Friday, December 14, 2012

Maneker: "The art market isn’t a measure of art historical value or worth."

Felix Salmon quotes Gopnik: "The market for art is unlike any other, because it’s built on some notion of true, underlying value"
a comment (neatened up)
“The market for art is unlike any other, because it’s built on some notion of true, underlying value ­”
Are the paintings of Jackson Pollock really more historically important than the films of Alfred Hitchcock? Your language is more suited to a defense of the Church or university. The fact that you associate that kind of seriousness with the rich in this day and age is just odd. Or maybe not. Do you crave service to an authority as morally serious as it is powerful?

The “fine” arts are the arts of aristocracy. We no longer have an aristocracy; we have a subsection of the bourgeoisie with loads of cash. Even the old “high bourgeois” are gone. Art stars are pop stars. How many of them last? And do their marketers care? I don’t know who’s worse in these debates, the boosters or the scolds. That according to Dave Hickey the Guggenheim now has critics sign contracts [stipulating that you won't disparage anything on display?] is roughly equivalent to the Koch brothers demanding changes in curriculum, but acknowledging that is not a defense of the purity of what came before
"Economics is not a morality play." vs. "The Church/University for is unlike any system/organization, because it’s built on some notion of true, underlying value."

Maneker on Hirst: back and forth.
Dec 13 2012: Hirst v. Gagosian: Who Blinked?
It is hard to see the Complete Spots show as anything but a signal that Hirst’s market had come to an end. The seeds of his market demise were surely sown in the Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale of September 2008 but the Complete Spots were meant to be a market comeback. Indeed, the spot paintings had seemed a beguiling meta-work of endless canvases with its own mystique.
The art press played right into Hirst’s hands covering every publicity ploy the artist created with slavish intensity. Unfortunately, the 11 Spot shows seemed to deflate the Spots rather than apotheosize them. Seen together, the works appeared to be more gimmick than art.
At the bottom of the page, under "related posts": 
Jan 16th 2012: Art World Hates Hirst’s Spots, Everyone Else Loves Them 
Jan 10th 2012: The Universal Language of Spots 
Feb 22 2011: Hirst's Spots Are Coming Back to Life
Art collecting began as an aristocratic pastime, less a place for making money than for spending it. Collectors either became connoisseurs or paid them but there was a sense of pride in ownership, not of something popular but of something considered superior. Today think of the European model of sports club ownership, as opposed of the Americans who insist on making a profit. These days the most old-fashioned collectors are the ones who hire art thieves, and hide their prizes from the public. Before framed pictures for private homes there were public works for the church, but the later pieces carried the provenance of the earlier ones, a provenance fading over 400 years.

Lindemann is causing a stir because he's making a public claim for himself as a connoisseur. Right now he's pushing old feminist porn and his wife's pushing Nordic fascist kitsch. It's not sophisticated but it's making the attempt. Like Maneker he confuses significance and popularity/finance, supporting his self-image more than a coherent argument.  Gopnik's only answer is to be a snob and a scold. But ask moralizing critics for the work they'd defend and its not much better: see Thornton's defense of Sherrie Levine. [here] It's all a tempest in a platinum teapot. The problem isn't art and money it's that people in the fine arts were once capable and interested of navigating through ambiguity and that the art itself was once more interesting. Fine art is now an adjunct to design. The arts section of the NYT is mostly theater and film. Compare it even 20 years ago. etc. etc.

"The art market isn’t a measure of art historical value or worth."
If it's not the attempt to take the measure, it's just another short term bet and artists and collectors have nothing in common other than gambling. Welcome to Vegas.

Art stars are pop stars. Dealers and collectors are promoters. Some of it will last, most of it won't.

The moral/intellectual economy of fine arts is collapsing. The art world was always commercial but claimed not to be just as the academy has always claimed to be removed from the wider culture that supported it. The fantasy of the Ivory Tower was a fantasy of a bubble; the most serious, historically important, intellectual figures have always had at least one foot firmly outside. And moralizing art critics are now lambasting the new generation of oligarchs for not upholding the standards of the houses of the Medici and the Sforza.

That critics of fine art are bemoaning the death of art in an age of entertainment in 2012 says more about their isolation than about the death of art. The rich will always collect baubles, but they won't be what they were. Art critics are now like poetry critics ranting against Stephen King, less defending poetry than their sense of their own seriousness. That's not a celebration of the popular.
Wounded idealism is the definition of reaction.

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