Earlier this week saw the sale at auction of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. It sold for the sum of $119.9 million dollars. As you would expect numerous news articles have been written about the sale, such as this one from the bbc news. Quoting from this article the arts editor states “demand for Grade A art far outstrips supply”. This makes me wonder just what is “Grade A” art. How could anybody consider that this work is anywhere in the same league as something like the Mona Lisa, or the works of any of the great masters. If interested you can find a list of the most expensive paintings here.
Is “Modern Art”, “Expressionism” and “Surrealism” simply a “cover” for what some may consider to be “great art” by simply saying that it is “supposed” to provide a subjective and distorted view thereby detracting from the reality that many works of similar technical standard could be found in the sketchbooks of most primary school children?
I have read a number of articles saying that this piece of work is “Iconic” and can be seen around everywhere. This is the first time I can ever recall seeing it. Perhaps I have seen it in the past, but would have simply dismissed it as a scribble and nothing even remotely resembling what I would imagine many would consider “Art”.
For something to be truly magnificent should it not require the devotion of all the artists thought, essence, time, skill & dedication to the crafting of the work. Many of the great artists slaved for years to bring us some wonderful works of art.
How would I value the Scream
Many of the news articles on the web have associated comments from people both for and against this work & and price paid. As with anything whether its the purchase of a car, bicycle, a painting, curtains, carpet, paint for your wall, a television one most weight up for themselves how much that particular object is worth to you. Why does one consider “The Scream” to be worth 120 million dollars. How much would I be willing to spend on a work of art such as this? Personally even if I were a trillionaire I would be hard pushed to spend 100 dollars on this (even 10 dollars for that matter), one could perhaps give a good argument that the frame is well over 100 years old, this may make me consider purchasing such a piece. Ten to 100 dollars may be a good investment for the frame, the “art” within the frame could be removed, and the frame put to some good use to actually display a work of “art” that would be pleasing, thought provoking, elegant, beautiful.
Is it something anybody could create
Artists would of course argue that had the Mona Lisa been sold for 500 million dollars would I have bothered blogging about it – the answer would most likely be no – why? something like “The Scream” could have been drawn by more or less anybody capable of holding a pencil, yet the number of people in the world (past, present or future) with the skill to create a work of art such as the Mona Lisa are very few and far between. Therefore a work or “art” like the Mona Lisa is truly rare & unique – how could you place a price on something like that.
Is Great Art created by a lack of Art
One could argue that by looking at a piece of work like “The Scream” it is the thoughts and emotions that it generates in yourself that are key to the greatness of the work. So it is the lack of detail in the work that makes it great. Often having objects within a photograph out of focus can greatly help to emphasis the piece for example.
Applying “Modern Art” to Exams
One could apply this concept of the lack of skill / the rudimentary nature of the work as being its greatest asset to many other domains? Given that I lecture, mark exams, courseworks and the like, could I apply the same principle to my marking? Take an exam for example, usually one must answer a number of questions. Lets take the example of “write an essay on the history of the Internet”. In marking such a question one would probably give full marks if the answer included all the major milestones over the past decades on the evolution of same. From the perspective of “Art” an answer similar to “The Internet began and eventually evolved into what it is today” should probably garner full marks as well! What if the student decided to not answer the question, i.e. given that most would at least attempt to answer the question, should the student who decides to use their free will and not answer the question be awarded the same marks (or even better) than somebody who accurately described the evolution of the Internet over the course of a 2 or 3 page answer? Could one not draw a similar depiction between many works of modern art and that of the great masters? Arguing that it is the precise lack of clarity that makes the work thought provoking and open to interpretation – thereby everybody takes something different from the work.
The Value of a Line
Some years ago I visited an art gallery in Austria and saw a canvas that had a single black line on it. The line was fairly thick at one end and tapered at the other. A price tag of €4000 was assigned to it. Why is something such as this considered “Art”? I could have created it myself in the matter of a few seconds! Was it the unique angle the line was at that allowed for such a price to be placed on it? If one was to apply this concept to “The Scream” then one could simply count the number of strokes necessary and multiply by €4000 to get its true value !!
To what degree does the artists own interpretation of what the piece of work signifies have on the value. One could draw an orange blob in the center of a white canvas and say that “it represented the sun, that which is essential to all life here on earth, the particular shade or orange used appeals to some particular emotional sense trapped inside all of us, the shape of the blob being circular in nature is infinite, having no beginning and no end……….”, one of course would need to have a suitable title to go with it perhaps “life as we know it”. On the other hand one could give it a title like “orange blob” and description of “this is an orange blob created using one single brush stroke”. Here we have the very same piece of art, one may be valued in the millions gaining international recognition the other not considered to be art at all!
Is this art?
Is this art?
Is this art?
Is this art?
Is this art?
Is this art?