Blog Entry #3

The Documentary The Price of Everything intersects with Berger’s Ways of Seeing with the viewpoint that art is not about art anymore, its about the money, the prestige and the name associated with it. 

The two versions of Virgin of the Rocks

Berger speaks at length about the painting Virgin of the Rocks, namely about the issue between the Louvre and the National Gallery in which they both claim to have the original version of the painting of the Virgin Mary. He goes on to explain that the display in the National Gallery makes great effort to prove that it is the original, “The entry on the Virgin of the Rocks is one of the longest entries. It consists of fourteen closely printed pages……. Behind this information lie years of research. The aim of the research is to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the painting is a genuine Leonardo.” To the layperson like myself one asks themselves, If both are the same, and painted by the same artist what difference does it make which is the original? To which Berger answers later  “Works of art are declared art when their line of descent can be certified.” 

Exhibit made just for the painting Virgin of the Rocks

The piece of art Virgin of the Rocks was once only known by art scholars but after an American man wanted to buy it for two and a half million pounds it was placed in its own room that became more like a chapel to the piece instead of a room to view it. The painting itself has become impressive, not because of the talent that went into it, its subject matter, but its market value because of its creator. In the film Documentary The Price of Everything there is a point around 47min in which it is talked about the calculation that the art dealer and critics perform where they ask “who is the most undervalued painter” as if the painter and what they produced was a stock market calculation. These dealers and critics know that it does not matter what the artist produces, as long as their(the artist’s) name is tied to the art, it will have value. 

To what extent should art be held ethically accountable?

In most cases I do not believe art should be held ethically accountable. Obviously exceptions apply in the case of causing harm to others or animals in any way, but an important aspect of art is to be provocative, to get people to ask questions, to challenge how people think. to stifle that artistic freedom to create would be a grave disservice to all that view or create art. 

To what extent should art and capital be encouraged to co-mingle?

I believe that art should have value, and that artist should be paid for their talent and their creations. I do not believe that the way that it is going about now is the correct way, with art dealers valuing art based off the name of an artist and in some cases shown in the documentary artists selling their next painting before they had even began creating the art. Art has become more of a status symbol only cared about and bought by the filthy rich elites of society. 

I agree with the common argument I found within the text and the film. The art world has become corrupted with success, with singular installations of art being worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The exploitation of these artists for their names and the need they feel to produce art, one person in the Documentary stated that she did not want to overbid because she did not want to contribute to the burnout of that artist once their piece of art had sold for more than it was valued for and that artist would be harassed by agents and art dealers to produce more art for them to profit off of. 



  1. kathrynchuc says:

    I thought this was a very thoughtful and thorough post. The documentary was quite sad though, wasn’t it? I had no idea that so many artists are apart of this system that are only concerned with making money, and perhaps not as concerned with making real art. Berger was quick to pick up on this when discussing the painting, “Virgin on the rocks” and I’m glad you included it in your own post as well! What is the art world coming to?


  2. emmajune00 says:

    One of the interesting quotes that I noted during the documentary was that “There are three kinds of people in this world; those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who will never see”. I believe that in a way you can apply this to the people who don’t understand that art has more value than just a number with a dollar sign next to it.


  3. hollypracht says:

    Your post is so much more thorough than mine! I agree with you on the art and ethical responsibility point, in my post I think I ended up focusing on the art market rather than art itself.


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