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The value of a work lies in the idea

The art of large numbers on the market

By Gianfranco Gatta

The subtle difference between museum art and the art of large numbers on the market is that the former creates amazement while the latter produces a great deal of noise.

For example: if the maps of Alighiero Boetti that cannot be found, assuming they are found, are auctioned at amazing prices, how much should a painting by Caravaggio be worth, according to the market? Simple, it's priceless! Or rather, it cannot be quantified since it is “out of the market”.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da GiannaLaGuida (@giannatourguideinitaly)

The painter was born in Milan in 1571 and died in that of the Argentario in Porto Ercole in 1610; it goes without saying that his production ran out with his departure; he is therefore not an artist in which the great art dealers can invest and speculate.

It is this economic perspective that has made Contemporary Art stand out on the market, in the last thirty years, with works that continuously exceed all record prices.

The Art Market is willing to reward a young artist more than a sacred monster whose contribution has been fundamental to the history of art in the past centuries. It is a market that is bursting with health just as the economy is experiencing its period of maximum crisis. Establishing the relationship between price and value in a work of art means entering a world where, absurdly, the quality and experience of the artist play a marginal role.

It is true that since the times of Impressionism, which proposed a painting other than that imposed by the Academy, the novelty struggles to be understood because the eye and consequently the mind, at the moment, do not perceive it. It happened with Duchamp who transformed a common urinal into a “Fountain”, with Manzoni and his provocation against the market, with the “Artist's Shit” in a jar.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Simone Martoccia (@simone_toccia)

It happened with Fontana and Burri's “Cuts” and “Sacks”, which could not be bought for two million lire and today you have to sell the house to buy one.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Fondazione Lucio Fontana (@luciofontanafoundation)

One can imagine the comments of the Romans, when Christo covered the doors between Villa Borghese and Via Veneto, in the 70s; at that time they were called Pasquinate like: “But who is this incompetent?”.

Without going so far in time, today there are still those who do not understand the poetry of Banksy's work, considering it a bluff. There is a substantial difference between understanding and saying: “I like it or I don't like it!”. Although it is clear that among the Bananas on display, (Cattelan) Skulls of diamonds, (Hirst) passing through the performances of Marina Abramovic, it is not easy for a collector or a common visitor to approach the “Concept” with Art.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Banksy (@banksy)

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 차은실 by esc (@storybyesc)

The concept is explained by the gallery owner Lucien Terras, commenting “The banana stuck with scotch”, by Cattelan: “Its value lies in the idea”. This also applies to Boetti, mentioned above, who thought of those maps but never touched them, having them entirely embroidered by Afghan women.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Maurizio Cattelan’s banana (@cattelanbanana)

The last frontier of Contemporary Art is represented by Cryptoart or NFT art, or impalpable digital “unique objects”. Christie's auction house recently sold for over $ 69 million the original of a JPEG image, titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”, by Mike Winkelmann, starting from a basic request of only $ 100; placing it as the third highest paid work by a living artist.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da beeple (@beeple_crap)

Immediately after in Paris, at Sotheby's, a rare painting by Van Gogh, “Scene de rue a Montmartre”, after a 5 million dollar start, was sold for “the modest sum” of 13 million dollars. Other than noise, a din!

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 🌻 Vincent Van Gogh 🌻 (@vincent_van_gogh_love)

“The well informed” speak of a “bubble” which is a term that tends to mean a momentary phenomenon destined to deflate. It may be but the phenomenon of NFTs is not new and was born based on the Ethereum Blockchain game, similar to the exchange of soccer cards, where virtual kittens are bought, raised and resold. This has created a platform with a turnover of almost 20 million euros.

The JPEG in question, commonly called “Beeple”, from the pseudonym of its author is a collage of 5 thousand images or a photo that appears as a confused palette of pixels.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da beeple (@beeple_crap)

One might ask: “But then, photo by photo, what should be worth the original of one of the most beautiful and" clicked “images in the world: the" Afghan Girl”, by Steve McCurry, published in National Geographic magazine, in 1985 ?” Once again we are talking about different artistic expressions, like saying if a painting or a statue has more value.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Sofia Di Stefano (@sofiadis)

Many argue that the computer is the death of our creativity, not surprisingly, in the beginning, it was called “Terminal”. But what is happening around the world of crypto-art is something revolutionary for artists, a sort of Pandora's box which, once opened, will unleash the ghosts of the art market and open new scenarios.

So much so as to induce Christie's to accept payment for “Beeple” in Ether, the queen cryptocurrency for the exchange of non-fungible tokens, (NFT) including auction fees that amount to approximately 9 million dollars.

And if Christie's accepts them then the “Vase” is already open.