A Color Blind World of Art

Dear Evangeline,

It has come to my attention that there exists a (albeit remote) possibility that you are color blind. You have been insisting as of late that red is white and that every other color and shade on the spectrum is blue. Occasionally black is “purple” or yellow is “orange,” and you do show an avid affinity for the color pink, though you insist that pink is, in fact, the color green. Why do I bring this up, you might ask? Well, as an art historian and design aficionado, I always assumed my offspring would share my love of color. I’m still hopeful. Something tells me you’re playing my emotions like a fiddle with this one.

Anyhow, I have also decided to get back to the roots of this blog by offering some insight into what I have gathered by being privy to the musings of art insiders for almost a decade. I am going to attempt to write on this topic once per week. You can look at this as a sort of “futures” investment of my time, seeing as you might need some guidelines on the off-chance your retina are never able to untangle that color web.

I’ll start by offering some advice for the collector who can’t afford to be a collector. This appearsĀ to be much more than the “99 percent” as the art market has recently gone off the deep end, making itself disgustingly unapproachable to all of humanity (perhaps barring Russian autocrats). Still, there are some good beans left in this dystopia, one of them being the New York gallerist, Jen Bekman. Back inĀ 2007, Jen, too, decided she had enough of the art world’s shenanigans and decided to open an online gallery of limited edition prints with price points that were as attainable to a New Yorker as riding the subway (in other words, not terribly attainable, but about as good as we’re going to get).

“Why You Shouldn’t Buy Art” by William Powhida (20×200.com)

Jen partnered with some big name artists, like William Wegman and Roger Ballen, to create some very worthy prints that are very unlikely to ever attain head-turning auction prices. She and her team have also done a notable job of getting behind some exciting up-and-coming artists, too, such as the Bushwick-dwelling William Powhida.

What Jen’s gallery does, effectively, is question the very hierarchy that the world of art is precariously perching itself upon. What makes a work of art worthy of collecting? How is the price set? And what role does the reputation of the artist play in answering these questions? When 20×200 lists an authentic, signed Wegman print for sale at a $25 price tag, what does this say about his other prints fetching upwards of 10 grand at auction? Well, there is one obvious answer: Jen subverts the authenticity of art connoisseurship and questions the stability of art’s bubble market. But the sad truth is that market has only swallowed more of the aristocrat’s poison since Jen opened 20×200 in 2007 (a very interesting parallel, considering the overall condition of the world’s economy since that time).

In closing, if you’re looking to get in on the insanity and pretentiousness of the very old hobby of art collecting, count 20×200 out. But if you’re into art for art’s sake, you’re just one quick click from adding some very cool, and awesomely worthy prints to your walls.

And to you, my darling color-challenged Eva: something tells me your inability to differentiate green from pink will not in any way preclude you from being even a world-renown collector. Because if I learned anything in my twenties, it’s that collecting has nothing to do with aesthetics.

To Happy Shopping,

K

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