How art gets generated.
The Los Angeles Times ran an interesting interview with Eric Fischl at the weekend, in which the American artist discussed his new memoir Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas and his belief that money, rather than artistic merit, has recently become the universal definition of worth in the art world.
He argues that it’s almost politically incorrect to talk about an artist having talent, because that makes it exclusive, while it’s now perfectly acceptable to define an art work’s exclusivity by its price tag:
“The price tag has replaced it [talent], and it’s certainly not a critical dialogue. It’s just something that’s a symbolic thing where it must mean the person who sells for the most money is the best artist. It’s a total false kind of critical economy and very destructive to the culture as well.”
He says this has not just influenced the behavior of collectors, who buy into this definition, but also of today’s artists, who he says have difficulties progressing as an artist when collectors want to buy the sort of work they produced straight after leaving art school. They prematurely become defined by the market as being a certain thing and begin their professional careers talking its language:
“They started speaking, not in art terms, but in business terms. People wanted to know how to be branded, they wanted to know about price points.”
There are obviously numerous reasons why the value of an artist, or an art work, should not just be defined by price. The majority of amazing art in the world does not sell for millions at auction or fit the neat parameters of what sells well at an art fair. It’s not a consistent or useful marker for collectors either when the market is very fickle and faddish. Artists that are in favor one year can be out the next, while even similar art works by the same artist can sink or swim at auction, depending on the audience.
However, does Fischl’s damning view of the art market actually hold up across the board? After all, his argument assumes that the only collectors who have any clout in the art world are both rich and stupid, which is clearly a massive oversimplification. Collectors are a diverse crowd, and crazily enough,so are their motivations. While there’s no doubt that the price of art is a growing fixation today, are we really ready to believe that most artists create art and most collectors buy art not for artistry or cultural importance but because it is expensive?
By Katheryn Tully, Forbes.com, 7/22/13
For the original article, please click here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryntully/2013/07/22/for-art-buyers-is-price-more-important-than-talent/