[I think Saint-Exupéry and fourteen-year-old Ron the curator got on very well with the stars in the night sky. The entire art market today is the Businessman from The Little Prince. Yesterday, a friend tweeted in disgust an article about a $750,000 grant to the Guggenheim to catalog art, to be the very same Businessman unable to see the beauty in the night sky—that everything of value must be still and/or dead, and then counted.
Today’s art market exactly! And exemplified by King Christies®, the white-gloved mushrooms buying influence and then big boats with art. Artnet, Artnews—the Businessman’s little businessmen, on and down the line, ad infinitum.
The Little Prince: “I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over…‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man—he is a mushroom!”
Hey art market, you’re all a bunch of mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms! And painters like Lena, the stars!]
Christie’s Fall Auction Meets the Wastelander Gauge™
While driving down the highway yesterday en route to visit family, my wife and I engaged in the usual discussion about the “why” of art. I told her that this week I intend to haul the present contents of Christie’s auction house over to the county dump. I have rented a refuse stall next to recycling so the wet smells will be tolerable for my afternoon of auctioneering. The whole lot is ready for quick sale. A few of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 16-minute paintings, 2 Cindy Sherman photographs of a stranger, and a de-Kooning charcoal of any B.F.A.’s skill and ability, to name a few. I am excited about my chances here in small town upstate New York. Especially if I make bidding begin on Saturday morning, when the trucks line up a quarter-mile to drop off trash proof of their incredible bad taste.
I will start with Cindy’s photograph of the face of a girl who looks frightened. My beautiful assistant, Rose (who by the way, is also an emerging photographer) will hold the picture up while walking the line of Ford F350’s. “Photo of a young girl who looks scared. Can I get a dollar?”
A low diesel growl up and down the line. Country radio stations playing. Then finally a bearded man in a rusty Toyota calls Rose over to his window.
“I’ll give ya a dollar.”
“All right,” she calls, “I have a dollar. Do I hear a dollar fifty?”
“Going once, twice… Sold to the pervert in the red Toyota.”
The Cindy Sherman envelope gets thirty-three cents dropped in to it. The Throops keep the rest for their business savvy and distribution prowess.
Next on the block is Basquiat’s Blue Heads. This is a big one, and while moving it across the road, the painting gets awkwardly wedged in between two trucks. Traffic gets stopped and the horns sound off. It starts to rain. A couple dudes get out of their cabs to help me out. Pull and push, push and pull. Suddenly, Jean-Michel’s masterpiece breaks in half and falls face down in the muddy slop. Still, we manage to get $25 for the frame from some guy building a sub floor in his laundry room.
$8.33 into Jean-Michel’s estate envelope.
De-Kooning’s charcoal gets no buyers, and unfortunately we forgo Jeff Koons’ pink poodle because the dump officer says we’ll have to pay a fee on the weight, and there’s no way we can front the cost on that kind of establishment crap.
After a full day of selling contemporary art at the dump, the staff of Throop Auction House is able to pay for dinner and tip at the Ritz Diner downtown. I got an omelet. Rose ordered the macaroni and cheese. And the bubble building faux-artists of earth got just what they deserve: a meal to fuel the next inspiration.
So this week I will do my darnedest to burst the bubble of the visual art market and the artists who blow it up with hot, hot air, enabling the radical class, earth’s multi-millionbillionaires, to inflate human creativity like tulip bulbs in Amsterdam. Their art collection is worth a used car, and yet they continue to play the game of sell and resell, because we of the creative class, the village idiots and dreamers, keep hoping that our time will come. It won’t. It won’t ever. We have been relegated to the dung heap by the no-class class of wasters. If you wanted to get into their club, and aren’t by now, then you never ever will be invited.
So join me. What have you got to lose? Your fifty dollar prize at the art association? Your pipe dream of being introduced by the community college president? I want David Geffen to wake up tomorrow and be informed that the Cindy Sherman photo he bought tonight for $989,000.00 has been reappraised for a hundred bucks, but only because of its mahogany frame. That’s all it was ever worth anyway. And that phony cheese Sherman knows it too.
So come back each morning this week to read my reviews of this autumn’s select pieces at Christie’s. I will also provide fresh ideas for a better, more accessible art market of the future. But most importantly by the end of the week, every single moron millionaire will have his or her collection reduced to a rational value. I will use my wastelander gauge™ to appraise works of contemporary art. An unnamed tween subsisting on a daily meal of millet and salt, but who otherwise maintains a gentle disposition and hopeful outlook, will mark each piece at her village’s fair market value. That is, the art is priced at whatever the tribal leader would pay for it. My professional guess is that the Cindy Sherman won’t be worth a stick for the cooking pit. And the charcoal piece by a drunken de Kooning looks to any village elder like the bottom of the cooking pit before the morning fire. Not even the most sophisticated leader would waste a grunt nor head nod to acquire that for his wife’s mud room decor.