Thursday, September 10, 2009

Art and Death

An artist friend of mine just suffered a massive stroke last week while visiting his family in New York. It brought to mind something that happened about ten years ago when I used to live in Boston. I was part of a calligraphy group that met once a week. I remember one day, one of the women told the group that they should go to a sale held by this particular artist... because the woman was dying... *ahem.*
So.... what to make of that. Of course we all know that the value of a piece of art is not in the materials. Yet, I find it disquieting that people could be so materialist, that they might simply look at art as an investment... as in a stock or a piece of real estate, or god forbid just something to go with the horrible yellow couch in the living room. I suppose I should not be so naive. People often are driven by greed (witness the current fight over universal health care). And part of the allure of the arts is that we believe that we might not have to deal with money. Yet, to be taken seriously as an artist, we must also possess a little bit of business sense. However, if we look beyond that rather callous remark about the dying artist, we could look at it in a more gentle light; that the value of a work of art increases in value simply because nothing more from this artist will ever be produced again. One might venture to say that it is the very individuality of a work that makes it valuable.

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