in this particular handbasket:
“When an artist becomes branded, the market tends to accept as legitimate whatever the artist submits. Consider the attraction of a work by Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara, whose Today series involves painting a date on canvas. Thus the work Nov. 8 1989 (just those letters and numerals, in block white against a black background), in liquitex on canvas, 26 in _ 36 in (66 cm _ 91 cm), sold for 310,000 GBP in February 2006 at Christie’s auction house in London. Kawara paints freehand, and limits himself to the hours of one day to complete a work. A painting unfinished by midnight is discarded as it would no longer be a day painting. The paintings are all made on Sundays. If Kawara is in the United States, the date begins with the name of the month in English, followed by the day and year. If be is painting in Europe, the day precedes the month. If he is in a country that does not use Roman script, he writes the month in Esperanto. Each sale includes the front page of a newspaper from that date. Christie’s catalogue described the Kawara work as ‘an existential statement, a proof of life.’
“There is no rarity factor; Kawara has been making these paintings since 1966. There are two thousand Kawara day paintings in existence. But Kawara is a brand, and his branding stands as a beacon for every contemporary dealer and every aspiring conceptual artist. One dealer told me that so long as collectors will pay high auction prices for Kawara’s day paintings, there is hope for everyone.”
from: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark. The Curios Economics of Contemporary Art, by Don Thompson, page 14 of the uncorrected proof that I’m not supposed to quote from, but was unable to resist quoting this much. (Sorry, Ms. Thomas, email me and I’ll take it down.)
Fuck, why did I waste all that time in music school? I could have gone to art school.
“The $12 Million Stuffed Shark” is a wonderful book so far (I’m only on page 37, but so far it rules so hard) and if you like laughing/marveling/pondering/sneering/whatevering at the super rich and their wacky antics, this is the book for you.
Of course I have to point out that, yes, Eli Broad spent millions on a dead sheep in formaldehyde (I mean, it better be dead) and the LA County Museum of Art has armed guards in the building he donated to put it in (along with some wonderful R. Serra iron walls), but he also ponied up $25 million for a stem cell institute at USC medical school, so I guess I he’s not completely wacky. They say LA gazillionaires are flaky, but the serious nuts seem to be west of the Mississippi, in London, Russia, and Hong Kong. And our weather is so nice, too.