Museum curators and other swells who are disappointed that megacollector Eli Broad has failed to donate his contemporary collection outright to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while housing it in an addition contemptuously named the Broad Museum, have only themselves to blame, for they sold their curatorial souls for the dubious favors of the wealthy long ago.
The sins are legion: naming galleries, hallways and even bathrooms after living plutocrats; allowing their public institutions to host lavish parties for the elite, often with dubious connections to their public function; mimicking the rich by giving themselves all the perks brownnosing can expose, such as free luxurious dwellings and lush expense accounts tacked on to exorbitant salaries.
How many spineless curatorial suck-ups have hitched ride after ride on Eli Broad's private jet for all-expenses-paid trips to the pleasure spots of the world? And now, like the whores they are (a comparison which insults hardworking streetwalkers), they complain that Broad doesn't respect them? It is to laugh, were it not so pathetic.
Where is the one curator or museum official in the contemporary art world who bothered to say "enough" to a billionaire over the last two decades? Sure, you have the Guggenheim, a place so psychotically greedy and self-entitled that it dared to order Peter Lewis and Ronald Perelman around because they were not doing enough. But where is the museoexec who said, "We are hanging the art this way. If you want to help, do it anonymously. Hand out a few bucks on the sly to some poor artist who is struggling to pay the rent. Let's give that security guard over there a hefty raise."
The people who run the major contemporary art museums these days are a vile bunch of vain, preening peacocks. Like the members of Congress who waste time hauling in George Clooney or Angelina Jolie to testify about nothing, while a thousand mortgage foreclosures happen down the block, these shallow, hollow people care only about posing with Tom and Katie on Broad's red-blood carpet. They have justifiably earned the contempt of their patrons, as they have shut out the public whose tax dollars Botox their lips and bejewel their behinds. Accountability can only come from below, but when?
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).