Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fifty/fifty Racket

Long before the relativism obscured the obvious there were art guilds guarding against any shoddy practice and lowering of very high standards. As the results artists of the guilds left us some of the best made art objects ever created. Their colors are the most brilliant, glowing like jewels after 500 years. The quality of their drawings is nonpareil. Their compositions are always intricate and very tight .Then, their passion for rich, narrative realism keeps the mind of the viewer curious, intrigued. Wherever eye gazes it takes in the painter’s message: the world is marvelous, magnificent and how glorious it is to see it. Nothing in a painting like that is neglected, left unfinished, half-baked. To paint with such extreme dedication, reaching toward absolute perfection through art required big internal changes in characters of those artists. Normal amounts of patience, concentration, dedication would not do at all. One had to build a new person on top of the one that would gladly settle for “pretty darn good”.
Now, let us quickly move 500 years still inside of the same civilization, the same culture of the same race of people.
  Once I joined a small gathering of artists at the house of a woman who told about her method of painting. She would buy a dozen of pre-stretched canvases and dip one in water. Then she would lay it flat and squeeze a squirt of acrylic paint down, then another color and again. On the wet surface the splats would bleed toward each other and after few minutes the entire surface was covered. Nice frame was added and painting would be sold at a local gallery. The gallery would take its “customary” 50 % and the artist would pocket her share, minus the cost of framing and the negligible cost of materials. It is not much, but considering the amount of time spent, assessing the amount of effort put into making the piece it would seem like a satisfactory transaction all around. The framer stays busy; the gallery made another quick profit and the artist had some income. No wonder than that the artist felt rather satisfied about the arrangement.
And yet, something is wrong there. The “paintings” she is selling are crap, the gallery is touting it as “very charming” and happy to make quick buck on stupidity of the public.
Now comes  relativism and in its fog it is supposedly hard to be sure what is crap and what is , perhaps not certainly so. After all very similar “paintings” are in the major museums everywhere and no doubt acquired for some hefty prices. The museums are not going to admit they are buying and exhibiting garbage. Their effete curators can nearly swoon with emotion in front of any of those garbage-works.
It would have to be checked in the history but my provisional understanding of the matter is that the usurious, outrageous arrangement of the fifty/fifty split of profits came about between art-dealers and modern artist sometime in the first decades of last century. Right at the time when hasty smearing became such a “rage” and the bad art needed unscrupulous sellers to convince the collectors to invest in it. Such works needed a lot of additional phoney commentary, creation of taste for “the newest” and right press to explain how shoddy is actually “great”. For that effort 50/50 split seemed the very least the authors of the art market for modern art felt entitled to and gotten.


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