Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005 Page: 53
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The hierarchy of pricing is a great barometer of value. Paintings
are more expensive than drawings, and drawings more than prints.
Size is also a determining factor, as is rarity: the smaller the edition,
the higher the price. Some recent auction prices of prints and photog-
raphy challenge this structure, but it has, more or less, remained the
same for years. Matthew Barney, a sculptor who works seriously with
film, has embraced the collaborative aspect of that medium, working
with cinematographers, costume, sound and set designers to produce
his elaborate Cremaster Cycle. A photograph from Cremaster 1 (1995)
sold recently at Philips for $228,000; such a price for a photograph would
have been unheard of ten years ago. Two other recent sales of work by
Richard Prince illustrate the discrepancy of value based on medium
and multiples. His painting A Nurse Involved (2002) was bought in for
$1,024,000, while a photograph of a similar size bought in for $198,000.
I mention this because of theoretical "revolutions" that seem like ancient
history now-Walter Benjamin's challenge to the idea of originality, for
Benjamin's sentiment, echoed in part by Duchamp, has also been
reiterated in the work of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley and Haim
Steinbach, among others. Interestingly, Hirst, in talking about his most
recent series of paintings-executed from appropriated source mate-
rials by an army of assistants-felt the need to defend the fact that he
actually touched each work. The market perpetuates the inferiority of
prints and photographs based on their mechanical means of production.
But the very concept of Duchamp's readymades allowed art to be found
in the industrial, freeing it from the necessity of the artist's touch. By
capitalizing on the idea of a workshop and at the same time insisting on
the importance of his touch, Hirst tries to have it both ways; in doing so,
he undermines both the authority of his touch and the adamant refusal
of absolute authorship.
Deification is not necessarily reserved for the wealthy and unques-
tionably famous. At a recent panel discussion at the Rachofsky House,
the home of prominent collectors in Dallas, Eric Fischl discussed a paint-
ing of his with a psychoanalyst. Fischl spent a great deal of time speak-
ing about how he paints himself out of the painting; at the same time,
he talked about his childhood-a tendency that the psychoanalyst, iron-
ically, was less interested in than questions of interpretation. Fischl was
acting out the classic deification of the artist, where every detail of life
influences work; where, magically, the work becomes an embodiment of
the self-all this in the wake of The Death of the Author!
Now, I know that, following postmodern methodology, the idea of uni-
lateral progress is suspect. I'm also aware that there are many schools
of thought that function within the art world, and I do think at least an
acknowledgement of a diversity of opinion could foster a more produc-
tive and rigorous intellectual environment.
I love you baby, SelfPortraits, 2005
Documentation of live performance
ARTL!ES Summer 2005 53
Here’s what’s next.
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Bryant, John & Gupta, Anjali. Art Lies, Volume 47, Summer 2005, periodical, 2005; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228012/m1/55/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .