In his award-winning polemic documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse, Renowned art critic Robert Hughes explores the rise of contemporary art. Hughes invites us into his New York apartment to reflect on the catastrophic transition of art as art to art as commodity. His longstanding position as art critic for Times magazine stands him in good stead to uncover his lifetime’s worth of knowledge.
Hughes blames art investors for transforming the once tasteful tenet of culture into a money-making machine. He also blames artists such as Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst for their contemporary works, which he says are the product of too much money and not enough ability.
Whenever a famous work goes on sale today, it is a matter of which investment banker, businessman or aristocrat will bid, as oppose to which art museum. The Guggenheim, The Met, The Louvre and MoMa, for example, all rely on “founders” to lend or donate art. This means the public are exposed to art that is subject to these founders’ taste, as oppose to a comprehensive array of transcendental art. The art museums struggle to break even from year to year, while investors make millions of dollars off each sale. Did the artists spend their entire lives painting to feed one man’s bank statement? Hughes believes not.
While I happen to be an avid Warhol and contemporary art fan, there is huge value in the arguments posed by Hughes. Luckily you can [legally] stream the whole documentary on YouTube: