Sunday, April 17, 2005

Warhol & Music

A couple of weeks ago, Greg Sandow had an interesting blog posting about Andy Warhol and his place in art history. I think Greg is on to something, but maybe not quite what he thinks he's on to.

First, I think maybe classical music does have something roughly equivalent to Pop Art: I'm thinking of minimalism, especially as represented by Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Their music is stripped down, accessible, and, to the best of my knowledge, pretty popular. I know people who are familiar with Reich and Glass who don't know any other contemporary composers, not even John Adams.

Second, there is a whole art-world infrastructure that is lacking in classical music. There are galleries. There are solo shows. There are the myriad opportunities artists might have for getting people to look at their work: in a coffee shop. Once a sale is made, if the artwork hangs in someone's living room, their guests see the work and might be interested. There are agents, who look for opportunities for shows, or might even help stage shows, or who show the work to curators. An artist can make prints and give them away; heck, an artist can give away a work.

What are the music-world equivalents of these? Do we have aural galleries where people can go hear new music at their convenience? We don't, although you can do this on the Web. We have concerts, not galleries; the performances are ephemeral (unless recorded and sold right after the concert....well, you know, this can be done with current technology). We have museums - symphony orchestras and opera houses - but they put on very limited shows of new music, so to speak.

How do we go about developing art-world infrastructure?

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