Monday, October 5, 2009

The Game of Art

It's film festival time here in Vancouver and we were lucky enough to get in a film on friday night called The Great Contemporary Art Bubble. Ben Lewis, the British Journalist and Art critic turned film maker, interviewed people within the inner core of the Contemporary Art scene to understand the false markets that were being created during Art Auctions. In exposing the business of buying and selling high end Contemporary Art, it became clear that it was not only the galleries and collectors driving up art prices in order to over-value their own collections, but that the artist at the top were just as entrenched in the game as everyone else. They would often over-saturate the market by making multiples of work, so the collector who had bought the painting for $3 million previously would start bidding to raise the price to $10 million at auction in order to raise the value of their other work. Galleries, collectors and artists seemed in cahoots, driving up prices in the high millions for work that .
This film describes a world that seems so far removed from the average existence of many artists. Historically most artists never see such an amount of money that their work could generate during their life-time. It really seemed like a big boys club throughout the entire film: not one female artist was mentioned with a large price tag involved and most of the collectors and gallery owners mentioned were also men. I can appreciate the work of the exclusive list of high rolling art stars as their work has made an impact on the art world at large, but is paint on canvas with some butterflies pasted on it really worth $14 million dollars?

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