A Fearful Frenzy: The Art Market Now

Life has been happier for many of us in the art world since we stopped caring about runaway commerce in art, which has seemed—but only seemed—to reduce all measures of aesthetic value to raw price. Sure, the billion-plus dollars shaken loose, since May, at three New York and London auctions of modern and contemporary works—with about a hundred and eighty million for a pretty good late Picasso at Christie’s, in New York—stink of compulsion and vanity. So what? We who like to experience and to think and talk about art have plenty to engage us in museums and considerably more than that in galleries, market or no market. I recommend regarding the plutocratic orgy as obscene in ways including the root sense: offstage, out of sight.

But now and then I’m curious about the state of play.


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