One million? Two million? Five million? Ten million? How about no million, eh? In the old days (as long ago as last month), you knew that in art, importance = money. That’s because what was important art was gradually overtaken by a lot of people wanting to show that they thought the art was important by buying into it, thus making it more expensive. But the big mistake was to think that because some art was becoming much more expensive, it was necessarily becoming much more important. This is what we in the office call the ‘importance bubble’, and ArtReview can now confidently predict the arrival of the ‘credibility crunch’. So, what will be the new art values in the coming brave new world of, well, not quite so much money? Here are our three top art-value tips for the coming years:
1: Importance = having something to say. Forget about acting like a Z-list celeb or banging on about popular culture, or thinking that everybody’s interested in your wacky personal life, or pointing out that, hey, art’s just like a luxury object. There’s enough of that shit around already, and it’s all going to go into the big art-importance fire-sale, so start looking out for art that’s interested in a bit more than its own navel.
2: Importance = not just agreeing with the rest of the world. Even if there’s nothing worse than art about itself, art that is ‘about issues’ is almost as bad. Art that bangs on about global warming, capitalism, corporate power or religion is great for biennial curators, but it’s usually a long-winded way of telling us stuff that we’re all supposed to agree with anyway. Remember, the great avant-garde movements have been about artists disagreeing with everyone. That’s what made them so exciting. By contrast, artists thinking that hanging out with fashion celebrities and/or saying that we should save the environment is somehow cool is actually a bit embarrassing.
3: Importance = doing it yourself. Don’t wait for curators and gallerists to decide what’s good or not. They’ll be so busy losing their jobs that they won’t have time to make those decisions for you. And with all those empty commercial galleries and public spaces that have had their budgets cut, it’s a good time to experiment; take a lead from our Power 100 number 1, and start cutting out the middleman.