11 July, 2010

11 July - Dave Hickey in Albuquerque & Air Guitar

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Today I was re-reading Dave Hickey's book of essays, Air Guitar, in celebration of his move with wife Libby Lumpkins to Albuquerque, New Mexico as professors in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of New Mexico. Air Guitar is a must-read for anyone interested in art, Liberace, Flaubert, Las Vegas, Chet Baker, Lady Godiva, Luis Jimenez, and Perry Mason (to name but a few divergent topics). One of the essays, Dealing, gives one of the most articulate and unique descriptions of how art, money, and the relativity of the value of art function in the contemporary market. And the importance of risk.

"So you pay a grand for a painting from an unknown artist's studio. If you are a serious collector, taking a risk, you increase the value of the work just by buying it. If you are a cheap serious collector, you try to get a discount on account of this, but this is really bad form, because if you wait until that artist has a dealer, you are going to pay more. If you wait until she has good reviews, you are going to pay more still. If you wait until Paul Schimmel down at MOCA notices her work you are going to pay even more than that, if you wait until everybody wants one, of course, you are going to pay a whole hell of a lot more, since as demand approaches "one" and supply approaches "zero," price approaches infinity. But you are not paying for art. You are paying for assurance, for social confirmation of your investment, and the consequent mitigation of risk. You are paying to be sure, and assurance (or insurance, if you will) is very expensive, because risk is everything, for everybody, in the domain of art...

The greater your risk, the less you pay and the more you receive. This is or should be an incentive to participate, to take extravagant chances, to execute daring acts of faith of your beliefs and in advocacy of your particular marriage of desire and esteem. Try to think of it as a dynamic system, a chaotic flow generated by the perpetually negotiated interplay of two simultaneous but totally distinct domains of value. Or forget all that and remember that art is cheap but priceless--and blessed assurance very dear."