"It's Worth 23 Cents (At Least)" by Richard F. Yates

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Here's the thing...sometimes I HATE capitalistic, sales based cultural artifacts. PRICE (to me) is one of the least interesting things about art. Basquiat, famously, was so disgusted by folks taking everything he painted (even the pieces that he did as graffiti in alleyways and such) and selling them at auction … (read more)

Here's the thing...sometimes I HATE capitalistic, sales based cultural artifacts. PRICE (to me) is one of the least interesting things about art. Basquiat, famously, was so disgusted by folks taking everything he painted (even the pieces that he did as graffiti in alleyways and such) and selling them at auction houses, that he made a painting called "5000$" that is a large field of brown with a splashed black area at the top, where he wrote "Five Thousand Dollars, 5000$" The value of the IMAGE, he's saying, had become superfluous, which is ridiculous because his images were WONDERFUL. Man, I'm with ya, Jean-Michel.

The idea of a work of art, which is supposed to speak to people on an emotional or elementary VISUAL level, is often subverted by folks who only care when they are told that the artist's work is "VALUABLE," in other words, when it has a price tag attached to it---and that just sucks. (This is not in any sense a crack at MakersPlace or SuperRare or any other the reputable crypto-art sites, who I think are doing something very different. They are letting the ARTIST set the prices, helping some fairly unknown folks get "EXPOSURE," tracking authenticity and ownership through blockchain tech, and allow the artists themselves to receive revenue for their efforts even beyond the initial sale of a work of art---versus the traditional markets, where a thief can steal a door painted with a Banksy or Basquiat or Keith Harring image, take it to an auction house, and then sell---getting a huge chunk of cash (after sharing the profits with the auction house themselves), and the artists get NONE of that...!!!))

So my piece---which is pencil, ink, oil pastel, watered down acrylic (so that it's almost just a wash in places), U.S. coin currency, and packing tape on paper, with some digital embellishments---is more about the INTRUSION of economic value into the work. (See how upset those monsters and ghosts are? They were just hanging out, having a grand old time, then BAM!!!! Money comes into the picture and sets them all a fluster!)

I know, I know---peeps gotta eat, but wouldn't it be grand if more people looked at a work of art (at say a MUSEUM or GALLERY) and thought, "I love this so much! I'm glad that I've seen this piece!" without the economic value being the most important thing about a painting? Basquiat's work was energetic and messy and cartoony and awesome---but people are more interested in the record breaking prices his work now grabs at auctions than in just LOVING the images.... (It's a pointless lament on my part---an old anarcho-anti-capitalist making frantic hand gestures at the world, while everyone is staring at their phones! Ha!)

I'm just saying, "Keep your eyes open. There's awesome artwork EVERYWHERE!!!"

---Richard F. Yates (Holy Fool)


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