Best Of The Web
“In his latest film The Price of Everything, Kahn traces the notoriously inflated state of the contemporary art market back to 1973, when the infamous Robert Scull sale began to tip the scales. Scull, who made his fortune in the taxi business, collected work from relatively unknown living artists who were part of both the Abstract Expressionist and Pop Art movements, including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, often for the low cost of $1,000–$2,000 (still a good chunk of change for a starving Soho artist). Then, in the early seventies, he turned around and sold their work at auction for thousands more, making $2.2 million in total from the sale, equivalent to $12 million today. This legendary auction established the rubric for contemporary art flipping, and the bubble inflated from there. With the globalization of the art market, a golden age was born. And as curator Paul Schimmel says, “there is no golden age without gold.”
Kahn’s documentary poses the question “What is the relationship of art to money?” to a handful of prominent figures in the contemporary art world, including richer-than-god Koons, Sotheby’s chairman Amy Cappellazzo, self-styled populist critic Jerry Saltz, and the painter Larry Poons. Their answers, while often brazen, land ambivalently, creating an incomplete portrait of an art world that seems completely resigned to the status quo.
“Art and money have always gone hand in hand. It is very important for good art to be expensive,” premier auctioneer and art collector Simon de Pury pronounces in voiceover during the film’s opening montage. “You only protect things that are valuable. If something has no financial value, people don’t care.” The Price of Everything follows the loose thread of his claim as it traipses behind Poons in his folksy studio completing work for an upcoming show, Cappellazzo preparing for a Big Sale, and collector Stefan T. Edlis as he shuffles around his penthouse full of iconic and expensive art, all of this action backed by a baroque orchestral score. We also trail de Pury through Frieze New York and catch up with Saltz, who, in a choice bit, paws a beaded sculpture by Francesca DiMattio in the Gavin Brown booth before inserting two fingers into the opening of a PVC pipe placed at its center. Oh, Jerry! Kahn depicts an art world full of people immune to their own vanity, milling in circles at fairs and private events, a lukewarm jacuzzi of the blasé liberal elite sipping very expensive champagne. But without any incisive critique or explosive insider information about the art market, the spectacle begins to wear thin.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"Trump’s Iran sanctions could work. In the medium term, they’ll make it hard for the country to keep up oil production, satisfy domestic demand, and fund the government."
"CNN dropped the lawsuit when the White House agreed to allow Acosta to regain access, and instituted new guidelines for press conferences. As with of Trump’s other pokes at the Constitution, this one got at the heart of core democratic norms."
"The gulf between liberal U.S. Jews and right-wing Israel now colors our responses to Jews being killed: there's a sliding scale of innocence according to which we rate the victims."
"The Favourite, was a movie I truly wanted to love. Even now, sitting down to write about it a week later, I’m trying in retrospect to make myself love it."
"With lots of money, one can buy special protective technology, hire expensive private guard labor, move to a different place, or simply rebuild one's property if it gets destroyed. But that doesn't mean you will be invulnerable."
"In general, progress has brought about unprecedented prosperity while also making it easier to do harm. But between two kinds of outcomes — gains in well-being and gains in destructive capacity — the beneficial ones have largely won out."
"Some women successfully free themselves from emotional labor, but I don’t want to give up the work of caring. I just want others to care as well."
"In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the end of the century, technology would have become so far advanced that developed economies would have a 15-hour workweek. So how did we get to our current state...?"
"Thanksgiving is the perfect time for you to give it a try. Before the big day, practice discussing a couple of difficult topics with Angry Uncle Bot, a chat program created to help teach you the techniques."
"As a mother, I care about serving nutritious meals to my family. As a dietitian, I know better than to overpay for meaningless "GMO free" labels."
"Under the right conditions, proteins can survive for millions of years. In recent years, proteomic studies of art works and archeological remains have yielded biological information of startling clarity..."
"Last week, Israeli media reported of rioting Haredim onboard an El Al plane. The true story turned out to be very different, and deeply revealing."