title-from the desk of Michael Schwartz

In the art world, like everywhere else, change is a con-stant. And like everywhere else, the pace of change is ever-increasing. Economies rise, and they fall. Nations grow and then retract. The effects of geo-politics can be felt in all corners of the globe, including in the art world, which by definition impacts all economies, all nations and all cultures.

Cultures have developed over the millennia and typically change very slowly. Yet even in previously slow-chang-ing cultures, momentous changes are now occurring. Two of the world’s oldest cultures, China and the Middle East, have suddenly and dramatically risen to leading roles in cultural development. At first blush, these two, very divergent nations’ growth seems unrelated, yet they are in fact integrally related—if not directly, cer-tainly indirectly in terms of underlying forces at play.

Begin with the availability of money. China’s economic expansion quickly brought it from a position of insignif-icance to the second-largest economy in the world. As a part of that growth, the Chinese leadership felt the need to showcase their achievements in non-economic ways in an attempt to bring them into leadership roles that were previously not desired or were unattainable. The hosting of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, and the imminent 2022 Olympic Winter Games are exam-ples. Yet it wasn’t enough simply to host the games, they had to be the most memorable, ostentatious cere-monies ever held. China’s economic growth and strength were the foundation of its loud declaration that it is a force to be reckoned with, and it has the wherewithal to do as it pleases. China announced that its thousands-year-old culture was strong and now is simultaneously changing. Similarly, the Arab nations in the Middle East grew at a prodigious rate as the price of, and demand for, oil grew. With the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar, a tiny na-tion with immeasurable monetary resources, the world was again put on notice that the thousands-year-old Ara-bian culture was strong, and also exploding with change.

It may be cliché that art unifies seemingly unrelated peo-ple and cultures, yet it is true. It is also true that as nations grow into powerhouses, they seek to expand their cul-tural development and reach. The differences between the strict underpinnings of China and those of the Arab… Access the full Article>