Reuters financial blogger Felix Salmon loves art and is fascinated by markets. So it stands to reason that he’s mostly skeptical when it comes to the art market. But when an artist takes the market as his subject, as William Powhida did in this drawing that Salmon bought, it lays bare many of the art world’s own contradictions. This inspires Salmon to a few observations of his own on the conflicted motivations of artists and collecotors:
Everybody in the system — artist, collector, gallery — has a natural desire to want to believe that an artwork is “worth” more than the collector paid for it, and that the trajectory of the artist’s future career will mean that in years to come, the collector will be able to sell it at a profit.
This is where the collector hypocrisy comes in: collectors love to say that they buy art just because they love it, and that they will never sell it. For them, just as for the artist, it’s important to keep up the pretense that what they’re doing is a labor of love; when collectors are caught flipping artworks to auction houses and making a profit on the deal, they’re sneered at, especially if they don’t immediately reinvest the proceeds in even more art. But the fact is that beyond a relatively modest initial level, no collectors will buy anything unless they think that it has real monetary value now, or will have it in the future.
A Guide tot he Market Oligopoly System (Reuters)