Way back when, the French Salon had commodified painting as merchandise and the Salon itself became a gigantic salesroom, for at best inconsequential work of men sometimes technically gifted who understood the manipulation of trite, generic formula mixed with an equal manipulation of personal contacts. Slick technique and anecdotal interest was the recipe. Anecdotal gimmick mixed with psuedo-intellectualism equaled culture even if it was unsophisticated, obvious and vulgar.
What does seem obvious, is that much of today’s art is ingeniously repackaged but the dynamic of the tacky and the kitsch, the tepid and ordinary conceptions and this appeal to intellectual acumen based on shaky aesthetic grounds is more than evident in its desire to flatter the viewer, albeit with a dose, now tired, of the “shock of the new”. The result is near identical: ravishing novelty effects yet then as now, the public, awed by the prices paid, continus to take the art seriously playing to the identical titillation of a bourgeois public obsessed with only the surface observance of a moral code yet delighting in artistic subterfuge. Honesty, then as now is a dangerous policy. What began with Manet’s Olympia, considered “high game” and “indecent” has become convention with its attendant voyeurism, gazes of various sorts and outright morbid curiosity; the same culture circuit since Aristophanes.
Art it seems, has always had a misunderstood connection among its visual forms and the series and layers of complex social interests from which it emancipates itself from, yet remains embedded in. The idea of linear progress seems more a conjecture of our age of common individual and open markets hiding aesthetic ignorance and mediocre taste in the face affluence and purchasing power. It is doubtful that art has ever possessed and independent, and culturally distinct trans-historic essence, despite the illusion of a few random flashes. Our so called modern freedom of the artist is likely as qualified by circumstance and context – social, economic, political and psychological factors- as even medieval artists or cave painters at Lascaux. The great given, is that time, since the day was divided between light and dark, has always been perceptually modulated by the flux, the ebb and flow, the intrinsic instability of human existence.
( see link at end) : Let me emphasize that while these art money comparisons raise art value comparisons, the market offers no conceptual follow-through or rationale for its prices. Indeed, whatever the national differences, it tends to preclude critical discussion of artistic differences, even as it crudely signals them. Money’s reason for being is enough to make the being of any art rational and give it critical import.
In other words, money is the only raison d’etre and meaning art finally needs. You may say that money values have nothing to do with art values. But art prices not only impinge on them, but imply there is no need for independent evaluation of art. Any independent consciousness of art misses the capitalist point that it is has become a form of equity — estheticized equity, but equity before it is esthetic….
Today art’s importance is that it creates money. It is not clear that money creates art, however much it may “patronize” it. Art’s
e is guaranteed by money, which doesn’t mean that without money it has no value, but that money value overrides art value while appearing to confer it. Both art and criticism have been defeated by money, even though money gives art critical cachet, thus validating it as art. Even more insidiously, money has become more existentially meaningful than art.
Indeed, I am prepared to argue that money rushes in to full the vacuum of existential meaningfulness left by art that has lost spiritual purpose. To put this another way, speculative investors in art, that is, those who buy it as a material investment rather than for its spiritual qualities, and thus in effect deny them, and in general show their spiritual indifference and existential backwardness, are comparable to the “locusts” that Franz Münterfering, former chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic party, called hedge fund investors who make hostile bids for companies. “Locusts. . . move into a field, eat it to the ground, and move on to the next without looking back.” Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit3-6-07.asp