In today's society artwork has almost turned itself into a celebrity icon, with art sales estimated to be over 13 billion per year and apart from the drugs trade it is the biggest unregulated market in the world. Museum culture has therefore had to change over the years. Art museums used to be places were people came to view art, whether it be paintings or sculptures. There are numerous museums all over the world and most major cities will have a famous museum. These museums draw large numbers of tourists and art enthusiasts to come and view the present and past pieces of art. The architecture of an art museum or gallery, particularly a modern art museum is often considered to be a work of art as much as the contents in the museum. The Guggenheim art museum in Spain is an example of an art museum which is famed for its elaborated an unusual architecture. Most art museums specialise in exhibiting a specific type of art, for example the Tate Modern in London is an art museum that exclusively exhibits contemporary works of modern art.
In the 17th century there were no such things as art auctions, rich lords or wealthy businessmen would price each object and invite purchasers to come and view the art. This was a slow process as it lacked the excitement or incentive of today's auctions. Some of these viewings would last for days and in the case of Duchess of Portland lasted thirty-eight days. The majority of these sales were sold for small profits. In 1795 Calonne and Trumbull were the first to achieve high prices for there collections and towards the middle of the 19th century an entirely new breed of collectors were born; they were for the most part men who had made large fortunes in industry in England and other countries. They were untrammelled by "collecting" traditions, and their investment was almost exclusively extended to the artists of the day. The dispersals of these collections began in 1863 with the Bicknell Gallery, and continued at irregular intervals for many years
The next big step in the art world was in America in the 1970's. Robert Skull and His wife Ethel had acquired a large collection of cheap art, usually paying 1000-2000 pounds each for a Rauschenberg or a Jasper Johns and they also purchased James Rosenquist's f1 11 for 45k.
As soon as it was purchased Mr Skull lent it to the metropolitan director of art in New York. This was a shrewd move instantly increasing its value of the painting. In the game between museums and collectors, Mr Skull would soon hold all the cards. On the 18th October 1973 the Skulls auctioned off 50 pieces from there collection. Mr Skull was a very astute promoter, the most written and talked about man in art at the time.
The auction was picked by angry artist whose works Skull had bought for not very much, including Robert Rauschenberg. The auction was a great success and broke many records in the art world at that time. After the Skull auction was over the art world's emphasis shifted from aesthetes to money; everyone would want a piece of the action. By the mid 1980s high prices made owners want to sell there collections, auction houses were flooded with expensive pieces. This attracted another new breed of buyer to the biggest unregulated market in the world, they viewed art purely as an investment and prices went sky high.
The cost of such prices was that art became admired not by any critical perspective but for its price, auction houses were the new abattoirs of taste, sending some art to inflamed fame and this kept on going. These prices made it hard to distinguish what was real art and what wasn't. It had a cultural function so that you couldn't make your own judgement.
The rise in prices has affected museum culture, when the metropolitan museum of art New York bought Aristotle contemplating thought of homer by Rembrandt, all of the rumours and all of the questions in the art world then were asking ‘is it going to be in the national gallery in London or the national gallery Washington?'. In today's society when anything important comes on the market they are sent to private galleries who bid the highest to display these masterpieces. Fig 2: Aristotle contemplating thought of homer
There is no way a museum can compete (www.designlessbetter.com)
in today's market. The art museums of the past have not given up though. With the help of mass media, emphases on spectacle and the cult of the celebrity masterpiece museums have managed to attract the public back in. What has been gained in these new numbers in the gallery has also been lost with what they used to stand for. Today the Tate is a now brand name, the Louvre is a brand name and so is the Guggenheim. With the spread of these large global brands come the artists that feature in them.
Damien Hirst's 'A Thousand Years', 1990 by Suzanna.3.0 Damien Hirst
The current richest living artist in today's society is Damien Hirst. He owes most of his success to a large private collector called Charles Saatchi. During the 1990's Hirst was a prominent member of the Young British Artists who dominated the art scene in Britain during this time. After Hirst left college he organized various independent exhibitions to which he was introduced to a man called Charles Saatchi. Charles Saatchi was a very wealth businessman and ran a global advertising agency with his brother. Mr. Saatchi loved art and helped sponsor promising artists from the Young British Artists. When Saatchi saw Hirst's major installation (A Hundred Years) consisting of a large glass case containing maggots and flies Fig 3: A Hundred Years feeding off a rotting cows head he was astonished and then (www.artnet.com) bought it. Over the next few years Hirst and Saatchi became close friends and in 1991, Charles Saatchi offered to fund whatever artwork Hirst wanted to make.
The result was showcased in 1992 in the first Young British Artists exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in North London which was also owned by Mr. Saatchi.The Saatchi Gallery was a place of contemporary art , and hence the gallery's shows, had distinct phases, starting with US minimalism exhibitions , then showcased the man of the moment Damien Hirst along with the Young British Artists, Fig 4: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, It was opened in 1985 by (www.artchive.com) Mr Saatchi in order to show his sizeable collection to the public. The gallery was a major influence on art in Britain during its time. It has also had a history of media controversy, which it has courted, and has had extremes of critical reaction. Quite a lot of artists shown at the gallery are unknown not only to the general public but also to the commercial art world.The title to Hirst's work was The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, It featured a 14ft shark enclosed in a glass case and became a symbol British art in the 1990's thus being Hirst's first major achievement. With the help of Charles Saatchi Hirst was able to continue producing art knowing at the back of his mind his work was to be centre stage at the Saatchi Gallery. Over the next 12 years Damien Hirst became a household name as he produced other large death related works of art such as.
'Mother and Child Divided' (1993). Winner of the 1995 Turner prize
In April 2003, the Saatchi Gallery opened at new premises in London, with a show that included a Hirst retrospective. This brought an ever-growing strain in his relationship with Saatchi to a head. Hirst disassociated himself from the retrospective to the extent that he has never put it on his CV. Hirst said Saatchi was "childish" and "I'm not Charles Saatchi's barrel-organ monkey ... He only recognises art with his wallet ... he believes he can affect art values with buying power, and he still believes he can do it.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saatchi_Gallery)Shortly after this the pair had one more show together in the White Cube Gallery, London then went there separate ways.
Today Damien Hirst is the world's richest living artist; he still continues to produce artwork and has had exhibitions all over the world. His latest creation is called ‘Love of God'. It was exhibited in the White Cube gallery, London and was a human skull recreated in platinum and covered with over eight thousand diamonds and is estimated to of cost Hirst 15 million Fig 10: Love of God ( www.artnet.com ) pounds to make. The asking price for the piece was 50 million pounds; although the piece didn't sell outright it was bought by a consortium that included Hirst himself and his gallery the White Cube.
In November 2008, Hirst exhibited the diamond skull at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, despite public controversy. The skull was exhibited next to paintings from the collection of the museum that were selected and curated by Hirst. The museum director, there wasn't controversy however to show the skull in the historic museum among the board members.
Throughout Hirst art career he physically making all his early work, but from his rise fame and to date he has always used assistants. The amount of work he produces mean he needs a factory setup like Andy Warhol used to use in the 1970's when he founded 'The Factory'. It was an art studio, were he employed art workers to mass produce prints and posters. This method of producing art has led questions about Hirst's authenticity, and in 1997 a painting that Hirst said was a "forgery" appeared at sale, although he had previously said that he often had nothing to do with the creation of these pieces.
“ Hirst said that he had only painted five spot paintings himself because, "I couldn't be fucking arsed doing it"; he described his attempts as "shite"—"They're shit compared to ... the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel She's brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel."
There is another story of a painting assistant who was leaving and asked for one of his paintings. Hirst told her to, "'make one of your own.' And she said, 'No, I want one of yours.' But the only difference, between one painted by her and one of mine, is the money. ”
(Hirst, Damien and Burn, Gordon (2001). On the Way to Work. Faber)
With art at forefront of business and culture in today's society Museums have been forced to show a new facelift image to attract the public back into its doors, while small galleries and auction houses have become the new breeding grounds for up and coming artist of tomorrow. The Architecture of these buildings themselves has also had to change. The White Cube Gallery in St.James's London, the Guggenheim in New York which was renowned as one of the architectural icons of the 20th century are both very good examples of change.
4.0 The White Cube
The White Cube Gallery, Masons Yard, London SW1The White Cube branded gallery, known most commonly in the world for its contemporary commercial art, is home to artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and many other internationally famous artists including members from the Young British Artists which is how it achieved its reputation by giving one person shows. Its most recent gallery opened in 2006 in St.James's Street and was designed by MRJ Rundell & Associates. It was the first free standing building in the area and he provides 5000 ft² exhibition space. The gallery is a crisp-edged box and stands out from the buildings around it, According to the Architects the building was designed to respect the key qualities of discretion and reserve of the St James's area.)
5.0 The Guggenheim
The Guggenheim of New York was the first art museum building to be designed to replicate a piece of art. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1950's it was a revelation to the architecture world. It is a building that has become as famous as the art collection it displays. The Guggenheim dances gracefully between
The gallery in Bilbao was opened in 1997 and was designed by Frank Gehry. It is a spectacular structure with its swirling forms and its facade of titanium, glass, and limestone.The curves on the building were designed to appear random. Using computer programs to help design the building's structure it made it feasible to build shapes that architects off earlier years would have found impossible to construct.
With modern museums and galleries becoming more like pieces of art, the next generation of art galleries in my opinion will be like fantasy islands attracting people not for the art but for the experience. The Guggenheim is building a new Gallery in Abu Dhabi which will be the largest Guggenheim in the world with a floor space of 450,000 ft². The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi joins other leading international culture institutions including the world famous museum brand the Louvre, in the unprecedented creation of a vibrant culture destination for visitors from around the world.
The art world beautifully copies our money driven, celebrity obsessed entertainment culture, same fixation on fame, same obedience to mass media that grabs our attention with its noise and flutter. Art should make us feel more clearly, more intelligently, it should give us coherent sensations that which otherwise we would not have had, that is what market culture is killing. In the 1960's art was a way of making money, started as a trickle and turned into a stampede. If art doesn't tell us about the world we live in then I don't believe there is much point in having it.
Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
Author: Julian Radcliffe
The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Making of the Modern Museum
Author: Hilary Ballon
For the Love of God: The Making of the Diamond Skull
Author: Damien Hirst & Rudi Fuchs