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Discuss - The Value of Contemporary Art

  • Nov 20, 2013 · 7:30 PM
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The Value of Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art is now big business, contemporary works fetch millions of pounds, artists are celebrities and exhibitions attract many people. So what value does contemporary art have ?

Once again, in order that people don't feel that they have to plough through the books in order to feel they can attend and contribute ( although of course I hope some will), I am  suggesting a couple of books on the subject and also, ( brilliant timing!), this meeting coincides with the current series of Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 given by Grayson Perry.

Just a clarification note - this is a general discussion and you don't have to read both books suggested. Although, of course, you can if you want to.

'The $12 million Stuffed Shark' - The curious economics of contemporary art and auction houses' by Don Thompson

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Million-Stuffed-Shark-Economics-Contemporary/dp/1845134

and

'Seven Days in the Art World' by Sarah Thornton

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-Days-World-Sarah-Thornton/dp/1847080847/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

'The Reith Lectures -  Grayson Perry: Playing to the Gallery'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03969vt

In the first of the four lectures 'Democracy has Bad Taste' which is now available to listen to on the BBC website and on BBC Radio iplayer and is also available to download as a podcast, Perry references both Sarah Thornton and the stuffed shark !

I hope this topic will engender some lively discussion where I hope nobody has to resort to the cliché - 'My five year old could have done that!'

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  • steve m.

    You all might be amused by this - a clip from a film by the great comedian Tony Hancock - "The Rebel". I am a huge fan of his. Essentially it is taking the piss out of abstract expressionism.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs73aPdYvnE
    I think the end might be missing from the clip as I recall Hancock saying, when looking at his 'art work' ..."worth £10,000 quid of anyone's money". The film, as is all of Hancock's work, is wonderful.

    November 21, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Oh yes ... it's a wonderful film !

      November 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I came full of enthusiasm. I'd bought one of the books, read it, offered to lend it, listened to the lectures, travelled 90 minutes to the meeting, thought this would be a great group for me...

    ...but what a disappointment it was! The discussion was dominated by three men, and few others got a look in; on all but one of the occasions when I tried to speak I was simply talked over by one of the three.

    This group would benefit from a quieter environment, a less linear table layout, and some gentle chairing so that participation isn't largely confined to those with the most assertive personalities.

    November 20, 2013

    • Violet D.

      Hello Ben
      Thanks for the feedback and sorry that you left the meeting without having the opportunity to put your views across. On this occasion we had asked people to lead on the discussion and this did initially limit the general conversation. We are aware that the venue is sometimes noisy and the long table is not ideal for group discussion – we prefer one of the round tables. However, Spoons’ food and drinks choice are very good and they allow us to order and pay separately which is helpful.
      I apologise that I didn’t chair the meeting robustly enough to ensure that you had the chance to speak. Thanks for coming along and sorry that it didn’t meet your expectations.
      Best wishes
      Violet

      1 · November 21, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Violet :) I think that partly it was simple bad luck that the focus of the conversation happened to be at the end of the table where I wasn't!

      November 21, 2013

  • Gail I.

    Really enjoyed the chat at this meet up and will be back. Really nice intelligent people!

    1 · November 21, 2013

  • steve m.

    Ben, I regret your disappointment. My view is that the other two 'newcomers' Gail and Rose more than held their own. Agree with Violet that the layout and acoustics are not great but, as she states, there are compensatory benefits.

    The book I mention on my departure is The Burnt Orange Heresy by the great American noir novelist Charles Willeford. Not recommending it for the Groups but a great book nonetheless. Sad to see that it is out of print but there are second hand copies around
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Burnt-Orange-Heresy-Charles-Willeford/dp/0786706686/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385059911&sr=1-2&keywords=burnt+orange+heresy

    Hope the rest of the evening went well and look forward to hearing the next choice

    BTW I'm not getting the Biblical references!

    1 · November 21, 2013

  • Brian M.

    Kings Book 1 chapter 19 verses 11 & 12 . There was great wind , an earthquake , and a great fire. Then there was a small still voice.

    1 · November 21, 2013

  • Rose S.

    Great! Lived up to expectations, an interesting mix of people with thoughtful opinions.

    1 · November 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Stimulating discussion!

    November 20, 2013

  • Rachel

    Sorry everyone: feeling a bit under the weather so decided to give this evening a miss: hopefully see you at the next discussion :)

    November 20, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Hope you feel better soon Rachel. See you at the next one, hopefully.

      November 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've just finished 'The $12 million Stuffed Shark'. Does anyone want to borrow it? I don't live in Edinburgh, but I'll be in Edinburgh Monday and Tuesday evenings (11/12) if anyone wants to arrange a handover. If you can do me a swap for 'Seven Days in the Art World' that would be even better!

    November 8, 2013

    • Gail I.

      Hi Ben. I didn't get a chance to read either book but would like to - any chance I could borrow 'The $12 Million Stuffed Shark' when we meet up tomorrow?

      November 19, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yes, I'll bring it along.

      November 20, 2013

  • Brian M.

    This will be as in Genesis , Chapter 11 verse 7.

    November 19, 2013

    • Rose S.

      And lo, 'that is why it was called Babel' !

      1 · November 19, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Oh yes I saw that. But don't they always say that? That painting is making a comeback?

      1 · November 14, 2013

  • steve m.

    Thanks Rose. My bit now. Conceptual Art poses real issue about the notion of originality and authenticity. When the toxic shark was being sold, opinions were divided - would Hirst's work remain the same if the rotten fish were to be replaced by a new one (or even a model) - many said Yes: Saatchi said No. Ditto Hirst's spot and spin paintings delivered totally by underlings with no direct involvement at all from the 'maestro'. Are they Hirsts? The great German Marxist scholar Walter Benjamin tried to grapple with these issue back in the 30s suggesting that the original of, say, a photo, retained an 'aura' - a strange, rather spiritual thing for a materialist to propose but there you go. A useful link...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Work_of_Art_in_the_Age_of_Mechanical_Reproduction
    I feel a little fearful introducing this discussion next week given such erudition already on display. But I am sure I will learn loads from you all

    1 · November 13, 2013

    • Rose S.

      Hi Steve, I'd love to grapple more with the topic of conceptual art - it seems its popularity or approval by the 'art world' is on the wane. I don't know why mind you, and I feel all types of art have a place, but I'm curious as to how it's suddenly not the flavour of the month any more. Let's hope we can sort it all out on the 20th! I'm enjoying these exchanges already, interesting

      November 13, 2013

  • Rose S.

    In case anyone's interested, I recently posted a blog on the subject of Grayson Perry's talks, and the ways that art is valued, link here -

    http://rosestrang.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/how-do-you-know-its-not-art/

    Look forward to meeting everyone!

    1 · November 13, 2013

    • Richard P.

      I hope your expectations aren't TOO high! But we'll do our best...

      November 13, 2013

    • Rose S.

      Haha, I just enjoy a good chat, will do MY best!

      November 13, 2013

  • Richard P.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24922106

    Bacon triptych sells for $142.4m Good of Christies to arrange this new auction record in time for our discussion !

    November 13, 2013

  • Rose S.

    Will definitely attend this one, I enjoyed the Grayson Perry talks but was left wanting a little more depth. It's great that the lectures stimulated discussion though

    November 12, 2013

  • steve m.

    Will certainly be there as I remember suggesting this. It might sound dry but the Don Thompson book is completely gripping. A summary of some of the issues is in an article in The Guardian by the late, great Robert Hughes (his Shock of the New is also required reading) 25 years after the series was first broadcast:
    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2004/jun/30/art1
    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2004/jun/30/art1

    1 · October 20, 2013

    • Richard P.

      Great, Steve, maybe you can lead it !!!

      October 20, 2013

    • steve m.

      yes Richard - I'm happy to lead on this. You know I have a big mouth! Here's hoping for an energetic discussion. Steve

      October 20, 2013

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