For Commerce Or Contemplation?-Felix Salmon At Reuters: ‘Is This The End Of The Art-Market Bubble?’

Full piece here.

Distinguishing between a bubble, and a speculative bubble, Salmon suggests there are signs that the art market could be a speculative bubble at this point, primarily ‘fueled by flippers:’

Here are his four reasons why:

-‘Firstly, galleries don’t have faith in their own prices.’

-‘Secondly, we might be seeing the smart money rushing to the exits.’

-‘Thirdly…’sellers are suddenly more willing to use the auction houses as a place to sell their works.’

-Finally, the quality of the buyers at auction might be weakening, with art-world types being replaced by — for lack of a better word — rich chumps’

You don’t want to end-up a chump, rich or not.

Ought the art-market be subject to similar regulations and practices as financial markets?  Is there something so inherently subjective and unquantifiable about art that disqualifies developing a code of ethics in art markets?

Below is an Intelligence Squared video in which two sides debate those very same questions in “The Art Market Is Less Ethical Than The Stock Market.

Addressed are ideas which will clarify some of Salmon’s claims (do art galleries ever have faith in their own prices?), but it’s not a specific response to the current state of the art-market.  Salmon may well be correct:


On a related note: Check out Art Basel in Miami, where modern-art and marketing, artists of various talent, self-promoters, gallery owners and buyers meet.  It strikes this blog as a glitzy flea-market of high and low.

Art Basel is also promoted as civic-boosting and good business for the city of Miami.  No doubt it is, but I suspect the Superbowl and/or guided tours to the Versace mansion can also serve the same purpose.  Good art and truly unique and visionary artists are going to be in tension with these kinds of shows.

Yet it’s a free country, and some of the art can be quite good:


On yet another related note: Is street-art, or the use of graffiti & mixed-materials performed illegally out in public (on public and privately owned property) partly due to the success of capital markets?

-Banksy’s website here.

-Newsweek’s piece: ‘See You Banksy, Hello Invader.

I’d argue that it’s possible, especially with the constant cries of modernism to ‘make it new,‘  I think this is one way we’ve arrived at pop art, and the desire to blend conceptual art and popular music together.  This is in evidence from The Talking Heads to Lady Gaga to Jay Z promoting his new album alongside Marina Abramovic at MOMA.

Many modern artists, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst are people with some artistic talent and native gifts, but not as much in the way of classical and/or formal training.  They may be trying to have a conversation with the old masters, but they are clearly also the products of, and speaking to, ‘modern’ audiences.  Much of this has become a world of shallow depth, especially among the less talented. Drawing and drafting can be underdeveloped skills while ‘mixed-media’ presentations, celebrity, marketing, money and fame are all thrown into the same pot.

***The day that Damien Hirst put up his works, selling them for $111 million dollars, the market crashed.

I’d argue that the relative freedom that markets allow, and the shape they give culture along with the pull of democratization can create this type of modern artist in Anglo-American life.

This isn’t advocacy for either a lack of open markets, nor a lack of good art, nor even the lack of certain ideals I find persuasive guiding our constitutional republic with a functioning democracy.  Rather, it’s just an observance that this state of affairs can also invite in ideologies which are hostile to open markets, such as Marxism, which ultimately seeks to subjugate art under its umbrella.

Camille Paglia, child of the 60’s, thinks there’s room for re-thining art-education in American schools, tilting the culture in a direction she’d like to see it go:


Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

What about the victims of crime, not all this romanticization of criminals?:  Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’.

Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Institutionalized Leftism in the Arts:  From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Repost-Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’