Can you really put a price on culture?

September 2, 2010

I love looking at beautiful things, particularly designer stationery and paintings done with great skills and attention to details. Studying design, I appreciate that the process of producing a beautiful piece of work is never easy. I don’t claim to be an art critic but sometimes, I think art is simply overrated.

In April 2009, the painting by Paul Cezanne titled Bords de la Marne, sold for $16 million. Not $1.6 million. SIXTEEN MILLION. That is a huge sum of money. I find it utterly ridiculous that the Art Gallery of NSW would pay that much for a piece of painting on canvas.

This painting by Jackson Pollock, titled no.5, 1948, is another example of a painting with an exaggerated price tag. It was sold to a Hollywood mogul – David Geffen – in November 2006 for a hefty $140 million – making it the most expensive painting ever sold. Some art critics and art investors may argue that the price is justified, in that it is an investment on a medium that has made a significant impact in its time in the art industry. Jackson Pollock introduced the ‘Dripping technique’ where he ‘paints’ without touching the canvas. His technique involves dripping and splashing paint freely onto the canvas. His action painting technique is still the talk of the art industry worldwide to this day.

There is no doubt that both Cezanne and Pollock have unique skills that are hard to find these days, and it is a piece of culture that should be preserved, but I think in this current economic times, that money would have been better spent on art education programs and nurturing upcoming talents. Perhaps, with better support for young artists, there could be plenty more like them, and art need not cost a fortune.

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March 16, 2009


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