Creators and Connoisseurs of Contemporary Art, Welcome!
Let’s jump right in, shall we?… This evening’s topic? The Salon
Let’s take a little survey to start: Have you ever been invited to a somewhat secret location by a somewhat artsy stranger to sip wine/tea/vodka/espresso (absinthe, anyone?…) and discuss the mind-chilling genius of an artist/performance/rumor/photograph/concept/exhibition?
No matter your answer, I wonder what type of visceral sensations this scene bubbles up in you? For some reason, the idea of being invited into a low-profile intimate gathering seems to evoke a bit of anxiety in us. (Why do YOU think that is? “Postez”-vous…) The concept of the Salon might conjure up images of Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” or perhaps hushed conversations in the back room of an espresso bar on Mulberry Street. Maybe an unlabeled entrance to a downtown warehouse, or a smartly canopied Park Avenue lobby. It may make you shiver with excitement, or shrink back with a dubious sidelong glance.
Regardless of your reaction, the Salon-style gathering is responsible for the genesis of what we have come to revere and fear as Contemporary Art. Originally an exhibition of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 18th Century Paris, it’s no wonder the concept of the Salon epitomizes a safe haven for the iconoclasts of the time. From Peggy Guggenheim to Yvonne Force Villareal, women have long been the patron saints of these gatherings of like-minded individuals. In an accepting environ, guests are invited to share their perceptions and reviews of those they consider to be writing history before their eyes. A performance artist’s happening at an unknown Chinatown loft… The emergence of a rarely-seen masterpiece at auction… An anonymous patron’s endowment to the preeminent museum… All probed, discussed, exposed and investigated amongst the comforting company of like-minded strangers.
Sounds perfectly intimidating and exhilarating, and now what’s not to love about that? Tell me, if Blaise & Co. invited you over for a taste of the Salon, would you accept?…
Check back in tomorrow for a full review of my experience having a staring contest with Marina Abramovic at MoMA….