Art as Commodity or Art as Experience?

The artist Donna Dodsen reflects on art as a hot commodity:

Art fairs, auctions and galleries have produced a veritable marketplace for hot commodities and much of the art world has become the playground of the rich, status seeking new millionaires and billionaires.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe art is neither a product to be sold nor a commodity to be gambled on. The artists, arts administrators and activists who define art as an experience by which one is transformed for the benefit of a community believe the only product of this type of engagement is human capital and spirit.


Todd Levin, Director of Levin Art Group, told me, “Art fairs are not places where aesthetic or intellectual fields of value are created. Art fairs are competitive fields where the destruction of aesthetic and intellectual values takes place for the benefit of consumptive value. As Olav Vethuis observed, ‘Art fairs constitute their own mini-economy, and are now tournaments of value, or status contests. At stake is not only a simple economic transaction, but the establishment of the perceived rank of artists’ importance, as well as the status and fame of the collectors who can afford, and claim access to, the art work that is for sale.

He might have been better served had he gone to an art gallery or museum retrospective to appreciate art presented in its best light. Often these venues showcase artists whose primary goal is to impact their communities in a tangible way, either by providing a platform for others to engage with their art or by exposing people to new ways of thinking.

Read the full article here. 

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