i'm reading a book at the moment called 'the worth of art: pricing the priceless' by judith benhamou-huet that discusses the various elements that effect the price that art is sold for.
i've come across a bit that talks how the myths surrounding an artist add to the price, and about how pieces of art are almost viewed like relics of saints.
a few months ago someone was selling the floorboards of one of colin mccahon's studios on trademe. i don't know if they sold or not, but it caused a bit of a fuss. mccahon's family saw it as bizarre. and perhaps rightly so. but i found myself thinking that i wouldn't mind having those floorboards in a room of my ideal house. why? i'm not really sure, but it is the same buzz you get by going to england and going to places that famous people lived and famous events occured. and for the same reason that jack kerouac's famed continuous roll of tyescript for 'on the road' is touring american libraries.
here are some choice morsels from 'the worth of art':
"In today's art market, an artist's work is interpreted through the prism of the myth associated with his life ... All that is asked of them is that they embody a myth. In this family of artists, figures whose 'art and life are one', Van Gogh is the absolute champion, in all catagories. Madness, the severed ear, unlucky in love, unsuccessful commercially - Vincent was no winner, and not even a moral example. But he did suffer, and that is a serious point in his favour. You can imagine the high priests of the artist cult having him replace Christ's words, 'for this is my body' with 'for this is my canvas'." [p93]
"The value of the painting is of course not just aesthetic; it is a relic, whose authenticity justifies the artist's suffering and by its presence allows us to share it." [quoted on p95]
"Ever since art was severed from its spiritual function (men have praised God through their art since time immemorial), it has been constantly in search of new justifications: beauty, sublimity, emotion, provocation, transgression. Why make art? In the end, for painters, getting rid of God as the ultimate source of inspiration led to 'art for art's sake'. But for many art lovers, and therefore buyers, art is not a sufficient reason for art. Enter the cult of money. To think in terms of 'art for money', or rather, 'art in exchange for money', is to give art a tangible criterion of value, a gold standard. It is a way of making art accessible to man, so that, for a while, man can pretend to be God." [and connect with the myth of the artist - his struggles and genius - through the one-off and original art work] [p103]
on the stereo: 'lay me down' by breaks co-op, from the album 'the sound inside'. www.breaksco-op.com