One of the last places you’d expect to see serious questions raised about whether the rich deserve their lucre is the art world. It is a pure realm of trickle-down economics, or at least has been that way for quite some time in the US. (One of the gratifying things about Australia was that normal people could be serious patrons of young artists and do well by it, putting together collections good enough to be recognized in top tier museums. In the States, new artists by contrast are often discovered, which to me looks perilously close to “made” by key validators, such as particular dealers and collectors accepted as having an eye for edgy art by other, follow on collectors.)
This extract is from “Umbilical Cord of Gold,” by art critic and author Eleanor Heartney in Artnet. The fact that a member of a world that has always depended on discretionary spending by the well heeled is raising questions like this is striking. Is this a sign that those at the top have become so isolated and increasingly irresponsible that even support personnel are wondering about the true costs of their allegiance? One of the fundamental assumptions of the new world order is that everyone has a price. Yet social animals of all sorts have developed what looks like a sense of fairness and reciprocity in their dealings, and will incur personal costs to punish cheaters. The wealthy may err in assuming loyalty can be bought.