Worth listening to on what is happening to the markets lately. The writer James Howard Kunstler talks with David Collum, Chair of the Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University:
Why am I so interested in the market on an art blog? Because all the contemporary art world amounts to is another market little different from any other commodity. Outside the fact that it’s totally unregulated. Piles of mud are worth more than bars of gold in the Art Market, so commodities is a pretty accurate description as a Pork Belly Sculpture would bring rounds of applause by our esteemed critics if it was shown at Larry Gagosian Gallery, naturally.
Much of the art bought by investors isn’t even seen by them. It’s stored in any number of huge storage warehouses in select heavily insured locations… Just like Banks storing their money in vaults, except the art is worth more money that that in banks… There’s one in Queens that’s probably on the scale of the value in Fort Knox… A million dollar Norman Rockwell was stolen from it a while back. Imagine the overall value inside the huge facility if one single painting is worth a million bucks.
All a (not so) wild guess since nobody has any idea what kind of money flows into and out of the art world as it’s unregulated, as I mentioned already. That’s why economists never talk about the art market or mention it although it’s clearly an enormous elephant in the financial casino art world. There’s no hard data. And economists can do nothing without hard data.
Of course there is no hard data to be had anywhere these days. Money is now imaginary just as art is imaginary. Try Duchamp’s vial of Paris Air (hardy har har). Anybody with half a brain knows that this so called “art” is anything from kitsch sold in the markets of Santa Fe to the Banskysphere. I imagine the oeuvre of Thomas Kinkade could be worth as much as the oeuvre of Cabanel given the titanic size of Kinkade’s output. The mind boggles.
Santa Fe has long made the claim that they’re the biggest art market outside LA and NYC. And if you think there’s some great art being sold in the Santa Fe galleries you should check your reality meter. Unless you think Thomas Kindade is great art. We’re talking about Indian and Hispanic handicrafts, all kinds of ceramics and jewelry and whatever. Southwest Lifestyle painting and pretty abstracts to give some Feng Shui to your adobe bungalow. You think Jewelry and Basketweaving and thrown ceramic pots aren’t art? You think they’re crafts? Sorry to disillusion you. Everything is art from an old sock to little Joey’s first watercolor.
This is one of the big reasons why the global market is totally detached from “underlying fundamentals.” Nobody has the vaguest idea about the underlying anything and there’s nobody in control, folks. Take my word for it… The Bilderberg Group aren’t excitedly twittering back and forth: “Now we’ve got the fuckers just where we want them before we crash it again and they bail us all out with their IOUs.”