Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Come on down, the price is right

I went to Birmingham today and made my usual visit to my favourtie art gallery there. A big flash prestigious gallery with a myriad of gorgeous paintings and price tags that always shock me. Today they had a sale on so I was pleased to note that one particular painting which had originally been priced for sale at £24,000 was now, wait for it - ONLY - £12,000. Wow! What a bargain I thought and wondered how much of that the artist would actually get, if someone was daft enough to pay the price. They'd be lucky to get a few thousand pounds for that - the rest going to pay the gallery costs, which must be high, situated where it is. But it was exactly the same painting that was apparently "worth" £24,00 one day and £12,000 the next. How can that be???? But then an artist has to get into a presigious gallery to be seen, to get their name known, so that people have heard of them, and want to buy their artwork because they think it must be a better painting because its hanging in a big frame in a showy gallery, when the work is probably just the same as it was before-hand when they were selling it for £400 in smaller venues. The public think they're getting a better painting because they've paid a lot of money for it, and boast to their friends that it cost so many thousands of pounds. But I suppose, the artist needs the big promotion a prestigious gallery will give them, so that it improves their profile, and they get a following of admirers who collect their work or who give them good commissions. So, in this roundabout of artist-gallery-buying public do we all need each other? Does it improve the art? Or just the price of art?

There was actually one particular painting there that I was very enamoured with, and for once it was a contemporary one. It was basically mid blues with a patch of bright turquoise in the centre with three lines of bright red running horizontally through it. I was really drawn to it, because I always am to turquoise, and kept going back to it as I toured the gallery. It had life and vibrancy and I kept wanting to look at it. I almost bought it and might yet regret that I didn't. And that's the way to buy art - because it "speaks" to you and you want to own it so you can look at it forever more, not because the frame matches the decor of your living room, or what the current fashion dictates. I was horrified to hear of a woman once who toured an art exhibition with a piece of her dining room wallpaper in her hand searching until she found a painting that matched it!

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