The Over Commercialisation of Art

I find it rather sad how the lives of great artists along with their talents seem to be celebrated only once they’ve departed this earth. I mean all too often we hear about the heart-breaking stories of the lives and times of struggling artists whose work fetches tens of millions only after they’ve kicked the bucket. It could perhaps be a solidarity thing since I’m an artist myself, but that surely takes nothing away from its truth, does it?

Fortunately though in this day and age there are many more avenues through which an artist can put bread on the table with their art, however, I truly believe art is being overly commercialised.

Just as is the case with property speculators, house flippers and even domain name flippers who’ve endeavoured to snap up every dictionary word and registered its domain with the hope of reselling it for a handsome sum of money, art has been made into way too much of a commodity. We’re slowly (or rapidly) losing the essence of what art is all about, which is an expression of the artist’s feelings, thoughts, ideas or even their reality.

When a piece of art in the form of something like a really good painting finally gets the recognition it deserves, its very essence loses its flavour when some wealthy art collector snaps it up only with the intention of stowing it away in a safe place until its resale value has appreciated so that they can pocket a handsome profit. This practice deprives the true art connoisseurs of the chance to appreciate all the hard work and heart poured into that piece of art which is sitting all covered up somewhere, collecting as much dust as every bit of value by which it appreciates in resale value.

As much as that pains me however, I don’t believe that’s the worst of what the over commercialisation of art does. The worst is how too much of a focus on the commercial side of the “industry” is slowly eating away at the soul of the art itself. Artists are indirectly and sometimes even directly dictated to by way of what they should paint. If you’re affiliated with a major gallery which is known to sell big-ticket paintings and other art, for example, or indeed if you have an agent, at some point you can expect to be sat down for “the talk,” some communication or in fact a briefing which basically instructs you to move in a certain direction with the art you produce. You may be called upon to use certain techniques, but your technique is probably the only area in which you may be afforded some autonomy and creative freedom if that’s the major driving force for your production of high-quality work, otherwise as far as other aspects such as the subject matter go, forget about exercising creative freedom!

It’s a simple case of “This is what the market wants and this is what our buying clients want, so save the purist and personally inspired work for your own private collection!”

Shaun Greaves

Blogger of arts and liver of life. Singaporean at heart, but living in the UK. Life is art, appreciate it.
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