Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the rich?

I think so...

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Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the rich?

#1  Postby devogue » Jul 07, 2011 3:02 pm

Should a person's personal wealth define their aesthetic experience?

Ordinary people can listen to great music like Mozart with relative ease - concerts are reasonably inexpensive, so the live experience is accessible to all and sundry. But art is obviously different - prints, photocopies, jpegs and the like don't convey the sheer drama and magic of great paintings - nothing beats an afternoon in a gallery soaking up the intimate experience with great art.

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The painting above is "Prince Baltasar Carlos on horseback", painted in 1636 by Velasquez and valued at around $100 million. It is currently owned by the Duke of Westminster and he has full control over who sees the original - if he wants he can put it in a room and lock the door, he can choose to be the only person in the world to get up close to this masterpiece.

I think it's wrong that such great narratives of the human condition, the towering works of some of the greatest of our species, can be hidden away from humanity as a whole by people who happen to have more money than the rest of us.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#2  Postby Varangian » Jul 07, 2011 3:49 pm

I agree with you in principle, but remember that many of the great collections and museums today started out as private collections. If anything, it has helped preserve art that would have been lost otherwise.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#3  Postby Invictus_88 » Jul 07, 2011 3:50 pm

AFAIK, the aristocracy have been steadier stewards of artworks than States have.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#4  Postby orpheus » Jul 07, 2011 6:33 pm

Bookmarked - have thoughts, will post later.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#5  Postby UtilityMonster » Jul 07, 2011 6:35 pm

I'm in full agreement, Devogue. We should seize private property from people who paid for it because it isn't fair that everyone cannot have that property. It isn't fair that we can't all have the experience of seeing the art in person as opposed to seeing it online for free, just like it isn't fair that people have to listen to recordings of Mozart rather than listening to Mozart live.

It is bull shit that the wealthy haven't invented a time machine to provide us access to live performances of great music in the past. I also want to meet every great person who ever lived. I shouldn't need money to be provided all of the goods and services I want.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#6  Postby devogue » Jul 07, 2011 6:52 pm

UtilityMonster wrote:I'm in full agreement, Devogue. We should seize private property from people who paid for it because it isn't fair that everyone cannot have that property. It isn't fair that we can't all have the experience of seeing the art in person as opposed to seeing it online for free, just like it isn't fair that people have to listen to recordings of Mozart rather than listening to Mozart live.

It is bull shit that the wealthy haven't invented a time machine to provide us access to live performances of great music in the past. I also want to meet every great person who ever lived. I shouldn't need money to be provided all of the goods and services I want.


There is a precedent for the rich sharing their privately owned aesthetic toys.

Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea Football Club. His wealth is such (about US $15 billion at the last count) that he can afford to spend untold millions on this toy, this passion of his, in pursuit of reflected glory and the sheer joy of winning. The thing is, Roman is quite prepared (for an affordable premium) to share this passion of his with upwards of 35,000 people several times a week at Chelsea's stadium. What fun is the reflected glory, the history, the world class action, if it can't be shared? There's no doubt he could afford to sit on his own in the stadium and watch their matches on his own, but he doesn't.

Yet Roman also buys fabulous works of art, and instead of sharing their untold glories (for an affordable premium) they remain under lock in key in his many houses and super yachts, for him to enjoy on his own. A quick change of perspective and everyone could be happy.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#7  Postby Animavore » Jul 07, 2011 6:58 pm

Maybe he could also let us use his yacht on Sundays?
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#8  Postby devogue » Jul 07, 2011 7:06 pm

Animavore wrote:Maybe he could also let us use his yacht on Sundays?


He already does - to people who can afford his premium. :thumbup:
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#9  Postby Seabass » Jul 07, 2011 7:19 pm

devogue wrote:Should a person's personal wealth define their aesthetic experience?

Ordinary people can listen to great music like Mozart with relative ease - concerts are reasonably inexpensive, so the live experience is accessible to all and sundry. But art is obviously different - prints, photocopies, jpegs and the like don't convey the sheer drama and magic of great paintings - nothing beats an afternoon in a gallery soaking up the intimate experience with great art.

Image

The painting above is "Prince Baltasar Carlos on horseback", painted in 1636 by Velasquez and valued at around $100 million. It is currently owned by the Duke of Westminster and he has full control over who sees the original - if he wants he can put it in a room and lock the door, he can choose to be the only person in the world to get up close to this masterpiece.

I think it's wrong that such great narratives of the human condition, the towering works of some of the greatest of our species, can be hidden away from humanity as a whole by people who happen to have more money than the rest of us.


It's not "hidden away", I can see it right here:
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/the-a ... 23679.html

I would love to have the original manuscript of Anna Karenina in my personal library; I would love to have Liszt perform Liebestraum in my home; alas I cannot have either of these. Fortunately, some industrious, inventive individuals have devised ingenious ways to make reproductions of these works of art so they can be enjoyed by all. These same individuals may have gotten rich enough from their inventions to be able to afford their own private art collections. Good for them, I say.

What is your solution anyway? Seize all privately owned art to have it put on display in museums? If so, who gets to decide which art to seize? Are you a leftist?
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#10  Postby UtilityMonster » Jul 07, 2011 7:22 pm

Seabass wrote:
These same individuals may have gotten rich enough from their inventions to be able to afford their own private art collections. Good for them, I say.


You mean they inherited wealth from their robber baron ancestors. That is the only explanation for why there are rich people.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#11  Postby devogue » Jul 07, 2011 7:25 pm

UtilityMonster wrote:
Seabass wrote:
These same individuals may have gotten rich enough from their inventions to be able to afford their own private art collections. Good for them, I say.


You mean they inherited wealth from their robber baron ancestors. That is the only explanation for why there are rich people.


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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#12  Postby devogue » Jul 07, 2011 7:32 pm

Seabass wrote:
devogue wrote:Should a person's personal wealth define their aesthetic experience?

Ordinary people can listen to great music like Mozart with relative ease - concerts are reasonably inexpensive, so the live experience is accessible to all and sundry. But art is obviously different - prints, photocopies, jpegs and the like don't convey the sheer drama and magic of great paintings - nothing beats an afternoon in a gallery soaking up the intimate experience with great art.

Image

The painting above is "Prince Baltasar Carlos on horseback", painted in 1636 by Velasquez and valued at around $100 million. It is currently owned by the Duke of Westminster and he has full control over who sees the original - if he wants he can put it in a room and lock the door, he can choose to be the only person in the world to get up close to this masterpiece.

I think it's wrong that such great narratives of the human condition, the towering works of some of the greatest of our species, can be hidden away from humanity as a whole by people who happen to have more money than the rest of us.


It's not "hidden away", I can see it right here:
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/the-a ... 23679.html

I would love to have the original manuscript of Anna Karenina in my personal library; I would love to have Liszt perform Liebestraum in my home; alas I cannot have either of these. Fortunately, some industrious, inventive individuals have devised ingenious ways to make reproductions of these works of art so they can be enjoyed by all. These same individuals may have gotten rich enough from their inventions to be able to afford their own private art collections. Good for them, I say.

What is your solution anyway? Seize all privately owned art to have it put on display in museums? If so, who gets to decide which art to seize? Are you a leftist?


The beauty in a book does not lie in the physical book, but in the emotions the words convey. The physical book is a device that carries the art. You might not get Liszt in your home, but you might be lucky enough to catch Evgeny Kissin or some other great pianist interpret it, and that's completely different and vibrant compared to the curiously stuffy experience of lsitening to recorded music.

But with art it's very different looking at a work in pixellated form to soaking up the piece in its original brilliance - the atmosphere is unique.

I don't want to seize private art, but I would like to see the likes of the Duke of Westminster being more generous with sharing their rightfully owned property. Wouldn't it be nice for tens of thousands of people to enjoy the greatness of these works rather than just a handful of people having access to them because they have more material wealth?
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#13  Postby UtilityMonster » Jul 07, 2011 7:52 pm

devogue wrote:

I don't want to seize private art, but I would like to see the likes of the Duke of Westminster being more generous with sharing their rightfully owned property. Wouldn't it be nice for tens of thousands of people to enjoy the greatness of these works rather than just a handful of people having access to them because they have more material wealth?


Yes. I wish you had clarified that from the beginning. :lol:
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#14  Postby Varangian » Jul 07, 2011 8:06 pm

Public museums display only a fraction of what they have in their collections (I've been to a few storage-rooms in my day...), and apart from being hidden away, sometimes the storage facilities are unsuitable for the items kept there, leading to unique objects being slowly destroyed. Sometimes they are stolen by less scrupolous staff and sold to collectors, it taking years before the theft is discovered (if ever). Private collectors have a marked incitament to take utmost care of their investments. In an ideal world, everything should be available for everybody for free... but that's a rather naïve thought.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#15  Postby cavarka9 » Jul 07, 2011 8:40 pm

let them keep it, who else can afford for paintings which people do not understand.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#16  Postby Emmeline » Jul 07, 2011 9:03 pm

There are plenty of great art works on public display so I don't think we'll miss out just because a few rich people decide not to loan theirs out to exhibitions. Many of them do and their willingness to share their art treasures can persuade (or shame) others into doing the same. If the Duke of Westminster refuses to release his painting to a Velasquez exhibition then he's a selfish arsehole but until he does that - he's welcome to keep it at home
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#17  Postby orpheus » Jul 07, 2011 9:54 pm

Again, more thoughts later. A quick one now, though: I absolutely agree with Devogue about experiencing art in person, so to speak. Arguably, the last thing a painting is about is the subject matter. The experience of it is really about the physicality of it: its size, scale, its brushstrokes, the weight of the paint, the way light catches in the micro-contours of the oil, etc.

Don't get me wrong; I love reproductions. My wife patiently endures my habit of collecting art monographs and exhibition catalogs. Reproductions allow me to see - even if it's only a poor approximation - works I'd never get to see live. But still, I'd rather taste my dinner than contemplate a picture of it.

(If anything, that metaphor isn't extreme enough.)
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#18  Postby ramseyoptom » Jul 07, 2011 10:15 pm

Whilst I agree that it would be nice to see what is in a lot of the private art collections, in some cases eg The Duke of Westminster or The Duke of Devonshire their rich ancestors paid for the work to be painted in the first place. And it is not only that owned by rich individuals quite a few companies ( I forget which Japanese company owns a copy of Van Gogh's Sunflowers and that sits on a boardroom wall unseen by the public.) have art collections, as did the Post Office Pension Fund did at one stage and they were not on display to the public.

The UK Government has a fairly large art collection the best bits of which end up on the wall of some Minister's office, and while owned by the British public are definitely not available to view by the great British public. In fact there have been some reports that the UK Government may have even lost some of the pieces it owns.

So it is not just the rich hoarding great art works but companies and governments as well.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#19  Postby DaveScriv » Oct 05, 2011 2:17 pm

A few thoughts on the matter:
1) As has been said, most of the developed world's museums and art galleries have more stuff in their store rooms than they are ever likely to have space to put on public display.
2) As I have discovered by asking museum staff about items on display (cheaper stuff, obviously) I happen to know about (because I collect these items), the museum staff often know bugger all about the items they already have. They are often not as expert as they try to make out.
3) When it comes to 'top end' art and antiques (& even a lot of cheaper stuff), most of the experts know who owns what, because each collecting subject is usually down to a few people who all know, or at least know of, each other. This is an important factor, even if the items are not on general public display, I'm guessing most owners will allow the people who matter in the relevent collecting subject to see them. Obsessive collectors, like those with any other specific interest/hobby, often have a very different concept of 'the people who matter' than the rest of the world.
4) It would be nice if all owners of rare art works, antiques, whatever loaned items for special museum/gallery displays, but they paid for the item(s), so their choice, but don't forget, a lot of private collectors DO loan items for such displays.
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Re: Is it wrong for great art works to be hoarded by the ric

#20  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Oct 05, 2011 2:33 pm

Geez...I don't think Devogue is proposing a new "take all the art off rich cunts" legislation.


It would be nice if they shared a little more, I like the football analogy.
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