The L Magazine, aka The Village Voice for people with small hands, has just released an arts-themed issue. A pull quote from the feature article reads, â€œArt as an exciting stock risk for a venture capitalist who cares little about the work itself will go away. This is a good thing.â€ We tend to agree.
We are students of history; weâ€™re aware that Pope Julius II della Rovere was the great patron of Michelangelo and Raphael, and that the ecclesiast was single-handedly responsible for the commission of some of the great, enduring works of art of all timeâ€” work that even we canâ€™t be cynical of. And we know that our beloved Met was, and is, financed by mega-capitalists. Donâ€™t think we havenâ€™t noticed just how many pieces in the permanent collection are gifts of John Pierpont Morgan.
But you know what? Fuck it, is what. We draw a distinction between crazy rich people funding the visual arts and I-banking speculators who see art as another commodity to make a killing on. We are made sick by the creeping influence of capital in art. In â€œart.â€ Frankly, the phrase â€œThe Art Marketâ€ makes our little socialist stomachs churn.
Contrary to the claims in Adam Bonislaskiâ€™s article in The L, we donâ€™t fetishize the mythical starving, suffering artistâ€”we know that artists need to be compensated for their craft, and that when the economy booms, more artists are able to ply their trade. Great.
But Damien Hirst and Murakami need an ass kicking. Conflating consumerism with high art was funny when Warhol did it, guys. But 50 years have passed, and Warhol’s been inducted into the canon. So that just makes you greedy, derivative profiteers. Hirst, for example, sold his diamond encrusted one-liner for $100 million, then sued a 16-year-old who was making bootleg collages of his work. Because, you know, it’s a self-conscious meta-criticism.
â€œBut at least weâ€™re talking about art,â€ apologists will cry. â€œIsnâ€™t that the point?â€ No, no itâ€™s not. Weâ€™re also talking about AIGâ€™s request for $165 million of government funds to give bonuses to the assholes that wrecked the economy. That doesnâ€™t make it an art project. Shock does not confer value.
Pick up the latest edition of the L Magazine in those orange boxes before the college kids take em all. BTW this issue also has a handy Spring Arts Preview. Weâ€™re psyched about the upcoming Frank Lloyd Wright show at the Guggenheim.
Are we full of it? Almost certainly. Drop some knowledge in the comments below. Let us know just how cynical or naive we are about the state of The Art Market (pukes in mouth). Tell us whatÂ idiots we are. Talk dirty to us.