No. 4

L’art pour l’art…?

…no, because nowadays it is obviously more about “l’art pour l’argent“, which is my personal way of expressing the apparently never-ending rise of prices at international art markets. “L’argent“ is the French term for money.

art commodityArtistic masterpieces have become objects of speculation and therefore are being sold for undreamt-of amounts of money (“art follows money – liquidity is the elixir of life of the so-called ‘deep-pocket’ art market” (Dossi 2007: 199); “the industrialisation of the art market is progressing, 31 million US dollars were implemented in 1998, in 2013 826 million US dollars – the market rose twentyfold in the last 15 years” (Hess 2015: 53)).

Here is a video referring to Basquiat’s record-breaking sale at Christie’s in New York in May 2016, as well as one of the many links available online regarding the global art world:

KINSELLA, Eileen. 10 May 2016. Analysis. Basquiat Breaks Auction Record at Christie’s. Available at: https://news.artnet.com/market/christies-postwar-and-contemporary-evening-sale-493985 [accessed on 24 March 2017].

In my opinion, this illustrates the general financial inequality on a quite perverse and even corrupt level. The whole meaning of art, its intrinsic value, seems to be no longer a question (at least not for those people who buy them for millions of millions of pounds), only its pecuniary worth is of interest (and this is, as the art markets show, manipulated and highly speculative):

“The spread of the capitalist practices that we have been examining inevitably generated an increasing circulation of money, but the truly astonishing rise in its international circulation during the last quarter of the 20th century was mainly the result of speculative money movements.” (Fulcher 2004: 94)

But this cannot be the end of the story, even though the gap between rich and poor is widening even more: “Forget the 1%: it’s time to focus on the wealthiest 0.1% who are outpacing the rest of us at breakneck speed.” (Freeland 2012: cover text). The aforementioned velocity is perfectly displayed in the following video of the actual action of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting “Untitled” (1982):

Anon. 11 May 2016. ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art’ In the saleroom: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled. Available at: http://www.christies.com/features/In-the-saleroom-Jean-Michel-Basquiats-Untitled-7365-3.aspx#ooid=gwcHJmMzE69wERerMI-hPE8cK801cXx4 [accessed on 24 March 2017].

Basquiat
Fig. 1. Jean-Michel Basquiat. 1982. Untitled. Broke the artist’s world auction record, selling for $57.3 million at Christie’s on 10 May 2016 (photo credit: Christie’s Images Ltd.)

Art simply needs to address other values as well, values which affect every social class, not only the super-rich and their need to collect masterpieces… This is exactly why I started to paint. I am not a natural, I don’t have this special talent to draw or create, but I had an instinct for the technique which exactly suited my abilities: Structuristic Art. This easy to learn painting method is multidimensional, such as the paintings itself – as its name implies, structuristic art works contain many layers of colour, the artist is basically sculpturing on a two-dimensional surface (but no worries, the art works stay perfectly flat).

“At the moment when painting was becoming recognized as a superior human activity, it became a vehicle for investment and speculation.” (Jonathan Brown, cited in Wagner and Westreich Wagner 2013: 75)

I am going to explore this method’s extraordinary pedagogical value in a later post. But one thing I can say for sure: The social value of Structuristic Art lies in its ability to reach not only the very young (as soon as one can hold a brush, there is no minimum age), but also teenagers, adults and the very old (as long as one can hold a brush, there is no maximum age). The latter not only by its technique but also by its affordable service.

artists

It was maybe especially ironic that of all things which could happen I ended up giving painting lessons in THE capitalist city imaginable to a group of motivated students eager to learn how to express themselves via the method of Structuristic Art. With nothing less in mind than to revolutionise my world by planting a seed: I discovered the power of practising art and its capability of changing things to the better. The latter is especially meaningful, since Structuristic Art is so inclusive, compared with “capitalism, a word which emerged in the eighteenth century to describe a system in which a few control production to the exclusion of the many” (Anderson 2010: 81). It is no accident that the bottom line of Structuristic Art is “Everyone is a structuristic artist”, slightly altered but based on Joseph Beuys’ (1921-1986) famous claim (Beuys 1978). To be continued…!

 

B i b l i o g r a p h y 

ANDERSON, Jon. 2010. Understanding cultural geography. Places and traces. London: Routledge.

BEUYS, Joseph. 1978. Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler. Auf dem Weg zur Freiheitsgestalt des sozialen Organismus. [Audio CD]. Wangen: Verlagskatalog.

BROWN, Jonathan. 1995. Kings & Connoisseurs: Collecting Art in Seventeenth-Century Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

DOSSI, Piroschka. 2007. Hype! Kunst und Geld. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.

FINDLAY, Michael. 2012. The Value of Art. Money, Power, Beauty. First Edition. Munich, London, New York: Prestel Verlag.

FREELAND, Chrystia. 2012. Plutocrats. The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. London: Penguin Books.

FULCHER, James. 2004. Capitalism. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

HESS, Ewa. 21 June 2015. Das grosse Klotzen. An der diesjährigen Art Basel wird deutlich: Der Kunstmarkt befindet sich mitten in einem historischen Umbruch. In: Sonntagszeitung, pp. 53-4.

WAGNER, Ethan and Thea WESTREICH WAGNER. 2013. Collecting Art for Love, Money and More. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

F u l l   l i s t   o f   f i g u r e s

Figure 1. BASQUIAT, Jean-Michel. 1982. Untitled. Owned by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa [online]. Available at: http://observer.com/2016/05/57m-basquiat-breaks-auction-record-at-christies/  [accessed on 24 March 2017].

F u l l   l i s t   o f   v i d e o s 

Anon. 11 May 2016. ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art’   In the saleroom: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled. Available at: http://www.christies.com/features/In-the-saleroom-Jean-Michel-Basquiats-Untitled-7365-3.aspx#ooid=gwcHJmMzE69wERerMI-hPE8cK801cXx4 [accessed on 24 March 2017].

GORVY, Brett. 2016. ‘Christie’s’   Epic Basquiat to lead Post-war and Contemporary sale in New York. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKwby1q-_-U [accessed on 24 March 2017].

F u l l   l i s t   o f   w e b s i t e s

KINSELLA, Eileen. 10 May 2016. ‘Analysis’   Basquiat Breaks Auction Record at Christie’s. Available at: https://news.artnet.com/market/christies-postwar-and-contemporary-evening-sale-493985 [accessed on 24 March 2017].

Anon. 11 May 2016. ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art’   Record-breaking Baquiat leads Post-War Evening Sale. Available at: http://www.christies.com/features/Post-war-contemporary-results-from-Christies-May-2016-auction-7362-3.aspx [accessed on 24 March 2017].

 

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