Worshipping B値e

In the Old Testament, prophets regularly warned God's People against bowing down to the graven images of Baal that so entranced their Phoenician and Babylonian neighbors. B値e worship is again white-hot, or so reports Le Monde from the just-ended B値e Art Fair.

Fittingly, Baal (OT) means both "Lord" and "something possessed." B値e, in the mean time, means acquisition.

If you still don't know what the hell I'm talking about and you don't want to read French--do I have to mention that B値e is the French spelling for Basel?--the contemporary art market is rapidly becoming an overpriced, popstar-driven hype bubble, where artwork bought at auction just months ago is now back on the market for 2-3 times its last price. Basel is the money- and status-grubbing epicenter of this international folly.

Or so say the French. And Swiss-based critic and Basel symposium speaker Marc Spiegler, who compared the contemporary art world to the pop music industry in its growing reliance on churning out crowd-pleasing, money-making product made by "fresh meat."

The best quote is the first, though, an Italian collector who summons the spirit of B値e when he indignantly refuses a $50 DVD of African video art created to raise money for AIDS: "I do not buy cheap art."

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process窶芭y own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: June 22, 2004.

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