Are we to decide what contemporary art is and to judge its meaning? Or is it the future generation who will be able to honestly comment on it?
Although the number and the importance of art selling for several million is growing in the art market, contemporary art is not only what the largest international art businesses, auction houses and most widely recognised private dealers and collectors are telling us. In fact, this price-class of art does not exist as its value is always fluctuating. The art of our time is what lies inside a dead shark’s virtrine, what lies underneath large metal sculptures, and what can be found on the back of large C-type prints. We just need to start looking again to see art – instead of question is this art? It is the aesthetic value which makes the art. We like art, because it catches our eye. But why, how and what is it actually? If we truly like something simply for its existence, we cannot explain our
affection for it. From the moment on we start searching for reasons to answer these questions, our love for the object dies. At least partly. Temporarily.
However it seems that the most expensive contemporary art has distanced itself from this aesthetic point of view. The eye of the beholder loses its importance as the relationship between money and art has started to grow stronger and stronger with each more item of art supplied.
The workings of the market, namely supply and demand decide the price, are at its utmost climax. Experts of the art market are talking about the great hunger people have. They want to buy art because they want to own it and resell it. But, it remains unclear how much they are appreciating it. Apart from the intrinsic value a piece of art has for each person, purchasers of art want to gain a monetary venue by it too. Questions about its financial return, whether the artist is legitimate and so on are asked before the piece is bought. Therefore, it seems only logical that the art world has changed, as well as art production, its supply and the way artists are educated at higher education institutions. The whole environment around art is changing. Therefore, the art of our time is different to what is has been before. But, considering the changes our society has been faced with, such as with the internet bubble, social media (mis)use, the financial bubble, the occupy movement against the banking sector, new wars uprising the Middle East and so on, it is not astonishing that art is affected by that. This is exactly what has happened many times before when the center of art has shifted, such as from Holland to London, from London to Paris, from Paris to London and New York and now to Hong Kong (an old colony of England).
All of these changes are historical preserved in art, since art is our cultural good, produced by people, for todays people and for our future generations. It depicts our thinking, our actions and our way of absorbing the world. Hence, ‘new’ art is depicting the shift of values of our time. What values do we hold on to now? Have we lost our ethical values and have replaced them with monetary ones? Mass production to increase revenues? Lower quality to produce more in the same amount of time?
The industrial revolution lies far behind us, and so it is the online revolution which impacts our life-styles, our jobs and our way of thinking. Without new technology, new ideas, financial improvements the world would still be healthy (healthier than it is now?). Many people are asking themselves where has the high quality art gone. But as it was the case with Impressionism in the 19th century, contemporary art has not yet been well-respected – only when the artists had been died for a while. We are experiencing exactly the same phenomenon today. Today, not many think very highly of contemporary art, and argue that it is not art and do not understand it. Less judging and more living will clearly help to resolve this misinterpretation.