It seems some corners of the art world are starting to catch up with public opinion as is the “world financial crisis” is catching up with them.
One of the world’s biggest art dealers, David Nahmad, this week launched an attack on the contemporary art market, condemning the millions charged for some works as “almost fraud”. They echo remarks by the British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, who last week said that “stupid outrageous values” had become more important than the work itself.
These comments follow the collapse of the contemporary art market. For the past three or four years it’s been a very thin market, with two or three buyers pushing up prices by bidding against each other. There are a many people who bought art that is now not worth what they paid for it. The economic downturn will moderate the speculative bubble that has seen some less deserving artists command extreme prices.
Spanish artist, Eugenio Merino has created a life-sized sculpture of Damien Hirst, shooting himself in the temple at point bank range, as a comment on the absurd art market prices. The sculpture entitled “For the Love of Gold” attracted much attention at the launch of the 28th Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) and references Hirst’s diamond skull “For the Love of God”.
“Hirst is always trying to think of ways to make his art the most expensive,” Merino said in an interview. “If he killed himself, then the value of his art would increase a lot.”
It would also seem that Hirst is also not adverse to small amounts of money either… for other people’s artwork. He threatened action against Cartain, a 16 year old schoolboy who appropriated images of his diamond skull in a number of collages and sold them online for £65. The young artist backed down and handed over to Hirst the money he’d made off the sale of the pieces.
Hirst is one of the art world’s biggest jokers and appropriators. But a sense of humor is really tested when on the receiving end of a joke. His spin paintings were inspired by Blue Peter, while the Hirst artwork being ‘appropriated’ was influenced by another artist, John LeKay.
So has he lost his sense of humor or is he just an artist protecting his intellectual property? Perhaps the downturn in the contemporary art market is making him concerned.