Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eating Art

Well, friends, my contribution to The Huffington Post this week is listed on the front (home) page as a "Recent Blog Post"--which, given the intricacy of the site, is a welcome boost. The entry, "Eating Art in an Age of Greed," is in the Living section, and it starts like this:

I have always recoiled from the word “consumer”—especially when it comes to art. I’m old enough to think of consumption as a disease that destroyed decrepit old aunties and sent starving artists in frigid Parisian garrets to the morgue after hacking their way through dreadful coughing spells to a miserable early death. And yet here we are, a nation of consumers. Our country counts on us to consume, it’s these days our patriotic duty...

To read the whole article, and I hope you will, please click here--and comment if you feel so moved. I would much value your help in getting this new venture off the ground.

6 comments:

robin andrea said...

Peter-- I read the piece and found it quite interesting. I left a comment for you. I now have a Huffington account, so I can more easily and quickly comment.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Robin! A good friend... I appreciate the visit.

Mark said...

A very interesting piece. It makes me wonder: Is consuming art a problem? It gives the artists a means to survive, but I understand that it isn't the particular industry you're attacking. It's the consumer mentality. But what's the answer? How does one go about even trying to fix themselves from the attitude of consumerism that our system of capitalism has instilled in us? I'm not sure.

robin andrea said...

That "one comment pending" on your article is mine. I don't understand why it's taking them so long to post it. I left it almost 24 hours ago!

PeterAtLarge said...

Is it rude, Robin? Just kidding...

David said...

Peter, good post over on Huffington. I agree with your concerns, but am not sure what the solution is. Artists have to sell work to survive, of course, and the fact that they do so is obviously not the problem, which seems to me to be twofold.

The first piece, I believe, is our worship of celebrity. We've been conditioned to assign value to a work of art based on who created it, not on the work itself. We see this not only in the art world, but in just about every part of our culture. It's why we have such over-compensated celebrity-actors, celebrity-athletes and celebrity-CEO's, while everyone else is just trying to make a living. The divide in income between the art-stars and all the other working artists is unbelievable, and the difference is rarely based on the quality (however you want to measure it) of the work itself. It's all about buzz.

The other part of the problem, I think, is a self-perpetuating view of artwork as a financial investment rather than a source of value in itself. It's the reason you see "collectors" raiding the art schools and art fairs looking for the next big thing. Buy low and sell high, right? I've heard of "collectors" buying a bunch of cheap student work, selling the "winners" a few years later at a big profit and discarding the rest. A whole different mentality than that of your father-in-law. But of course, as long as there's a bubble in the art world, with prices going up up up, you're going to keep seeing more of these "collectors" participating in the feeding frenzy. I think the only thing that will change that is a market correction, like we're currently experiencing in the housing market.

PS - I would have left a comment over on Huffington, but I'm waiting for them to confirm my account.