CHRIS THURMAN: Art — but at what price?
An accusation commonly levelled against auction houses is that they increase the value of individual works but the artists themselves don’t necessarily benefit
Some time ago I was privy to an argument between two art critics who disagreed over the value of a work that had just been sold at auction — a photograph by an SA artist that had gone for a higher-than-expected price.
One was simultaneously amused and annoyed: a rich fool had wanted to flash some cash and had been duped into paying far too much for an image that was not “unique” (it was only one print in an edition of dozens). The net result would be to drive up prices, making it impossible for any entry-level art buyer to acquire the artist’s work and generally contributing to the elitism and hyper-inflation of the art market.