2 Answers

  1. Probably we are talking about Damien Hirst's installation “The physical impossibility of death in the mind of the living”. This is a really expensive piece ($12 million). By the way, the artist himself spent about 7 thousand dollars on its creation, mainly for the shark carcass and its delivery.

    The shark in formalin is a vivid example of a modern work of art, whose price is determined by its media value. This work was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize, and then the media began to write about it, including that this expensive work is spoiling. It is these factors that have influenced its current value.

  2. The thesis that art has become a form of commercial activity has long been commonplace. But today, in my opinion, a lot has changed here. Changes are inevitable, as we are witnessing the demise of glamour, the demise of the age of consumption. Laughing at the “lagging glamour”, at those people who are trying to jump on the bandwagon of this passing era – is a sacred thing. But now I would like to talk about more serious things.

    So, one of the fields captured by the cult of consumption is the field of art, and especially contemporary art. In Russia, this industry also exists, just remember the “Kandinsky Prize”. We are now seeing this huge system, commercial from beginning to end, existing for the acquisition and accumulation of money and meanings. Art is seen as an investment model, a fun way to invest capital. By investing in art, we can become very rich, and at the same time get interesting – and supposedly elite – communication. It seems to me that such an idea of art, and this industry itself – they will not survive.

    Contemporary art both abroad and here is a classic market of the consumer era. We take a work of art, set a price for it, and then it lives according to the laws of the market. It is in recent months that three books on this topic have been published in Russian. This is” Art and Property “by Louise Buck, ” The Price of Art” Жю Judith Benamou-Yue, and-written from completely opposite positions – “How to sell a stuffed shark for Twelve Million Dollars” by Donald Thompson. The first book is completely polar, it is such a semi-anecdotal guide for collectors and owners (“you not only invest money, but also get pleasure from it”). If it had been published at least a year earlier, it might not have been so funny. The second one is smarter in this respect, it has more analytical material.

    But the latter is a standard “intellectual investigation”, which is so popular in the United States. It was written by an art critic who set himself the task of tracing how the value of art is created. The title of the book refers to the famous work of Damian Hirst, entitled ” The physical impossibility of death in the mind of the living.” This is a huge mummified and formalin-soaked blue shark that was eventually sold for $ 12 million. Thompson describes how this masterpiece began to deteriorate: the shark rotted, the formalin became cloudy, as a result, everything had to be repaired, and little remained of the original.

    So, it turned out that the cost of a shark has nothing to do with its physical condition. Only the “status” of the purchase and the possibility of further resale matters. This explains why Hirst's shark should have cost that much. What do I think is important here? That the meanings don't correspond to the value. There is a primitive idea in Hearst's work, but it has no connection with the amount that was eventually paid for it.

    The first book in Russian that raised this question is Naomi Klein's No Logo. At first glance, it has nothing to do with art, but in fact, the patterns described by Klein work perfectly in the field of contemporary art. Branding is a system in which art loses its original meaning. In the end, our perception of art is purely modernist: art is not something that is beautiful, it is something that makes a certain gap and makes a person think.

    Modern art also initially had this meaning. Oleg Kulik, who portrayed the dog, wanted to demonstrate the conventionality of social norms, or the animal nature of man, or God knows what else. But the cost of a Sandpiper does not depend on what meanings it put into its activities. Hearst's ideas don't determine its value, either. The artist enters the second hypostasis here: he becomes the brand under which the product is sold. And for business, the meaning of a work of art is secondary, its value comes first. This is so obvious and pointedly emphasized in the case of the contemporary art market that there can be no doubt about the essence of capitalism. You can argue about which brand of TV, Sony or Rubin, is better and therefore should cost more. But this argument loses all meaning when we compare, for example, Hirst and Glazunov. Because both of them express rather stupid thoughts, but Glazunov is worth much less.

    The book, which reveals the mechanisms of cynical pricing in the art market, thus leads us to an understanding of the mechanisms of the capitalist economy as a whole. Art is not used for its intended purpose, and this fact, in my opinion, shows many of the contradictions of modern capitalism. It seems to me that the Hirst shark should be used for its intended purpose, just to evoke certain thoughts and feelings. We need to get back to the obvious.

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