Phillip Kennicott’s article in the Washington Post hit a few nerves in the art community around here. He says, “As more and more artwork sells for millions of dollars (Francis Bacon’s triptych for $142.4 million and Jeff Koon’s $58.4 million “Balloon Dog”), the substance of the art itself teeters ever closer to bankruptcy”.
There should be deep concern about the emerging artists entering the market presently. If they follow the current trend of art as economics, will art have lost its very soul? Will the attempt to enter into this market for fame and wealth cause artists to move away from creativity and originality?
Once Picasso said, “Bad artists copy, Good artists steal.” Never more appropriate than in this discussion. All artists stand on the shoulders of the ones who preceded them and some take that information, that germ of an idea, steal it and turn it into their own personal statements. The Elements of Art are the same and there are no new colors our eyes can see; only the creative mind can make a new statement.
I looked recently at the work of Texas artist David Bates and visited his three concurrently running museum exhibitions. Like his work or not, he hasn’t done anything magically different. He has gained his claim to fame by doing what he does consistently and well. Could the message there be that an artist may travel widely, look at all art, practice their craft and study constantly, but it is the creative juices inside the artist that ultimately sets him or her apart.
As Mr. Kennicott says, “The market is corrupting art, determining the kinds of art that get made and sold, changing the topics of art and ultimately controlling its future”.
Will artists loose the very essence of themselves (their creativity) by the lure of being financially rewarded for doing what he termed “meretricious and superficial art”?