What’s it worth?

Art World News

“One of the reasons there’s so much talk about money is that it’s so much easier to talk about than art.” –David Zwirner

Art as a business is such a crazy concept. There are massive amounts of money being thrown around in the US and internationally for works whose value is inherently subjective. What makes one piece worth more than another? It isn’t just the aesthetic value, or the prominence of the artist, or the size, or cost of materials. It is all of these things combined but somehow the end value is greater than the sum of its parts. There is an “it” factor to art that probably has more to do with marketing and PR than talent. And possibly has even more to do with people like the ones Zwirner refers to; those who would rather talk about price than about art.

It is clear from this New Yorker article and others like it that the art industry is a formidable economic force. But what does that mean for the art? And for the artists? How does one navigate this cutthroat consumerist landscape without sacrificing the meaning and integrity of his or her work?

2 thoughts on “What’s it worth?

  1. The idea of art as a business takes all power away from artists. They become pawns in some other, more powerful (because rich) person’s game. Artworks become props to uphold this or that version of art history, placing this or that person or collector in a position of importance and eminence. One can’t fall for that bullshit, which is like prizing Don King over Muhammad Ali. We need to look at art for its intrinsic worth. Any power that art has emerges directly and solely from the creative act of artists, and not the after-the-fact, extrinsic, market manipulations of the rich and powerful. To believe that business or money is art is to blindly worship the brute, soulless, conscienceless, power of pure capital.

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