"Art isn’t for me, I understand nothing about it," "even my 6-year-old son could do the same," "eh? $93.1 million for an artwork by Basquiat at an auction? It makes no sense! By the way, who is he?". Who has never thought or heard these kinds of phrases? After more than ten years working in the field of the art market and cultural mediation, I have heard it all, believe me. Defending art at all costs during exhibition visits, family meals or drunken parties with friends has sometimes been exhausting and exasperating. I have very often given up in the face of such stubbornness from these detractors of art. It is important to understand what is behind these more or less erroneous stereotypes to offer clear answers to such received ideas about art. Here are five of them, the ones I have heard and defended the most.
# 1: "Art is inaccessible and elitist, I don't understand a thing"
Who has never found themselves in front of an artwork, without understanding anything? Even the greatest art historians have found themselves faced with the fateful question, "what is this?". You are not alone. It happened to me too. Therefore, at Artasiam, we make certain to provide to the public the biography and artistic approach of each artist, and a short description of each artwork written by him/her/them, to give you all the keys to understanding it.
Art is not only meant to be "beautiful". It can tell a story, awaken emotions, and raise awareness on a plurality of causes. It's up to us — the people in the art field — to forge links with the public in such a way that, when you — the viewer — are faced with an artwork, you no longer wonder, "what is this?"
# 2: "Art is expensive"
Certainly, some artworks reach record sales in auction houses and receive extensive media coverage. We are only talking about their staggering price. Certainly, neither you nor I will ever be able to acquire this type of artwork. But art is not all about the big names in art and its exorbitant multi-digit prices. There is a wide range of prices that allow you to acquire an artwork that is in your budget.
By purchasing artworks of emerging artists, you are doing good to your wallet, and you support them both financially and morally. Who knows, maybe in the years to come it will be these same artists that you will see in the auction rooms, and you will have had the chance to acquire one of their first works at a low price. That’s all I wish for you.
# 3: "Art is all about speculation"
Indeed, the price of an artwork is determined by several factors: artist renown and ranking, medium and techniques used, among others. These factors do not always reflect the quality of the artwork, of course, but they do make it possible to set prices and assess its potential for resale. You don't have to go through and through to investigate the artist's entire career before making a purchase, because art is above all emotional, a matter of "having a crush." We buy an artwork because it moves us, speaks to us. The rest is secondary, or rather, for art collectors and speculators.
# 4: "What is this? Even I will be able to do it"
This idea is, to my regret, one of the most prevalent in the art world. Who has never heard this kind of phrase when visiting an exhibition? Perhaps you have thought of it yourself at some point. I am not judging you. However, it is important to remember that behind each artwork, there is an artist who has an assertive and thoughtful artistic approach, years of practice and a mastered technique. So no, not everyone can claim to sell their childhood drawings for exorbitant prices and participate in the biggest world exhibitions because he/she/they can do the same thing from an aesthetic point of view. But nothing will prevent you from trying and getting started.
# 5: "Art is useless. I can buy a beautiful artwork for $100 to decorate my living room at [insert name of chain store]"
Yes, you can buy a beautiful reproduction printed on canvas at a low price, that is undeniable. However, by buying an artwork from an emerging or confirmed artist, you have an original and unique artwork that sometimes does not cost much more than a reproduction bought in chain stores which are reproduced thousands of times (it loses originality). You have probably been told this repeatedly, but when you buy artworks of local artists, you support them in their practice, and you give them visibility. In general, we prefer to buy locally rather than from chain stores, so why not do the same with art?
Now, when guests will tell you they love the artwork hanging in your living room and ask from what artist it is, you won't say, "Oh that… I don't know. I bought this reproduction from [shop name]." You will finally be able to name the artist and explain what he/she/they wanted to represent. What a great feeling, isn't it?