Thursday, April 08, 2010

Art and Money Again

A few weeks back some friends and I viewed and discussed a short doc. by Robert (2009)about the decline of art and the rise of the market. (see above). I'm nut-shelling it but that is the basic premise that Hughes argues. There are plenty of broad strokes and convenient omissions but its a generally sound argument and overall fun to watch, if for no other reason than to see old footage of the "glory days" of 1960's New York.

Anyway, Peter Plagens has apparently viewed the film parallel to our little round table and has some good observations at the National Arts Journal blog.

Hughes--for those of you who've been serving on the Texas School Board for the past forty years or who write exclusively for TMZ--is the former Time magazine star who a) probably seduced more average punters (as they say in Hughes's pre-New York-home of London) into reading about serious contemporary art than anybody, ever, and b) has famously fulminated against artists, styles, impenetrable artcrit argot, and various art-world practices. One of those in the last of the latter is what he roars against in "The Mona Lisa Curse." I disagree.

The shipping of Leonardo da Vinci's painting, the Mona Lisa, to New York for exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1963 was, according to Hughes, the beginning of the descent of the art world--particularly the contemporary art world--into today's big-money morass (as Hughes sees it) of collecting for profit, naked speculation, insincere or wrongheaded or diabolical reasons behind big-time collectors saying how they just love art, undeserved celebrity for mediocre-or-worse artists, and a general vulgarity and crassness among art-world players (especially those hand-holders to the rich connoisseur wannabes, art consultants). The downward slide was supposed to have worked something like this: Showing the Mona Lisa at the Met to long lines of people who could only glimpse it from a distance for a few seconds catered to unwashed pseuds who only wanted to "get it seen"; that led to a bunch of superficial, unsophisticated people flooding into an art world that consisted theretofore of a bunch of integrity-ridden bohemian artists, several dealers more interested in determining art history than making a profit, and a few enlightened, altruistic collectors; those ambitious vulgarians, who liked the parties and the "action" as much if not more than they actually liked art, started to take over; meanwhile, the advent of Pop Art and particularly Andy Warhol and his flaunted permissiveness, propelled the takeover to warp speed and near-total control.

continue reading here

Mona Lisa Curse parts 1 - 12

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