I admit, the headline did grab me–so much so that I thought about scraping the article and leaving it at that; but then I got to thinking “Why is it that the reporting world seems so enamored by how much a work of art sells for?”
Previous headlines proclaim a 106.5 million price tag for a Picasso and $245,000 for Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter. Is it just the pure sensationalism of it? Does the media fascination with the price tag correlate with the general public’s perception–i.e. that the piece with the record-setting bid somehow has more relevance than the work of some more obscure contemporary artist? I sincerely hope that there is a disconnect between what the mainstream media values and what the general public values in terms of categories of art appreciation.
I know that to most of those within the frontlines of the art world who are hashing it out everyday, churning out culture, a 28.6 million dollar price tag doesn’t mean squat and certainly doesn’t signify that John’s piece has any more relevance than what they are creating. In fact, the value of John’s piece in all likelihood signifies that his work has long ago run its course and has firmly secured its place in the hall of fame. A great accomplishment, no doubt, but a tacit kiss of death.
So, it is my hope that the next time a multimillion dollar price tag for a work of art flashes across the headlines, maybe think about all of the artists who are working tirelessly everyday for no more reward than to satisfy the impulse within them that compels their creative efforts. No doubt at one time Johns was also one of these nameless few and, in my opinion, that’s when his art was most relevant–when it was unadulterated by fame, the press, and fawning supporters who inadvertently tarnish the pure vision of an artist unknown.
Link to the NY Times article:http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/seminal-jasper-johns-painting-draws-28-6-million-bid/