“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
Recently, one of the world’s leading auction house, Sotheby’s, held an incredible livestream auction titled, “Rembrandt to Richter”, which helped boost the auction house’s sale to $192.7 Million for the year. Despite the slowing down of business due to COVID-19 pandemic, it seems to me that the world in which Arts exist seems to operate under a different set of economic rules. The exhaustingly large sum amount of money float around the Arts is not something I want to talk about here, I just want to share an opinion piece to challenge the reality that art, is simply not for everyone.
One of the piece that was sold to a private buyer that night was this remarkable self portrait by the renowned Dutch artist, Rembrandt. This painting created in 1632 was sold for the exorbitant amount of $18.7 Million. Throughout his life, Rembrandt must have painted plenty of work, with around eighty self-portrait, but have you ever wonder, how many of his work are actually available to be viewed by the public?
Once an artwork is sold in an auction to a private buyer, there’s a high chance that the general public will no longer able to view said great work. Here’s a small list of artworks that were sold and haven’t been seen since,
- Leonardo DaVinci, Salvator Mundi, sold in November 15th, 2017 for a staggering $450.3 Million
- Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), dubbed the Rockefeller Rothko sold in May 2007 for an astonishing $72.84 Million, setting the record for the most expensive post-war work of art sold at auction at the time
- Vincent van Gogh, “Portrait of Doctor Gachet”, sold in May 1990 for $82.5 Million, whereabouts of the painting is now unknown
And the list could continue… But you get the point, once it is sold to a private owner, some of these great artwork simply disappeared from the public eye. The point of the creation of these wonderful artworks for the artists must have been a mean to survive, however in today’s world, these great works are photographs of our history, the story of humanity. Each artists captured his or her moment in time, the way we now publicly parade our lives on our social media platform. The comparison of the two obviously stirs slight disgust, how could one compare great work of arts to a mere fame-obsessed social media posts, but the reality is sadly, our generation seems to care more about what a celebrity ate for the day than a great work by Rembrandt to disappear into a rich man’s private collection.
So, is it better than that these artworks belonged to people who truly appreciate them? Or similar to that of the social media, fame obsessed member of society, these private owner purchased these great artworks as a status symbol but never truly appreciate the meaning or the greatness of these works?