Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Worried Monkey Stays Home

For anyone who has been taking art-investment advice from Modern Art Obsession, I submit the following for consideration:

One (1) primate portrait from Jill Greenberg's "Monkey Portraits" series

offered for sale last week with a description that read, in part:

This is a framed Digital Photographic Print of "Worried" from Jill Greenberg's famed and highly regarded 2004 series entitled Monkey Portraits. This is Edition 4 of 10. I am the original owner. I purchased this directly from Paul Kopeikin Gallery. ...

Jill Greenberg is currently receiving a lot of press from the controversy about her new series called End Times that depicts crying children.

This is a unique opportunity to own one of her pieces.

I have the original receipt and the catalogue of the series.

The work was offered for auction, with a hidden reserve price, no doubt inflated by what we shall henceforth call MAO's Law - namely, that criticizing an artist's method is guaranteed to increase an artist's market value - and its necessary corollaries, MAO's Constants - that passion is no match for irony, and that all art must be viewed as a proposal of fashion.

The reserve price the seller hoped to earn remains a mystery, but we can see that the auction's sole bidder offered $4,000 - a curt $500 below the stated gallery "starting at" selling price. It should come as no surprise that the current owner hoped to do well with such a timely sale - MAO's Law is seductively simple in that way. It may not apply to you or me directly - I don't buy art to get rich off it someday, I buy it because I think it's beautiful and important, because it speaks to me and I want others to see what I see in it. You probably do this too. But that's us. What about them? They want to get in on the ground floor. They want to flip art like it's real estate. And if a bunch of bloggers get an artist's face on all of the news channels, where she can sit and explain her larger purpose, where they will show her artwork and allow her to justify its existence, well, that's all that matters to them, right? The stock goes up. It just make sense... doesn't it?

As for this auction, the sole bid came from a man who hoped to purchase the work for less than what the current owner had paid the Paul Kopeikin Gallery to acquire it. "Monographman." Also known as:

Business is business.

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