Sunday 4 August 2019

Nerd Church - Do We REALLY Value the ART?

I love Fine Art, and have done since I was a teensy babbi.

(Which slightly confused my parents who were expecting a child rather than an art, music, and literature lover, but anyways...)

I'm not so much of a fan of Modern Art, though, 'cos it tends to be either ugly or pretentious af - or sometimes both. Lol.

'Do we REALLY Value the ART?' title image with a paintbox and coloured pencils

It's unsurprising, then, that I love watching a show we have in the UK called 'Fake or Fortune?'

- This is where newsreader Fiona Bruce (our newsreaders are multi-talented, clearly,) and an art expert try to figure out if an artwork - normally a painting - is by a particular artist, by someone else, or just a point-blank fake.

There's a lot of detective work, and it's all very interesting to watch etc. etc., but there's also some stuff which majorly annoys me about it.

One thing in particular really irritates me, and it's a problem with the art world in general rather than just this programme, but this programme most definitely highlights it.

Lemme explain:

Imagine I have a picture of daisies that might be by Bob, or might be by Fred. I don't know which.

So I go to the programme and am like: is this by Bob or Fred?

If it's by Fred, it'll be worth £100. But if it's by Bob, it's worth £1m.


If my picture of daisies is by Fred it's exactly the same picture as it would be if painted by Bob.

So the difference in prices, although very, very, real, is also very, very, meaningless.

Because people are valuing the name, not the Art.

It's the same goddamned painting - so surely it should be the same goddamned price?

But the world doesn't work like that - the world values status over substance.

If a picture Bob paints is less technically proficient than a picture Fred paints, it will still obtain a higher price for the owner, just because it was painted by Bob, and Bob's pictures have historically sold well.

So the programme will almost always be trying to prove that the picture is by the more profitable artist, and the arguments the art expert uses are often about the technique and beauty of the picture.

If the picture is less well-painted, and shows less technical skill, they'll be trying to prove it's a less well-known artist.

The thing is that the technique and beauty of the pictures of the supposedly 'lesser' artists are often far, far, more skilled and beautiful. (Imho.)

So what you're saying, programme presenters, is this: if it's good it must be by someone held in high esteem, rather than someone less well known.

I have several problems with that.

Firstly, it's reductionist and ignores the fact that beauty can come from the darkest and dampest of corners in this weird and wonderful world of ours.

It also upholds traditional privilege and class status, let's face it. There's a definite element of snobbery in the art world.

To an extent, I'm sure it's the same with music and writing and acting and whatever: a book with Stephen King's name on it is always going to out-sell the debut by an indie author.

It may be worth it... or it may not.

So the long and the short of it is this:

If we value art, shouldn't we value the art, not the name attached to it?

What do you think, dearest nerdlets?
Is the picture of daisies the same whether Bob or Fred painted it? Or does the artist change the image?
Talk to me! 😎💬

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Last updated: 6th October 2019


  1. I am not a fine art person. But, there is definitely something to be said about judging art by the name vs. the actual image. This why I try my hardest to not have auto-buy authors, because honestly, there are some great books out there by authors I have never even heard of.

    1. Hell yeah! I don't have any auto-buys b/c I normally think v. hard about what books I'm gonna by vs get from the library anyhow, but it's fine to be a fan of a particular author - so long as you stay open to criticism and respond genuinely, instead of simply saying you like something *because* it was written by someone in particular.

  2. It's a strange concept that "the world values status over substance" and I'm wondering how we actually got to this point. In your example, the paintings by Fred and Bob should be judged as individual works without the name attached making any difference to their values, but it doesn't work like that at all. I suppose partly it might be fear of stepping away from the herd. Bob is publicly recognised so we can all safely agree his work is 'better' than Fred's without running the risk of being thought uncultured or ignorant. But then we have to blindly accept the judgement of whoever heaved Bob onto that pedestal in the first place, and we've given up our chance to make our own choice.
    I love how your posts get me thinking

    1. I love how you've written this eloquent comment which is full of the names Bob and Fred because of my random example! XD Lol.

      I try to have genuine responses to artwork etc. - partly because I'm a contrary little so-and-so who was raised by hippies and therefore when I drag them to galleries, they spend the whole time pointing out when there's a dog in the picture and complaining that the Botticelli paintings are too formal and the portrait subjects are grumpy.

      ...I had a point, somewhere, but I appear to have wandered away from it dramatically...

      ...I think it was something along the lines of, I try to have a genuine reaction to the art, rather than considering it as a monetary value. Unfortunately, because of the way the world works, money is always going to dictate how people value things culturally, as well as financially. (Or something like that!)

  3. yup unfortunately this happens with all forms of creative expressions art, dance, music, books and even blogs :) Great post xoxo

    1. Ha, why do I feel like there's shade I'm missing in this comment? ;) Totally agree, though, shade notwithstanding!

  4. This is so fascinating. Let's see. Let me try to gather my thoughts (<--I originally wrote "sought" instead of "thought" and that should just show you the level of intelligence you're dealing with here). I think it's not just a name that people attach to an artist. Like, there's a significant layer of privilege that comes with that fame, with the sort of estimated value of someone's work. I think of authors who turned out to be very creepy, very problematic, and very dated in their artistic pursuits. Still, it's rare when a supposedly famous, talented artist loses the high value attached to their work. I remember when I was in university and professors would present an author's life in a weirdly matter-of-fact kind of way. Like, they'd already decided how this person's legacy will be presented. There was always these set of keywords they'd repeat as a way of distinguishing this white author from the author white authors, too. And, sure, maybe they do have differences, but I'd want to search for something to communicate other perspectives from that time (or heck, from our time. I'd want people to poke and prod at these so-called "classic" or "timeless" pieces). Oh! And, I'd also posit that it's not the artists themselves who are awarded with reputation and value to their work. I think it also comes with a price tag for those who can *distinguish* these pieces. It makes me think of people who do wine-tasting and they sniff the wine in their glasses as though they can somehow detect whether it's good wine of bad wine. Ironically: I don't drink wine or alcohol but I always found people like this to be more centered around alienating others around them. *Scratches head* It's like those people who memorize classic lines from classic novels and they just name-drop crap? And, they're like, "Oh! Would you look at that. I accidentally quoted Nietzsche!"

    1. Ha, I think what you're basically telling me, D, is that you dislike pretentious a**holes. And I totally agree! ;)

      There's def. an element of perpetuating this 'I'm better than you cos my sh**s don't stink' superiority (I have no idea why I phrased it like that... I apologise!) which in turn perpetuates the whole style-over-substance deal-y that's going on here!


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!