, is hungry to drive in new members, patrons and viewers, but lacks the wherewithal to mount or even lure a major show. Galleries even have the noshies, now snacking by mounting their won museum type shows, which can even travel to co-sponsoring galleries in other cities. There are now museums in non-major cities that have no permanent collection, but instead basically exist as a space for traveling or specially curated shows of borrowed works.

For museums, blockbuster box office hits bring in money, obviously in ticket sales but also visitors who become members and donors, plus auxiliary sales at the museum’s restaurants and shops. A hit show encourages galleries and artists to think highly of the museum, thus perhaps upping the museum’s place on a waiting list for an artist’s work, and this is especially important for a slightly smaller museum. The money that blockbusters earn can allow a museum or curator to mount a show for a less popular but significant and influential artist.

For the art world, the influence of blockbuster shows reaches beyond museums.

Who else in the art world is impacted by blockbuster museum shows?

Galleries — Many top tier galleries today became such by recognizing and promoting the work of their artists who then became well recognized and acclaimed. Some of the out-of-towners who come to see an art show also visit galleries and openings locally. Galleries have found ways, including creating shows with an artist and artist they represent that references a recent museum show. This can be a natural spin-off as artists have always been influenced by other great artists, living or long deceased. .

Curators – Curators create shows and group shows. Some have full time jobs at museums but most are independent. Any curator who mounts a blockbuster hit reaps career recognition and rewards.

Collectors – The answer is relevant for collectors who by patronage can encourage museums and galleries to help create box office hits for the artists in their collection. Plus, knowledge being power, for all but the very top collectors – the ones who create their own museums or endow museums with their collections – it is far easier collect an artist’s work when there is no waiting list or that list is small.

Art Critics – A brilliant review can make a critic’s career or keep it on top. Campaigning an editor for the assignment to write a piece on an upcoming show, especially when a magazine, newspaper, website, etc., has several reviewers can land one a plum spot and recognition, especially if that show becomes a blockbuster. Discovering an artist or group of artists and championing them has helped make careers but also given a place in art history to critics such as Clement Greenberg.

The Public – A well curated museum show – and one of the elements of a blockbuster is that it is well curated and presented – is informative and allows people to intensely experience the work of an artist or group of artists whose works are related. Works are often brought together from many of the world’s art collections, both private and public that can for possibly the first but certainly for a limited time been seen together. Plus, since works are lent by private and corporate collections, they are not usually available to be seen by the public.

Contemporary Artists – Most artists are influenced by other artists’ works, including that of other artists who are living but also those long deceased. Major shows or retrospectives can have a great impact. On a contemporary artists work, and since most of the best art schools in the USA are located within easy travel distance of major museums, a blockbuster show influences the next generation, too. This

Local Businesses – The tourists who come to see a blockbuster museum show impact the local economy. Tourism is lucrative for many businesses, including those that normally appear outside of the travel and hospitality industries. More tourists means more people customers for hairdressers, barbers, dry cleaners, and all kinds of shops, especially those near the museum, which all benefit.

Cities such as Florence and Paris are deservedly proud of their artists and the art in their churches and public collections, which they have successfully used for hundreds of years to draw tourists. The phenomena of a city drawing tourists to see art in a collection that has little if any connection to the city itself other than for the brief time it is on display in a show, basically began in the Twentieth century, and came into fashion after the original King Tut show. For a smaller museum a blockbuster show ca be on a smaller scale, but if the artist or work catches the public attention, and the show is well curated it can impact a entire community, even the art world at large, plus if the show is for a living artist’s work, it can amazingly skyrocket a career.

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15th May 2008

What Sells Fine Art?

What sells art?

What makes one living contemporary artist’s work move into the rarefied stratosphere of big ticket auction sales at Sotheby’s or Christies while other artists languish in the hot summer sun in tents at art fairs hoping to sell their paintings?

What sells art, and also creative endeavors including music, dance, literature, theatre and film is:


For visual art this means museum box office tickets.

Whenever a living visual artists has a museum show that takes off with blockbuster sales of tickets the auction sales prices for that artist’s works catapult into the highest ranges, far beyond all previous estimates and prices.

The financial reality is that art museums today mount special shows with an eye towards ticket sales. Despite endowments, hefty donations from members, merchandise sales, etc., museums need strong ticket sales to stay afloat and even to mount other important shows that may not engage the public’s interest and only result in marginal ticket sales.

Ironically when an artist’s work engages public interest and results in strong box office sales, museums line up to collect the work of that contemporary artist. The artist’s work is perceived to be possibly important historically, plus of course a potential draw for visitors.

It is well known that the Louvre in Paris sells many tickets to tourists who pay to see one painting, the Mona Lisa. On a daily basis there is a crowd and line to see the Mona Lisa while other important works by major painters are passed by. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art knows that people are coming to see van Gogh’s Starry Night. There is a guard specifically stationed near this painting to keep people from touching it plus handle the daily folw of the crows that comes to see it.

Art sells other kinds of tickets, too. When Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s work, The Gates was displayed in Central Park people came from all over the world to walk through the billowing saffron colored display. Include the sale of plane, train and bus tickets. Of course, at night, when the museum is closed tourists also buy tickets to shows and concerts, plus eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, etc. A major art show that helps generate additional revenues for tourism ends up creating more local donations and grants for museums that mount successful ones.

Top collectors know that when the public clamors to see the work of an artist the work increases in value and ticket sales demonstrate the public’s interest. Original work by any artist is available in a limited supply. There are public relations and tax advantages for a collector, especially corporate collectors, who lend art works to museum shows. The more the public wants to see the work of an artist, the more likelihood that important and/or traveling museum shows will be mounted.

Price is determined by supply and demand. An artist’s representatives, who work to create a successful career, will seek to first place work in the hands of museums and the noted collectors who will endow museums or, as the trend is recently, begin museums with their collections. The galleries of blue chip contemporary artists carefully select what collectors are allowed to purchase a work. This is especially true for the work of artists that is good box office.

The collectors, secondary market dealers, curators and museum directors who the artist and her representatives normally sell art to are not the primary purchasers of museum show tickets. The majority of people who buy the tickets to blockbuster museum shows are not art collectors, even of emerging artists. The public comes to a major show to be inspired, educated, entertained or because they are curious as to what the media hubbub is about. Some come just to be able to say to others that they saw it. Who goes to Paris without coming home and saying the saw the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge and the Mona Lisa?

In the other arts ticket sales are directly to the people who are consumers of the product itself, concert goers also but the album, speakers become best selling authors, and ticket sales for movies and theatre sell the rental of the viewing seats, plus the CD and video. Salaries, fees, percentages of the profits go to the various artists involved. Artists who have blockbuster museum sales generally only reap financial benefits through the sales of their newest work to collectors by their gallery representatives. Museums do not sell original art to the public. Their gifts shops sell licensed merchandise, posters, cards, books with images, umbrellas, mugs, etc., which can bring some funds to an artist.

The box office for fine art museum tickets is fully international, including museums located on every continent. Superstar fine artists are joining superstars in music and film as generally visual art has no language barriers.

Galleries and many contemporary artists recognize that good buzz helps build an artist’s career. Great reviews, an important place in the history of art, having work placed (for far less money) in noted museums and collections, being included in catalogues and reference books will not launch an artist’s works into the financial stratosphere the way that just one museum show with blockbuster sales will. Of course, some of the aforementioned are usual steps on the way towards museums selecting to mount shows for the work of an artist. Galleries now email notices of their artists’ reviews and articles in major art magazines and newspapers to those who have opted into their lists. Press coverage helps build public recognition, which leads to demand. Artists are appearing on panels, giving interviews and hiring PR representatives to promote themselves and their work to the public. Artists and galleries are promoting art to the public, to people who will never buy the work, but will buy tickets.

Successful contemporary galleries, collectors and those who profit from including and promoting an artist’s work in some way such as curators, not-for-profit space directors, and journalists all know that when viewing the work of an emerging or contemporary artist in addition to esthetic and historical concerns a new question must also be posed. Will it sell tickets?

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 6 Comments »

08th May 2008

Aha! Moment – Beginning to See the World in a New Way

My greatest Aha! Moment kind of crept in on me, and I continue to fall up into it.

It totally turned my life around. Aside from being a mother and now grandmother, it became my life’s mission. It changed the way that I actually see the world and as an artist, my mission is to share that vision so others can see the world in a more meaningful way, full of inspiration, possibilities and blessings.

Essentially, I experimented with the idea of using symbols for ever stroke in a painting. Artistically, it is a next step from Conceptual, especially Word Art.

However, the theology that this idea comes from is ancient, held by every branch and denomination of Christian and Jew (comes from Genesis 1), mentioned in the Koran, references concepts of duality important to Buddhism, Hinduism and the Tao, plus other paths. The idea is that when the Creator speaks the world into existence, the letters of those Words are (or represent) the essential building blocks of the physical universe.

Back when I was a teenager and then into my early twenties, when I was an art student, I had tried to create works that would show the atomic structures surrounding us, using images of molecules that I tried to form together to form an image, such as a landscape. I realized it would only work if I painted on a truly massive scale, works that were as large as multi-storied apartment or commercial buildings.

Still, I wanted to depict the smallest matter, now scientifically understood to be pre-matter energy called strings or branes in elementary physics. So, thinking of Pissarro and the Impressionists who worked to paint and show the light, one late summer day a few years ago I picked up my paintbrush began to show the energies that make up the physical matter of the world by using the original letters Bible texts for every stroke. My first painting was a small, 9 x 12 inches of a sunset over a mountain.

Like all artists, after a while of my painting experiment I stood back from the small painting to view the work. That’s when I had my Aha moment. It worked! There was definitely a sunset, but just as obviously there was something in the very strokes, their shapes, the way the overlapped that drew attention to their intrinsic importance. I was visually depicting how the energies (for some the words of God) create now and always the world.

I did not realize it then, but my life and every thing I had studied or done professionally was needed for my new mission, from my career as a writer, to creating and giving seminars, my acting training for TV and film, sales jobs, and of course, my work as a spiritual counselor.

There continue to be many more Aha! moments in this new way of creating art, a new theory that I am now actively founding and working in as an artist. For instance, I learned that most elementary physicists agree that there are 11 basic pre-matter strings in our dimension of the universe while their opposites (11 more) exist in other dimensions. When I discovered that Torah font Hebrew seems to be the only binary phonetic font in any of the world’s languages. And the font is binary it two ways: first every letter can be formed using one of more of two one-stroke letters, the yud or the vav; second, that every letter can easily be written with one or two strokes. I cannot do that with English, which is the language I speak. Having a binary font is important as the symbols always also reference important concepts and applications in science and mathematics, as well as spiritual concepts of duality. A phonetic font references the sound vibrations of both the Creator’s Words and physics’ strings.

So I am painting sound, music, energy and a new vision of how to see the world we can all share, whatever our beliefs or backgrounds. It has changed the way I see the world, including the dishes in the sink, the pile of laundry, the accident I pass on the road, etc. I have learned to “see” the energies, the words, everywhere, now and always – and the always present inspiration, possibilities and blessings.

Share the vision. See more at ungravenimage.com.

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art & Inspiration, Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 1 Comment »

02nd May 2008

Post Conceptual Art

Post Conceptual Art marries the concepts of conceptualism with figurative art. The focus is on the strokes – and each stroke is a symbol, usually a letter from a text(s). The strokes are then used, as artists have always used strokes, to create a narrative image.

Thus, Post Conceptual Art unites the two streams of found throughout art history. One, usually considered more Western is representational and logical, using scientific and geometric understandings of perspective and form, perspective, light, anatomy, etc. The opposite stream is often referred to as Eastern and is symbolic, less concerned or not at all concerned with any realism.

The name, Post Conceptual Art specifically refers to contemporary Conceptualism; however the roots of that movement branch back to humankind’s first art.

A quick Google for the words: “opposite of conceptual art,’ turned up the Affordable Art Fair, coming in a couple of weeks to Bristol. Geared at new collectors it offers information about art movements and terms. According to the AAF, “The term figurative is now used as the opposite of abstract or conceptual, and extends to anything that depicts a subject taken from life, be it a landscape, objects (a still life) or the human figure.”

According to Wikipedia, “Conceptual Art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns.” Thus the concept or idea behind the work is paramount.

In Post Conceptual Art the focus is on the stroke. The stroke is a symbol, and thus an idea, a concept. The concept may add up to create more and more concepts in the work, just as a letter (letters are symbols) can combine with other letters to create a word (thus a new symbol made of symbols) and then sentences, and so on. While the individual symbol-strokes in Post Conceptual Art may be letters that are from attributed texts (such as the Bible, a poem, a quote) or they may be from text’s created by the artist just as Conceptual Artists Lawrence Weiner and Jenny Holtzer create their texts.

However, in Post Conceptual Art the symbols may add up to create the additional meaning of texts the also visually combine to create imagery that may or may not have any obvious reference to the text(s).

Since the focus is on the stroke, whether or not the individual stroke can be seen or is semi or fully covered with other strokes and glazes, then the symbol used for a stroke, or the symbol set selected for a work is of paramount importance. Again, the strokes convey the conceptual significance of the work while also combining to create a figurative work.

Post Conceptual UnGraven Image uses the set of Torah Font letters. Originally the artistic experiment by Judy Rey Wasserman to use this symbol set began based on the Abrahamic theology of all Christians and Jews, whatever branch or denomination that when the Creator speaks the world into existence the letters of those words are the essences of the physical universe. Other attempts to paint the chemical symbols of atoms (nucleus, electrons, photons, etc.,) to somehow form an figurative image revealing the energy that was always present had proven not to be viable. The theology posited the idea of a set of letters that Wasserman thought she could try to use as strokes. At the time of the original experiment, Pissarro, Monet and the Impressionists who strove to paint the light, a specific form of energy were on her mind. The experiment worked, but Wasserman was “translating and inventing ways to use the new symbol-strokes as this was painting in a new way.

Wasserman knew that Hebrew Torah font letters are binary, meaning that each and every letter could be created using combinations of the one or more of two of the letters, yud and vav in the font. [Note: just like English, there are many other Hebrew fonts.] Binary means the Torah font letters not only elegantly serve to represent the strings of elementary physics, but also reference binary applications and concepts in the other sciences and mathematics. Binary is simultaneous for duality, thus important concepts in most of the world’s religions, such as good-evil, yin-yang, and holy-profane, thus adding more reference significance for the symbol-strokes.

Hebrew is a phonetic language, meaning sound vibration is also pictured in the strokes. Physicists describe the strings as energy or pre-matter (depending of the view of the experiment) and energy vibrates, thus also representing sound gives further relevance to the strokes. Plus, the Hebrew alphabet is used as numerals, also.

Is there another set of symbols that can pack this much information and reference, to science, spiritual teachings, sound and literature? So far, no other phonetic binary font has been found in any language. What has been discovered by the artist is that every Torah font letter can be made with one or two brush or pen strokes, something not possible with any font of letters in English, for example.

Post Conceptual Art using Torah font letters for each and every stroke is a renaissance of the origins of art, as it serves to combine the arts, science and spiritual healing.

Archeology, art history and anthropology agree that the original artists were the shamans of the group. They were responsible for the creation of the cave paintings, the masks and the artistic items used in the ceremonies and culture of the group. The shaman was also the basic scientist of the group. Another name for shaman is “Medicine Man/Woman” – a person who was a healer, using both spiritual and medicinal, even perhaps operational techniques, such as tooth pulling, bone setting and removal of objects embedded in a body by accident or warfare. Shamans were also the original physicists. They provided a context for how the world was and is created, linking the cosmos, other dimensions and we gather from aboriginal anthropology, a story about how the world, or physical universe, began. They conveyed their understandings through chants (music), story-telling (literature), and visual art. Their visual art depicts their visions of the universe, visions that were simultaneously about the origins of the world, healing, and spiritual growth.

For more download the booklet, “Manifesto of Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art Theory–A Painting’s Meanings are Inherent in its Strokes”

* * *
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true?  See for yourself. See more. Read:  In the Beginning

To download a free copy of In the Beginning as an ebook in PDF format simply click: DOWNLOAD. The PDF will open in another widow and you then save it to your disk. Offer ends June 9, 2014

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.

Download a free copy click: Manifesto of Post Conceptual Art– A Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.

Check out the images and availability of limited and open edition prints — Click: store.

Follow her on Twitter at @judyrey

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