Delving deeper than decor to explore the power of home as a path to wellbeing #happyinside

February 15, 2011

Life: the commodification of art

Does anyone still do art for art’s sake?

At a talk at London’s ICA, the provocative, transvestite potter Grayson Perry, in conversation with White Cube director and presenter Tim Marlow, posited the opinion that an increasing purpose of art today was to add a little rebellious glamour to consumerism, citing the prevalence of the artist-customised rug, cushion or pot by way of proof. Grayson is well placed to make such a statement, as he confessed that he too has succumbed to the allure of such potential exposure. More interestingly, though, he believes such products have spawned a new breed of artist he dubs the ‘Bohemian Bourgeoisie’: those alluding to the purity of the ‘artist in an attic’ ideal while wanting to make as much money as possible. For Grayson, art is about the pursuit, and any monies received as a result are incidental, albeit thoroughly welcome.

While it’s true that the art world has become more adept at courting money, with signature looks increasingly licensed like big brands, does it matter? Whatever is produced, we can still determine its merit for ourselves… bearing in mind that the worth of something has little to do with its estimated value. Your child’s drawings may not have any monetary value, but to you they are priceless, just as an artist-customised pot may be priced at £10,000, but if you don’t like it, surely it’s worthless? But this assumes that the purchase of art, whether pure or applied, is driven by emotion, not pragmatics. As such, I believe that if you buy only what truly speaks to you, then any collection becomes a visual collage of your inner self. As artist Jean Willy Mestach once said, ‘Tell me what you collect, tell me how you collect, and I will tell you who you are.’

Thus, I predict that buying art will become more and more popular, especially as many galleries now sell affordable limited-editions by their top tip new artists, which is a great way to start. Plus, art has the added advantage of being the aesthete’s mode of investing: your stock remains enjoyable whether or not it financially appreciates!


My top five places to buy affordable art…

Counter Editions. Brilliant site enabling easy purchase of big name artists.

New Blood Art. An online gallery selling work by new artists.

The Affordable Art Fair. London-based art fair that does what it says on the tin.

The Serpentine Gallery. Limited-edition pieces from exhibiting artists.

The V&A Shop. Excellent selection of specially-commissioned prints and posters.



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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends, wellbeing and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.