A great commercial conspiracy

Dear Artist, Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton, gives a chapter each to seven venues: “The Auction” takes us to Christie’s in London — an inside look at who bids and who gets what, and why, and how prices are cleverly pushed. “The Crit” finds us at the “artstarmaker” CalArts school in Los Angeles for a laid-back marathon crit where the instructor has little to say and the students make small sense of their efforts. “The Fair” takes us to Basel and the world’s most influential art fair where all the right stuff is hastily discussed and inhaled by the right collectors. “The Prize” takes us to the arm-twisting boardroom and knighted hierarchy of the annual Turner Prize — twenty-five thousand quid for the “Best Artist in Britain.” “The Magazine” introduces us to the management, staff, contributors and advertisers of Artforum, the NY-based influential art journal that not many people seem to be able to read. “The Studio Visit” hops over to the Tokyo factories of international fashionista artist Takashi Murakami where hundreds of talented workers carry out his ideas and seed their own careers. “The Biennale” spirits us up the Lido Canal to Venice, where participating nations parade their hottest and youngest. Everyone dines, drinks and speeds from show to show in vaporettos. Sarah tiptoes through all this, taking notes, dropping names, recording and observing everything from clothes to tics, seldom making an unwelcome judgment. It’s a hoot. Most of the art is of the installation variety — bound eventually for museums and public view, but there are also lots of significant paintings and sculptures. While we might, at first glance, appear to be in an age of low craftsmanship, there is a sensible interest in what may become the great and lasting art of tomorrow. Everyone is trying to spot a winner. Remarkably, the venues Sarah covers are often attended by the same curators, critics, dealers, collectors and sometimes the currently-popular artists themselves. It’s a small, international microcosm of deal-making and mutual back-scratching. While there may be meanness and jealousy in the ranks, all are agreed that quality is king, passion is the emotion of choice and the great search for artistic meaning is well worth the effort of backing out your private jet. Best regards, Robert PS: “It’s very possibly a great commercial conspiracy. The newness of now, which is quite obsessive, is actually a reflection of the consumerism that you see in the whole culture. It can be a lot of fun if it is to your taste.” (Nicholas Logsdail, gallerist) Esoterica: In Sarah’s world, the bucks are big and everyone is subject to the intransigence of personality and the fickle finger of fashion. But the same goes for any midsize village where there happens to be artists, gurus, studios, galleries, media, community fairs, picture buyers and benefactors, however modest. Injustice and joy lurk at every turn. Private choice is always to be tested against those who might wish to be in control. What a wonderful game!   No beating herself up after this one by Judy Singer, Toronto, ON, Canada  

“Winds Tail”
acrylic painting, 57 x 45 inches
by Judy Singer

The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of the Art World by Don Thompson, professor emeritus, Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, is highly readable. I couldn’t put it down. After reading this book, I finally understood that the art market has nothing to do with what I am doing in the studio. I stopped beating myself up for things that I had no control over, namely the art market, and I could focus even more on what’s most compelling to me: namely, creating the best work I can possibly make.     There are 3 comments for No beating herself up after this one by Judy Singer
From: Anonymous — Aug 26, 2010

Thank you! WINDS TAIL is absolutely GORGEOUS! You are a blessing to all of us!

From: Gavin Calf — Aug 27, 2010

Accord. Too many people are chasing their tails, but I often forget this crust of wisdom. My best is on the easel and has been for four months. But I’ll get there. Wind’s Tail is an exploding nebula, five galaxies high.

From: Shirley Fachilla — Aug 27, 2010

Truly remarkable painting. I feel as though something is trying to escape from the canvas and don’t know whether I should be eager for it to break free or afraid if it manages.

  Strange words, strange times by Alcina Nolley, St Lucia, West Indies  

“Little Boat”
oil painting
by Alcina Nolley

Could you please explain what a ‘gallerist’ is? (RG note) Thanks, Alcina. Gallerist is a term used to describe gallery owners and art dealers. Galleristas are people who work for them. Gallerinas are the often attractive and aggressive, well educated young women who work in galleries. Baristas are those nice folks who serve your coffee at Starbucks. Ocarinas are artists who use a lot of ochre in their paintings. Like a lot of Sarah Palin’s invented words, many of these are not in the dictionary just yet. There are 4 comments for Strange words, strange times by Alcina Nolley
From: Anonymous — Aug 27, 2010

Gallerist? An artist who regularly contributes their artworks to an online forum such as the UK Painters On Line’s gallery section…one who wishes to share their art for both comment & critique…

From: KathrynI — Aug 29, 2010

Ha, very funny! That’s “ochrina” to you. :) Ocarina is an amusing musical instrument.

From: eleanor — Aug 31, 2010

I laughed out loud at that one, the ‘ocarinas’, and will share that today with one of the people I work with. He loves to paint, not too much ochre usually, but of late he has been having, dare I say, a blast, whistle making, clay whistles. We have both become, some say obsessed, with clay whistles and the potential of clay instruments. Ocarinas, maybe amusing, but they are extraordinarily hard to make, much less tune. Today we will be working on an Udu drum, coiled clay. Drums may take over from whistles for a time. Others in the art room no doubt hope that the quiet of painting will be resumed. Thank you for all the posts and comments. I enjoy as well as learn.

From: Paddy & Murr — Sep 06, 2010

One evening, while holidaying on the Big Island of Hawaii, we visited a well-advertised gallery. We were the only customers. The volume of the ‘background’ rock music was painfully loud and our polite request for softer music was ignored. The attractive, aggressive gallerina strutted in front of my partner, and chattered loudly. I guess she thought he was the Sugar Daddy and I was the Dumb Wife. Her frequent interruptions and reminders that they could ship paintings anywhere made it difficult for us to view them in peace. We gave up and drifted off into into the welcoming silence of the night. from Two Artists Who Ponder Before They Buy

  Contemplated giving up by Olana Carol Clark, Santa Fe, NM, USA   After reading Seven Days in the Art World I was so depressed I contemplated giving up the painting and drawing that I have loved doing more than anything for the past 25 years. When I began to study and visit museums and galleries in New York City, where I then lived, I believed that making art was a greater challenge and a higher calling than anything else I had done or could do. That kept me going for many years, until a few years ago. After much pondering, I have decided that I cannot give up what I love most, and so I am going to give myself a new name, throw any expectations out the window, and try not to take myself and my “art” so seriously. There are 3 comments for Contemplated giving up by Olana Carol Clark
From: Penny Collins — Aug 26, 2010

Your soul demands that you make art. That has nothing to do with economics. Approach it as a religious or spiritual experience, perhaps like meditation.

From: Anonymous — Aug 27, 2010

I watch this guy out of California on Tv every so often.He is selling the latest “whats hot in the art world”,and some of the stuff he shows makes me wonder who is buying this stuff??

From: Janet — Oct 01, 2010

Art for Arts Sake!!!If you paint to sell your on the wrong track. art is therapy for the soul, and anything else that we get from it is icing on the cake!

  Never read the art magazines by Sharon Knettell, Woonsocket, RI, USA  

“Alicia Blue”
pastel painting
by Sharon Knettell

One of the best favors artists can do for themselves is never to read art magazines unless you are trying to finagle, con or position yourself into the next big thing. Inspiration is one thing, but all too often this can derail our own journey. We become anxious and jealous when we see tremendously famous artists raking in the goodies while the majority of us labor in obscurity. Often, we think that if we emulate these stars or take a slightly different tack we will be the ones standing in the winners’ circle, loved and admired. This blinds us to the beauty and significance of our original vision and to why we became artists in the first place.   There are 4 comments for Never read the art magazines by Sharon Knettell
From: Penny Collins — Aug 26, 2010

Thank you Sharon for your inspiring and insightful comments.

From: Karen — Aug 27, 2010

That is an amazing painting……….and I agree with what you are saying. Can’t think you will “labour in obscurity” forever, though, with that work!

From: Jan — Aug 27, 2010

Beautiful painting!!

From: Anonymous — Aug 27, 2010

What a beautiful painting this is. The different textures, the color harmony and the composition all come together as pure poetry.

  It’s a great movie by Ken Paul, Eugene, OR, USA   This sort of high-profile art scene is now a spectator sport for me, although to be honest I was never really in the big-stakes art-circus in the first place. I don’t even follow the “regular” art mags anymore, much less ArtForum (for which I confess to being one who found it perennially unreadable). About 30 years ago I attended a printmaking conference in Pullman, Washington, where the late Robert Motherwell was one of the honored guests. He did a little monologue sitting in a chair alone onstage, gesticulating with his omnipresent Galouises and possibly a glass of scotch (I may be making the latter up, but that’s how my addled mind remembers it.). He made one remarkable statement which has stuck with me ever since: “Art is a game between artists.” He might have added “…and critics and collectors and educators and curators and gallerists,” but that was more or less implicit anyhow (The audience on that occasion included many those types.). Your letter resonates with Motherwell’s observation. Notwithstanding the tongue-in-cheek flavor to the text, I appreciated the absence of any deep cynicism. Instead, I found a sort of bemused enjoyment of how things are as they are in the art world! Count me in. It’s a great movie.   Salon alive and well by oliver, TX, USA  

digital art
by oliver

Sounds like the “salon” is alive and well. It is of course interesting and not surprising that the salon is dominated by a few. As with all generations I would expect that the salon will choose “the best” of their view(s). I guess this is the nature of the salon, it is a feeding frenzy on the incremental, the mill separating the wheat from the chaff and bad kernels of grain from the good, but operating on the same field or closely related fields of grain. The salon feeds from the same set of “schools” or “master teachers” and evaluates the new in relation to the old. I would expect however, that like all generations some of the best, truly unique, innovative and influential will not be accepted by the salon or at least until late in their careers…… and sometimes these become the salon and the wheel turns again. For some, success is going to be evaluated by the current salon and sometimes that is not just about the art — good and incremental is not enough you also have to be accepted on some level personally by the salon. For some, more outside the salon it is starting their own understandings to supplant or be accepted as part of the salon and usually it takes several to build a movement. For some it is building a few bridges to the salon, teaching a little and hope that they will be remembered eventually. I always wonder what has past that was wonderful and not remembered because they were outside the salon, didn’t build enough momentum or a movement to become part of or supplant the salon (the Impressionists built theirs but many individuals were also bridge builders to the salon) or didn’t build enough bridges to be remembered (like van Gogh).   He could not be in the gallery by Bev Searle-Freeman, Savona, BC, Canada   This has been the way of the art business for the “elite” for the longest time. For most of us, we just march to the beat of our own drum … I do anyway. My art is my passion. This old Dire Straits song says it all …

original painting
by Bev Searle-Freeman

In The Gallery (Dire Straits) Harry made a bareback rider proud and free upon a horse And a fine coalminer for the NCB that was A fallen angel and Jesus on the cross A skating ballerina you should have seen her do the skater’s waltz Some people have got to paint and draw Harry had to work in clay and stone Like the waves coming to the shore It was in his blood and in his bones Ignored by all the trendy boys in London and in Leeds He might as well have been making toys or strings of beads He could not be in the gallery And then you get an artist says he doesn’t want to paint at all He takes an empty canvas and sticks it on the wall The birds of a feather all the phonies and all of the fakes While the dealers they get together And they decide who gets the breaks And who’s going to be in the gallery No lies he wouldn’t compromise No junk no bits of string And all the lies we subsidize That just don’t mean a thing I’ve got to say he passed away in obscurity And now all the vultures are coming down from the tree So he’s going to be in the gallery   There are 3 comments for He could not be in the gallery by Bev Searle-Freeman
From: Doug Elliot — Aug 27, 2010

Words so true, so poignant.

From: Liz Reday — Aug 27, 2010

Weren’t Dire Straits art school students at one point?

From: Linda Mallery — Aug 28, 2010


  Hard or soft cover? by Jean Stephenson, CA, USA  

Emma Partridge (left)
Harold ‘Poopsie’ Peeswell (right)
life-sized soft sculptures
by Jean Stephenson

I am about to self-publish a 60 page art book which contains full color photos of my life-sized soft sculptured “people” that I call “Whimsicans” including their tongue-in-cheek bios. Everyone who has read my mock-ups has laughed at the humor and said they would definitely buy a copy when I get it published. This has been a universal reaction, but I have stalled due to being involved in a lot of aspects of the art field. It’s time to get cracking or quit! My question is do you think hard cover is mandatory or will soft cover do? The book will be 8 1/2 by 11. The cover is full color and well designed to attract attention. I am in touch with a print-on-demand company that will produce either hard and or soft cover and will do a lot of merchandising for me. I have never contacted a regular publisher because there are not many listed in Writer’s Digest who print this type of book. I have a website where four of these figures and their bios can be read. (RG note) Thanks, Jean. In my opinion a memorable, hard cover coffee table type book would be preferable. These books need to be given away with your figures, particularly after you have doubled your prices — then the difference in book costs will be negligible. With regular sales of these amusing items, you will be able to handily sell the books as well. Good luck with the project. Go for it. There are 4 comments for Hard or soft cover? by Jean Stephenson
From: Kay Christopher — Aug 26, 2010

Jean, your “Whimsicans” are so wonderful! And their bios are, too. Agree they are underpriced—they are so well done. Delightful and very creative!

From: Doug MacBean — Aug 27, 2010

Just a word of warning, regarding “print-on-demand” publishers. I have had a disastrous experience with iUniverse.com. With over forty years of print and advertising experience, I have never had so much trouble, as this company has given me. Not sour grapes, but words of caution. Look around and ask questions.

From: Christie B. — Aug 27, 2010

Your whimsicans are fabulous!!! So is your sense of humor. There are good companies out there with which you can self-publish very respectable books, like Blurb. I am photographer, and know many extremely talented photographers who have gone this route and been happy with the results. Good luck. It will be fun (first and foremost), a lot of work, and hopefully more than pychically rewarding.

From: Diane Edwards — Aug 31, 2010

I think a soft cover book works much better. Hard cover books are heavy, more expensive and not necessary. Just do a heavy paper cover so that it doesn’t tear easily. I have published over 45,000 copies of soft cover books, the only hard cover book I had didn’t sell nearly as well.

  Pumping the hype in the art mags by Susan Schneider, London, England  

original painting
by Susan Schneider

I read the behind-the-scenes expose, Seven Days in the Art World, the moment it came out. It is fascinating, very entertaining and the book did a good job of describing what the art world is truly like at the international level. The hype is always pumped (or maybe I should say “pimped”) by the art magazines but everyone who sells art uses those same indecipherable articles to sell their discoveries. And, those who collect art bank on every word that promotes their private collection items. Given this milieu of commodification, it’s hard to fathom why so many of us persist in the making of our art and why so many more are clamoring to learn how they, too, can jump in. Since even before painting bulls on cave walls, I think we’ve been hard-wired to want to find ever new ways — and invent new media — for our visual expressions. Every decade or so, painting is pronounced DOA. Yet, it manages to re-emerge roughly with each new generation alongside an even newer iteration of a media form. As artists we need to reinvent our art over and over. Otherwise, we can get awfully bored with our own work. If we’re successful, it’s difficult to avoid becoming formulaic. But, that’s what makes it challenging and new each time we walk into the studio. We find our niches and comfort zones and galleries somehow find their ways to continue the commercial trade of our forms. Given this constant churn, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the Art World would be nowhere if it weren’t for us artists. Staying on our own course, making the best art we possibly can in the moment is just one of the challenges that either differentiates us and makes us better artists or discourages us so much that we decide to do something else. What’s also important is that while everyone is more than welcome to make art, not many are cut out to be professional artists. That’s not a bad thing. The Art World is a business after all. And it can be a great ride — chock full of surprises as well as necessary disappointments — if you’ve decided you might have what it takes to go for it. There is 1 comment for Pumping the hype in the art mags by Susan Schneider
From: Penny Collins — Aug 26, 2010

Beautiful painting, Susan :-)


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for A great commercial conspiracy

From: Monika — Aug 23, 2010
From: Robert Erskine — Aug 24, 2010

The reality from the outset is honesty of intent. Do you create your work for yourself or ‘others’? Who do listen to yourself or others? This spring Damien Hirst announced that all his work was rubbish, a result of advice and guidance from his galleries and ‘others’. After six months of seclusion he announced he was an accomplished painter and exhibited his racking labours at London’s Wallace Collection. Uniquely the critics slammed his efforts the assessment, overtly lightweight of little consequence. We may just possibly be returning to an era of intelligent enlightened criticism, long over due, an ‘adjustment’ similarly akin to that of recent economic excesses. That even the Emperor’s New Clothes, have becoming too frayed. The sad fact is that there are many honest, exceptionally talented, dedicated, hard working practising artists who fail to be noticed in the same way as the Hirsts. It is because they do not fit into the precepts of sensationalism, shock, repetitious outputs, and art museums that stage funfair installations about experience. Seven Days In The Art World may assist in reversing the playground in which the mediocre media hungry artists inhabit, for this is the value the starting point they seem to hold dear. It is the easiest thing in the world to catch the attention of the media, the most challenging and exciting is to settle down and develop yourself, your sensibilities and insights, and honesty of intent.

From: Karen — Aug 24, 2010

I tried to read that book last year and couldn’t bring myself to finish it. It was too demoralizing. I’m a shy person of modest means who has to work 9-to-5. According to her book, the requirements for success in art seemed to be money and social adeptness or, if not born to be a socialite, then one needed a talent for B.S. mixed with balls. I don’t have any of these qualifications, so I’d rather not engage in a “sport” where I’m bound to lose by following “their” rules. It’s taken me a while to understand that I do need to engage in this system anyway. I can’t stay on the sidelines. I’m passionate and serious about my art. I’ve sold some pieces at open studios and I’m starting to develop a body of work. Soon I’ll need to wade into the gallery system, but I will try to do it with my own personality intact, with grace and humor and my usual attempt to see the humanity in all people I deal with (while still keeping an eye out for my own protection, of course). Not something that sounds like a fun game though!

From: Randy Bosch — Aug 24, 2010

The book sounds very intriguing and informative! Not to be a, well, “critic”, but there is no “Lido Canal” in Venice, and Biennale denizens do not speed around on vaporettoos (no one does – they are the public slow bus), but by “motoscafo” (private speed boat). Nevertheless, a book to read while scanning for “artistic license”!

From: annonamous — Aug 24, 2010

Bah, Humbug !

From: Veronica — Aug 24, 2010
From: Marc — Aug 24, 2010

I totally enjoyed this book. It was a quick insight to the high end Art world and as metaphor for the free enterprise life style expounded for the last century by its greatest purveyor the good old (and tired) US of A.

From: Nancy C Marshall — Aug 26, 2010

I am weary of “artists” who urinate in a tank, add a crucifix and call it art. When did installations of dung become art? I may paint “pretty pictures” but my clients love my work, and I get enormous satisfaction working in the representational realm. Not to say abstraction is not art – art evolves – we evolve. But the current art scene is disgusting.

From: Liz Reday — Aug 26, 2010
From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 26, 2010

Nancy, The Dung Madonna your referenced was taken out of context. It was heavily based on Ofili’s Nigerian heritage. Another issue at stake with that is the idea that “good art” is not supposed to shock. I for one can stand still lifes yet I can say whether or not something is technically good or bad BUT does that mean that the work itself is good? I could argue that any work of art that elicits an emotional response from the viewer is a successful work. That is typically the camp I reside in, good or bad if I love it or am utterly annoyed/disgusted by it I feel that the artist was successful. As far as the current state of art, I think as soon as concept became more important than craft, art suffered. When someone said that the social merits of work outweighed the actual construction and execution of a work it set the precedent that one could dodge craft and actual skill as long as they could argue their piece solidly. But most of that is IMHO :)

From: Michele Hausman — Aug 26, 2010

This would make a great movie, don’t you think?

From: Gavin Logan — Aug 26, 2010

Art packs the same kind of mystery and promise as the circus, organized religion and other, often misguided human endeavors. For this reason, outrageous expectations, including obscene prices may be achieved for slim efforts. Scoundrels abound, and there is a particular dollop of scoundrel in dealers, critics, collectors and the participating artists themselves.

From: Leslie Dorofi — Aug 26, 2010
From: Mark Gottsegen — Aug 26, 2010

I happen to know one of the characters in Seven Days in the Art World. Talk about take-no-prisoners- ambitious. Moreover, I grew up in the NYC art and fashion world of the ’50s and ’60s: an ego-soaked venue if there ever was one. It’s no surprise I opted to be a teacher and stay away from that.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 26, 2010

I think it is needed, that dollop of scoundrel, as an artist. If you can’t sell yourself and convince others why they should purchase your work, then how can an artist expect others to know to purchase their work?! Sure we can have the debate about artists who sell work being “sell outs” and those who don’t are true artists but really, an artist who sells work is merely a financially successful artist, it doesn’t make them less of an artist than one who is not financially successful. Do I have scoundrel in me? Certainly I do, I have priced work in a show to take into account the people who would be attending just so I could move work out. I just see that as being a savvy marketer :)

From: Richard Smith — Aug 26, 2010

Ah yes, Artforum, the magazine that focuses on the notion that b.s will always baffle brains.

From: D Marshall — Aug 26, 2010

There are many different art “worlds” available for the artist to partake. Each has their own language and rituals. If you are trying to be in the Chelsea NYC art world then Art Forum etc would be one way to learn the language and such of that particular art world. If you decide that you rather paint certain subjects in a certain style then perhaps a fine art magazine such as American Artist or Art of the West will help you to learn that particular language. An artist has to figure out and decide where to reside. As for Mr. Hirst -I say each to his own. Then again some may think him to be an updated “snake oil” salesman . One could also think that regarding purchasing such art that a fool and their money are soon parted. The reality is that each art world has its own set of values and criteria as what is considered art worthy of commentary and sales. You really cannot expect otherwise.

From: Sheila Minifie — Aug 27, 2010

Too right D Marshall. It’s taken me many years to work this one out. Although I knew it in theory a long time ago, I had defined these different art worlds too narrowly – hadn’t realized that there are more of them than I previously thought and that an artist could be genuinely creative within some of them if you used your imagination. I had originally just defined them into only two categories – because that was what I had been taught – ‘shallow commercial’ and ‘real fine art ‘, the latter meaning contemporary ‘Sensation/Shock-of-the-New’ artwork. Neither of these I fitted into. It’s not even that I dislike or not understand the latter, because I was ‘artistically brought up’ in that arena, but after many long years internally battling for the right to express whatever is important to me, I now just do what I do and the work will have to take care of itself somehow. Having exhibited in the past, now I’m more hermit-like. In the UK, we don’t appear to have the same sort of opportunities as you do in the US for exhibiting and judgement and selling, but as you say, you need to choose the right world for you. I wonder where my world is…..? This goes for technical advice too – you need to be aware that the artist is working in THEIR world – so take their advice if you need it, but take that into consideration. I’ve made that mistake so often in my life.

From: peggy kerwan — Aug 27, 2010

love your fooling around paintings – great color and energy – and HAPPY ! playing with paint is so refreshing and mind clearing.

From: Anne Lutz Dravigny — Aug 27, 2010

Thank you for your inspiring, pertinent and thought provoking “Painter’s Keys” – they are indeed just that!!! An excellent documentary covering this very subject was produced and directed by Pamela Tanner Boll and produced in association with the Wellesley Centers for Women and can be previewed on www.whodoesshethinksheis.net. It is well worth your perusal and passing on to your public. The presentation comes not only with the video but cards with comments that can be used in group discussions etc etc. Thanks again for being there and encouraging all of us to “keep on keeping on”!!!

From: Nancy Berwick Phelps — Aug 27, 2010

In many ways the concept of art as contrasts with the art market is similar to the world of commerce in goods and manufacturing as contrasts with the speculation in stocks on exchanges. Money seems to be a necessary tool, but an abstraction of value, ergo the perversity of the market, when considered from a purely art-centric perspective. Two different horns of the same dilemma.

From: Kay Bradley — Aug 27, 2010

It looks like the picture with Zoe’s assistance became On the coast #3.

From: N Takovac — Aug 27, 2010

All the info I have ever been able to find about this film I saw years ago is listed below. It was funny and depressing. The two dealers are followed as they go about their daily meetings with artist and collectors. They even try to guide one of their artists as he paints! These are very high level galleries. They didn’t realize how they would appear in the film but I don’t think this is a case of nasty editing to make them look bad. I would love to see it again but I somehow got the impression that they sued. Do you know anything about it? 23. THE PASSIONATE EYE: This week on The Passionate Eye, “The Dealer,” 1997 winner for Best Documentary in France. The film probes the inner reality of the exceedingly closed world of the art market. It follows Pierre Nahon, a leading Paris art dealer, as he wheels and deals in the big money world of art. The film caused a stir when it was released, and prompted two lawsuits. That’s “The Dealer” on The Passionate Eye, Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. (EASTERN) on CBC Newsworld. ———- France 1996 71min Video Dir: Jean-Luc Leon Enter the rarefied world of Frances upper-class art addicts. The simple cast of title characters has one thing in common: a love for expensive art and the wherewithal to either make, sell, or buy it. The ever-roving camera records glimpses of Basquiats of dubious origin, to the authentic works of Van Gogh, Dado, Lichtenstein, Louis Cane, Combas and Kota. Obscenely wealthy art dealers Marianne & Pierre Nahon are a dynamic and dismissive wheeling dealing duo who can make or break an artists career in the flick of a chequebook. In an astonishingly candid scene, Pierre informs the metaphysical painter Dado that his art could use more work and inspiration. A captivating, breezy romp across an exhausting schedule of dinners, gallery openings and seriously expensive purchases. Courtesy of La Sept Arte. CT 28 July 7pm Panel: R Weinek, S Hundt, Lloyd Pollack

From: jtl — Aug 27, 2010

Your Coastal paintings are wonderful . . . Themes, Colors, Designs, Moods! More, more . . .

From: Tim S — Aug 28, 2010

The Painter’s Keys has been an educational and entertaining fine art forum. However, your political views of American politicians and politics are distasteful and belong to another web site.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 28, 2010

@Tim S Art has a long tradition of being critical of politics and politicians. In most ways one can argue that art through out history has been the initial spearpoint showing the masses political issues. Sadly this day and age that has been taken over by the tv and talking bobbleheads. But the best part, being that the site is his, he can postulate & post on any subject matter he wants! A heated adult debate has never hurt anyone who is willing to see another side but still maintain their viewpoint.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 28, 2010

Addendum: American politics and politicians are a distasteful subject to start with. Having said that I suppose any conversation involving either would be inherently distasteful!

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 30, 2010

Oh my, I think I may have inadvertently helped to kill this conversation thread! Funny how art and politics despite being so well connected tends to rile people up.

From: Norman Levine — Aug 31, 2010

It doesn’t matter how foolish the art is, if you can get in and get out the experience can be called a success. Often, getting out means just leaving it to an equally foolish museum for a big tax write-off. Like running across hot coals, it feels good when you get over them.

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Aug 31, 2010

@Norman, Then it would all come down to gimmick then given the “get in and get out” concept. Not that I am opposed to a gimmick, sometimes they sell more art than actual talent.

From: Richard Seligman — Sep 01, 2010

It’s the principle of commerce. The stock market is a good example. Buy low, sell higher. Pass it on to another person who has further reason to believe in it. It’s called “The greater fool theory.”

From: Fred Yandle — Sep 01, 2010

So all of the belief in the quality of the mine/art has nothing to do with it. It’s the dexterity of the trader?

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Sep 03, 2010

@Fred, I think it ought to be both, I am a firm believer that a successful piece has to have both concept and craft together. A piece that is solely concept with very little craft, it just is not for me and I feel fails as a piece overall. We should not suffer that work, it should be pointed out as examples of what not to do. Having said that, I think that the “traders” that have been pushing conceptual art with little regard to craft have done a great disservice by pushing work and artists that perhaps shouldn’t have been promoted at all.

From: Sue Stevens — Sep 30, 2010

I am delighted to find someone else who has read the book. You give an excellent summary. It really is an eye opener-raises all kinds of questions about what is art and how it is valued. Also a fascinating look at some of the personalities in the contemporary world of art.

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082710_robert-genn9 Plein Air for Camphill 2010   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

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oil painting by Donna Dickson

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