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Expensive Metaphors

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Lark_Truth
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Expensive Metaphors

Post by Lark_Truth » April 4th, 2017, 9:39 am

Ever see those paintings which consist of something simple, like a black line on a white canvas and is considered a metaphor, and that painting gets sold for millions of dollars? It seems to me like low-quality work being used to scam people of their money. Yet for some reason it does happen and artists make a ton of money for only a little amount of work.

On this discussion, debate about the reasons as to why this phenomenon in the art world happens and what is the possible purpose of it all.
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Greta » April 5th, 2017, 4:09 am

Are you referring to Mondrian, Lark?

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Steve3007 » April 5th, 2017, 9:14 am

Perhaps abstract expressionism? Someone like Mark Rothko?

Where I come from the archetypal example that has been used to exemplify the "my 5 year old child/monkey could have done that..." attitude to some types of art has, for as long as I can remember, been the infamous "pile of bricks" by Carl Andre:

independent.co.uk/voices/comment/is-and ... 77668.html

The Contemporary Art museum mentioned in that article (the "Turner Contemporary") is close to where I live, in an economically deprived area that is in the process of being "gentrified" by arty people from London who are moving here because they're amazed at how cheap the property is (which generally means that it won't be cheap for long, although the process has supposedly been happening for years now without much noticeable change).

In that environment it's interesting and amusing to observe the culture clash and to study the derision of the local population for this art gallery and its contents and their opinions as to how the cost of building it could have been better spent. In that context, the Turner Contemporary putting on a whole exhibition of Carl Andre's work, as they did back in 2013, almost seems like a tongue-in-cheek bit of amusing mischief. An artistic statement in itself.

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by -1- » April 5th, 2017, 5:58 pm

Are you referring to MY monkey, Steve3007?
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Steve3007 » April 6th, 2017, 4:09 am

No, I should have been clearer. I meant "MY 5 year old child or A monkey". I didn't mean to suggest that all modern art sceptics are also guardians of monkeys. That would be crazy.

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by -1- » April 6th, 2017, 8:17 am

I should have been clearer, too... I ain't no art skeptic. I am a modern art aficionado. That's why I keep a monkey. Without it I wouldn't have made millions with the art I sell under my name.
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Steve3007 » April 6th, 2017, 8:39 am

When we consider the value of something that has no obvious intrinsic value things can get weird.

An old friend of mine makes his living by installing enormous fish tanks for very rich people with considerably more money than sense. He once did some work for the artist Damien Hurst (whose work, such as the famous shark in formaldehyde, has previously involved large tanks) at the height of his fame. Apparently, for fun one day, Damien Hurst jotted a little pencil sketch on a piece of paper and gave it to him. He subsequently had it valued and it was deemed to be worth £5000 (over US$6000). So, it seems, a famous artist really can print his own money. If he drew a picture of a bank note and signed it, it would probably be worth a lot more than the value of the real version of that bank note. At least, the first one would. I presume there would be rapidly diminishing returns if he kept drawing them. In art, originality is king.

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by -1- » April 6th, 2017, 9:05 am

You say famous artists can draw their own money, or rather, multiple of the highest possible value of money printed on the same surface are of rag paper.

The problem of money in art is twofold.

For the poor and starving artists, there is no money in art. That's one problem, and it needs no further elaboration.

For the rich, high-income, and famous artists, their work will always double in price (not in value) every time it changes hands. Yet the artist will not see any of the money generated in subsequent sales other than his or her original sale of an item. This is why they create pieces of artistic integrity, such as crap. They crap on the system, so to speak. Which rips them off, they feel, and so do I.

(As in "so do I feel", not "so do I rip them off".)
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Lark_Truth » April 6th, 2017, 9:32 am

Okay, but how is it that an artist makes millions off of creating a painting where all they did was paint a single line on a white canvas and call it a metaphor?
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by -1- » April 6th, 2017, 2:16 pm

Lark_Truth wrote:Okay, but how is it that an artist makes millions off of creating a painting where all they did was paint a single line on a white canvas and call it a metaphor?
It depends. Is it a straight line, a curvy one, or a zig-zag?

And how many millions did you just spend on it? If you paid any amount over 250 million American dollars, you got ripped off.
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Lark_Truth » April 7th, 2017, 9:23 am

My thoughts exactly, -1-, but whether or not the line is straight, curvy, or zig-zag, somehow people are getting away with selling paintings like this. Is it the type of paint that was used, the size of the canvas (some of these metaphor paintings that I've seen have been pretty big), or do people want it so badly that they're willing to blow millions at a heated auction to get it? Something about these paintings strikes me as very fishy, and I do not understand in the least as to why.
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Steve3007 » April 7th, 2017, 10:13 am

To repeat Greta's question from post #2: what paintings and artists are you referring to?

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by -1- » April 7th, 2017, 4:39 pm

Lark_Truth wrote:My thoughts exactly, -1-, but whether or not the line is straight, curvy, or zig-zag, somehow people are getting away with selling paintings like this. Is it the type of paint that was used, the size of the canvas (some of these metaphor paintings that I've seen have been pretty big), or do people want it so badly that they're willing to blow millions at a heated auction to get it? Something about these paintings strikes me as very fishy, and I do not understand in the least as to why.
You have to help us out, Lark, don't leave us on a lark. Are you talking about specific examples, or about hearsay, or about anecdotal evidence?

If a paininting sells for over a million dollars, it's usually written up. And it is explained in the write-up why it was so expensive. Most masters' sales are not written up, but if it's not by a household name like Michelangelo, Ruebens, Rembrandt, Albrecht Duerer or Rachel Welsh(*), then the art piece article will say something about how the value (read: price) was generated.

We must therefore ask you to present some examples. After you present the examples of drawings of a single line that go for a billion dollars, then some of your correspondents in this thread may (no promise) go on the Internet to study the specifics. Then we'll get back to you.

But since you asked the question, Lark, you must put in the initial modicum of work: tell us, o, please, of one or more actual sales that you learned about or experienced, where a single-line painting by an artist was sold for larger-than "one" multiples of millions of dollars.

(*) Alas slowly fading as a household name in the mind of the general public.
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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Greta » April 7th, 2017, 5:51 pm

Lark_Truth wrote:My thoughts exactly, -1-, but whether or not the line is straight, curvy, or zig-zag, somehow people are getting away with selling paintings like this. Is it the type of paint that was used, the size of the canvas (some of these metaphor paintings that I've seen have been pretty big), or do people want it so badly that they're willing to blow millions at a heated auction to get it? Something about these paintings strikes me as very fishy, and I do not understand in the least as to why.
It seems to me you are thinking of Piet Mondrian. Mondrian was a talented artist, deeply interested in design, who became fascinated with minimalism. The idea was to create beauty of form and colour with a minimum of detail.

It should be said that ostensibly simple pictures in the style of Mondrian's (where the difficulty is in determining ratios that are pleasing to the eye) can look fantastic on a wall, as can splatter paintings. Consider the aim in context with the concept of Japanese minimalism - where the artists valued to ability to convey meaning with just a few simple lines - to "say the most with the fewest words".

Demand in a large society is a perplexing thing. Why are sports heroes and pop stars paid many millions while research scientists and doctors earn in the thousands? Why are some popular paintings by famous artists amongst the most expensive compounds, gram for gram, on the planet?

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Re: Expensive Metaphors

Post by Lark_Truth » April 7th, 2017, 6:21 pm

Oh, nice examples! :)

Is what you are saying that humans are willing to spend more on entertainment than knowledge and discovery?
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