While the market seems to be chugging forward at a snail’s pace for the 99% (most Americans), the 1% (hedge fund owners, Wall Street, corporations, oil companies, and etc…) with big bucks have no problem with finances. For example, the 1895 Edvard Munch pastel title The Scream broke an art auction record on April 12th and sold for a mere $119.9 Million dollars. At this rate, I keep on wondering which painting in my lifetime will sell for 1 billion dollars.
Regardless, the market seems to be doing just fine for the upper tier. Meanwhile, emerging and mid-career artists fight for leftover scraps of collector dollars. Maybe it’s just survival of the fittest or could it be market manipulation? My guess is that power is linked with money.
My concern is will the public will have no access to rare paintings that sell at the auction houses. Or will art end up in some rich person’s home collecting dust? Will there be a cultural divide that the rich only get to view art? I believe art should be accessible to everyone to inspire and create meaningful dialogue. Reproductions on t-shirts, mugs, potholders, and giclee canvas prints that can be bought at your local big-box store can not replace a real piece of art.
Edvard Munch was born in 1863 in Norway. He studied engineering then decided to study art at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania with the disapproval of his father. Munch went on to paint in Paris and Berlin. He painted The Scream in 1893, which is considered to be one of the world’s most recognizable images. He suffered from bouts of mental illness and alcoholism throughout his life. Eventually he died alone in 1944, only 4 years after Germany invaded Norway. Most of his work was recovered by collectors after the war and eventually made it back to his home country.
How would Mr. Munch feel about his painting breaking sales records and the image of The Scream being immortalized on gift store trinkets?
According to Munch: “From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.” My guess, he would be appalled by the sheer commercialization of the art world and that his family doesn’t even get a percentage of the auction sale to further his artistic legacy. Enough hypocrisy to make one scream for a lifetime.