Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Era of Peak Art

Art Basel is in the news. They've had their big show in Miami Beach, and word on the street is the art market is hot, hot, hot - as in big ol' zit of an asset bubble ready to pop hot.

Of course, I'm talking high-end art, which, honestly, you can't really consider art.

It's more commodity than art. One person who has currently helped the centuries-old long-term commoditization of the whole high end art market is Charles Saatchi. He who has done for the art market what complex derivatives did for the financial world. Saatchi, no small irony here, bemoans the current crop of collectors as "... Eurotrashy, Hedge-fundy, Hamptonites; ... trendy oligarchs and oiligarchs".

And so what? What's wrong with the idea of art as commodity? Why is it so bad that a Warhol, or a   Twombly, or a Hopper, or even a Rembrandt or a daVinci, be thrown into the same category as barrels of oil, ingots of copper, wheat, soybeans, coffee, and hog bellies? These are all things that are available to the human animal to enjoy and consume. To say that art is somehow not to be included in this cycle of acquistion, that it is to be held in higher regard is in some sense quite delusional.

And, just as, say, oil is a limited commodity, as in they ain't (yet) making any more of it, so it we should view art. There should be quotes on the proven and unproven reserves of art in this country and in the world.

Because eventually, all rank speculation aside, if you aren't producing quality artists, you'll be running out of quality art, and sooner rather than later. In fact, I suspect we will be facing, at some ppoint in the near future, the Era of Peak Art, and a consequent Art Crisis.

Now, I know for you and me, since we are just Regular Folks, that the coming shooting war pf the oligarchs might make for a small of amusement, but what of the artists? I can tell you, if history is any guide, that rather than being valued and protected, will instead be abused and appropriated, just like little baby girls in China. You'd think all that female infanticide would make potential female mates for all those mateless boys an extremely valued commodity, but no, instead it's the opposite. the illicit trade in girls is thriving. They are being abducted, enslaved, and mistreated at unprecedented rates.

And so it will be with future artists. Perhaps there will be protected reserves for them. They will tagged, radio-collared, and guarded. But they will also be poached. And, given the insanity of our species, like bush meat, futures artists will probably be hunted to near extinction just to increase the value of their art.

Interesting times ahead, for sure.

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