Staying Power | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Staying Power

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It’s one thing to be the flavor of the month on the international art scene and quite another to leave a lasting impression. Heading home over the holiday, I picked up this month’s Artnews so I’d have something to entertain myself with on the train besides eavesdropping on my fellow passengers. It was the magazine’s 105th-anniversary issue and one of the articles was devoted to predictions about which contemporary artists will be famous 105 years from now, in 2112. Comprised of the informed opinions of art historians, critics and curators worldwide, the list was quite lengthy but surprisingly consistent. A few names kept cropping up. Bruce Nauman, Xu Bing, Andy Warhol and Louise Bourgeois got numerous mentions. What intrigued me beyond the guessing game itself were the reasons behind some of the decisions. Humor, accessibility, degree of influence and spirituality were some of the characteristics that the experts referenced when justifying their choices. With nary an exception, the list was made up of established artists. None of the surveyed arbiters chose to throw a Hail Mary or dark horse into the mix. I was somewhat disappointed by that. These are the people in the art world that actually have the inside information, yet all of them made relatively safe choices. One caveat to anyone who gives the piece a once over—don’t be disappointed that history is repeating itself. The ratio of men to women shows that the art world is still significantly gender biased, and the westernized titans still hold the most sway.

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