Contemporary Art is a Fraud (not my words)

This article from The Independent should be read by anybody who has ever bought a Damien Hirst “spot” painting or even a crappy piece of street art by a Banksy rip-off stencil “artist.” Here’s a short excerpt:

One of the world’s leading art dealers this week launched an astonishing attack on the contemporary art market, condemning the millions charged for some works as “almost fraud”.

The comments from David Nahmad, a Monaco-based dealer who is possibly the biggest in the world, come as art buyers reel from the collapse of the contemporary market.

They echo remarks by the British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, who last week said that “stupid outrageous values” had become more important than the work itself.

Mr Nahmad, who is reputed to have a £2bn collection of some 5,000 paintings, including 300 Picassos, told The Independent on Sunday: “There are a lot of embarrassed people who bought art that is now not worth what they paid for it. For the past three or four years it’s been a very, very thin market, with just two or three buyers pushing up prices by bidding against each other.

Pretty interesting take. It is worth keeping in mind though that Nahmad’s collection focusses on work by artists like Picasso and Rothko, so he’s obviously got an interest in people realizing that Hirst is overpriced and then having them move back to collecting Bacon.

Another choice quote: “He added that he doesn’t think any artist since Francis Bacon had pushed art forward.”

Not that I agree with Nahmad that NOTHING has pushed art forward since Bacon, but I’d say that this does leave a lot of potential for street art (if it can avoid destroying itself by becoming derivative). Street art provides the chaos that might be needed to revitalize art. Or maybe I’m doing the same as Nahmad and just talking my book.