Contents

Trans-substantial Catholics

Watch this. What are the priests doing? Catholic Litmus Test If you are Catholic, then I hope for the sake of your soul you said he is welcoming Christ bodily into the world. If you didn’t you aren’t looking too […]


Poor Hanno

According to the pop-psychologist-pseudo-science writer Malcolm Gladwell in his magnum lite-opus, the Tipping Point we as a species need risk takers. Individuals who are willing to put it all on the line in pursuit of a goal will, if they […]


Intelligence and Happiness?

A while ago, the Inquisition pondered the nature of intelligence, and whether a certain outlook or attendant mental abilities are guides to or from happiness. This has been obliquely in the news of late…


Buried by the Sea

Its odd. Most graveyards in Connemara appear to be near water, if not actually right on the coast. Why? West Galway, or Connemara, has a lot of unused space. Admittedly, much of the land Connemara is industrially and agriculturally useless, […]


Cycling Two Abreast

Cycling two abreast in Ireland is legal, a protected practice, and it is safer.


Indoors / Outdoors (Defuse)

A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland


Nürnburg’s Extra Bombs

Nürnburg got ripped to shreds by Bomber Harris’ boys. By how much appears to be open to debate.


Law & Morality

The preface to HLA Hart’s publication of his 1961 lecture series on the meeting of law and morality is as prevalent today as it ever was.


Foy – The Bodiless Head

A bodiless head is revered as being Saint Foy, who died a cruel death.


Coffee Haters

There are people out there who pretend to like coffee. Coffee Haters – you have been warned.


False Flags 2

False flag, covert ops by Americans against Americans? Sounds crazy, and so it was deemed.


Plastic 55 Years Ago

55 years ago Roland Barthes considered the importance of plastic and what it meant, as a substance and a symbol.


Cesare Borgia’s Party

The Pope, his son and fifty prostitutes – Cesare Borgia’s party.


Marriage – A Potted History

Marriage is thought by many to be a fixed rite, one which is immovable and inflexible. The truth is that it has not always seemed so…


Blinking Morse

The world was shocked when a victim of torture started blinking morse. The story of a US aviator captured in Vietnam.


Synecdoche

Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device


The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Cheap Twombly

A few years ago an ill-conceived act by a possibly delusional artist occurred in a gallery and became known as the Phaedrus Incident. It has since been faithfully and widely reported by many media outlets. It has been discussed in contexts of vandalism, museum security, art validation (the original canvas was blank) and more.

Most of these miss an intriguing aspect of the eventual outcome.

Incident details for those unfamiliar

The event itself seems surprisingly pedestrian. Cy Twombley’s Phaedrus Tritych was on show in Avignon when a young lady went up to a panel and kissed it. Fair enough. However, red lipstick is not a great addition to a fully rendered solid white panel. Afterward Rindy Sam (the protagonist) claimed she was an artist and that the act was an uncontrollable response to beauty. She obviously doesn’t play by the same rules as the rest of us.

A French court fined her for defiling the $2 million-valued work. €1000 went to the painting’s owner, €500 to the showing gallery and a token €1 to the artist.

What does this say about art?

The market rules and money talks. Art is meaningless and valueless until it is traded or, at a minimum, shown. The context a piece is seen in gives it validity. There are many artists out there, working away at their grands oeuvres in their respective garrets. In market terms these works are worthless until someone agrees to show them. This is not to say they are not legimate pieces. Nobody told Kurt Schwitters when he built his Merzbau.

Conversely artists have been making livings by taking matters into their own hands in various manners. These seldom have the impact and legitimacy of a gallery supported artist. Shepard Fairey went from graffiti artist to US politico-artist via gallery showings.

Thomas Kinkade's art is driven by demand. Taste is a rare commodity.

Thomas Kinkade's art is driven by demand. Taste is a rare commodity.

The questions around the relevance of art’s context have been previously discussed ubiquitously and ad nauseum. Artists have fought the situation by attempting to remove galleries’ hold on art market (see for example Michael Asher’s interventions, especially at the 1976 Venice Biennale. In essence, he produced an unmarketable piece in the middle of the largest art market). But it must be remembered that it is these same galleries, festivals, institutions and collectors that fund the artists, give them exposure and thereby allow a continuing body of work.

Concerns are regularly voiced that the market and its supremo collectors really define the direction art goes in. Its effects are seen lower down the financial scale where demand for pastoral watercolour landscapes incites galleries to stock up and sell. In essence demand fuels the market which sees art as a commodity like any other.

Of course, it should be stated that the diversity of the art world prevents this process from being a monoculture- there are plenty of examples of alternate curatorial practices that make art a heterogeneous enterprise.

Nothing new here. The unique, bohemian and experimental has always been unprofitable – see anyone from Van Gogh to Henry Miller to Faust. But over time markets can come around and these artists can become bankable.

In the end though, its all just a bit sad that its the possession of an art piece that gives it value, and not its creation. But then we are jealous creatures and want what others have… It must be conceded that art stills holds a unique place in our minds – if it was the owner’s car that had been damaged, the manufacturer would have received no recognition.

Bibliography
Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton, Granta, 2008
BBC News reports incident in question
Great discussion on meaning of incident
Cy Twombley
The Gagosian is an art market leading gallery/a>
Interesting article on the effects of greed on the art world
Artdaily on Cy Twombley’s true worth

This article was posted by on Monday, March 29th, 2010 at 05:01.
It is archived in America, Art, Culture, Legal, Media, Museum and tagged , , , .

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