I have been challenged recently about being an “art lover” while at the same time holding liberal/socialist views, art appreciation seen as some sort of elitist activity. I can understand this viewpoint particularly with the big news recently (not only in dollar terms) of Lucien Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995), selling at Christie’s for $33.6m. She will be taken home (I guess) by London-based Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich who I think also bought the Bacon triptych last week.
These dollar amounts ironically are symbolised by Freud’s painting of excess and interestingly, the subject of which, Sue Tilley is/was broke. All extremes, but in context the money paid probably is like a Kiwi investment collector buying a Hotere or a McCahon. Still you have to wonder if the wealth involved in such hugely inflated figures could be better spent finding a vaccine for HIV/AIDS or something.
The thing is you don’t have to spend a great deal (if anything) to appreciate art – even to take it home you could at basement level buy museum prints and with a bit more maybe local limited edition multiples. ‘New Collectors’ sales have shown me that the art I love could be in my home one day and aren’t completely out of reach. Of course we have the wonder of public galleries and even with my grouch about public art, it at least gives us unlimited access. My current passion for street art is also free for the most part.
I guess I am trying to justify it. Its like trying to figure out people who donate to animal rescue but not to ‘people’ welfare. And at least most art isn’t about mass production of “stuff” or if it is, its a wry commentary on it. And even in marginalised places, art works to nurture and reflect culture.
An entry at Over the net connected the dots (no not the Hirst ones) for me when quoting James Wallace “To live without art is to miss out on a vital dimension of life” . And if I wanted something like the Freud in my home, I could always look in a mirror.