OK, I know the answer is a definite “no” but I asked myself this question this morning while reading the Daily Torygraph. There were three items about visual art (plus a photograph of a large painted poster in Cleethorpes based on a McGill-type saucy postcard, which I feel doesn’t really count as “visual art”.) With the first two of them, the value of the art work was only discussed in terms of money. Aesthetic, cultural or any other values had no relevance.
One main news item was about a stolen sculpture. “A bronze sculpture by British artist Henry Moore thought to be worth up to £500,000 has been stolen from the grounds of his former home. ”
It went on to explain that “it is the second time Moore’s work has been targeted by thieves, with a larger sculpture worth £3m being stolen in 2005…. The 12ft-high sculpture was later discovered to have been melted down and sold for as little as £1,500. ”
Interestingly enough, Artdaily.com was able to cover the same story without mentioning any sum of money.
A smaller news item in the Torygraph (though a major one in the Metro) was about a bag bought by a 73-year old man (as we all know, the age of people is as important as the monetary value of a work of art) in an Oxfam shop for £20 which could be worth £350,000. It is one of only ten made by Irish designer Peter Treacy.
According to the Metro, “Gee Brunet, store manager of Philip Treacy London, said the bag, bought in Kingston, south-west London, was an original.
‘It would have cost between £200 and £400 when it was first made. I was very surprised to hear that he had found it in a charity shop,’ he said. ‘Only about ten such bags were ever made. It’s a piece of art, not a bag.’”
Unlike the longer item in the Metro, the brief item in the Torygraph did mention the bag had an Andy Warhol design on it.
With both news items the monetary value was a significant part of the story. The third item in the Torygraph I am pleased to say did not mention money – not even the money spent on education. It concerned an American student called Young Choo on summer study (so hopefully it wouldn’t have been our money that was wasted!) who left an “art project that she called ‘Intervention'” which “consisted of a black rucksack wrapped in red tape with a canister and wires” in the reception area of Central Saint Martins Back Hill campus. With only a couple of weeks to go to the Olympics I don’t think I need to explain what happened next!