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Just the Facts

Posted Jun 02, 2017
Written by Abigail Athanasopoulos
Category General

The recent news that Sotheby’s bought out the Mei Moses Art Index illustrates a current trend in the art world to think that art fits into a programmable “landscape”.  What does this mean?  After following the 2016 presidential campaign, it seems as if Art and Politics have a lot in common. One can spin almost any bit of news and slant the reported outcome due to the fact that results are often based on the goals of the survey being made.

Remember that indices report only a portion of sales transactions and as they are computer generated, cannot interpret what I will be called “real deal” results. For example: indices statistics used may include repeated sales (same property being offered with attached stigma or condition of time).  It’s easy to click a tab and obtain immediate information, but the question must be: How reliable and meaningful is that information on a “need to know” basis?  Removing the human element eliminates an important part of the equation that predates technology.   While new technologies have theoretically advanced the course of art history throughout time, a retrospective look at these advances has always included an exchange of ideas. I think of Walter Benjamin, whose essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, led to a way of thinking about art existing as part of a commercial culture; it does. But in the end, one needs to know that contributory events are very important to reading and interpreting facts.  It’s more than just facts!