823 Painters paint; art dealers make deals

How much would you say this painting is worth? 

Or rather - a more pertinent question - how much would you guess it sold for?

The work is by Jean Michel BasquiatBasquiat is most famous for starting out as a homeless graffiti artist. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Basquiat died at just 27 of a heroin overdose, leaving a large body of work. 

Before I get to the burning question of the painting's value, allow me to digress. I have before been outspoken about the art market, which - of course - at it's top end has little to do with the values of art, but rather with big money and investment.

My gripe is that once an artist is talked up by the art dealers and art investors, big money is soaked up and very little is left over for artists - painters, sculptors, photographers - who haven't "made it" into the big league; the big league often being paintings of dubious artistic value. In Australia artists on average earn approximately half the minimum wage. And when big money is paid for art, it is not necessarily the artists that benefit ... just ask Aboriginal artists.

We have in our Art Gallery of NSW a grand example of art that is of said dubious artistic value being talked up by art aficionados, namely the previous art gallery director Edmund Capon. He was a fan of an American artist in Italy, travelled there and spent a few millions on some awful scribbles on canvas ... ok, that obviously is a very subjective assessment; you judge by yourself. What is the artwork's value? In artistic terms? I reckon Nil. In monetary (i.e. investment terms) gazillions. 


Does the above artwork by Basquiat fall into the same category? You be the judge of its artistic value ... but now read all about the investment value (SMH). The Guardian provides an appraisal of its artistic value I respect. Some art, they say, is priceless ... like Picasso's Guernica or Phan Thj Kim Phuc's photo that helped stop the Vietnam war Napalm Girl.

Below our Art Gallery's own art investment, the Cy Twombly.

See also my blogs 741 and 196