Post #1300 • February 23, 2009, 9:46 AM • 63 Comments
One of my gallerists had told me about this debate held between some rather major players about whether the art market or the stock market was more unethical. Saltz admits to getting crushed, but blames his poor debate skills. I'm dashing out the door and can't do my thoughts about this adequate justice this morning, but lately I've been listening to Surely You're Joking, Mister Feynman, and Feynman, in the course of describing some of the professoriate he has intereacted with in the course of exploring other disciplines, makes a distinction between honest fools and pompous fools. I'm going to assert that the art market lost the debate because in a non-academic setting, honest fools are in a stronger position than pompous fools. Even in writing post-debate, which ought to be home turf for him, Saltz can't put together a cogent defense:
Their position essentially broke faith with art, believed in the hype of the past few years, was nihilistic and hollowed out. They said that even with all the abuses on Wall Street, the fall of Enron, insider trading, Bernie Madoff, the collapse of the stock market, widespread job losses, rampant suffering, and the world economy in a shambles, the art market was still less ethical than the stock market! Ironically, all those on the other team were likely involved in most of the unethical behaviour they railed against. To me, this seemed infinitely hypocritical and self-hating. But evidently not to the audience, who seemed to agree with every stone they lobbed at the art world, and sneered at every mention of bad behaviour by the art world.
In other words, Saltz's opponents had bad faith, bad information, and bad characters. He equates the stock market with an economic disaster that had nothing to do with the stock market. He accuses them of that which they accuse him even though he has no proof of any wrongdoing. They are hypocrites and they hate themselves in ways that he neglects to specify. Oh, and the crowd was nasty.
People who buy works of art for the pleasure of having them in their lives never need to worry about whether they've been had. Everyone entertaining more dubious expectations may very well live to see them disappointed. That's really all there is to it.