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Date: 01 Jul 2010
Time: 16:37:01 -0500
Even an institutional view of art (or value) sooner or later appeals to acknowledged properties or qualities - goes formal or 'intrinsic'. The debate in aesthetics begins with Dickie, is streamlined by Danto and brought up short by Wollheim (see Painting as an Art for useful summary). An 'authority's' say so is never the final word in the matter. Re-evaluations, de-evaluations are endless. And one 'authority' in art soon argues with others - consensus - as in language - lies in use - persistence! Prince Charles sticks his oar in, where he thinks he can get the most leverage (as much for power as beauty) but there are plenty of other oars, plenty of other places to stick them. Should we respect architects more than some decadent aristocrat or tedious council bureaucrat? For those craving authority shorn of expertise, this might present a dilemma, but typically, the committed democrat or egalitarian will want to hear what they have to say - not because of their station but because content is a far more reliable source of judgement. Does it matter if people this week prefer to put their money in contemporary German art? Does that make the art more important? As an investment, certainly. But does this ascribe importance to the meaning of the works? To how well or in what ways they say what they say? It does not. A Van Gogh or a Vermeer are more accurately assessed for importance by critics and historians. Which is why we study their comments carefully, as do many curators and collectors! Even Saatchi slyly reads the critics. As an investment it hardly matters whether the same sum obtains a vintage car, jewellery or real estate. Financial appreciation is the toy of the market, runs bull or bear as the wind blows. The importance of an art work lies in its routes of reference, the networks obtained, revised and ingeniously brought into play.