With the arrest over the weekend of Art dealer Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz the noose is tightening for Pei-Shen Qian, the artist who created works in the style of some of the more notable abstract expressionists. Apparently he was shocked by the news of what Diaz was doing with his paintings. Selling them for millions of dollars as lost masterworks. Qian thought they were going to people who couldn’t afford the authentic works but liked the style enough to buy imitations.
The whole exercise points to the major weakness in the appreciation of art. Is it about the art or the artist?
If we can’t tell the difference between a good imitation and an original work why are we willing to pay extraordinary amounts of money for the original works? it’s because we are buying and selling artifacts of power. The more times the artists name is mentioned in the annals of history (books and such) the more power the name commands and therefore anything they put their name to whether it be a napkin or a labored painting it will fetch a high price as a connection between the owner and the power of the artist.
Not only does this have nothing to do with artistic merit but it is actually a corrosive agent on the work of artists everywhere. Problem is as soon as the struggling artist finds himself in the spotlight of the art system he starts to absorb the power of that illumination and eventually believe in it. For every art star there are thousands of better artists giving up every day. Where is the support for the development of art when art objects are speculative bargaining chips ?