~*~ ART and MONEY ~*~

The 2006 “Year in Review” issue of New York magazine had a list of the top 10 best art shows of the year, after which they identified "The Stinker: The lousiest show in the art world was not, this year, a traditional museum or gallery exhibition. It was The Money Show. The big money show at the auction houses, galleries, and in the press. No work of art excited the art world half as much as the extraordinary prices paid for art. In one Impressionist-and-Modern sale, Christie’s did about $500 million worth of business. A hedge-fund magnate reportedly paid $137.5 million for a de Kooning Woman painting. What stank was not the money per se—money, after all, is just money—but the abject surrender of the art world to careerist, cash-grubbing attitudes."

This made me laugh. The real irony today is that, because of the supply-side economic policy that is being so successfully implemented, many of the aesthetically inclined wealthy are now spending more than ever before on bigger, better, rarer, and more impressive luxury acquisitions, and this naturally encompasses the collection of art works:

“Art is an investment of capital, culture an excuse.” –Flaiano Ennio, 20th-century Italian writer

"Said Scopas of Thessaly, 'But we rich men count our felicity and happiness to lie in these superfluities, and not in those necessary things.'" –Plutarch, 2nd-century Greek historian

It is no mystery why W magazine, charmingly known as Vogue’s way more spoiled older sister, has featured art and artists in more and more of its issues over the past few years. And auctions, as NY magazine pointed out, are off the charts. As Aldous Huxley, the 20th-century British novelist, exquisitely remarked: “If it were not for the intellectual snobs who pay—in solid cash—the arts would perish with their starving practitioners. Let us thank heaven for hypocrisy.” There is a famous anecdote in which a serious fan of the arts is with Picasso, and as they are admiring one of Picasso’s latest works, the man asks him, “What do you see here?” to which Picasso replies, “About 30,000.”

How can visual artists, in their line of work, be expected to make a living off their career as visual artists, if they are not to care about making money? The do-it-yourself punk ethos, marketable to this day in both music and fashion, is nevertheless, if authentically pursued, untenable and impossible. And anyone who knows the history of "punk," which has been seen as a rebirth of 1920s “Dadaism” itself, will know that it started as nothing more than a marketing gimmick by record producer Malcolm McClaren, who, to this day as well, reiterates that mercenary and consciously commercial intention every chance he gets.

So, as for the hedge-fund magnate who bought that de Kooning painting for 137 million? I say, HEY, if only MORE hedge-find magnates loved abstract expressionism THAT MUCH!!!!! :-D It’s guys like that who are keeping art ALIVE!!! It could possibly be argued that he is “unjust” or “unfair,” or whatever, to the millions of starving and disadvantaged people in the world, but look at what he just did for de Kooning’s children and grandchildren! And who knows—maybe THEY will help the poor and poverty-stricken. Okay, um, upon a moment’s research I have learned that the artist HAD no children. Well, then whoever holds the rights to his estate could very well give to the poor, and that is a comforting thought—certainly sufficient for me. Anyway, I’m gonna go become an abstracter painty-person myself now!!! Life is short, Art…is…LONNNG, baby... And seriously? I just need to get PAIIIIIIIIIIIIIID YO!!! Thhhhhank you. ;-D

A painter is a man who paints what he sells; an artist, on the other hand, is a man who sells what he paints. –Picasso

(Pictured: All 7 of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, done in Aug. 1888 and Jan. 1889)

More Tomorrow...