As well as the articles about 1910 (mine) and 1966 (the subject of the last blog entry), this week we discussed an article about the year 2007.
This article, also taken from Art Since 1900, is about the connection between art and economics.
The article starts with Danien Hirst‘s diamond-encrusted skull. ‘It’s a disco ball, innit? A £50m disco ball.’ (quoted in an interview to Maev Kennedy, ‘Hirst’s skull makes a dazzling debut (1 June 2007) Guardian online).
It cost £14m to make, and is still on sale for £50m. Nobody has bought it yet. By the time of its making, art had become a business. However, art is an unusual business that sits beyond the normal rules of basic economics. This ‘boom’ in the art market as business began in the 1960s, it rose in the 1970s, and climbed further in the 1980s with the likes of advertising magnet Charles Saatchi appearing on the scene. Then things started to run less smoothly when in 1987 the stock market crashed. Art had become a status symbol for the rich (usually self-made rich). Artists were suddenly celebrities (and like Hirst, businessmen and -women, capitalists and market operators).
The art market is now controlled by such privileged (or lucky) artists as Hirst and the rich. In a way perhaps these artists are using the market in a relational aesthetic way. The artist is playing with the rich in society.
Damien Hirst himself is more than just an artist (apparently the richest living one at that). He is described on wikipedia as ‘English artist, entrepreneur and art collector’ (he only managed an E for A level art). Perhaps he succeeded partly because he is good at multi-tasking (publishing, clothing, as well as art).
Koons was also mentioned in the article. Koons is known for his kitsch style. Well-known pieces of art include huge shiny balloon dogs and a giant topiary Westie.
His Hanging Heart, a stainless-steel hanging sculpture of a birthday-card heart, set a world record for a living artist in 2007 when it sold for $23.6m.
Another last artist mentioned in the article is Takashi Murakami who finds inspiration in Japanese subcultures, manga and Japanese kitsch. He aims to blur the line between high and low art. He is another example of an artist cum entrepreneur. Murakami is the founder and President of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., through which he manages the careers of a number of younger artists and organizes the biannual art fair GEISAI.
What do these artists have in common? An intelligent business sense, pragmatism and luck.
Maev Kennedy, ‘Hirst’s skull makes a dazzling debut (1 June 2007) Guardian online http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/artblog/2007/jun/01/hirstsskullmakesdazzlingde [last accessed 1 May 2013]
Andrew Anthony ‘The Jeff Koons show’ (16 October 2011) The Observer http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/oct/16/jeff-koons-art-custody-son [last accessed 1 May 2013]
Takashi Murakami on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Murakami [last accessed 1 May 2013]