Safer, not enjoying himself, at Art Basel Miami Beach in November

Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone. Still, over the past decade, its audience has hugely grown, and that’s irked those outside the art world, who get irritated at things like incomprehensibility or money. That’s when easy hit jobs on art’s bad values appear in mainstream media. A harmless garden-variety example aired tonight on CBS’s 60 Minutes (I didn’t know it was on anymore), as Morley Safer went into high snark. Never mind that he did virtually the same piece in 1993, beating up on institutions like the Whitney and mentioning some of the same names with the same pseudo-knowingness. (I think he’s got an art bromance brewing with Jeff Koons. This time, at least, he has nice things to say about Cindy Sherman and Kara Walker.) As with that 1993 piece — which he brought up repeatedly, crowing about its notoriety — Safer was on about art fairs, artspeak, high prices, collecting as conspicuous consumption, Russian oligarchs who throw money around, and the ugliness of the market: endemic stuff we all know about and dislike.


Jerry Saltz