... the reasons people pursue careers in newer art are understandable. Money is one. To an unprecedented degree, contemporary art, no matter what its geographic or cultural source, is now thoroughly tied to and buoyed by the global economy. This phenomenon is fairly recent. Not long ago the contemporary market meant Europe and America. Now it also means New Delhi, Beijing and Dubai. New art has become a worldwide industry. Industries generate jobs.
Holders of degrees in contemporary art history don’t have to limit their career prospects to the low-paying teaching gigs that remain the fate of their colleagues in more traditional studies. They can, in greater numbers than ever, become curators, corporate advisers, auction house experts and dealers in a luxury business that has, so far, floated above the prevailing economic turbulence. Sticklers for academic orthodoxy are prone to hint at corner-cutting features of a contemporary-art major. Language requirements are often minimal, English being the global art world lingua franca. And with only the history of today and yesterday to deal with, primary research can be done, over a Starbucks latte, via Google.Gads, thanks to the goddesses for Art. Art is what is the best of us saps. As the economic crash makes it more and more difficult for how the art world has existed for so many decades to continue block-bustering, things can get authentically interesting again. Maybe even NYC can get interesting again?
Such skeptics might be persuaded to acknowledge that modern and contemporary studies offer perception-altering images of an art long-filtered through Western stereotypes. At the same time, these skeptics would have serious problems with other scholars in the contemporary field who hold traditional — “tribal” — art partly responsible for perpetuating those stereotypes, and who, for that reason, avoid it.
And avoidance is easy. The market has made it so.