Art. what is it?
It seems that since the advent of personal computers, and especially since the internet has taken over all our lives, the distinction of ‘art’ has lost its true meaning. To me an artist was a creative, who, if lucky, managed to survive on their imagination. Now everyone seems to be an artist or a ‘media dude’ of some sort or other. And if you can ‘monetise’ your work then so much the better.
You used to have to fight for recognition of your art. Now, with a click of a button and a few well chosen keywords it’s globally accessible, and, if you’re lucky enough to create a meme or latch onto someone else’s, you’re made: with a gazzilion twats liking you on Facebook and yabbering about your marvellousness on Twitter. Fair enough. And fair enough for those who succeed no matter their art form.
But is art truly worth its money? By which I really mean: is a single painting worth so much money that alternatively you could buy an island to retire on; feed thousands for years, or even buy a few thousand shares in Apple computers.
Specifically I’m talking about this:
Abstraktes Bild. A painting by Gerhard Richter was sold by Eric Clapton at Sotheby’s in London on Friday for £21,000,000 (that’s twenty one million pounds for those who prefer text). Ironically before the internet and the BBC’s wonderful news site I probably wouldn’t have known about the sale of Abstraktes Bild at all. I’d probably be minding my own business and reading a book rather than ranting. But FUCK! It was painted in 1994. It’s not even twenty years old! Not that age has anything to do with artistic worth per se. It’s just that for a HUGE amount of dosh like that I’d want some history and age, too: a job lot! The Richter painting PLUS a medieval castle (moat, sheep, a few hundred acres and a recording studio) in Scotland, for instance.
Art is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t much like the painting. Admittedly I haven’t seen it in real life but I feel I could produce something similar without much trouble. Yeah, so that’s probably the same vain attitude that leads me to think I’d easily win Wimbledon, the PGA Masters, a couple of Olympic medals, not to mention the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.
I think my problem is more to do with the state of the planet and where humanity is in its evolution than specifically moaning about this ludicrous, outrageous sale. That we’ve reached 2012 and still seem blissfully unaware we’re fast overpopulating the planet; that there is still starvation, poverty, mayhem and continuing bloody war; that the United Nations can’t seem to make a decision over Syria. It all leads me to wonder if perhaps I’m having a nightmare.
What really upsets is that we have to face facts and do something now, but either nobody knows what to do, or if they do they don’t want to take responsibility for suggesting it. I can see their point. Telling the global population they have to stop breeding isn’t going to be popular. Especially when reproduction is one of our prime genetic instructions.
You’ll have to excuse the rather rambling nature of this post, but I haven’t had time to put ‘all my ducks in a row’ and produce a completely cogent piece. If I had this blog post would probably be a book–nay, a tome–of herculean proportions. It’s a tome that badly needs writing and would contain cheery chapters like: ‘how long has humanity got?’ and ‘how to get disparate peoples pulling together’ and ‘what is money really worth.’
Am I mad? Maybe I am. It depends on your definition. I’m certainly angry that with so many serious global problems someone can still spend a VAST amount of money on a bit of canvas and some paint. I’m also miffed that I’m not in a position to outbid the buyer … not, of course, that I would. 😉