Monday, August 5, 2013
American artist Eric Fischl was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, then discussed further by Katheryn Tully in Forbes magazine, that "belief that money, rather than artistic merit, has recently become the universal definition of worth in the art world."
This obviously creates problems not only for the artists but for the collector or investor. As Fischl put it in the interview, regarding the financial bubble in the computer/internet industry in the 80's:
"It was almost like a perfect storm. There was a tremendous amount of money being made by people who were very young, were not broadly educated but were more mono-focused educated. They didn't have a broad sense of history, of culture. Then all of a sudden there's this infusion of money into the art world, where they're looking for things that are not deeply understood but are entertaining, and the lifestyle of it is entertaining. They're hedging their bets, so they're buying lots of different young artists. And it's getting younger and younger. In the '90s, collectors started to buy work directly out of studios in graduate schools by artists who hadn't even become professional artists, let alone mature.
And the impact that has on artists is enormous, because if you start selling work as a student, it's very hard to change, very hard to let go and progress and find your own true voice. So you see a lot of younger artists who've been selling work since they got out of school but have yet to do their second show, so to speak. They started speaking, not in art terms, but in business terms."
The bottom line here is that it's not about talent, and the buyers weren't knowledgeable about art.
Tully: "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..."
This becomes scary for artist - do I create for the market or create for expression, beauty, essence...?
Contemporary art today is more diverse than it's ever been. It is so diverse, in fact, that it is becoming difficult for gallerist, or websites (which many feel are driving out a lot of galleries) to describe to a potential buyer what "kind" of art this is.
In my humble opinion there is no "ism" today. Sure, some artist still work in ism's of the past - even impressionism for goodness sake! After all, it looks good on a wall and, more importantly, it sales. But, is it ART? There's the conundrum. If an artist wants to be true to themselves, their vision and creativity - it may well drive them off the market. In Monet's time communication amongst the art world was close to nil - today it is rampant. On FaceBook alone I have 65 "friends" who are artists and cover every continent! It's fascinating, the myriad collection of varied art I receive each day. Some of them have their market - some are still looking for it, and may never really find it.
Art (in any form) is just too precious to be viewed only for it's monetary value. Perhaps it is those who buy art just because they like it, because it enhances their lives that will determine the future of art. That, I'm afraid will be some time coming. I guess I can't really complain. I don't sell a lot, almost none in originals - more in prints - but I can say that I'm being true to myself and I'm still growing (that said at my age hopefully means senility has yet to set in). That can't be said of artist who find a niche where they find some popularity and then hammer out more of it because it sells. I do get exhibited, published, given awards, and I've been asked to do solo shows. For now, that provides fulfillment.
Structure 1 - Digital work in progress