I love Fine Art, and have done since I was a teensy babbi.
(Which slightly confused my parents who were expecting a child rather than an art, music, and literature lover, but anyways…)
I’m not so much of a fan of Modern Art, though, ‘cos it tends to be either ugly or pretentious af — or sometimes both. Lol.
It’s unsurprising, then, that I love watching a show we have in the UK called ‘Fake or Fortune?’
- This is where newsreader Fiona Bruce (our newsreaders are multi-talented, clearly,) and an art expert try to figure out if an artwork — normally a painting — is by a particular artist, by someone else, or just a point-blank fake.
There’s a lot of detective work, and it’s all very interesting to watch etc. etc., but there’s also some stuff which majorly annoys me about it.
One thing in particular really irritates me, and it’s a problem with the art world in general rather than just this programme, but this programme most definitely highlights it.
Imagine I have a picture of daisies that might be by Bob, or might be by Fred. I don’t know which.
So I go to the programme and am like: is this by Bob or Fred?
If it’s by Fred, it’ll be worth £100. But if it’s by Bob, it’s worth £1m.
Now here’s the thing: IT’S THE SAME GODDAMN PICTURE, NO MATTER WHO PAINTED IT.
If my picture of daisies is by Fred it’s exactly the same picture as it would be if painted by Bob.
So the difference in prices, although very, very, real, is also very, very, meaningless.
Because people are valuing the name, not the Art.
It’s the same goddamned painting — so surely it should be the same goddamned price?
But the world doesn’t work like that — the world values status over substance.
If a picture Bob paints is less technically proficient than a picture Fred paints, it will still obtain a higher price for the owner, just because it was painted by Bob, and Bob’s pictures have historically sold well.
So the programme will almost always be trying to prove that the picture is by the more profitable artist, and the arguments the art expert uses are often about the technique and beauty of the picture.
If the picture is less well-painted, and shows less technical skill, they’ll be trying to prove it’s a less well-known artist.
The thing is that the technique and beauty of the pictures of the supposedly ‘lesser’ artists are often far, far, more skilled and beautiful. (Imho.)
So what you’re saying, programme presenters, is this: if it’s good it must be by someone held in high esteem, rather than someone less well known.
I have several problems with that.
Firstly, it’s reductionist and ignores the fact that beauty can come from the darkest and dampest of corners in this weird and wonderful world of ours.
It also upholds traditional privilege and class status, let’s face it. There’s a definite element of snobbery in the art world.
To an extent, I’m sure it’s the same with music and writing and acting and whatever: a book with Stephen King’s name on it is always going to out-sell the debut by an indie author.
It may be worth it… or it may not.
So the long and the short of it is this:
If we value art, shouldn’t we value the art, not the name attached to it?
Originally published at https://www.dorareads.co.uk.