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Monday, July 4, 2016

'The Next Big Thing' DVD: Role of Commerce in Art World

The Next Big Thing
As the Unreal TV review of the Icarus Films DVD release of the documentary "The Silence of Mark Rothko" mentions, July 5 2016 is also when Icarus releases an equally "innovative and provocative" DVD of the art-oriented "The Next Big Thing." This film looks at how one-percenters dominating the current art market regarding making purchases based on profit, rather than aesthetics, is changing this industry.

The most shocking example of the crassness of many modern buyers is artist Chuck Close telling of a collector who waits several months for a commissioned piece that the collector states that he intends to donate to a museum only to sell it almost immediately on getting it. Close shares that the rationale of the buyer is that he is a businessman first and a collector second and will never miss an opportunity to triple his investment.

The title of "Thing" relates to the commerce-driven quest for an undiscovered talent whose work greatly increases in value on him or her being discovered. We meet one such phenom, who discusses the experience of sudden stardom. Filmmaker Frank van den Engel contrasts this with scenes in which veteran established painters explain how the work of any artist straight out of art school is not mature enough to properly reflect his or her ability.

One of the more entertaining scenes has a gallery representative discussing collectors going wild over the uncrating of work by Jeff Koons during  an exhibit of the work of Koons and one such piece, which is a giant inflated snowman, selling before even being taken out of the crate.

van den Engel additionally documents how the art market has changed since the '80s. The talking heads on this subject include gallery owners who criticize speculators who buy works with the hope of reselling them for a significant profit. One owner points out that the gallery can do that by itself if that is the purpose of purchasing these works from the artists.

The audience further learns the harsh reality that museums can longer afford to purchase art and must rely on the kindness of collectors. This, in turn, requires maintaining good relations with these one-percenters. van den Engel paints an even more bleak picture regrading private art museums.

A personal experience requires venturing into Blogland and 'fessing up. Being on the fence regarding whether to buy one print out of a run of 20 from an artist several years involved a long conversation with this 20-something man and jokingly asking him about the probability of his passing away (thus increasing the value of his work) in the next few years. Said art is hanging in the living room and is enjoyed on a daily basis.

The sad ending regarding this tale of minimal level art speculation is that Googling the name of the artist while writing this post revealed that he passed away in 2014. The print will remain in the Nelson collection regardless of whether this awesome dude had become the next big thing.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Thing" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.