The value of art and the 99%

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by cyanatic, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. ...look at the value of art which is consumed by a global elite, or the top 1%, whose vested interest in the art market must be considered in relation to the remaining 99% of the world’s population.
    For instance, at $3.34m Andreas Gursky’s ironically titled work 99 Cent became the most expensive photograph to be sold at auction in 2007. The value of the photograph cunningly surpasses the value of the entire store as well as its stock depicted within the image. The value of Gursky’s photograph and the perspective from which it was taken appears to symbolize the growing chasm between those who buy his works and those who purchase the 99 cent products as depicted in the image.​
    Interesting commentary on the state on of high end art auctions. Some recent discussions here have touched on aspects of this, though not from the same point of view as the commentator.
     
  2. High end Art is no longer Art, but merely financial investing for the pretentious.
     
  3. " the top 1%, whose vested interest in the art market must be considered in relation to the remaining 99% of the world’s population."
    There can be no art without commerce, so I'm not in the least offended by the perceived value of high end art.
    The 1% with vested interest benefits 1% of artists, and there's nothing wrong with that, because without this 1%, the art world would be in deeper trouble than it already is.
     
  4. No one's bidding on my work! I guess I'm in the 99%. But only my daughter in the whole-wide world can call me Dad. Hmmm.
     
  5. "But only my daughter in the whole-wide world can call me Dad."
    Everyone wants to be special. :)

    Along those lines, there is a person born every 8 seconds in the world, so that means when you were born, you were the youngest person on the planet - for about 8 seconds.

    Now, that's special. :)
     
  6. The value of Gursky’s photograph​
    It had a high price - but "value"? Notably absent, in my opinion. Just like "Rhein II", "99 Cent Store" is a well-presented, banal, unimaginative snapshot.

    "Art", my foot.
     
  7. It had a high price - but "value"? Notably absent, in my opinion. Just like "Rhein II", "99 Cent Store" is a well-presented, banal, unimaginative snapshot.
    "Art", my foot.​
    The concept that what you do or do not like relates to value as good art is grossly mistaken. You can like bad art, and there is no reason that any given person has to like any given bit of great art.
    Rhein II and 99 Cent are two specific prints that clearly are great art, but that does not mean you have to like that style of art. Further, I doubt you have ever seen the original prints and instead are judging based on 1024x768 resampled views on a computer screen... which we might note are never judged as great art by anyone else either. Evaluating apples while viewing oranges is non productive.
     
  8. Actually, I think the "perceived value" phenomena exists at every price point on the scale; it's just more visible at the top end.
    Few people are immune to the halo effect. At the low end, something might be endorsed or praised by a perceived authority thus starting a chain reaction driving up its price, and we see this often on used cameras or lenses reflected on eBay. Conversely, something that's said to suck by a perceived expert will cause its price to plummet.
    Going up the scale, whether it's a $30M Mercedes, a $10K tobacco tin, or a $4M Cindy Sherman piece, collectors are equally influenced by the perception of others within their small circle that will artificially inflate transaction price. This practice, though, is not without its peril as bubbles get bigger and we know it can not sustain to become infinitely large - someone will be left holding the bag at the end just like gambling on Internet stocks.
    Maybe the issue of whether or not it's art is irrelevant as long as there is an appetite for consumption, just like a $25,000 tin of Beluga caviar- no one eating it will question whether or not it's food.
     
  9. There always has been a market of speculation for rare items. Old baseball cards. Unique gems. Art has little to do with
    the economic calculations of such a market.
     
  10. Rhein II and 99 Cent are two specific prints that clearly are great art​
    Not true. If there were CLEARLY great art, EVERYONE would be saying so and the price would go even higher. Since there is even a debate in a photo forum about their value, I think it can be safely said, they are NOT clearly great art, or even art, to be honest.
     
  11. John Williamson wrote:
    Not true. If there were CLEARLY great art, EVERYONE would be saying so and the price would go even higher. Since there is even a debate in a photo forum about their value, I think it can be safely said, they are NOT clearly great art, or even art, to be honest.​
    You say that if they were truly great art the prices would be higher... when talking about a pair of prints that have each set the record high price for a photograph. That logic pretty much says they are indeed not just great art, but the greatest art photographs ever! Regardless of the contradiction, it still is not valid logic. But it does highly suggest that just on that basis alone one can say they are, as previously noted, clearly great art.
    Otherwise though, the idea that to be great art requires that everyone agree is perhaps hilarious, and would surely eliminate defining anything at all as great art.
    Progressing from that to suggesting that a debate amongst photographers necessarily means something isn't even art at all is nothing short of absurd. Just to begin with photographers are not necessarily astute art critics. And contrast that opinion to how Picasso responded when asked what is art: "What isn't?
    The point, once again, is that liking something does not distinguish good art from bad art. There is no requirement that good art is liked by everyone any more than it is necesary to dislike very poor art. It happens that I don't really care much at all for Cindy Sherman's photography, but I'm very willing to allow that it is absolutely great art. I also don't care for van Gogh paintings, for some of what Picasso did, for most of Rembrandt, anything by Richard Avedon, Woody Allen, and a whole list of others. Yet it would be abjectly stupid for me to claim that means they didn't all produce great art!
     
  12. Art without commerce is a hobby.
     
  13. But C, even hobbies are made possible through commerce.
     
  14. Floyd,
    I'm sorry, but who then determines what is great art ? You stated that these were CLEARLY great art. How so ? What measuring stick was used ? Why can not a photographers opinion be taken into consideration, given these were photographs ? Your argument really makes no sense. For something to be "clearly" anything, it should be easy to make CLEAR why it is so. Sometimes, what people PAY for something has very little to do with it's level of art or not, so , yes, my supposition that if it were CLEARLY great art, it would have sold for even MORE has flaws, however, if it were really an example of "great art", why wouldn't it go form so much more? Everyone who sees it would KNOW it for what it is.
     
  15. It wouldn't sell for more, John, because by your own admission there's more to art than price. Many, many, many might recognize it as great art but couldn't possibly afford to buy it or even want to buy it, so that it's clearly great art would not mean it would command more of a price.
    Photographers' opinions will be taken into account, though a single photographer won't determine if something is art or not.
    I think Floyd raises an important part. Art and great art don't have to be liked. Nor does art have to be recognized to be art by everyone.
    There are certain carpenter's tools I wouldn't recognize and wouldn't know what they're for or what to do with them. That doesn't make them not what they are. Same for art, IMO.
     
  16. It's our eternal inability to define art.
    If one broadly defines it as "any attempt to embellish something aesthetically in such a way as to communicate intent", then just about everything man-made will qualify to support the notion that "art is everywhere".
    If, however, something must meet an arbitrary standard which is intangible and undefinable in order to qualify as art, then this "something" can simultaneously be art or non-art depending on the individualized standard of measure.
     
  17. Getting back to the crux of the OP's linked article, the following below I've provided as a quote from the Dave Hickey article linked in the OP's original linked article which pretty much sums up what this is all about...
    A minor squall has blown up after the American art critic Dave Hickey’s announcement that he has “retired” in disgust from writing criticism. Art is now too popular—“I miss being an elitist and not having to talk to idiots,”
    Hickey now sees himself (quoted from the original article) as just an "intellectual head waiter" since everyone including the 99%'s in this thread AND 1%'s is evaluating art for the wrong reasons which the 1%'s now only can appreciate art not for its aesthetic appeal (Hickey provides that evaluation) but for hedging their investments in hope they can drive up the price. Hickey basically is functioning in the same vein as an insurance adjuster/hedge fund consultant instead of an appreciator of art.
    At the end of the article it adds the way the 99%'s (the ones that aren't idiots) are fighting this socioeconomic lock out is by posting and defining their own type of art and valuation process through public opinion for free on the internet.
    Basically to put it simply (quoting Bible scripture) "Where your heart lies, there will be your treasure". Hickey found treasure in what art communicated (and Gursky's 99 Cent is communicating a truckload just by what it represents especially in the "irony" department as Steve Gubin picked up on). Hickey just got tired of being an intellectual tool for the ultra rich.
     
  18. C Watson[​IMG], Nov 17, 2013; 03:44 p.m.
    Art without commerce is a hobby.​
    Okay. Although I'm not really sure what this means....? Neither the absence of money, nor the accrual of it, has anything to do with the intrinsic value of a work of art.
    Fred G.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Nov 18, 2013; 12:42 p.m.
    I think Floyd raises an important part. Art and great art don't have to be liked. Nor does art have to be recognized to be art by everyone.
    There are certain carpenter's tools I wouldn't recognize and wouldn't know what they're for or what to do with them. That doesn't make them not what they are. Same for art, IMO.​
    So true, Fred. I think you've made the point before that sometimes art can anger people. I can send myself into giggling fits picturing well-heeled Parisians in top hats and tails rioting over Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" (research indicates the "riot" may have been exaggerated over the years, but it still tickles me). As for carpenter tools, I don't know what they're all used for either but I do have a fondness for the adz.
     
  19. "Where your heart lies, there will be your treasure".
    I think that's a great summary.
    The Million Dollar Art industry in no way interferes or devalues art outside its small circle. If anything, I think the art world is overall enriched by its existence. Every industry has its equivalent. In the car business, the equivalent would be Barrett-Jackson and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
     
  20. One who dislikes overpriced art is lucky. Imagine the trouble one would be in if one liked such art!
     
  21. The monetary value of anything is entirely subjective. If you were set down in a dry wilderness and had to walk 100 miles to safety then 25 pounds of water and a few ounces of survival rations would be worth more than 25 pounds of gold.
     
  22. "If you were set down in a dry wilderness and had to walk 100 miles to safety then 25 pounds of water and a few ounces of survival rations would be worth more than 25 pounds of gold."
    It doesn't even have to be so extreme.
    If you go to the theater and lost $25 in cash, versus losing your ticket on the way, valued at $25, your perceived loss of cash will usually be greater than the loss of the ticket with the same monetary value.
     
  23. That's interesting, Michael. For me, it would most often be just the opposite. If I have a theater ticket, it's very dear to me and means I'm going to the theater. By the time I'm on my way, the performance is most likely sold out. I'd consider it much more a loss to lose the ticket than the equivalent in cash. The ticket is irreplaceable and the cash is not, in the same way. The same would go for a piece of art. If I had paid $500, which is more my league than the prices being discussed on this thread, for a photo I love, I'd much prefer to lose $500 in cash than to lose that photo. There's always more cash (theoretically), but a lot of "stuff" we lose are one-of-a-kind.
     
  24. Fred, hence my qualifier: "Usually".
    What's important is the fact that you've made a choice between the two losses as to which was the greater when they are identical in monetary value.
    Our loss aversion drives our monetary value judgments. We make purchases because the perceived gain from the transaction is greater than the money we spend to acquire it. This plays into Steve's OP on the value of art, and might help explain why some collect million-dollar art while their sellers prefer to collect the million dollars.
     
  25. Alan,
    One of my favorite movies. It is not that some might be tempted to take the gold and take their chances of somehow surviving. Even with the provisions it would be a hard slog for this 64 year old pot bellied man. I do well to make my 3 mile walk per day. And, being a cold weather person when the temp hits 75F I really slow down.
    It was just a thought experiment.
    Throughout my life I've certainly wasted a lot of dollars on photographic stuff. Far more than my skill and talent deserve. At this stage I'm through with equipment. Now occasional film or chemistry is all I purchase.
     
  26. John: At 68, I'm at the equipment non-buying stage also, I believe. But sometimes the siren call, "There's gold in them thar hills" cries out like it did to Bogart and I begin salavating for something new, something different, something to satisfy that hole inside that can never be filled. At least with cameras. Like the allure of gold, satisfaction and happiness when you get it is all an illusion.
     

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