Monday, September 11, 2006

The Super Market Culture


There has been a deluge of photographs on the auction market this spring. According to Amanda Doenitz, in the July/August issue of Art on Paper, they are comparable to the photograph on the left, "99 Cent," 1999, by Andreas Gursky. They are very low-quality, being sold to opportunistic shoppers who don't recognize or care for quality, but are willing to accept unquestionably the artifically inflated prices.

The majority of the collectors want to purchase an image they are familiar with. They would rather own a Dian Arbus photograph from an edition of 75 that was printed years after her death than a one-of-a-kind vintage print made by the photographer him/herself. Doenitz describes it as an "I can own a brand-new print of the picture I saw in my grandparents' Life Magazine" mentality.

Consider Gursky's "99 Cent" photograph, which ironically is part of the high-end market for photography. In 1997, it retailed for $28, 000. One print in the edition of six was held back from the market. It was recently sold on May 10, 2006 at a Southby's contemporary art auction for $2,256,000.

Would you rather own an Ansel Adams image printed by Alan Ross or John Sexton or an original by a lesser know photographer?

5 Comments:

Blogger Timspeak said...

Pricing and fine art can sometimes leave a bad taste in your mouth.

I read an article a few years ago that equated fine art to a religious experience. The common person doesn't really get it, but attending a fine art exibition is like going to church. They come to worship. And, like everything else in the material world, most people would rather own a status symbol. If you can afford it, buy it. Don't worry about matters as mundane as taste.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

First, It's pretty funny that we both did an article that had photographs being sold over $2 mil. In the same week.

Second, I feel that a lot people don't care or know about upcoming artists. Also they don't take the time to figure out what kind of art they like. They let society tell them.

It's like what Tim said, its status. Just to be able to tell your friends that you own a famous peice of work whether it is original or not. They may not even like the work, but feel they should just because the world says its good. Many people don't think for themselves these days.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

Seems to be a problem of education in many respects. One thing we could think of ourselves as doing as educators is trying to instill taste that goes beyond beating the "Joneses." It might not hurt to even get your students to buy art during the time they are taking your class. It really pleased me to have students buying Jim Sherraden's work last spring. They might at least start thinking of themselves as "tasteful" collectors who support unusual art/design whether or not they continue in an art/design field themselves. Now if we could just teach students in more lucrative majors the same thing!

Also, I once saw a set of letterpress postcards called "support living artists." You could "subscribe" to the postcard series printed by one artist but containing art by other upcoming-artists and thereby support the printer and those artists and add to your collection. The "colophon" for the series was a quote from Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps the most well-known non-supported artist.

2:47 PM  
Blogger marydorsey said...

I like the idea of students buying art. Exchanges work well too, eliminating the cost.

In reference to Tim, "most people would rather own a status symbol," doesn't Thomas Kincade say it all!!! Just seeing one in someone's home lowers my opinion several notches!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hey! My mom LOVES Kincade! :)

She's all into that soft light and "cottagey" feel. I don't think it's so much the fact that it's a "Kincade". But, I can guarantee you that she is very artistic aware...just slips up in that one area now and then.

9:19 PM  

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