Jerry Saltz Wants You To Know That He’s In The Art World’s 99 Percent
Beloved New York magazine art critic and once-upon-a-time judge for that reality show “Work of Art” Jerry Saltz disclosed his checking account balance to his Facebook fans yesterday, to discuss how the art world is as economically complicated as pretty much anything else and is, in fact, not only full of rich people.
His balance was $3,832.16, and Saltz claims that he has very little in savings and no “401(c)3 account” and that he doesn’t even know what a 401(c)3 is. Which is evident, because a 401(c)3 is a tax designator for non-profit organizations. I think he’s referring to a 401(k), which is a retirement account.
It actually makes me feel great, because I also lack a retirement account of any kind, as well as any substantial amount of money in savings or checking. What Saltz has got on me, though, is that he has no student loan debt, because he never went to college, proving that if truck drivers shoot for the moon, they can in fact land in the stars. (Seriously, he drove a truck for a living as a young man, then worked his way up in the art world.) Incredibly famous art critics: They’re just like us!
But it’s true that the art world is full of people who work really hard and are really well-known and who don’t really get paid all that much, or who, like a lot of people, don’t know how to handle their money. There are plenty of jobs that require a doctoral degree in art history, which takes an average of 7-9 years to complete after undergrad. Most people who work in the art world, like Saltz, do it for the love of art.
There are two things to take out of this, I think: First, that if there are so many art critics and art handlers and curators and gallery owners who are not, in fact, the snobby elitists they’re made out to be, who are doing what they do out of pure love, then it would probably be really interesting to listen to what they have to say about art more often. When people love what they do, it’s fascinating to watch them at work. So, maybe, let’s all read the arts section of our newspapers today – if that even still exists, in your area.
Second, that everyone needs to talk about money more often, because in no world should Jerry Saltz, at “like 100 years old” (his words), be walking around with no retirement account. This is partly a problem of the art world really not paying all that well monetarily, but it’s also a more widespread problem of Americans (and, in fact, most people in general) being money-illiterate.