Sunday, October 07, 2018

Going, Going, Gone

I don't presume to know anything about the art world, in particular the rarefied precincts where artists sell their works for millions of dollars. I know what I like (Roy Lichtenstein, for example), but the nuances of valuation completely escape me. I think artists should be able to make a living providing us with beauty and joy, making us think, calling attention to injustice and inequality, and sometimes just celebrating whimsy.

You could argue that Banksy's newest work, a combination of artistic technique and subversive social commentary, ticks all of those boxes.

The painting, entitled Girl With Balloon (voted last year as the UK's most-loved artwork), was auctioned at Sotheby's in London on Friday night for $1.4 million. Moments after the sale was finalized, an alarm sounded, and a mechanism within the frame activated, slowly pulling the painting through a series of blades hidden within the frame, shredding the picture in front of gasping onlookers.

That's a lot of bemused rich white people, man.

Banksy himself (herself?) posted on Instagram in the aftermath, using the words in the headline to this post. On the one hand, it's a brilliant commentary on the absurdity of trying to put a value on art and the ephemeral nature of life (or something). On the other, it's a cynically genius bit of marketing, calculated to continue to build a brand and increase the value of the next thing Banksy does. This thing even, actually, as some experts suggest that the shredded artwork is now worth as much as 50% more than the auction price, given its notoriety.

I choose to focus on the whimsy. I laughed. And that's enough.


TR said...

Whimsy! We need more!

zman said...

Cynical folks like me would argue that Sotheby’s was in on it. This was the last lot in the auction, there was a guy in the room with the remote control that set the shredder off, and it seems unlikely that a big-time auction house like Sotheby’s with scores of art experts wouldn’t notice that the artwork was too heavy and oddly balanced given the metal shredder and motor inside the frame:

This isn’t an original thought, I read it in The NY Times. What the Times didn’t add was the fact that Sotheby’s has withdrawn a potentially fugazi watch or two from auction recently. I’m not saying Sotheby’s is crooks, but it seems to me that they aren’t afraid to cut a few corners to generate publicity.

zman said...

Meanwhile, the Bills play the Titans this week and I’m too down on Buffalo to even attempt to write a post. The Bills are awful in so many statistical ways, but my least favorite is that they are Football Outsiders’s current leader with respect to likelihood of getting the #1 pick, and they took their quarterback of the future this year (with what I understand was a bit of a reach), which means they will get the #1 pick and trade it to someone else who will draft a perennial Pro Bowl caliber QB while Josh Allen flounders behind a bad line with no receivers for two years before the Bills dump the current front office staff, give up on Allen, and begin the whole cycle of bitterness anew.

TR said...

The Bills are inexplicable. They had a surprise playoff run and then decided to blow it all down. No idea what the plan is, and if McDermott will survive.

Mark said...

I had fantastic bbq (ribs and pulled pork) in a gas station in Micanopy earlier today and am currently on my way to St Augustine to go see Wu Tang tonight. So you could say I’m having a good weekend.

zman said...

Mahomes and Bortles combined for 55 completions on 99 attempts, 743 yards ... 1 TD and 6 INT? Maybe they should’ve thrown less?

mayhugh said...

Mark - so Jealous. The one time I tried to go see Wu Tang (with Rage Against the Machine) probably 20-ish years ago, the guy driving the car I was traveling in caused a 5 car accident less than a mile from the stadium. Cops were called and on the scenes for hours, multiple insurers were contacted on large cellular phones, and we never made the concert.

Speaking of good weekends, I was in the Leesburg area scouting out the local breweries per a recent GTB suggestion. We will be looking to move out there once our house sells. So if anyone is in the market for a house in the woods, 5 acres, where I once found a squatter sleeping in a tent in the back yard, just let me know.

zman said...

How many WTC members do you expect to see tonight?

Mark said...

Vitals and I drunkenly discussed this last night after the Florida game. I’ve heard positive reports about their participation but wa still skeptical. Thought Meth or Ghost might skip. It’s St Augustine, after all.

We got them all, kinda, Old Dirty’s son was there and did all his parts. And accounted for himself well.