Art & Culture Lecture: Pablo Helguera

November 9, 7:30 pm

Pablo Helguera, "The Estheticist," is a free ongoing service of art consultation around practical, philosophical and ethical issues around the visual arts profession.

  1. Check out the latest issue of "The Estheticist."
  2. Think of a question and post it as a comment to this blog post. (Mr. Helguera would like to have these questions in advance, comment now!)
  3. Mr. Helguera's presentation will be about your questions, so ask away!

Helguera’s work focuses in a variety of topics ranging from history, pedagogy, sociolinguistics, ethnography, memory and the absurd, in formats that are widely varied including the lecture, museum display strategies, musical performances and written fiction.He is the author of eight books including: Endingness (2005), an essay on the art of memory; The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style (2005; Spanish edition; 2007, English edition), a social etiquette manual for the art world.

All lectures are free and open to the public, bring a friend!
Click here for a complete schedule of 2010 Fall Art & Culture Lectures

Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a visual artist living and working in New York.

His work generally acquires unusual formats, ranging from experimental symposiums, the creation of fictional artists, phonograph recordings, exhibition audio-guides, publications or nomadic museums, and touches on topics of pedagogy, cognition, politics, history, fiction, and memory. His project The School of Panamerican Unrest (2003-08) consisted in driving the entire length of the Panamerican highway with a portable schoolhouse, conducting workshops and performances along the way, and is considered the most extensive public art project ever realized. A traveling monographic exhibition of this project will be presented in 2008 at the Stanley Picker Gallery, London, Museo del Barrio, New York, and Casa del Lago, Mexico City, amongst others.

He has presented his work individually at MoMA (performance Parallel Lives, 2003), RCA in London, and at the Hirshhorn museum in Washinton DC. He has participated in many international biennials, including the 8th Havana Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, and PERFORMA.

He is the author of four books, including The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style (2007), a social etiquette manual for the art world, and the novel The Boy Inside the Letter (2008), and of the musical works The Foreign Legion (2005) and The Witches of Tepoztlan (2007).

He currently is the Director of Adult and Academic Programs of the Education Department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


  1. My questions are:

    I have just started to work with a gallery, not formally represented by them but they wanted to have some pieces at the gallery and all has been a verbal agreement so far.
    Turns out they did sell my pieces but at a higher price than the price we talked about and they will not tell me who bought them. Should I get 50% of what they sold for or what I agreed to (lower price)?
    Do artists have any legal rights to know who their art is sold to?

    Not feeling great about this relationship so it may be very short lived.

  2. Dear Estheticist,

    How do you deal with rejection? As an guy, I know I need to meet girls, go on dates, and other social activities — yet I have a very hard time when I get rejected: I enter into a depressive mode and my already low self-esteem takes another blow. Sometimes I feel that I should not even bother entering into a process that may hurt me even more than what can help me. What to do?"

  3. I would be interested to hear about secondary market royalties for artists. This came up in class last week after Lisa Dennison's talk...

  4. Dear Estheticist,

    Why do artists need galleries these days? The 50% they take seems outrageous. Should we try to sell our own work on line? Are galleries becoming obsolete?

  5. Dear Estheticist,
    I find self promotion ugly and distasteful. Is there any hope for me having a career, if tooting my own horn is not happening very loudly or at all?

  6. Dear Estheticist,
    Is China really the new New York and Auction Houses the new Museums?

    "stuck in the past"

  7. What are some strategies to get a good gallery?
    Should I send images out and try to get a bite?

  8. What happens when you leave new york?

  9. Dear Estheticist,

    I would like to hear your opinion on the high art vs kitsch art dialog. It seems that we have been confronted by this question again and again and yet a clear distinction cannot be provided. Who makes the decision whether art is high or kitsch or neither? The artist? The gallerist or dealer? The viewer? The critic? And is the question really important at all?

  10. Do you have any thoughts on the perception of woman artists as a "poor investments"? because they may op to have families, and therefore, the assumption is, side track their careers. Did you know that although 85% of students in art school are female, museums have on average less than 5% women in their permanent collections. Is this changing? What will it take for this to change

  11. I would like to do/organize a pop-up gallery in Tribeca highlighting Academy related artists and outside artist friends. How do I start? How do I approach landlords or developers? Any grants out there for this kind of idea?

  12. Dear Estheticist,
    I keep hearing the word "de-skilling" trotted out in relation to art schools....I would love t hear your thoughts on that.
    Thank you!

  13. Just to add onto John beer's question, what is the exact art definition of "kitsch?" Is is just an opinion of good or bad taste, high or low art, nick-knack or fine art? The original definition encompasses all figurative art, but the term seems to have taken a full turn around to include artists who have little or behind to do with the figure? Does kitsch have somethingto do with mass production of objects (ie. Thomas kinkade), or is it a merging of high and low art (ie. Takashi murakami), or does it still involve the figure an nostalgia for the past as Odd Nerdrum still insists. Also, is kitsch even a valid art term, as people use it in antique shops to describe mint green stoves, and on Canal street in reference to hello kitty figurines and tiny golden buddahs? Does kitsch have anything to do with the perversion of religion? When religion dies, does kitsch take it's place?
    And what's so bad about kitsch anyway? Am I a bad person for loving kitsch? Am I a bad artist for making kitsch? Can kitsch be beautiful and sincere, or purly meaningless?
    On a side note, are the cat and scarab figurines in the Egyptian wing of the met considered art? Or are they the ancient kitsch of their day, originally used for religious purposes and then mass produced to feed the masses a false idol of hope in a scheme to make money, eventually rendering these items in the same unholy category as my hello kitty stapler?

  14. Miguel Torres-CarlosNovember 9, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    Dear Estheticist,

    I wanted to know your thoughts on opportunities for Non-American artists living in New York, how deep or shallow is the market for a foreign artist? Do you think we have more opportunities in our countries of origin? Do you think is probably better to establish connections here in New York and then live in another country? And what are the pros/cons of being flexible and adjust to a different culture?