LA Times business writer takes on art world BS

Monkeys on pigs? Cute LOLcats?

All the rest goes here...
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LA Times business writer takes on art world BS

Post by ZoWie »

And wins.

By way of introduction, visualize a smallish chrome sculpture of a very stylized rabbit, all made out of dead, cold metal. It looks like something you'd see in a ultra-upscale store window in Beverly Hills, New York, Paris, or Milan. However, it was made by the ultra-upscale Jeff Koons, who supplies megabillionaire "collectors" (investors, really) with mediocre but very slick pieces going for tens of millions regularly.

The (highly copyrighted) photo is all over the net. Prepare to be disappointed. It's a shiny piece of nothing. Art by and for the 0.5%.

It just fetched $91 million, and the artist isn't even dead yet.

Let's go: ... story.html" onclick=";return false;
By Michael Hiltzik

A few years ago, the joke going around was that a cocaine habit was God’s way of saying you have too much money. Cocaine is out of favor today, but for the 0.01%, high-priced art has taken its place.

Witness the latest moment of excess in the art market, the $91.1-million sale [to Steve Mnuchin's father -Z] at Christie’s of a stainless steel sculpture of a rabbit by the glamorous artist Jeff Koons.


What the surge in auctions of high-priced artworks really brings home is the weakness of arguments against higher marginal income tax rates on the wealthy and against the wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a candidate for president.


It may be said that the purchase of vanity assets by the upper crust does create jobs and trickles their wealth down. Yacht and mansion builders, after all, also have to eat. But those sectors are mostly economic froth, and highly volatile. They’re not mass employers, but symptoms of a concentration of wealth in America that make the gilt of the 19th century Gilded Age look like poverty.
There's much more, but I'm limited by copyright restrictions. It reads like a soft core left wing polemic prettied up for consumption outside the left. And he's a business writer.

I like it.

I could explain the art world, but it's like explaining the stock market, and for the same reasons. It's all trading, really. A few big names trade in the $100 million neighborhood. Art auctions in general are all auction and not much art. Galleries, meanwhile, are like movie agents. They work on representation contracts, and it takes special types of people who don't mind looking like assholes. For sure, watch your wallet when they're around.

Getting back to the auction scene, it says something that Banksy's attempt to make it look ridiculous backfired when the value of his freshly auto-shredded piece promptly increased. The buyer not only did not want his money back, but expected a nice big profit in turnaround.

This, of course, isn't art-making. It's trading.

The conceptual movement was a reaction to this. It was mostly weirdness appreciated by other artists, and few others. It made kultur-vultures look ridiculous when they tried to understand it. However, it never solved the problem of how to make a living doing art.


You will never be an art rock star. If you have finished college, as I suspect everyone on this board has, you are already too old. The collector Thing anoints precious few. Some critic spots someone in a graduate MFA program somewhere who does something semi-edgy, semi-boring, but with tremendous investment potential. Think Facebook, done as art rather than commerce, and far less innovative. That person becomes rich, famous, and vapid. The rest... well you've read the cliches about artists.

So it goes in the big city.

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