Seeing Dollar Signs

Is the art market making us stupid? Or are we making it stupid?

In the 1970s, conceptualist Joseph Kosuth said, "The only people who care about art are artists." That's changed. But is the art world of greater interest to people outside of it because art has become more interesting or because art is a hot property? Is the market creating a competitive atmosphere that drives artists to produce better work or is it mainly fostering empty product?

If there's a silver lining to this golden cloud it's that despite how professional and "smart" it is made out to be, the market is still inherently blinkered, erratic, and insecure. As such it is simultaneously vulnerable and a force of chaos. As almost everyone in the art world knows, chaos is usually good for art. At the end of the day art still has a private inside and a public outside. It still exudes an alchemical otherness. In our studios and before artworks we still experience moments of authentic serenity, passion, and meaningfulness—places on the edge of language that the market can't strip away. In this imperfect realm we can intuit the elemental feeling that sometimes, just by making or looking at art, we might glimpse the full range of human possibilities. The market is art minus otherness. The rest is gossip.


jsaltz@villagevoice.com

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