02
May
13

Where is the real value? In art or celebrity?


ArenaOver the past few days a good friend has told me that my attitude to art is the same as those critics who dismissed the great artists of the past like Picasso, Warhol and Mondrian and I “would have condemned every new move as it came along”…

He tells me I echo “every generation of critics who condemned van Gogh, Monet, and….incredibly….the Mona Lisa”… and I am “displaying the wrong mental attitude to be a modern artist”.

Where do all of these criticisms come from? What brought them about?

It started with my dismissive comments about Robert Ryman’s “Arena” (left), hanging in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

“Arena” is a white canvas that is no different in appearance (apart from size) to the many primed and gessoed canvases that I’ve had at home. And yet “Arena” is deemed worthy of space on a wall in Australia’s National art gallery. AND, clearly, was originally seen as worth a hefty price tag to be acquired for the gallery.

So what IS the difference between “Arena” and the many thousands of white painted canvases to be found in the studios of most artists?

What makes a gallery see one artist’s white canvas as being worthy “art” and all of those others as not having equal worth?

To me the answer is clear. It is the celebrity status of the artist. It is the same thing that makes an autographed photo of a film star stand apart from a signed photo of me?

The art world is steeped in celebrity worship.

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8 Responses to “Where is the real value? In art or celebrity?”


  1. May 3, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I remember discussing the question “what is art?” in a freshman painting class about a billion years ago when I was 18. I think the answer is the same now as it’s always been…we don’t really agree on what it is, except to say, that only a tiny fraction of it can be found hanging on a wall in some museum. My personal opinion is that the best pieces of art, however we think of it, resides in our imaginations.

  2. May 6, 2013 at 8:25 am

    MY best art has certainly been in my imagination. Between my mind and the paint on my brush a great gulf is fixed.

  3. May 6, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I know that was true of me back in the day.

  4. May 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Some “artists” have have used this idea as an “art form” in its self – using others to actually create their ideas when their own skills (or patience) is lacking. This includes Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. I have no respect for a practice like that from big name artists making big money from merely adding their name to a product that is allegedly their art work.

  5. May 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    One of the hoity-toity aspects of art that has always bothered me is that artists say that art “means whatever you want it to mean,” unless you think it means something stupid, then all of a sudden art doesn’t mean what you think it means; it has to mean what the establishment means.

  6. May 8, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Sadly it’s all part of the age of relativism. People don’t like to be held to objective truth in any form – therefore the viewer or reader is allowed to interpret art or literature (or the bible, or spirituality) in any way that suits them.

  7. 7 UnprofitableServant
    May 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”


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