What is the value in art

What is art and who determines its value?

A paper ball is currently exciting the whole of Great Britain. "Work # 88" by the British artist Martin Creed has been nominated for the Turner Prize, the most important British art prize, endowed with over 60,000 marks. »Work # 88« is nothing more than a ball of paper, crumpled up from a A4 sheet of paper. "I can do that too," anyone who has angrily pulled a smeared sheet of paper out of his printer, crumpled it and threw it into the wastebasket will say to himself. Making the ball is not that easy, Creed assured the London Times. Even if someone copied Creed's technique, it would be doubtful whether he could sell his copy for those 6,000 marks, as the artist is said to have already succeeded in doing. It is also doubtful whether curators would try so hard to celebrate the new "sculpture object". The nomination jury, for example, certified Creed as having “exceptional talent”. The sphere stimulates one to think about daily life. "How often have we thoughtlessly crumpled up a piece of paper and thrown it in the trash?" triggers through the transformation of the two- to the three-dimensional, one must certainly assign »Work # 88« to the world of works of art. It is not auratically charged - unless, for example, a basketball that slipped through the fingers of the new American star Allen Iverson is also referred to as auratically charged due to the touch of a person of public interest. Creed's paper ball is not unique; he has already issued a small series of 150 pieces and is supposed to work on another. But works of art don't have to be unique; that taught us - if we were not already sensitized by the Dutch painting factories of the 17th and 18th centuries - Marcel Duchamp at the latest. It is also questionable whether you have to own "Work # 88" or even have to spend 6000 marks for it. But it can make us pause and reflect for a moment about our fast-paced postmodern life. And last but not least, it is a work of art because it is recognized as such by the machinery that generates works of art. When all the criteria for determining art have become uncertain and relative, then this self-referential circle remains in effect as the final general agreement. What is in a museum or gallery and does not belong to the infrastructure (such as fire extinguishers, humidity meters, surveillance cameras or the chair for supervision) must therefore be art. The exhibition "Change of Value" in the Museum of Applied Art in Cologne tries to find out how the value of a work of art can be determined. Above all, the organizers Susanne Anna, Wilfried Dörstel and Regina Schultz-Möller would like to find out what changes have been made to the criteria for value attribution. For this purpose, the museum employees, in cooperation with the central archive of the international art trade, have come up with a teasing apparatus. The permanent collection of handicrafts and interior decoration from the Middle Ages to the present includes mainly works of art from the 20th century. Andy Warhol's soap box stands next to Gothic wall cupboards and chairs, Georg Herold's stretcher frames next to precious tapestries from the Renaissance or a piece of packaging by Christo next to shimmering blue Westerwald earthenware. In these - historically and aesthetically distant - rooms a general difference becomes noticeable. The production of handicrafts requires time and special knowledge. It is tied into a tradition of mastery. The more recent works of art, on the other hand, are expressions of an idea; the uniqueness lies in the thought - which, however, can also be embedded in a cultural context. However, the production technologies are generally available, and imitation requires little or no specialist knowledge. In the chronologically later rooms, a convergence of handicrafts and art is indicated. Martin Kippenberger's ensemble of a monochrome picture by Gerhard Richter and a magnificent baroque desk is evidence of the tension that builds up between "noble" objects. As elements of the interior design, they give the room a shine that shines back on the owner / user. This convergence is most evident in the hall of the Viennese secessionists. Elegant office furniture is combined with gilded picture carriers (Heribert Ottersbach) and black poem panels (Marcel Broodthaers) to create a stylish arrangement. A surprising intersection is created in the Pallenberg Hall. Jeff Koon's sweet porcelain figures seem to be direct descendants of the decorative vases from the 19th century, which were almost overflowing with kitsch. In other rooms there are letters from various artists that provide information on prices, pricing and sales. Expert reports are also issued, those documents that first determine the value of a work. Other fixed points of the exhibition are a formula that is supposed to determine the fame of an artist and the "man with the gold helmet". Once celebrated as Rembrandt's masterpiece (and as such included in the general knowledge of all subsequent generations that can be quiz) it has recently turned out to be not painted by the master's hand and is now an example of a loss of value. The exhibition has to be credited for the fact that it documents many aspects of the appraisal of works of art as well as strategies for increasing value. But the confrontation of younger works of art with mostly older handicraft objects only rarely illuminates these mechanisms. Rather, it leads on the trail of tasteful comparison of objects that cannot be compared. The valuation methods of the two classes of objects are too different; If historical, cultural and technological aspects come to the fore in the arts and crafts, aesthetic and journalistic aspects predominate in the others. As is so often the case, the accompanying catalog turns out to be the more profound alternative for imparting knowledge. Dirk Baecker points here to the fundamental paradox of value determination. Something should be compared, tended to be made the same and at the same time withdrawn from comparison. Anyone who wants to express the uniqueness of an experience, according to Baecker, “reaches for the images of the divine, the incomparable rose or unique sensual passion.” Michael Hutter developed the difference between “value” and “valeur” in discussion with Adam Smith. The (French) "valeur" is derived from the Latin "valere" - "to be strong" and denotes the inner, the "intrinsic" value of a thing. The (English) "value", on the other hand, was mixed up with the "worth" of the Anglo-Saxon population and denotes the externally ascribed value generated in comparison. The pair of opposites exchange value and use value can now be thought of at right angles to this; the use value, which is determined when an object is applied in its narrower context of use, and the exchange value that results from the work involved in the object, as well as the relationship to other exchange values, i.e. the market situation. We would thus have three categories of value that can be applied to a work of art: the "intrinsic" value, which lies solely in the purposeless enjoyment when viewing a work and in the initiated, not yet fully capitalized reflection; the use value, which can be located in the areas of beautification and prestige, as well as the exchange value determined by the institutions of the art market. How the latter happens is explained by Andreas Wolf, among others, using the compilation of catalog raisonnés. Museum of Applied Arts, An der Rechtsschule, Cologne: We ...

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