Blog: What is it with ArtNet News?

Christine Alfery

Posted on July 12 2021

Blog: What is it with ArtNet News?

Featured image: Exotic Flower- Bird of Paradise

What is it with ArtNet News? In April they had a feature about President Joe Biden’s granddaughter's artwork – and now there's a news feature about Hunter Biden selling his artwork for up to $500K. When ArtNet News did the feature on Joe Biden's granddaughter, I wrote a blog about the feature. Click here to read blog, What do Sylvestor Stallone and Roberta Mabel Biden have in common? and was rather critical of the first granddaughter's work and of the art market for accepting a work as art simply because of the name that was linked to it.


Now we have a feature from ArtNew News on the emergence of a new artist, Hunter Biden, painting works that illustrate his quest for “universal truth.” He paints in his Hollywood Hills pool house which he turned into an art studio. Before I say anything more – my studio is a converted bedroom in my ranch style home. Many other artists work off their kitchen table, just saying, you know. But, before I even started to read the featured article, I found that I was saying to myself, "Really, – really again? Are we going to accept Hunter Bidens straw blowing work on paper as art?" I was pleasantly surprised at the reception that his work is getting from the art industry.


Critic Saltz offered Hunter some advice, “Lose the Big signature at once; forget the Kusama dots altogether, experiment with the surface and color and tools. Really consider the whole-page as a space and not make everything derivative all over composition. The background doesn’t always have to be white, you big baby.”


Yes – some honesty from an art critic for once.


Art critic Scott Indrisek states: “Hunter's paintings have a kind of vaguely scientific, vaguely psychedelic vibe that reminds me of Fred Tomaselli – if Fred Tomaselli started making art for dermatologists waiting rooms. But then again, the process here seems more important than the finished product. Guess it’s important that wounded men of a certain age and privileged background have the opportunity to find themselves creatively … it’s just too bad that everyone else is expected to pay attention.”


Yes, yes, yes! Hurrah for Scott Indrisek, formerly deputy editor of Artsy!
Artnet News’s own art critic Ben Davis had a somewhat more favorable response: “As digital images, at least, they are pleasing. It’s hard to say what they look like without seeing how the actual paper holds the ink. You can’t really judge it from your desktop.”


“It doesn’t seem like there’s a style or a theme, just a kind of seeing-what-pattern-the-ink-suggests kind of thing,” Davis added. “It seems like he’s trying to occupy his mind, and three of the four you see kind of read as trying to fill up the empty space and to make some structure out of a mess—so pretty allegorical in terms of where he finds himself.”


I am proud of Artnet News for finally not marketing an object as art just because a famous person created it. Just because they are famous, doesn’t make them an instant artist. I gave examples in the first article I wrote about this – you can judge for yourself.


Perhaps Hunter needs to take advise from the book, "How To Be An Artist by Jerry Saltz." Saltz offers invaluable insight into what really matters to emerging artists: originality, persistence, a balance between knowledge and intuition, and that most precious of qualities, self-belief. And yes, perhaps, Hunter will think twice about his authenticity as an artist.

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