“Be quiet: I can’t hear myself see.Jerry Saltz Art Critic New York magazine.
I hate art auctions. Not just because they’re freak-show legal casinos, spectacles where the Über-ultrarich can act out as profligately in public as possible, trying to buy immortality, become a part of art history, make headlines, and create profit. I don’t only hate them because they may be the whitest sector in the entire world. I hate them for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysterious powerful things turn into numbers.Last night, after being touted in the lamestream media as potentially the “most expensive painting ever,” Edward Munch’s 1895 pastel The Scream came up on the auction block. The whole event amounted to about ten minutes of back-and-forth banter, during which the theatrical Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer tempted the fates by cooing, “I’ve got all the time in the world.” (I had such a vision of Wotan sweeping him up and whisking him off to the underworld right there!) With dapper white men and tall, thin white women making little finger signals while holding phones, speaking to strangers in Dubai or Russia or Beijing or Mitt Romney’s garage, the painting was sold “to an unknown telephone bidder” for $119.5 million. Thus, a great work of art that had been all but lost to us, hanging in a private Norwegian home for more than a century, made a brief public appearance and then was sold off to another private owner, probably to disappear for another 100 years. We will likely never see this work of art again in our lifetimes. The Scream is a part of art history and should hang in a public collection, probably in Norway, and not just decorate a California den or a dacha in the Ukraine, waiting to be fodder for the next auction. (Needless to say, no museum was in a position to spend that kind of money.
I just found this art critic on the web ( New York Magazine) and I hope he allows me to copy some of his observations, because in his quips are realities of how our society robs our artists of their guts! Should we the public judge artists as if they have a responsibility to us in their work? Or do we have a responsibility to love them and allow them to work?? Does this bring in the charlatan the poseur the mean spirited member of society who can now get permission to abuse???