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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

'The Mona Lisa Curse' by Robert Hughes

This superb art documentary is a punishing indictment and devastating critique of contemporary art scene, entangled with big money.

He introduces the arrival of Mona Lisa in America in 1962 as an epic moment of history of art.

“People came not to look at it, but to say that they’d seen it. (….) The painting made the leap from artwork to icon of mass consumption.”

The juxtaposition of this painting with Damien Hirst’s 'For the Love of God' is fascinating.

The remaining section portrays his observation, over 50 years as a leading art critic, of the monetization of art and its effect on our society.

“Some think that so much of today’s art mirrors and thus criticizes decadence, not so – it’s just decadent, full stop. It has no critical function, it is part of the problem. The art world beautifully copies our money driven, celebrity obsessed, entertainment culture; same fixation on fame, same obedience to mass media that jostles for our attention with its noise and wow and flutter.” 
“For me, the cultural artifact of the last 50 years has been the domination of the art market. Far more striking than any individual painting or sculpture. It has changed art’s relationship to the world and is drowning its sense of purpose.” 
“If art can’t tell us about the world we live in, then I don’t believe there’s much point in having it. And that is something we are going to have to face more and more as the years go on; that nasty question which never used to be asked because the assumption was always that it was answered long ago - ‘What good is art?, What use is art, what does it do? Is what it does actually worth doing? - and an art which is completely monetized in the way that it’s getting these days, is going to have to answer these questions or it is going to die.”

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