Well, it depends really. In my opinion the society here is represented by three types of art collectors: 1) specialists ones who decide to collect "high profile/luxury" artworks out of a deep interest towards pieces themselves 2) those who buy such pieces thinking mainly of their profit (to resell them in a couple of years in order to gain) 3) those who collect luxurious pieces of art as trendy objects.
It depends on how you define artworks and luxury goods and what the purpose of these are, and what you mean by value. To me value means that something stand the test of time and carries on giving regardless of the price tag. Our cities and museums are full of artworks that have done this and although there are a vast amount of timeless products they are not necessarily luxury products. The luxuries of the past are not the same today nor will they be in the future. When money and fame start running the show in every sphere strange things start happening.
If we look at society as a whole, people aspire to own fine things. I would say most can afford very few and of what they can spend they are more likely to buy luxury goods since these may be fashionable items, most probably cutting edge technical things which are cleverly marketed and readily available. Sadly I think that few people feel that they could justify purchasing artworks and therefore their interest wanes. Artworks are rarely marketed to us causing many to forget about the delight they can bring over long periods of time. There are many items I feel I couldn't justify buying due to real or percieved cost. I therefore don't focus my attention on these things and their benefit becomes of little interest, in fact virtually everything about such items can disinterest me. This is not to say they are worthless to me yet I can become ambivalent. I imagine I am not alone. Therefore, sadly, I say luxury goods are held in higher value than artworks to most of society.
I needed to give this a lot of thought! I think that artwork and luxury goods are valued differently by society because society is not 'mono' it is multi-faceted and complex and art is not separate to the subject of luxury goods. Some luxury goods are an artwork in themselves and are being bought as financial investments (the rate of return on such investments is much higher than putting money in savings accounts and bonds in the current highly disruptive and unpredictable global economy). Beautifully crafted packaging can make products more desirable, but to me this is a matter of the use of design to create objects of desire (the quality of the content isn't necessarily any better than an alternative in less attractive packaging - who wants to buy a Chanel handbag and have it wrapped in an Asda carrier bag?). I do not believe that the whole of society puts the same sort of 'value' on artwork and luxury goods. By definition the word 'luxury' refers to items that are not every day and although there is a definite trend toward people aspiring to own luxury goods, to me, this is fantasy land for most normal 'every day' people as there is a growing gap (very evident here in the UK) between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Manuel Castells in his book The Rise of the Network Society 2nd ed. (2009) stated that the effects of globalisation, facilitated by the networked society, would include the creation of an increased demand for high end goods and services available 24/7 this has definitely come to pass as has the predicted gap between rich and poor. People want beautiful things and those with large amounts of disposable income are more likely to be able to purchase higher quantities of luxury goods that are beautifully packaged as part of a lifestyle statement. Artworks and Luxury Goods are therefore not of equal value to society or one in the same thing.
It is like comparing an orange to a cup cake. The cup cake tastes nice but is of little nutritional value and the orange tastes nice but is loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients. Theoretically you can live without both of them, but the orange will make you healthier. So, in conclusion art is an orange... NW
Hi NW, I think that some artworks have more things in common to luxury goods and vice versa than we tend to notice at first sight. Take for instance Sylvie Fleury, she made the LV bag sculpture and then LV made the same looking bag available to customers. What were the customers buying? Art or a luxury fashion bag? Or perhaps both at once? Also luxury brands keep associating themselves to artists to add value to their trademarks and make them feel more exclusive; making often special editions and one off for celebrities... They also build and open extraordinary museums and attempt to produce culture, blurring the lines between art and fashion. Meanwhile, the protagonist of High Art are becoming more and more precious about their brands and personas, sometime rejecting the cultural side of art in the name of safeguarding themselves just like fashion brands do against counterfeit of their products. Do you still think they are oranges and cup cakes? In certain instances and with certain celebrity artists' artworks, I see so much in common.
I'm with NW on this. Luxury goods are purely for the hedonist, wishing to experience pleasure. Artworks give this pleasure but also have the potential - and here, I'm not saying ALL artworks, since, many these days are losing their intrinsic value by selling out to branding and appealing to the market - to give an enriching and educating journey, opening the viewer's eyes to possibility and new horizons.
Just because an artist makes a bag does not make it art. Just as when an artist makes a cup of coffee in the morning it is not art, it is a cup of coffee.. It may be a very good cup of coffee, just as the LV bag may be a very good bag but seriously art? Really? Please justify. How does this open anyone up, how does it open new perceptions, a new way of seeing? How does it take thinking forward? It is possible for an artist to make a product, they often do, it helps pay the bills.. nothing wrong with that, they often do it very well. Marcel DuChamp made a good point with the Urinal but if you put a urinal in a show now to make the same point you would not be making art you would be making a fool of yourself and proving to the world you did not know what he was saying.. However, maybe Sylvie Fleury did make art when she made a silver handbag.. Her work is about shopping.. If she made her own unique cup of coffee for Starbucks and then they sold the new recipe as a promotion and they called it art, would it be? Or would the art be the performance / act of getting into bed with Starbucks - making the canvas the relationship rather than the coffee..? And then is it art or is it just derivative of Damien Hirst's work? NW
Thanks Anna and also NW for coming back. I don't disagree with either of you, I'm just trying to push the debate deeper than cupcakes and oranges, I see we are now on coffee! : ) And I am pleased to find some much more interesting points. If you are questioning my reference to D&H, or the other artists here, please know that my point here is to have a cultural conversation which is part of my artistic and academic research on how contemporary art sometimes looks as if it was purposefully made for commodification and to meet buyers' taste and interior design. Sometimes I think that some artworks (not necessarily these three here) lack of substantial cultural critique. We see a lot of high impact large size works (even inflatables!) and less often we (as viewers) are asked to engage in a deeper conversation through an artistic act or indeed see the artist involved in an intellectual discourse. I agree that it's great that artists can make a living from their artworks and even make big bucks, what I am less taken by is this sort of "brand stretching" phenomenon that we see happening in every single art shop or even on artists websites (that's why I have made fictional art brands, scarves and perfumes).
Seeing a Monet on a mug, might be for charity purposes for the institutional museum that hosts the old master artwork, but seeing millions of gadgets sold after a solo exhibition of a living artist, for me devalues the artist and the artworks, putting them on the same level as illustrations or cheap merchandising. This is one of the staggering similarities between art and luxury branding - take a look at any "luxury brands strategy" book and you will find many more techniques in common with art galleries selling techniques; such as keeping clients waiting (like Ferrari has always been doing), raise the price to increase demand, select who to sell to, get celebrities (fine artists and any other famous face the public might be aspiring to) to endorse the exhibition...and so on. Georgina Adams in her "Big Bucks" book says "what distinguishes art from a handbag, sun glasses or watch is that it also has 'symbolic value' above its 'market value' and this is what gives it a special status" (p.77, 2014). So this goes with what Anna here above said. And I really agree with this, that's why I love art so much. But what I am questioning is this artworks globalization where art is starting to look all a bit too similar and in the end what is the intellectual value of a big yellow inflatable duck? Making people smile and taking selfies? Couldn't Dior or Chanel achieve the same? Back to you NW/Anna.