Of What Value is Art?

Forget Wall Street and Detroit for a minute. Should we subsidize more artists?

Some would say “yes” because art suffers as a result of market competition. The artist says my concern is less with developing a distinctive style or voice than with earning a livable wage, less emphasis on what do I need to say or create and more on what does the audience want to hear and see. 

Some would say “no” because art benefits from market competition. The artist says my economic vitality is dependent upon me developing a distinctive voice and style, yet at the same time, I have to attend to my audience’s interests, desires, and tastes. As a result, art advances.

We have the National Endowment of the Arts that supports some artists, but those monies are miniscule relative to the national budget. In Norway, I was intrigued that new buildings have to budget something like 2% of their total building costs to public art.

1 thought on “Of What Value is Art?

  1. Hello again, Ron.
    Of what value is art? The other day I half-watched a documentary while doing some “research” on other stuff, and it turns out the doc was about for want of a better way to put it “mass hysteria.” Apparently, the painting Man in Golden Helmet was once thought to be a Rembrandt. People flocked to it as they did the Mona Lisa, crowds and crowds, pointing, oohing and ahing, intrigued I guess by the quality and direction of certain brushstrokes over left shoulder of subject in painting, or whatever. And then suddenly they discovered the painting wasn’t a Rembrandt after all, and this was years later, so they relegated said painting to a less prominent part of the Berlin museum. The crowds stopped. I guess your short essay made me think of subjectivity in art and why the notion of experts in this field is problematic for me. I am not intrigued by the Mona Lisa’s so-called enigmatic smile for instance but have been told that I should be. Now that said I do “collect art” on a tiny scale and this sounds pretentious until one finds out that my art really means anything that appeals to me, not necessarily the public at large, and yes I do have a few originals but I am more than satisfied with limited edition prints and even the odd picture I have cut out from a book because I couldn’t find a better representation anywhere else.

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