What do art and politics have in common? Well, I would say it is human nature, and basely speaking, it is also money.
My blogging friend Indiana Jen recently posted that even abstract art like that of Jackson Pollock, which is made of layers and swirls of drippings of various liquids, while appearing to some as random and even childish, has been judged by scientists as “incorporating experimentation in fluid dynamics”. Some people think so highly of it that they pay huge sums for an original. Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948” was reported sold in 2006 for a record $140 million dollars. As another example, consider the artist Pablo Picasso. His “Nu couch’ “ (1932) sold for $10 million dollars, and to me it is hardly distinguishable from some of my grandchildren’s work hanging on my refrigerator. You can see it in the link.
In this modern era, computerized equipment has made duplication of many forms of art extremely good. There are web sites that will sell you copies of great works of art, virtually indistinguishable from the original, for pennies
on the dollar. Mollie and I selected a poster of an admired painting by an Italian artist and had a local studio do a process over it, such that it appears to be an original oil, complete with raised paint strokes. I am attaching a photo of the painting and a detail shot of it as well.
In our bedroom we have a piece of abstract art, framed under glass, that we thought went well with the bed and room decor. It is a copy of something expensive, but we paid only a few tens of dollars for it at Walmart. In my opinion, it is about as good as owning the original, but that’s just me.
So why is having originals worth so much to wealthy people when virtually-indistinguishable duplicates can be had? Well, I guess we all know the answer – it is ego. Peacocks have their plumage, billionaires have their mansions and yachts, celebrities have pet charities. It is all about importance and pecking order within one’s tribe, er, social circle.
As we enter the political crazy season I urge you, gentle reader, to consider the backgrounds, character flaws and family histories of the various candidates. Somewhere in the field, perhaps, there is someone with the decent humility and moral nature of a Harry Truman or an Ike. Making that value judgement will be a challenge, now that political campaigns are professionally managed by handlers. Maybe the press should ask them about their art collections.
And, speaking of politicians, what about jewelry and Newt Gingrich? I’m not sure jewelry can qualify as “art” or not – I suppose its design probably is – but the concept of paying very large sums for subjective qualities would seem to be, well, right on the money here. Slate magazine concluded this about that:
But the Gingriches spent, at a bare minimum, $750,000 on Tiffany pieces. There is the distinct possibility they paid an amount equivalent to the median American’s salary just on interest to Tiffany’s. That hardly seems frugal.
Hmm. Does that speak to you, dear Reader, about Mr. G’s personality? It does to me.
- Jackson Pollock Physics (cenblog.org)