Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

The Cremaster Myth: Attendance

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Last week The Art Newspaper came out with their annual museum attendance list. The concept is simple: rank a jillion museum shows by average number of visitors per day.

As has been the case of late, TAN buried the lede: Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle wasn’t the Krensian success that the Guggenheim (and a compliant press corps) had claimed. Here’s why: Cremaster drew 3,151 visitors a day to the GuggEnron. Meanwhile, the show immediately after Cremaster drew 3,314 visitors a da, outdrawing Cremaster by over 100 people a day. What outdrew Cremaster? A permanent collection hanging.

But wait, wasn’t Cremaster the biggest museum attendance story of the year? Yes, but only if you keep in mind that for all the money that the GuggEnron spent on the Barney myth, Barney was less of a draw than a (much cheaper to install and market) permanent collection show.

Other tidbits from TAN’s list:

  • We’re in for more Richard Avedon shows (groan). The Met’s Avedon show was No. 7 for the year with 4,932 people a day.
  • How many people go to museums? Every day it was up, the No. 1 show on the list drew half as many people as show up at an average Knicks game. Same for much of the top ten.
  • The Hirshhorn’s Gyroscope ‘non-exhibit’ (so they say) isn’t on the list presumably because the Hirshhorn doesn’t consider a rotating permanent collection a show even though it had “gyroscope” signage made up, there was a beginning and ending date, etc. Still, I wonder… 
  • Who would have guessed a de Stael show would rank with Titian, Matisse, Picasso, Manet, Velazquez and Leonardo as a top ten show?
  • Speaking of which, Thomas Struth was in the top ten, but his Met dates overlapped completely with the Leonardo drawings show. Somehow TAN missed this too.
  • Where are the LA shows? Not a single LA museum show broke the top fifty. The top LA show was a Illuminating the Renaissance @ the Getty with about 2,000 visitors a day. I wonder if LACMA and MOCA LA responded to the survey? (Working on it…)
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