Art is an essential expression of human creativity. But today’s high-end art fairs are a carnival of consumerism for the ultra-wealthy rather than a celebration of creative expression.
James Rushing Daniel is an assistant professor of English at Seton Hall University.
When he was alive, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic art leveled a powerful opposition to inequality and racism. Since his death, his work has been co-opted, emptied of all political content, and commodified to be sold as an image of New York’s vanishing cool.
Coachella is less a music festival than a showcase for brands. You could even say that Coachella is at the bleeding edge of capitalist bullshit.
Many of the Russian superrich who have had their assets frozen in recent weeks have deep connections to the art world. As the curtain is pulled back on these holdings, art’s role in creating and sustaining the 1 percent has once again been revealed.
Last year’s modest wage gains have been wiped out by inflation, and prices are up across the board. Meanwhile, the rich are living large on superyachts and private islands — and they’re coming for working Americans’ last scraps of wealth.
From brands commissioning immersive installations at prestigious art fairs to hedge funds transforming artworks into stock-like financial instruments, the line between art and capital is blurrier than ever.
Known for its quirky institutions, eccentric characters, and progressive culture, Austin’s famous “weirdness” has long masked a deeper commitment to neoliberalism — which has in turn accelerated its de-weirding.