The Obligatory Post on the “Value of Art.” Yawn.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the value of Art in our society. Nothing ground-breaking or particularly new, and one I plan on never answering during the course of my career. I read someone’s comment on Facebook recently, regarding Damien Hirst’s controversial diamond encrusted skull, “For The Love of God.” Ha, I think I lost half my readership, just mentioning this random tidbit- but I’ll press on. Here’s one comment in a long string of responses:

G.E. Stinson hirst is a hack. he’s never done anything worth a shit. 95% of contemporary museum/gallery art is totally up it’s own ass. it has zero to do with the real world. a bunch of rich dickheads buying each other’s insipid pointless drivel.

“Oh, just another resentful, hateful critic on FB.” Right, I mean, that’s hardly new… I’ve often thought about our generation and how easy it has become to simply sit back and be critical of everything. For a society that has access to the world at “its fingertips” (excuse the hackneyed phrase), we’ve all become pretty damned negative. Still, I kind of have to agree with this guy.

Criticism is important, and Stinson’s comment resonated with me, not because it’s resentful, but because I felt it simply was important to think about. Since Industrialization, and possibly even before that, people have tried to commoditize Art. Advertising magnate Charles Saatchi (from Saatchi & Saatchi), to name one example, bought up entire shows and collaborated with artists (including Hirst) to artificially, or not- bolstering and driving up prices. A diamond-encrusted skull, which probably doesn’t take a creative genius to come up with, shouldn’t have fetched £50 million and go down in history as the “highest price ever paid for a single work by a living artist.” But, that fact alone sure is important to understanding how society views the Art world.

Going back to Mr. Stinson’s comment on museum/gallery art being up their own ass, I think most artists- including myself, would have to agree. Still, most of us inherently understand- whether they like it or not, that being shown in a gallery or museum is society’s stamp of approval to becoming a “serious” artist. That said, though, have y’all seen some of the shit they have up in them galleries? It’s definitely hard not to take the criticism seriously.

Ah yes, the age old question of “the value of Art.” *yawn* I feel like I’ve had many a discussion about this with artists. But here’s the kicker: Artists are the only ones who seem to care about this at all. Everyone else is busy doing more relevant shit, save some of my cerebral friends who mainly want to demonstrate their pretention on the pretentiousness of it all. Again, easy to criticize, much harder to understand.

That said, what value does Art bring our society right this minute? I mean Art in the gallery/museum sort of way, not like- “Oh, I saw this poster for the Occupy SF movement that was pretty cool.” How does Art relate/comment/criticize/explore this crazy world of googling, facebooking, twittering, etc? How do most people feel about the work they see in galleries/museums? Personally, I have to confess that I even have a hard time getting myself out to the reputable galleries and exhibits in SF- not because I don’t think its important, but because there are more events relevant for me to attend (like going fishing, for example). I find this to be a huge personal obstacle to overcome, as well as an important challenge to galleries. How are they staying relevant in today’s insanely schizophrenic world?

Time to think about this some more while I lie in bed and attempt to go back to sleep. My mind has now decided that it doesn’t need more than 5 hours of sleep per night. I’m convinced that sleep deprivation is at least 90% of the reason artists become bat-shit crazy. Thanks for listening.


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