A lot of hand-wringing occurs when an auction record is broken. There is a distortion, though, in the outrage and response to Christie's and Sotheby's respective showings this week. There is nothing "bad" about these sales. By no means would I cheer on the market--which has on the whole deleterious effects on the sphere of the visual arts--but the fact that such vast values are ascribed to the subjects of our study and production should not be too quickly decried. Of course, it's a bit sickening when this value is expressed in dollars. There could be a middle road where we let the super-rich spend what they wish, and be at least a little redemptive of the fact that they compete over mid-century masters instead of struggling banks, distressed loans, or mining ventures. (though they still do...) What well-organized left ever made it a priority to spend time, energy, and anxiety on the frivolous exploits of the super-rich? Socialist progress occurs quite independent of the outlandish spending habits of oligarchs and new money. Let them buy their last Warhol and meanwhile workers will achieve healthcare and equality. (Frankly, I'm convinced their money is better spent on a Léger than a lobbyist). But the reaction is all too often simply soak the rich, near-Palinesque populism. What is more pressing are the issues that lead to the accumulation of wealth, as pointed out by Art Fag City today.

(title inspired by Grey Goon)

AuthorMike Pepi