Today I was in the dentist’s office again for a major intervention. Next to me was one of those paintings that seem to always be in a dentist’s office. What is this about? We all know the kind of art. At least I think I do? I recognize it. It is easy to look at for sure. It never is challenging. It mostly is realistic. Usually of a pretty place like well, uh, the Italian countryside. The dentist kind of Art always has a very pronounced frame around it. It is usually kind of “Grand.” Grand like the Las Vegas kind of Grand. Grand that tells you it is important—that it is fancy. Classy.
Why does this art look like this? Is it because most people who come here just are busy in their lives and want to just have an easy, cheery thing hanging above them? These paintings, if you really look at them are not bad, actually some are pretty good. There always is technical virtuosity displayed, at least in terms of making a flat two dimensional canvas look three dimensional using paint. That takes a fair bit of skill.
I don’t think it is the art’s fault. Perhaps it is the viewer’s fault. Maybe we sometimes let art slip into a placeholder kind of art. Is this because the vast majority of people just want cheery? Does it entertain the same way as the People magazine and the book on Kittens that sit in front of me as I wait to get another cavity filled? Maybe any art that is in a dentist’s setting would seem like dentist office art.
This week the English street artist, Banksy created another public art piece. He set up in NYC a run down sidewalk booth to sell his auction priced spray paint graffiti art. He hired an old man to sit on a stool and sell his art to anyone who was interested. His normal gallery prices are in the six figures were reduced to 60 dollars. They filmed the day, which ended up being pretty boring. Not many people gave notice or even stopped to look. One old lady, I think, bought 2 but got the second one half off because she bargained.
Basically, at the end of the day, the internationally known, most highly collected street artist in the world sold about 7-8 originals and made a paltry 420 dollars.
The brilliance of this installation by Banksy speaks so eloquently about where art is seen and how this dramatically effects it’s inherent value.
I don’t think it is the art’s fault. Maybe it is ours.
What do you think?