Monday, December 16, 2013
Sculpture Modern vs Ancient
Art pop indeed! Months and months of press by association with Lady Gaga has paid off. Last night artist Jeff Koons set an auction record at Christie’s. His “Balloon Dog (Orange)” was sold for $58.4 million ($62.6 million including fees.) The price smashed Koons’s previous auction high of $33 million. Not only that, it beat the auction house’s set price of $55 million. And it ended Gerhard Richter’s big sales record from last spring.
The Koons sale was the largest ever for a living artist.
Okay. Balloon Dog Orange might be "Ironic" but then so is every joke on every television sitcom. Especially the jokes uttered by precocious 9 year olds with dimples, braids, and snappy deliveries. And maybe some of them get paid 58 million to deliver those jokes. But those shows make back their money by selling products in paid commercial spots. Anyone hoping to make back their money on this one-note ironic joke better hope that in a year or two people still value "irony."
Of course, the "irony" of the piece above is not really irony at all. It tells a joke the says: "Hey, aren't people who value crass commercial culture stupid! Ha ha. Not like us sophisticates. Ha ha." Actually, that's sarcasm, not irony.
Here's another sculpture for you (by the folks who invented irony):
This two-sided sculpture, signed by the artist Kimon in 410 BCE, just sold for about $700,000 in a recent Swiss Auction. Again, much smaller than the Jeff Koons. But I think you'll agree the level of craftsmanship is much higher. But you might object: "What about Irony!" And it's true the sculpture above is entirely lacking in the Sarcasm that passes for Irony. But it is not lacking in true irony, which is a "joke": wherein the Hero is unaware of things of which the entire audience is fully aware. In this case Acheluous the man-headed bull-God, symbollic of pastoral earth God culture, is blissfully unaware he is soon to be conquered by the Achaen Sky God-worshipping hordes invading Greece.
And you can buy about 70 of them for the price of one Balloon Dog. If there were 70 of them. But there aren't. Maybe there are a dozen or so, and none of the others in this condition. Oh well, too bad. Save up for the next Balloon Dog. There are sure to be many thousands of those, all in perfect condition.