Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

I am an art lover. I value and admire the results of an artist's ability to interpret life and emotions and events with mind, eye and color....or a ways that move us. The gifted have expressed themselves and found appreciation for their expression  since the beginning of time. And we applaud them.

People who are drawn to artistic works are deemed to have a sensitive - and, sometimes, a discriminating - taste for culture in all its many forms.

However, this appreciation and sensitivity appear to have reached a puzzling zenith with the following announcement.

"Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" sold at Sotheby's in New York for $119.9 million on Wednesday night.The amount is a record for a work of art sold at auction. The version of "The Scream" sold is one of four painted between 1893 and 1910, and is one of the best-known images in modern art," according to CNN.

Think of it - $120 million! Even while I marvel (and choke) at the sum, I am aware that in terms of real, today, actual cash, hard money, this is considered a pittance by those who have real, today, actual cash, hard money. And while I recognize this, it continues to be a reality difficult to accept for someone who once earned 50 cents an hour babysitting.

My view has always been that having money and being successful is something to work toward - even strive for - and then enjoy both when achievement is reached. 

But what, and how much, represents "achievement?"

I've never thought I was the "pinko, commie liberal" that is the accepted epithet for those of us who think it is ugly to tear down a perfectly good house to build a bigger that has a god damned elevator for cars; or wears a $1,000 tee shirt when there is even one child in the universe who has no food.

No, the Romneys, and the The Scream purchaser, are not responsible for supporting the world. They need not wear sackcloth and ashes because they are financially fortunate.  But I would think they would be responsible for more conspicuous support and even funding of the less well endowed instead of marathon buying and owning and investing.

Since the Munch purchaser is anonymous, we can't know his or her proclivities for sharing, but from what I've seen of the Romney clan, their giving appears to be concentrated around supporting their church. This is not so much noble as a reaffirmation of their personal beliefs which have limited benefit to humanity.

Considering the sad, catastrophically unequal distribution of wealth  in  the world, The Scream, certainly one of the ugliest paintings ever produced, seems an appropriate icon for our world today where "frivolous" expenditure of one's discretionary income is not to be criticized on pain of being called a pinko, commie, bleeding heart liberal.




  1. As an artist who has probably made more money plying her craft than many other artists who stay true to the creed to "make art for art's sake" but still has to beg for every opportunity, I am fascinated by those whose creative toils have gained collector status. That starving artist game they used to play with themselves as bravado against their lack of popularity goes right out the window the second they hear their name used by a stranger in reference to their work. We all have our price, don't we?

    So now that said artist has a "name", he or she will never work for free again. The deep creative impulse that drove them is replaced by a machine that pumps out product. This happens with everything we do and explains the soullessness of those who have exchanged their hearts for cash.

    Does someone whose existence is now synonymous with money try to make up for the gross excess by giving back to his "creator" in an effort to appear humble?

    My biggest concern about the concentration of wealth into a few hands is that it creates sort of a "God Committee" because these folks now have the power to change the world by writing a check. The idea of paying $120 million for a chunk of pigment-covered canvas whose creator doesn't even exist anymore gives me reason to believe that we have indeed thrown humility out the window.

    Pinko commie liberals are nothing if not humble.