Art’s Black Heart

A Picasso cost tens of millions. A Monet is more. And as for a Vermeer, his work is literally priceless.

Rational, moral aesthetic supporters of the arts accept this. They covet this art. In their own homes they have maybe a Hockney, Hopper, Magritte or lesser Picasso.

Is this art valuable because it is beautiful? No, long ago it lost touch with this basic connection. Certainly it is beautiful but no more beautiful than much other art. Only an absolute expert can separate a good forgery from the original.

The art world freely accepts value is unrelated to merit. It is determined by artistic scarcity. Only 35 Vermeer’s have been painted, therefore their value is astronomical.

BUT … at the heart of this is a deep, unconscionable immorality. I get pleasure out of my art because others don’t have it. This is no different from me getting more enjoyment out of my food because others are hungry. I am no longer appreciating beauty or the artistic sensibility I am simply valuing what I have by what others do not.

This is the unacknowledged, wicked pleasure of the art collector – and of the art world. It is not the way nature celebrates beauty where the flowers cascade with reckless abandon. It is not the way of the writer where endless reproduction never diminishes value. And indeed it is not the spark behind the original where beauty was captured only to be shared with deep generosity.

And I love an art that is gloriously unreserved in its giving. Christo and other great public art moves me for this reason. I am hoping we at RedBubble will find ways to collaborate on great, generous art works that can never be priced.

Journal Comments

  • Paul Louis Villani
  • nannajul
  • butchart
  • Mundy Hackett
  • helene
  • Danny
  • Pilgrim
  • Juilee  Pryor
  • Pilgrim
  • MuscularTeeth
  • Juilee  Pryor
  • Wendy  Slee
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