Thursday, November 16, 2006

art's a crazy business

Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXX, 1977. I might think the world of de kooning but it is weird to think that art can sell for millions of dollars! $10,656,000 Sotheby’s New York Nov. 15, 2006

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure would help pay the bills!

12:15 PM  
Anonymous foghat said...

de Kooning was fun while it lasted but like all abstract art it's ultimately decorative.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Me said...

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10:37 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

Yeah, well, another de kooning abstract from 1977 sold the following evening at Christies for over $27,000,000. And a colored pencil work on paper (8 x 11 inches) from the 50's by de Kooning sold the same evening for over $9,000,000.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous buckwheat said...

Do we value art by dollar signs now?

11:23 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

art has been valued by dollar signs for over 350 years - nothing new about that...

7:34 AM  
Anonymous toadstool said...

So, the higher the price the better the art?

12:23 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

On one hand, of course one could argue that your indictment "... So, the higher the price the better the art?..." is too bad (if that's the way you feel).

But buckwheat's assertion that it's a recent paradigm that our society values art by dollar signs is just plain wrong. Art became seriously commodified around the early/mid 17th Century in the Netherlands. All I was trying to say that art as a commodity is not a new thing - it's an old thing. In his time Vermeer was bought, traded, and sold at auction in Amsterdam with as much abandon as de Kooning and Warhol were last week in NYC.

Prices don't reflect the 'value' of an artwork (though they're one way to do it, of course) - prices reflect the value a society places on an artwork at a specific moment in time, and are exposed to the vagaries of fashion. In the late 19th Century the 'Warhol' of the moment was an artist named William Bouguereau. He was as hot as any hot artist is now in our time. But in the long run, it appears that society has decided that he's a bit player in the overall arc of art history. In the early 20th century, however, people paid crazy prices for the work and thought he was a genius.

I actually don't even know how the words 'value' and 'art' can coexist comfortably together. Both words are really imprecise, and when you put them together they become even more vague.

Having said that, I don't have a problem paying a lot of money for art that I think is terrific.

9:09 AM  

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