Art for Art’s Sake, ♫ but money for God’s Sake…


Do we have this idea that anything that’s old and rare has value? Artistic value comes from an object that has no other purpose in life but to give pleasure due to its own existence; paintings, jewellery, sculpture, books, music, photographs, etc. I am a petrol head so I would add that a few cars, whose real purpose was to move someone from A to B have transcended that initial raison d’être and the very shape of the car in itself has become a work of art. Pottery, china, silverware and furniture have also achieved this dualism and therefore have a ‘value’ over and above their original purpose. However as I watch various TV shows (Pawn Stars, Antique Roadshow, Cash in the Attic, etc.) I am amazed that people think that scarcity of once mundane objects means they have an artistic value. Well, sorry if you have a collection of tissue wrappers for apples, an unmade car model, or old chewing gum etc …they don’t. Rarity in itself has only a value if it has provenance (Elvis’ chewing gum, apple wrappers from the Titanic, Henry Ford’s own model of a Model T, etc.)! I grant you that there are people out there who want to collect old train tickets etc. but that’s a hobby. What they collect is not art.  I’m afraid I also feel the same way about stamps.

...and another thing

Toys, early computer consoles of Pong, Bakelite phones and other everyday stuff are the same. They were never seen of as having value when new, just a product that was either useful or fun. They should not really have artistic value now, other than being some sort of cultural footnote.

The change in our appreciation as to what has value has been bastardised by familiarity in media. A prime example being ‘Reality TV stars.’ Now don’t get me wrong, I fully accept the notion that a normal person can achieve celebrity wealth and status for doing nothing other than ‘being’ and might even tick some of the boxes I used above to describe art!

The difference is art elevates the beholder, a TV Reality star makes the beholder feel they can achieve the same. It’s a shocking statistic to read that 90% of teenagers who once wanted to become rock stars, actors or actresses now prefer to become Reality TV stars. The same benefits of wealth and fame but not actually requiring the skill sets or hard work to learn the profession.

...and another thing

Works of art in themselves do not have to be expensive but need to be appreciated for originality, quality of work or simply because love has gone into them. This does not mean that your kids first drawing of you is a work of art (though may become collectable if your offspring was named Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin). There are plenty of things out there, both old and new that fulfil that criteria and don’t have to empty your bank account.

There is also something hugely satisfying in finding something you really appreciate and watch as its value over the years does the same. So follow your hunch, collect what you like for what it is, rather than for what it represents and in a few years you may be proved right.

In the meantime I’m as shallow as everyone else. I have editions of Playboy with Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis and Nicole Smith signing their centrefolds! How crass is that! A hypocrite…but at least a self-acknowledged one!

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