The film, The Price of Everything, intersects with Berger’s Ways of Seeing seamlessly. In the movie, we see that the monetary value of “fine” art has run amok and astronomically-priced “fine” art is firmly in the grasp of those with a lot of money to invest, and in turn, that money gives them the power to declare what is art and what is not. In one instance, the wealthiest artist in America is selling art pieces as his creations though he hasn’t even laid a finger on the canvas or administered a single stroke of a paint brush. Somehow justifying those paintings to be his own art is proof that the minority ruling controllers of art commerce have all the power and all the say they need to make the rules up for their own game. They intentionally keep art out of the hands of the majority of people because it suits them to do so. I also believe that the film illustrates Berger’s argument that words cannot accurately express what is being seen. Knowing the monetary value assigned to a work of art makes the viewer look at it different, and words can’t justify the gross amounts of money being spent on fine art.
I don’t think that art should be ethically accountable – I think those pedaling it at ridiculous prices should be. Artists that don’t touch their own canvas shouldn’t be considered the authors of the work that comes to be on that canvas. It should go under the names of the people who actually applied the paint. Having said that, I think that artists should be free to create and their art should be allowed to take on a life of its own, as happens with art throughout history. I don’t think that art and capital should be mingling to the extent that they are. I think galleries that sell art are running a racket. I think that when art is sold for greater and greater amounts of money – the artist should get the most benefit and receive something like a royalty as the creator of that art. I don’t think that gallery owners and wealthy people should be capitalizing on the creativity of someone else and getting all of the financial gain.
I believe that as Berger argues, the minority ruling art controllers – those with wealth and its accompanying power – are obscuring the real value of paint on canvas and sculptures of balloon animals in stainless steel. I disagree with the way the art market consumes and capitalizes on art works in order to keep the masses away from art. Art has become an investor’s game. How much can one afford to buy a piece for today, in the hopes that they’ll get a major return on their investment tomorrow? However much an art collector claims to like a work of art, their admiration of it is suspect as soon as it becomes a valuable investment of wealth, rather than a valuable investment in the pleasure of looking at it.