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“…a reflection of the gross narcissism of those rich enough to own it.”

December 7, 2009

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Mark Vallen has some really incredible posts up on his blog. While Art Basel, in Miami Beach, is being cleaned up and repackaged to go home, I read “200 One Dollar Bills“, Vallen’s critique of the recent auction of Warhol’s screenprint of the same title.

The forces involved in the Sotheby’s auction represent an extremely influential layer in the elite art world, people who must surely believe they are shaping and controlling the future of art; but as any student of history will tell you, the most grandiose plans of the powerful are often times thwarted by material conditions, social pressures, and the acts of the independently minded.

Art Basel’s website purports it to be the “most important art show in the United States, a cultural and social highlight for the Americas.” I’ve always likened it to a gun show of art exhibitions, the NY Times acknowledging “the sense of art as merchandise is overpowering” where “most galleries offer variety-store-like mixes of works by different artists with the ambience of a sample sale” in “The Art Fair as Outlet Mall” I remember the Times one year called Art Basel the Cosco of art.
After reading that post I read a more current piece on Art for a Change, on Robert Hughes’ documentary called The Mona Lisa Curse. Vallen posts links, (here), to the respective sections on youtube with his synopsis of each part. The videos are so well worth watching and provide a very shrewd look at art and the market influencing it today.

“Apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world, with contemporary art sales estimated at around $18 billion a year. (….) Boosted by regiments of nouveau riche collectors, and serviced by a growing army of advisors, dealers and auctioneers. As Andy Warhol once observed, ‘Good business is the best art.’”-from The Mona Lisa Curse

I could almost hear the toast in Miami Beach, “To the death of Art.”

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