Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It strikes me as self-evident that much of modern art, lacking a definite set of rules, owes much of its value on the trust, or confidence, of the collector’s market. This to the extent that conceptual pieces bear market logic as an integral part of their ‘raison d’ĂȘtre’.

You wouldn’t be hard put in finding evidence of this at top level. At street level, or in the perspective of what is likely to be the direct experience of art for most of us, confidence still plays an important role. When visiting a museum on a Sunday afternoon for instance, it feels increasingly like a retail venue rather than a temple for cultural enrichment: not an alternative to working days pragmatic toil but its natural continuation. Apart from the cafeteria’s that have grown in size and product range, adding calories and cost to the deal, the museum shop seems to be paramount to the survival of institutions and is run on the shrewd principles of any tourist venue: the exchange of cash for kitsch.

Seeking solace in art galleries and artists’ studios will not offer respite. Hidden by a thin layer of wilful delusion, the ugly facts of market economy lures under the surface with open jaws to swallow the unwary and part him/her from his hard earned dollars/euros/pounds/yen. Punters buy into the idea of being collectors: either idealists or investors, they want value and status. Artists want status. Gallerists want money. Roughly.

If you happen to be personally involved with an artist, either in a transaction or in life, you have to recognize a few facts. To start with most artists are self-proclaimed. There is no definite way of identifying the real deal from the decoy; no degree or qualification really stands to prove anything. It is an exercise of will and self deception in many cases – this belief of being an artist - and can cause a behavioural latitude loosely related to a mistaken notion of superiority. This is not only morally wrong, but dangerous as it leads to a grey area on inconsistencies, discrepancies and bohemian depravation, on top of being detrimental to the making of good work.

Those who feel superior lack a sense of honesty and obligation to the others and are thus inherently not trustworthy and incapable of true friendship. They will feel knowingly or unknowingly entitled to beg, borrow, lie, cheat or steal to get what they want. You have been warned.

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