“ART IS AN OBJECT WITH NO UTILITY”

4 Jul

500Monopoly

Some more quotes from the book Collecting Contemporary Art, published by Taschen. All by Marcus Glimcher, at the time of the book’s publication an art dealer at PaceWildenstein, New York (now the Pace Gallery). It’s all interesting stuff, but there’s something about his explication and grammar that makes me think of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, patiently lecturing the back of a guest’s head as a preface to suddenly embedding a fire axe in it.

“The art market is not really a market; it’s too small to qualify as one. Furthermore, if it is a market, it’s a market of uniques. Therefore, there is no true comparability between prices. Finally, it’s a market of Geffen goods which is what gives it such strange characteristics. Geffen was a nineteenth century economist who said that there are certain goods that will disobey the basic laws of supply and demand that when the price drops to a certain level, instead of demand rising, demand will suddenly begin to drop. As the price drops, demand will drop further, so there is a cliff in the supply and demand curve at some critical price level.”

“When is the art market going to crash? When the stock market crashes, when the real estate market crashes.”

(Note: This was in 2006, before the stock and property markets crashed. He was mostly wrong about the art market, though. Apparently even an art dealer who deals with blue chip clients couldn’t imagine that the rich would keep on getting richer during an apparently endless recession as they have done since 2008.)

“Art is an object with no utility, as the economists would say. The utility of a painting is zero… If we can come to some agreement that these things have a certain value, then that object deserves to be of higher value than anything because it has escaped the bonds of the physical world.”

(More revelations about what a charming individual Charles Saatchi is… this is coming from a New York art dealer and art world insider, too. These people rarely attack publicly.)

“What happens is you breed a class of people like Charles Saatchi whose only interest, in my estimation, is to raise himself above the artists, and take pleasure from destroying their lives. They attempt to corner the market by buying dozens or hundreds of works and then, when the moment is right, dump them in auction; they capture the upside and then the market falls away. The first artist Saatchi famously did this to was Sandro Chia, whose market never recovered. For what pleasure did he do this? To destroy Sandro Chia’s life? What happened to his insistence that his devotion to the artists was the reason the dealer should sell him work after work? What about his friend Damien Hirst whom he extorted millions out of by threatening to dump a dozen major works at auction? The booming market and the auction system breeds this parasitic behaviour which to me is a little reminiscent of the Romans entertaining themselves by throwing the Christians to the lions.”

(Note: Hirst was apparently pissed off about this too, because he later beat Saatchi at his own game by deliberately flooding the market with his own work.)

“There’s no way that great art can be made democratically.”

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One Response to ““ART IS AN OBJECT WITH NO UTILITY””

  1. Alistair 04/07/2013 at 8:36 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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