Skip

Art Myths
March 27, 2010 7:52 PM   Subscribe


 
Integrity!
posted by fixedgear at 7:56 PM on March 27, 2010


What's the value of the rogue urinals?
posted by jfuller at 7:59 PM on March 27, 2010


funny, this from a guy who specializes in a corner of market there the fakes have value
posted by victors at 8:01 PM on March 27, 2010


Seems like the article is misrepresented. While I wouldn't assume there's any market that is safe from the standard highs-and-lows of buying and selling over the years - the author seems to go from talking about genuine art to fakes, and makes it sound as though the article was about that all along.

For instance, his final paragraph about a fake Dali is (I think) meant to underline the entire article about art values rising and dropping, but it should instead be a cautionary tale about having expensive things authenticated by a reputable source before purchase. Had you bought a genuine Dali for several thousand dollars 20 years ago, I'm pretty sure it would be worth an order of magnitude more nowadays, yes?
posted by revmitcz at 8:16 PM on March 27, 2010


What were the recent events in the market for Thomas Kincaid? Did he alienate his core audience by going abstract or being seen leaving a gay bar or something?
posted by acb at 8:22 PM on March 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


The first four points could be applied to pretty much any market for collectable goods - comic books, classic cars, depression glass, Hummel figurines, Swatch watches, Pogs, whatever. The only real 'value' anything has outside of your own personal appraisal is the amount that other people are willing to pay for it. When you collect things as an investment, you're basically betting that people will still be not only interested in what you're collecting at some undefined point in the future, but also willing to fork over wads of cash for it. Very specious. Collect things because you like collecting them - the only things you should really collect as an investment are things like stocks, bonds, and money.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 8:33 PM on March 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I own an original painting by this guy. I bought it almost 20 years ago for $200. I bet he'd give me at least $2,000 to have it back so no one else could ever see it again.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:33 PM on March 27, 2010


acb: "What were the recent events in the market for Thomas Kincaid?"


This section of his wikipedia writeup makes it sound like Kinkaid is running some kind of pyramid scheme. But I also would be fascinated to know what the author was alluding to here, if not that.
posted by idiopath at 8:38 PM on March 27, 2010


Oh, and given Kinkade's brand image I was delighted by the "Kinkade pees on pooh" and "Kinkade shouts at Sigfreid's codpiece" stories.
posted by idiopath at 8:43 PM on March 27, 2010


> This section of his wikipedia writeup...

Holy cow, that whole page is ten kinds of crazy:

Peter O'Toole plays young Kinkade's mentor, who tells him "Paint the light, Thomas! PAINT THE LIGHT!".
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:52 PM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


idiopath, not a pyramid scheme, just routine (sigh) franchise and business opportunity fraud. The franchisor oversells the concept and ease, and often there are required expenses including equipment leases that are incompletely disclosed, as well as co-op marketing charges, all on top of the high franchise fee.

My late uncle started a MAACO as his retirement project and soon found himself underwater.
posted by dhartung at 9:06 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


And don’t forget, not all authentic artworks are signed, but all fakes are.

Nice.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:10 PM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I need to point my mother at this. I don't think she considers her collection of paintings by this artist a significant investment but I think there's some money in them that she hopes to get back. They're nice enough paintings but they're not at all my speed. They may not even be my mother's; I think my father bought them. I hope she doesn't have them hanging around the house for any reason but love.
posted by immlass at 9:20 PM on March 27, 2010


It just so happens that I do own a Dali print (from Dante's inferno)--I purchased it in 1975 in the Bahamas. It has a certificate of authenticity and It bears a very nice signature. I was very young when I purchased it--and I tend to think (now) that it is likely a forged piece. Dali is the most forged artist there is...But I'll be damned if I will pay this guy to tell me that it is fake. Screw that! I will just let the heirs sort it out. Poor people. (I have checked Dali's prices--even under the best of circumstances, he churned out so many prints from Dante's inferno that it was simply not the best thing to buy).
As for Thomas Kincaid..his name is synonymous with sell out.
posted by naplesyellow at 9:21 PM on March 27, 2010


the art market explained:
http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/The-art-market-explained-4337
posted by robbyrobs at 9:23 PM on March 27, 2010


"The first four points could be applied to pretty much any market for collectable goods - comic books, classic cars, depression glass, Hummel figurines, Swatch watches, Pogs, whatever."

I think that Art is no different than any other collectible is what the author is trying to drive home. So many people I know, even those who don't actually buy any art other than the occasional calendar, think most art is as convertible as a savings bond.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on March 27, 2010


Holy cow, that whole page Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light™ is ten kinds of crazy mixed with hundreds of millions of $ worth of vomitously "luminous" "art."

No offense to fans of the Kinkade Glow. Even though Joan Didion was right to say: A Kinkade...typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel.
posted by sallybrown at 9:32 PM on March 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


So let me get this straight. Art that is an exact copy of other art isn't art? Then what is it? If I have a copy of a Dali and a letter of authenticity that is a perfect forgery, is that art?

What if I got a living artist to sign a still wet painting that was a forgery, by holding a gun to his head? Would that be art?

What about artists who have others do paintings and then sign them. Is that art?

Is what I just typed art?

Boundaries people boundaries!

I consider everyone who posts after me to be actors in my new installation called:

The Forum!

It's a living piece of performance art.

Go!
posted by Splunge at 9:46 PM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


.
posted by nola at 9:49 PM on March 27, 2010


Art Product only has monetary value if someone is willing to purchase it.

I mean, time and material goes into any given thing that is for sell, from a painting to an Oldsmobile. If no one is willing to buy an Oldsmobile it is just as worthless as the painting.
posted by edgeways at 9:56 PM on March 27, 2010


Go!

It's a living piece of performance art.

The Forum!

I consider everyone who posts after me to be actors in my new installation called:

Boundaries people boundaries!

Is what I just typed art?

What about artists who have others do paintings and then sign them. Is that art?

What if I got a living artist to sign a still wet painting that was a forgery, by holding a gun to his head? Would that be art?

So let me get this straight. Art that is an exact copy of other art isn't art? Then what is it? If I have a copy of a Dali and a letter of authenticity that is a perfect forgery, is that art?
posted by kneecapped at 9:59 PM on March 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


Mitheral: I think that Art is no different than any other collectible is what the author is trying to drive home. So many people I know, even those who don't actually buy any art other than the occasional calendar, think most art is as convertible as a savings bond.

Yeah, definitely. Reading about people using their retirement funds or their kids' college funds to buy collectables only to find that they're completely illiquid is heartbreaking. Amassing collectables for sale is similar to betting on a hand in poker, though I think I'd have better luck playing Texas hold 'em.

My parents bought a handful of abstract prints from an auction decades ago as investments. They're still hanging in the living room because no one would ever pay anything approaching the original price for them. I took one of them with me when I moved out because I actually quite like them - at this point it has so much sentimental value to me that I wouldn't even think of selling it. I'm just glad that they only bought a few prints and that they were relatively cheap.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 10:04 PM on March 27, 2010


the only things you should really collect as an investment are things like stocks, bonds, and money.

Even those become worthless sometimes.
posted by incessant at 10:07 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight. Art that is an exact copy of other art isn't art? Then what is it? If I have a copy of a Dali and a letter of authenticity that is a perfect forgery, is that art?

Reminds me of the old conundrum about the counterfeit $20 bill, which was counterfeited by Andy Warhol, except he forged Pablo Picasso's signature in the corner...
posted by rifflesby at 10:08 PM on March 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's what you get for treating it like stocks n' bonds!
posted by swooz at 10:15 PM on March 27, 2010


Most experts in this sort of investment strategy advise you to buy work that you love and wouldn't mind hanging on your wall for decades.

Isn't that how we (older people) buy CDs? (Meaning music.)

If you get lucky, fine. I had some friends who had a fondness for old hand-colored B&Ws. People with money started liking them too, so they were able to buy a East Village apartment whose neighborhood isn't quite as scuzzy as it was twenty years ago.

Art-trading isn't any safer than tech-stock trading or anything else you could pull out of a hat.

The confluence of art (music, dance, visual art, film, etc.) and commerce has a centuries-long rankish smell about it. Do as thou will, I suppose. Oh, and caveat emptor, yeah. It's all a little sad, really, for artists. Except for - or especially for - punching dolls like Kenny G and Thomas Kincaide, there is something unholy about the art/money interface. The old links between the rich and the powerful and the artists has usually been a perverted one, at least for those of us who think artists have a special gift, whether acquired through the Muse or through training and practice.
posted by kozad at 10:48 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if I got a living artist to sign a still wet painting that was a forgery, by holding a gun to his head? Would that be art?

Yes, performance art. Do it on your unmade bed and you can probably sell it to the guys who purchased the at sign.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:08 PM on March 27, 2010


Go! It' s to living piece of performance art. The Forum! It goes! It' living part of the S.A of the performance art. the tribune! I consider all that it sends after me to be the actors in my new called installation: Contours of people of contours! Is what I hardly art scriv? What approximately the artists whom they make to sign them others to make paintings and then. It is quell' art? What if it will convince a living artist to sign a painting still bathed that it was a false one, from the estate a gun to its head? That would be art? Thus lascilo they obtain this right. Art that is an exact copy dell' other art isn' art of t? Then what is it? If I have a copy of Give them and a letter dell' authenticity that is false a perfect one, is quell' art?
posted by Splunge at 11:31 PM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm not the only one getting those emails from Cornelious Zavala and Bertolithia Jameson.
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 PM on March 27, 2010


Mine was from Kathy Acker.
posted by Splunge at 1:20 AM on March 28, 2010


It just so happens that I do own a Dali print ...(&c)

the later dali prints are an interesting case...he went quite senile and (at the urging of some unscrupulous agents) signed a very large number of blank sheets of paper. the prints made on these sheets were generally of very low quality, would never have been approved of by the artist, and were mostly made after his death. as a result, their existence has seriously devalued all of dali's prints, even very high-quality ones made by the artist earlier in his career. (not that prints ever have anywhere near the value of original works like paintings, or even drawings). A 'certificate of authenticity' is almost always quite the opposite: a clear indication that the work was made by someone else.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:42 AM on March 28, 2010


This is why people should buy my art now before it devalues any further.
posted by loquacious at 3:21 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most recent issue of The Baffler has an article about Kinkade.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:26 AM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


From said article:

After years of appeals, Kinkade gallery owners have lately started to win their lawsuits. A gallery- owning couple from Virginia claims Kinkade executives rooked them by creating “a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust” between them and the Kinkade Company; a judge recently awarded them $2.1 million. Another couple in Michigan was awarded $1.4 million.

It is hard to feel sorry for these people. After all, they put their life savings into the work of man whose best-known public utterance came when he got drunk at a Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas and repeatedly yelled the word “codpiece” at the magicians until he was calmed by his mother.

posted by werkzeuger at 5:30 AM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is why people should buy my art now before it devalues any further.

This original comment by locquacious comes signed with a genuine certificate of authenticity.

Act now! Your's for only $99.99
posted by device55 at 5:42 AM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


And don’t forget, not all authentic artworks are signed, but all fakes are.

Nice.


But completely untrue. Without getting into a history of the signature in art (it is a fairly recent trend) many artists just didn't sign works. Fakers know this. Only an idiot would judge anything on a signature when buying and selling art, especially antique art.
posted by fire&wings at 6:05 AM on March 28, 2010


Interesting. I'd just come to the conclusion that the Art Market of my formative years -- the '80's, mid- to late- -- was all a money laundering event. Coke dealers and Wall Street criminals needed a relatively stable place to park their lucre and move it across international borders -- the '80's art market was just such a vehicle. Never mind that there was actually some interesting work being done here and there -- the Art Market™ had another function that no one was talking about.

My advice to others has only ever been, buy what you like.

(Then again, I'm just a bitter, now middle-aged guy who also now  thinks he went to the wrong grad school, so go figure...)
posted by vhsiv at 6:14 AM on March 28, 2010


I once went into a Thomas Kinkade gallery. I bought an eyeglass cleaning cloth with one of Kinkade's paintings printed on it. Think about it.
posted by acrasis at 6:56 AM on March 28, 2010


Seriously. Think about it.

I collect Japanese woodblock prints. Since they're hanging n my living room walls being enjoyed, I imagine they are fading and depreciating as we speak. I do not care. I bought them to look at.
posted by acrasis at 6:59 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Everything is worth what it's purchaser will pay for it."

I learned that from Civ!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:07 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why are we talking about Thomas Kinkade? I thought this was an article about the art market.
posted by Nelson at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nelson: "Why are we talking about Thomas Kinkade?"

On the off chance your question is not rhetorical, the article brings up Kinkade obliquely and some of us wondered what it was about Kinkade he was referencing. And Kinkade Incorporated is a wonderful example of how some of these common misconceptions about the value of art can be exploited to rip people off.
posted by idiopath at 7:37 AM on March 28, 2010


Viewing this from an artist's perspective, I'm reminded why the whole gallery system turned me off so completely when I went to art school. On the very off chance you become a success, your art might as well become oil barrels or pork bellies for some rich asshole to hoard or trade as the whims of their greed dictate. Not too sound too precious, but art deserves much better than that.
posted by picea at 8:04 AM on March 28, 2010


On the off chance your question is not rhetorical

It was a rhetorical question, but thanks for the recap. I guess my real question is "why is an art appraisal service advertising page talking about Thomas Kinkade?". The economics and marketing of Kinkade's thing is a completely different world from the fine art market. Different production, different customers, different economics, different distribution. I'm not making an æsthetic point about Kinkade here. I'm just saying he's created a franchised business that's more like the Franklin Mint than Francis Bacon.

The linked article is using Kinkade to demonstrate "art is not a good investment". While it's true that Kinkade's production has not been a good investment, that doesn't really teach us anything about the art market.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bacon may not be the best example, because he is an artist whose work has already ballooned in value. What the author is cautioning people about is buying art with the assumption that it will be a profitable investment. For every Bacon, Johns, or Warhol, there are literally thousands of artists whose work has a market value no more (or in many cases less) than it was when it was first made.

Where the Kinkade example is useful is that all of the author's points about the mythology concerning collecting art marketed in a traditional manner also apply to Kinkade, but the art sold by Kinkade Incorporated is that much more clearly not a sound investment (unless you feel the aesthetic value of the work itself is worth that price).

Like any good exchanged for money, the value of a piece of art is derived from any intrinsic value that potential customer sees in it, along with the perceived scarcity, and the perception that others consider it valuable. Any market where the latter two are the driving force to exclusion of the former, except maybe gold(?), is a risky investment and a disaster waiting to happen.
posted by idiopath at 9:31 AM on March 28, 2010


To me this is the wrong way to think about art, however there has actually been a bit of academic finance work done on art as an investment. I think the best known guy is Galenson at the University of Chicago. Since, as suits a freshwater economist his work is not available for free you might want to check out a few working papers, for example Buying Beauty: On Prices and Returns in the Art Market or Art as a Financial Investment .
posted by shothotbot at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2010


Is what I just typed art?

Splunge, welcome to Dadaism.

kneecapped will be your guide.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:31 AM on March 28, 2010


“Given that art’s value is predicated on scarcity, how can anyone create an appreciating market for mass-produced ‘limited editions’?” the article asks, before letting readers know that Kinkade’s factory “churns out 10,000 pieces a month, each signed by a ‘DNA pen’ containing drops of Kinkade’s blood.”


Accidental surrealists are the best kind.
posted by The Whelk at 12:12 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


a note on 'authenticity': i only got to spend about three days in paris, but totally lucked out, as the 'special exhibition' at the louvre was 'the complete drawings of leonardo da vinci' (amazing show! one of my favorite pieces were some pages from a notebook with sketches of weapons...gnarly, gothic things like notched battleaxes pierced with chains, protruding from piles of broken skulls, barbed maces, and etc...what struck me was how much they looked like the obsessive drawings of 13-year-old metalheads...very human stuff) one of the things i noticed were the stamps of authenticity on some of the drawings...there would be one stamp, then another (i assume by another authenticator, authenticating the authenticity of the previous stamp), and another...the stamps had amazing variety...some in ink, some embossed, a few were really neat...a series of tiny, punched holes making a design or logo. in many cases, the original drawings became almost japanese with the series of stamps and chops in the margins...a sidebar history of the art market through the ages, auction houses coming and going and the tenuous thread of their reputation being passed like a baton through the years...
posted by sexyrobot at 1:57 PM on March 28, 2010


Mostly, duh. But also:

Art Has Value. This is one of those tree falling in the forest things. Also, I think this sentence needs to be qualified with something like "has value IN YOUR LIFETIME." There is a great passage in a book by George Kubler about a sculpture study of a hand by Michelangelo. The study represents only a partially finished hand emerging from a slab of stone. For hundreds of years it was considered without value. It was not until the modern era, when concepts of process, fragment, and abstract composition completely re-valued this object and repositioned it from obscurity to brilliance. So...it may not have value now, in your lifetime, but it may have value later.

Also, just from my experience, I think another area of buyer weakness in the art market is: If It Is Old, It Must Be Worth More. If you've ever really delved into a particular period of art you will inevitably begin to sort out top tier artists from 2nd and 3rd tier. However, be advised there are 4th, 5th, 6th and so on tiers that are just complete dreck, even if they are 200, 300, 400 years old. Bad art can be made in any era, and bad art can survive centuries just as well as good art.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2010


Bad art can be made in any era, and bad art can survive centuries just as well as good art.

You've just summed up what I believe to be a good part of the business model of many antiques stores (and probably quite a few art galleries): buy crummy stuff that happens to be really old, and pawn it off on rubes who don't know better but just recognize that it's old and therefore think it must be good.

Nothing new, really; I'm sure people have been doing it for thousands of years — as long as people have romanticized the past. (And more importantly, used the possession and display of Ye Olde Stuff as a class/status signifier.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2010


Reminds me of the old conundrum about the counterfeit $20 bill, which was counterfeited by Andy Warhol, except he forged Pablo Picasso's signature in the corner...

Some years ago, Banksy printed some fake £10 bills with Princess Diana's portrait. These may have technically been illegal.
posted by acb at 4:11 AM on March 29, 2010


Art Has Value.

Some Art Has Value.

Some art is crap that will be forgotten about by the rest of the world before you manage to get it on your wall.

Other art is fantastically interesting and filled with meaning and technique, and will still be forgotten about by the rest of the world before you manage to get it on your wall.

It's possible, but unlikely that items from category three might move into category one sometime in the future. It's almost impossible and at best extremely unlikely that pieces from category two might do the same.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:14 AM on March 29, 2010


Some Art Has Value.

Some art is crap that will be forgotten about by the rest of the world before you manage to get it on your wall.


I've seen it argued that, in the age when anybody can make art in their free time (with the help of computer technology, one way or another), the supply of art has begun to exceed the demand for it by orders of magnitude, to the point where consuming most art is more of a chore than a treat, much like looking at home videos of relatives' vacations.

If this is the case, the most valuable contributions may be made not by artists but by curators and scouts, those who devote time and patience to digging through the Augean stables of unmemorable mediocrities (we're not even talking mind-blowingly bad bulldada here, but mind-numbingly average indie-rock/hipster-folk bands, passable but dull paintings, photographs and perfectly average stories and films), digging out the nuggets with promise and bringing them to the attention of others.
posted by acb at 3:00 PM on March 30, 2010


one might say we now need a filter of sorts, a kind of Meta-Filter.
posted by The Whelk at 4:52 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Classic VHS cover art across the web.   |   Do you like sinkers or floaters? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post