What sense it makes

“Artists make the satisfying feeling of being an artist as much as they make discrete artworks. Typical art-world consumers, however, are not interested in the freedom art might signify. They want something to invest in and something that sets them apart. The trade in art objects is mainly about updating the prestige scoreboard (and property values) in the rarefied ‘art world’ of multimillionaire collectors, gallery owners, museum trustees, and artists becoming brands. The structure of the entire art milieu is meant to forestall the broader appreciation of art and protect its capability to signify status. It is meant to allow rich people to recognize the fruits of their wealth in their exclusive access to the world’s finest things. The glory of the view lies primarily in its being private-access. Ordinary people’s appreciation of art attaches to works like so many barnacles, ruining their meaning for collectors. As with any luxury brand, the wrong sort of audience for an artist can sully their market value completely. This is why so much of the discourse that surrounds contemporary art is so nauseating. It deliberately aims to destroy the confidence of nonelite audiences in their own judgment; it wants to make their potential pleasure in art depend on a recognition of their exclusion from the realm of art-making. We get the joy of knowing there’s some consumption experience beyond us that can remain forever aspirational, which gives us cause to cherish whatever brief peeks we get over the wall.” – Rob Horning, “Creative Tyranny”

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