The Capital Art

An excerpt from the film “The Price of Everything”

The film “The Price of Everything” intersects with Berger’s essay Ways of Seeing by examining the monetary value of fine art compared to its actual value if it counts as what current society views as “art.” The film shows hundred of pieces of art that sell from hundreds of dollars to tens of millions, and that art itself has become about the physical owning of it instead of the appreciation of good art. An instance in the documentary showing an artist who sells “his” art, even though its not his actual work, for millions of dollars, shows this example of someone valuing the value of art more than the art itself. These ideas connect to Bergers text by stating how the minority upper class (in this case, rich art sellers and buyers) has dictated what is art by its monetary value instead of its level of aesthetic.

I do not believe art should be held ethically accountable because it is not a conscious being that can make decisions, but that’s not to say that the person who creates the art can’t be held ethically accountable. If the artist has well-intents with their art, then it is ethical, but if they intend to create art only to make money, they are unethical in their aesthetic accountability. Art, sadly, could not exist without capital due to the nature of all art being integrated into society, which is itself capitalistic. In a positive sense, this is good for artists so that they may be paid for their work, but more often than not it just becomes another game for rich people to play regarding who has what is “acceptable” for this capitalistic society.

A banana duck taped to a wall, portrayed as art and sold for $120,000 in 2019

I agree that the art world has become corrupt in its attempt to become mainstream, but I do not think that was the intent of original artists. Most artists start off making art because there is a primal need for them to do so but end up getting caught into the capitalistic system and sacrificing their morals as a result. Art should be accessible to all yet it is gatekeeped by a minority group that is set to keep themselves as the minority due to their supposed status as the minority; aka, the rich want to stay rich because they’re rich. Sadly, due to this oppression, many deserving, genre-bending artists will never have a chance to showcase their art to the world, causing the systemic cycle to continue.



  1. Alyssa N. says:

    Hello Brittany,
    Great post! I agree with your point that being that since our society is capitalistic. the artist work seems to be automatically made into capital. I think it is impossible for artist to be treated ethically under this capitalistic system. Which is sad, because as you point out most of these artist would like to express themselves creatively while being able to feed and clothe themselves.


    1. Alyssa N. says:

      I am unable to edit the comment but the second sentence should say, “I agree with your point that being since our society is capitalistic, the artists’ work seems to be automatically made into capital.”


  2. jaylachambers says:

    Hello Brittany,
    I agree with your overall stance. I feel as if capitalism itself is the root of the problem. If artists were not under so much pressure to create art that would be seen as successful, I don’t think things will exist as is. Socially there is a lot of pressure to make it, be successful and visible in the mainstream. Majority of the time there is a sacrifice/sacrifices made by artist to have a lot of success and a price is paid on what they create.

    On another note, the rich play a role in what is looked as being valuable and “art”. For them the exclusivity of buying art because they can afford it is where the value comes in on art. Due to this art and artists are being affected. Great post!


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