What will become of all the art that is being produced today?
The late museum theorist Stephen E. Weil openly speculated that perhaps there was too much art that we were trying to preserve. Not too much art being produced, but too much that we were trying to save for all time.
In his 1989 essay “Too much art?”*, Weil argues that museums do not have the funds nor the space to care for the enormous output of artists. And that was almost 20 years ago. I imagine his numbers would be much higher today. Weil asks:
To what extent must their families or surviving friends care for their undistributed oeuvre–finished, half-finished, and scarcely begun? Are these works a burden that they are obligated to carry indefinitely? And, if so, with what diligence, at what emotional cost, with what outlay of funds for conservation, recordkeeping and storage, and unto what generation?
He concludes by calling for a different attitude. That not all art should be considered sacred.
“Art,” after all, is only a noun. The adjectives used to modify it can range from "sublime" to "superfluous." To acknowledge the reality of the latter might be a sound first step in approaching what can for the nonce–pending the evolution of some euphemism–only be described as an art glut.
*First appeared in Art News and then in Weil’s book of essays Rethinking the Museum.