The Ruin of Modern Art


‘If each era gets the art it deserves, then the age of finance capitalism deserves the carcass of a rotting shark that no amount of formaldehyde can preserve.’

In our last newsletter we drew attention to the ongoing re-assessment of Western contemporary art, (the emperor’s new clothes syndrome), highlighting comments from leading collector Charles Saatchi about the superficiality of both collectors and collected. With bated breath, we note the beginnings of increased commentary along similar lines. Mark Taylor, chair of the department of religion at Columbia University, is currently writing a series of articles on the commodification of art: Is Modern Financing Ruining Modern Art?

In incisive and stimulating commentary Taylor suggests that art is being bundled together in a manner similar to mortgages and in this process becomes a speculative intangible: ‘The structure and development of financial markets and the art market mirror each other. As art becomes a progressively abstract play of non-referential signs, so increasingly abstract financial instruments become an autonomous sphere of circulation whose end is nothing other than itself.’

In Part 2 of these articles Taylor begins to hint at the connection of the analysis of financial capitalism with his academic area by addressing values. He suggests that ‘The commodification, corporatization and financialization of art represent the betrayal of principles and values that have guided artists for more than two centuries’, and ends with an optimistic note evoking the spiritual in art: ‘The crisis of confidence plaguing individuals and institutions is a crisis of faith. We no longer know what to believe or whom to trust. At such a moment, art might seem an unlikely resource to guide reflection and shape action. If, however, God and the imagination are — as Wallace Stevens insisted — one, then perhaps art can create an opening that is the space of hope. Perhaps, by refiguring the spiritual, art can redeem the world.’

Read the Full articles on Bloomberg news
– Part 1
– Part 2

*Damien Hirst Image per coventrytelegraph.net
*Jeff Koons hanging heart image per igetitart.com