Greg Allen looks
at the auctions in much the same way I
did, only instead of Ryman vs Irwin, he uses Nara vs Smithson. As ever,
the real money is in paintings. A handful of trophy sculptors (Koons, Hirst,
Cattelan) get the megabucks too, but most of the time, anything which requires
special, gallery-style installation is simply not going to fetch $$$. It’s gotta
be able to go well with the sofa, and Irwin and Smithson are bad at that. By
the way, that Mitchell that Todd
Gibson liked went for $51,000. Seems cheap, in this company – but
I’ve never been a fan of hers.
It doesn’t seem surprising to me that paintings hold the highest values (and not just because I paint). For whatever reason that a work of art is made, once purchased it is a trophy. People who have paid much for their trophies naturally want to display them. Displayed, the work becomes decoration. It’s just that paintings are easier to display and are generally less obtrusive. They’re easier to vacuum around and easier to dust, and they don’t interfere too much with furniture arrangement. They’re also simpler to store and transport (although Kiefer’s pieces certainly push the limit). I also think that architecural styles push acceptable painting styles. Huge walls get you huge canvases. It’s an overstatement but not that much. I’ve got to think that video Art will eventually supplant paintings if only because of the variety and ease of change that they offer. Now if the video folks will only fix on a format I’m afraid us drip and spatter folks will be out of luck.