Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Art and Fashion

Of course we all know that the art market is driven by who’s hot and who’s not rather than by any intrinsic merit in the work. And the whole area of intrinsic merit in art is vague and amorphous anyway.Who’s to say? Clement Greenberg? It takes centuries for the dust from the critics’ bullshit to settle and for the fashion bubble to burst. We know the likes of Titian and Goya are beyond reproach. But will history be kind to the flat and affectless work of Warhol? It has been so far. But I’d be uneasy if I’d paid $77 milion for one of his works as a punter did in Sothebys recently.

And what will history make of Damien Hirst? One of his paintings (from the ‘spin’ series) sold at an anonymous auction in Co. Monaghan recently for €380. A dealer later bought it from the lucky punter for €95,000 with a view to extracting even more on the open market. It’s the fashionable name and not the shining merit of the work that matters to the market. The work detached from the name can blush unseen.