Ephemeral dictatorship in art
The FIAC organization, International exhibition of modern art, in Paris, this year set the predominant tone in globalized art market: works of Tim Neuger, Burkard Riemschneider, Olafur Elia, Paul Μac Carthy are sold at prices that stert from US 800000 up to a million US. In the auctions held by international houses these prices can be doubled or even tripled. Who are those that can afford to pay such prices at a period of economic crisis? Mainly very rich industrialists, businesspersons, collectors bankers and even some powerful institutions. Not to forget rich Arabs or their museums that compete Westerners in acquisition of artifacts. In buying modern art such as Jeff Koons’, Damien Hirst’s, or Paul Mac Carthy’s, it means you are aware of the ephemeral nature of current events and the sexual provocation of these artifacts. How else can it be perceived that huge (25 meter) inflated plastic with sexual insinuation, at Place Vendome in Paris other than direct provocation? To buy in modern art means you invest still in consumable and temporal, corruptible and consciously fragile. All these “peculiar” artifacts that reach the boundaries of relief and lack mental exercise or adventures (with some notable exceptions such as Kieffer or Bazelitz), create an artistic language that is opposite to what really art is. The therapeutic role that Aristotle gave to art, or even the savior given though beauty by Dostoyevsky, or the intellectualism given by Joseph Beuys, are gone. Modern art is characterized by anecdotal experiments of a plastic language, by kidding and ironies but also by a cynicism that deducts any feeling or stochastic humanitarianism. Here we are talking about the industry of the commercial humor. Those few that have been able to deny this leveling spirit, they remain in direct dialog with that, which true art was and will always be. What makes an artifact true art? Mainly the deposited honesty of the artist in the context and the shape of the artifact. His Personal bias is unique therefore the work has elements of uniqueness. A modern art child, the contemporary, refused the innovative uniqueness of later masters such as Picasso, Mattise, Dali, Miro, and surrendered itself in the sweet hug of marketing and communication. No one can even think the existence of a great artist without the support of a famous gallerist or a powerful communication mechanism. Actually, to the point that, someone can easily ascertain that the art market and the media determine the value of the artifact and the artist. Today’s artistic creation does not have the existential agony or the spiritual uplift that are challenges against death even in the humblest human instincts. Antony Tapies, actually, the great Spanish artist used to say that when you have a headache is enough to place a piece of art on your forehead and you’ll heal. And he believed it as so many others of the modern era. Such a suggestion today initiates most likely sarcastic smiles and ironic expressions. In today’s globalization, an artifact is a financial product in the stock market, it is the birth of a “miniscule subversion” deposition in spite of all these subversive artists that are being produced and supported by the capitalist system, the problem with modern art, is that is in danger to easily get entrapped in the logic of the artistic witticism, to operate as stock market inflationary bubble, and utilized by the powers of the system to enforce totalitarianism, the dictatorship of the Ephemeral.
University Professor, artist, poet
Advisor to the Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, on culture