Consciousness of the all-mighty dollar is pretty pervasive, even overwhelming. In the modern art world it informs aesthetic and spiritual content like everything else in society, conquering art such that art itself is a pure commodity, a sub-species of money with the asset class; like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons or McCarthy, it seems to be equity before esthetic which is a bonus afterthought. Today, the hot-shot buyers like Steven Cohen, Eli Broad, David Geffen, Stephen Wynn seem more important than the artists work they buy, with the Pollock and De Kooning pieces paling in comparison to these titan acquisitors. In the public view, the seemingly unlimited cash hoards and credit availability of the billionaires gives paintings an unconditional significance that may not even be deserved.
It’s Money That I Love (Randy Newman)
Used to worry about the poor
But I don’t worry anymore
Used to worry about the black man
Now I don’t worry about the black man
Used to worry about the starving children of India
You know what I say about the starving children of India ?
I say, “Oh mama”
It’s Money That I Love
It’s Money That I Love
It’s Money That I Love…
(see link at end)…That’s one way of putting it. Let’s put in another way. Let’s take Mr. Koons who is always a good example: a sort of capitalist art about Capitalism. Now here’s a commodity; taking something we know – a vacuum cleaner – and it’s new. So there’s newness, and it’s American, and it’s “art” which is supposedly to “make it new. “ What he is doing by putting it in a vitrine and exhibiting it as art is he gives it this exhibition value, which is the only art value now. What he is doing is highlighting something that is meant to be exhibited, initially, to get you to buy it – and then it has certain use value. Read More:http://chicagoartmagazine.com/2010/02/an-interview-with-donald-kuspit-part-4/
…It was certainly Warhol that sniffed out societal changes and fed into the idea that business art was the primary art and making money with art was a business puts it out there very openly, even vulgarly; He wanted to passe through “this thing they called art, whatever it was.” It was a reprise of Peter Paul Rubens workshops of near industrial quantities of “school of” art. Since the Chase Manhattan of Rockefeller, it’s considered good business sense to engage in some sort of corporate sponsorship of art, not t mention the idea of using expensive art as credit collateral and public good-will. One could even conclude that the bank’s and financial’s legitimization of art’s significance, through commercial value has added to the historiacal and cultural value and not the inverse, while engaging in a bit of pantheism where art has some eternal and utilitarian purpose where its commodity characteristics , market value is its central value…
“In my case a picture is a sum of destructions,” at least according to Picasso, which mirrors the capitalist mantra about the Mother Theresa style miracle of “creative destruction” and the hedge fund operations of a Steve Cohen and the gaggle of followers as a cross between virgin birth of a deal and rampaging “mamzers” on Wall Street. Picasso concluded though that, “In the end, though, nothing is lost.” But how much was there to begin with; how long can the same alchemy gimmicks be performed before the anti-depression prescription begins to “poop out.” Cohen made his name with the $140 million De Kooning picture, that mirror of Wall Street with the same provocative sum of destructions, violence, sexism, misogyny that rides the fine line of the abyss where everything is lost, ruined, exploded and despised that could possibly be considered of artistic value: in De Kooning’s case all vestiges of beauty and soul that were brought into existence by the masters of classical art the implicit wonder of the human body that idealized transcendence of the physical limitations that denied the humanely purposeless…
(see link at end)…We are all members of the society of the spectacle, which is correlate with capitalist society. Warhol, who presciently called himself a business artist, was also a celebrity artist, that is, a servant of the society of the spectacle — an artist who, like it, preferred appearance to reality — who celebrated appearance at the expense of reality, indeed, used it to obscure and deny reality. The society of the spectacle is a postmodern society, in that it has given up on external as well as internal reality, treating both as codified appearances. It has given up on what psychoanalysts call reality testing. Modern art grappled with both realities, dialectically teasing out their inherent esthetics — the esthetics of their own dialectical relationship — which became its own reality….
…The capitalization of art allows it to be experienced as extraordinary — an emblem of capitalist creativity — for capital itself is extraordinary, since without it nothing can be created: it has the power of life and death, like God. Unless it is a form of capital, art would not function, let alone be held in high esteem, even regarded as sacred, for nothing can function without capital, which is sacred by definition. It is thus to art’s advantage to be appropriated by capital, to be taken under its generous wing, ironically allowing it to function as a margin of freedom within capitalism — dare one say a mental escape from it? — however subject to its iron rule: make money. If nothing else, the corporatized exhibition — an exhibition to which the corporation lends its grandeur, an exhibition which the corporation blesses with its enigmatic presence (for who among the masses knows how a corporation works however much they are part of its capital, and thus incorporated?) — creates the possibility of a margin of psychic freedom, bringing with it a sense of individuality, even of unique identity, in the anonymous spectator, in effect de-massifying him, if only for the nonconformist moment of his esthetic experience in the margin of social freedom called art, a margin capitalism paradoxically creates by sponsoring and reproducing art as a symbol of its own creative power: its power to innovate and change. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/art-and-capitalist-spectacle2-8-11.asp
(see link at end)…A few selections suggest Cohen has a taste for the dark. He bought one of Francis Bacon’s screaming “Pope” canvases for about $16 million, according to dealers. The other creepy work, Hirst’s shark piece, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” required a new shark when it became evident that the old one was definitely not only dead but obviously rotting. He also owns the original version of Marc Quinn’s most famous creation: a head called “Self” and fashioned from the artist’s frozen blood.Read More:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-07/sac-s-cohen-art-watched-by-buyers-as-trading-probe-grows.html