I bought a painting over the weekend. It is a work by Kate's sister that I've always loved; when it was on sale at the Yart Sale I knew that I had to be the one to buy it. It wasn't that expensive, but not cheap either.
I did realize that the amount of money I spent on the painting would be unthinkable to my parents, even though I'm sure they spend that on gas or other expensive and useless garbage on a weekly basis. To my father, the idea of someone who would spend money on something as "useless" as art is completely execrable. To my mom, the concept would merely be alien, as she would not be able to reckon the kind of time and energy that went into the painting and thus determines its value.
The strange thing is that, from a materialist perspective, my economic standing is considerably less than theirs was at my age. There are class issues, and there are culture issues. I wonder how much of what we attribute to "class" has also to do with culutre. Buying art is something that the bourgeoise does, yet I'm not bourgeoise. My impetus for purchasing the art differs signigificantly from the bourgeoise in context. The act of putting oneself *at risk* in the purchase of a work of art. Thus it is no longer about decoration or artifice, but rather a kind of truth. I felt that it was important to my life to obtain the painting, a certain intimacy at stake, I suppose, as opposed to "knowing" the painting, in memory, in a museum or in a photograph, I needed to "be with the painting," in its corporeality.
It is an alien concept to much of our society, buying art. This is in part what drives artist to charge exhorbitant amounts of money for their works, they have to. As it is perceived culturally that only the rich buy art, then only the rich will buy art; thus the artist adapts to this. Without this cultural appellation, the demand for art would be much greater and the artist would be able to charge less for an individual painting.
It's astonishing, really, given the number of Artists and their relative freedom and comfortability in the United States that the idea of art as a commodity or service, or as something that has a place in an average person's life is not more prevalent. We deify uniqueness, e.g. we must confirm that the beanie baby is 1 of 500, that they are real adidas sneakers, there's nothing wackier than Sprite Remix, etc. etc., yet we undervalue one of the most vital sources of uniqueness in our culture.
If you want to have something that Chet in Marketing doesn't , go buy a fucking painting...