Alan Yentob has been presenting an interesting series on BBC One recently and tonight’s episode covered the modern art world.
It was amusing and interesting throughout
– how Galleries were “selecting” who was allowed to buy pictures and the price they would pay. A prestigious buyer added to the value of the artist
– how agents and existing owners would intercede at auctions if they saw works by an artist they had an interest in, were failing to meet a reserve, in attempt to prop up prices
– one leading New York art critic described 98% of the works on show as “Sh*t” and how prices had become detached from any form of reality (which is was supposed to be the job of the work by artists)
– prices had rocketed recently with pieces that would have been lucky to fetch $50k two years ago, now reaching $6m
– modern art prices matching and exceeding those of old masters
Part of the show featured Alan trying to buy a piece of modern art for himself within a budget of £5,000. Lots of the items he saw (easy to see where the 98% figure came from) were out of his price range. But even he laughed when presented with
– an bicycle tyre, which the artist would ride to Paris and then re-inflate with Paris air all for a bargain price of £3,000
– the accumulated mastheads from the Sun newspaper for a year which had been stuck onto a card, but with the “S” cut out to leave “un”, available for £4,000
– a pair of pyjamas from Selfriges which had been folded by the artist in a special way and could be bought for £1,200
He ended up buying a painted ladder for £3,500, which apparently was a bargain.
And people claim we City boys are pulling a fast one – seriously Dahrling, its art! Still, at least the people being laid-off from the fixed income teams because of the credit crunch might find work in such a market.