Buyers and Sellers

Recently I came across an article by Carol Vogel in the NYT on the Oscar Murillo phenomenon. I always thought that young artists get lots of attention because they are young; they deserve it because they are young, and because they are supposed to have a fresh perspective. Turns out the market likes young artists because it can speculate on their future success. Naive me. I don’t have a curmudgeonly bone in my body, but really, Murillo’s work is hardly novel. When Stefan Simchowitz says that Murillo is the most important artist of the last forty years, I have to ask where has he been? But then some people predict a big fall in the artist’s prices one day, when the speculative bubble pops. I doubt it, because the people buying him now will be the same people to sustain his prices, and the value of their own collections, later. Having said all that, I think that prices for art are not as well understood as they might be. Six figures for a Murillo is not that terribly high when one looks at the amount of money available to buy a limited number of things. Forbes this month counts over 1600 billionaires, which raises another question – why should we celebrate the wealthy as if they were athletes? I’m old school – keep your money to yourself, don’t brag about it. Of course the wealthy aren’t necessarily doing that – the info in Forbes comes from public records, but I’m sure that many newly rich like becoming celebrities on account of it. In any case, as hard as it may be for most of us to believe, art prices at the top of the market are still low, and as long as the global economy grows they have lots of upward potential. It’s the mechanisms of fame that keep most of us in the nether regions where $1000 is a lot of money. But I’m not complaining, in fact I think it’s a lot of fun, not only making art but selling it, and everything else we do in the so-called art world. To lighten up is always a good idea. Perspective liberates. I think it was Picasso who said that artists are people who can’t afford the art they want so have to make it themselves. Imagine the pleasure of collecting. If you got a great hit from one work by a particular artist, wouldn’t you want to see more? And if you owned one wouldn’t it be natural to want to have more? Come to think of it, I could give better advice than Simchowitz.

Oscar Murillo, Dark Americano 2012

Oscar Murillo, Dark Americano 2012

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