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does society value a name more than a good product

updated fri 1 dec 06


Deborah Thuman on thu 30 nov 06

Define society and define good product.

Several years ago, Green Lightening - a sculpture made from neon lights
- was installed in Buffalo, NY. The artist said it was a "dancing dog
biscuit." Um... it was the only circumcised dog biscuit I've ever seen.
Much furor followed, the mayor ordered the sculpture destroyed, some
poor soul got on a bulldozer and attacked the dancing dog biscuit, a
law suit followed..... and Green Lightening was moved to Chicago where
there was no furor, no uproar, no nothing.

The sculpture wasn't changed, and I rather doubt there's that much
difference between folks in Buffalo and folks in Chicago so why the
huge difference in reaction?

I can think of one very famous painter who has made quite a lot of
money by creating paintings which I detest and whose skill as a painter
is clearly lacking. Why? Because I obviously know nothing about art?
Because the buyers obviously know nothing about art? Because there's no
accounting for taste?

I think at some level, people are willing to pay more for a name. I'd
certainly pay a whole lot more for a Van Gogh than for a painting by a
graduate student - and it may be there's little difference between the
quality of the paintings. But.... if I'm buying a Van Gogh, there's a
large probability that I'm looking at that piece for investment
purposes. Investment purposes are the farthest thing from my mind when
I'm looking at the work of a not yet famous artist.

What happens if I'm looking at two ceramic pieces and only have money
to buy one? Suppose I don't know a thing about the artists who made the
pieces. I'd choose the piece that appeals to me more. Would that be the
technically better piece? Maybe. Maybe it would be the piece I know I'd
use more (assuming I'm looking at functional pieces). Maybe it would be
the piece with the colors I love.

I think most people are looking at the piece and making their decision
based on the appeal of the piece - and that piece may have utterly no
appeal to me. I think there are a limited number of art collectors out
there who are looking for investments. I think most who buy art are
looking for something that they love.