Blog 3 “Stuff+$$$=Art?”

“The Yellow Scale” by František Kupka (Museum of Fine Arts Houston). -Probably the most attitude I’ve seen in any painting so far! 🙂
  1. I think that the argument the film makes is the argument of “What makes something art?”  At the beginning of the film, the question is asked “Can you learn to see?” And the artist who they interview essentially says, “No. You can’t choose your parents and you can’t choose to see” (The Price of Everything).  This made me think back to Berger’s argument, “Yet this seeing which comes before words, and can never be quite covered by them, is not a question of mechanically reacting to stimuli” (Berger 8).  Therefore, if we can all see, then how is it that some things are art, and other things are not art, and what does that mean in the world of the art market today?  The movie really portrayed that as long as money is attached to something, it has worth.  If there is no attachment to money, then it is no longer art.
  • “To what extent should art be held ethically accountable?” First off, I don’t think art has the capacity or the ability to be ethically accountable.  Art can’t determine for itself what is good or what is bad.  Rather, the ethical judgement is the job of the artist, the critique, or the viewer, either based on technique, emotion, or some other factor.  To determine whether something is ethically “good” I think that it is the job of the viewer to have a solid idea of what is “good” and use that to judge artwork.  Also, art should not be considered “art” simply because everyone says it is.  Rather, I think that if the viewer deems something as “bad” it is no longer considered art for that individual, and they shouldn’t be forced by others to say otherwise.  For the second question, “to what extent should art and capital be encouraged to co-mingle?” I would say that money really does help to encourage art, but art should not be used merely as a vehicle for making money.  In past history, there was indeed the practice that only the rich could determine what art was (like Berger stated), “In the end, the art of the past is being mystified because a privileged minority is striving to invent a history which can retrospectively justify the role of the ruling classes…” (Berger 11).  I think the same thing is happening in our own art world today.  However, I think there is a difference between what was going on in the past and what is going on now. 
Painting from the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo
  • In the past, if the rich bought something it was indeed considered art.  Yet, there was more than just the act of buying going on there.  The privileged elite were expected by their society to not only know what good art was, but to also understand why it was good.  An educated mind was expected to understand symmetry, proportion, the golden ratio, and perspective.  And, the artist himself was also held to the same standards.  If the artist didn’t meet these certain requirements, then his work was not judged as “artwork.”  Therefore, if someone in the higher echelons of society bought such a work, he would not be respected because he was supposed to know the difference.  I think that with the onset of the Romantic Movements and other movements afterwards, the standard of what made something “good” fell away because people started to explore emotion and phycology which had no discernible boundaries or limits.  With these movements, it became harder to set a standard for what was “good” and there developed the trend of paintings being good only because the rich bought them.  Today, the privileged minority probably have no appreciation for technique.  Rather, the rich want to continue to be rich, and they buy and sell whatever they can get their hands on.  Today, the notion of what art is or what it is supposed to be has become lost, and auctions are filled with pieces of junk that scream out “I’m art because of who bought me!” Other than, “I’m art because of my mastery of technique!”
This is an 18-karat toilet, titled “America,” by Maurizio Cattelan in the restroom of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. -Is this artwork? Or just insulting?
  • “Finally, please indicate whether you (dis-) agree with the argument you identify in common between text and film.  How does your position on that commonality speak to your answers to 2?”

I disagree with the argument in the text and in the film that art must require someone of elite status to buy it, in order to make it art.  I think that when money touches artwork, it immediately devalues it.  -Ironic as it sounds, a piece of art that now has a price on it suddenly has dueling intentions behind it.  The viewer is now caught in a battle between wanting it for profit and wanting it because it has special meaning to them.  I think this speaks to my answers in question 2 by how people simply buy art because everyone else is buying it.  And, therefore, since everyone else is buying it, it must be considered art.  This circular argument is basically what is running the art market today, which I think is really a distortion of what art is supposed to be.  For one thing, art should be available for everyone to see, which is why I think the internet is such an important resource for art lovers!  Secondly, I think that any kind of artwork has to have standards.  Although this is only my opinion, I think that a true work of art not only displays the artistic techniques of the painter, but also has to build on the work of his/her predecessors.  If we throw out standards that make great art, then we’ll essentially be left with an expensive collection of clutter and noise. 



  1. blakeslade97 says:

    It sickens me to think about how much art is reliant on the dollar value set to it by the elite minorities that run the entire system. If its creator is poor or of no status the piece likely would never sell for much and therefore wouldn’t be considered art. Another instance of this can be found in the difference between what is considered “fine art” and just regular art. I first noticed this difference in my visit to the Dallas Museum of Art where “Fine Art” is only labeled to paintings and sculptures from European countries. Everything else from Asia or Africa seemed to be looked at as lower quality and had less nice exhibits even though their pieces of Art were bigger and nicer.


    1. kathrynchuc says:

      You make a really good point here that I didn’t think of! It is interesting that when museums think of “Fine Art” it is immediately connected to Europe (as you say). I wonder why this is? Why is European art “Finer” than other arts from other cultures? -Definitely food for thought!


  2. ladykita08 says:

    I really enjoy your blog post and how you worded and described art and its ethical responsibility of it. I also enjoyed the artwork you chose and how it’s just about “all gold everything” between your pictures. I also agree with you on the fact that art does not need to be bought by the famous in order for it to be good art.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s