Cost as Content
Blake Gopnik’s review of Turrell’s Guggenheim show for Architectural Record muses on the fracture between 1% artists and the others:
The art world has come to be split between a tiny caste of megastars such as Turrell, whose most grandiose visions get funded by the super rich, and another 99 percent of artists who can barely afford a new bulb for their video projectors
There has always been a separation between genius artists and the rest of us. What’s disturbing about today’s 1-percent artists is that their work often distinguishes itself by its astronomical costs.
This makes sense for gigantic works like the Monumenta series in the Grand Palais or the massive sculptures of Richard Serra. Like Michelangelo’s David, these pieces are expensive because they’re really big.
But there is also a growing propensity to expect 1% artists to make art that’s really, really expensive to produce, where the cost guarantees the piece’s uniqueness and price, if not its originality. The caricatural example of this trend is the 50-million quid diamond skull by Damien Hirst, For the Love of God. These pieces are expensive because they’re intended to be: their high cost is part of their content.
Germaine Greer’s commentary on Hirst:
His undeniable genius consists in getting people to buy them. Damien Hirst is a brand, because the art form of the 21st century is marketing. To develop so strong a brand on so conspicuously threadbare a rationale is hugely creative – revolutionary even. The whole stupendous gallimaufrey is a Vanitas, a reminder of futility and entropy.