Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picasso sets a new record. The most valuable art?

When someone buys a work of art for $100 million dollars, as happened last week, the value of art is no longer the point of the exercise. The art work in question - in this case a painting by Picasso from 1932 titled “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” (right, see news article) - is no longer being considered for its content, meaning, aesthetic qualities, or even its technical accomplishment. The only remaining factors are its provenance and historical import. It is no longer being looked at as art, but as a commodity. And, as pointed out in a delightul little article in last Sunday’s NY Times, among the reasons why someone might consider such a purchase, besides acquisitiveness and investment, is power.

The art that my children made in elementary school, a few choice pieces of which still grace various spots on my walls (and, yes, the refrigerator!) even after they have graduated from college and moved away, will never be valuable as a commodity—of course. But they are valuable as art. Oh, and they do have power.

The vast majority of the art made in this world will never hang in a museum or be valued in financial terms. But art has power; the power to move people, to inspire them, incite them, to bring them joy or peace.

This time the story is about the Picasso. Before that it was Giacometti, Van Gogh, Monet…. That will go on and on—and up and down as well, as we’ve seen in the past couple years. For most, the exorbitant, even incomprehensible pricing is viewed as a spectator sport, like Nascar racing, or—perhaps a better analogy—like watching a high rolling gambler on a good run. But it’s not about art.

But that’s OK. Enjoy the thrill. We’ll always have the art that matters most.

No comments:

Post a Comment