The Accidental Audience

by Brad Troemel

Baguette KoozieJosh Citarella and Andrew Christopher Green, 2012

On Tumblr, users can look at art without even realizing it. Do they democratize the work or merely make it an advertisement for itself?

Last August, in the midst of controversy over populist exhibitions at MOCA in Los Angeles, museum director Jeffrey Deitch described a new sort of art audience: “They’re not the people who make a living as artists, art critics or professional art collectors … These are people who hear about a great new film they want to go to. They hear that there’s a terrific new fashion store that’s very cool — they want to go there. They don’t differentiate between these cultural forms.” It follows that the blockbuster-exhibit-obsessed art world — like its not-so-distant cousin, Hollywood — must now compete with the onslaught of other entertainment forms and devices for the limited attention of such viewers. [...]