Yes, that title quote was from Camilo Villegas the Colombian golfer . . . so what does he have to do with the art world I hear you say. Not much as far as I know. But he also stated in todays report in “El Tiempo”: “Unfortunately, in Colombia we are too focused on triumph and only first place is good enough”
Well, I have to agree. And this applies to Colombians perceptions on the art world too and that is why I decided to start this article with Camilo´s statement.
I would say that if as an artist you have managed to sell your art well and are a well quoted artist and are often in the news then you are probably amongst those considered to be in first place despite the fact that there is no clear way of measuirng first place in art. But can art be categorised that way?
I am sure many art lovers would hate such a categorization. Yet, as humans we do like to compartmentalize and to create facts and statistics and one fact of life is that as an artist and their work grow in popularity (note how I separate these two topics!) then often the artist may be thought of as a winner. Which I think is great for the artist – but not necessarily so good for art – and that means all art.
Many gallery owners here often have said to me that people often ask for “art with a name”. “La firma! La firma!” is what the customer wants – a well known signature. It is not that they are interested in the piece of art itself so much as being able to boast about whose art they have hanging on their wall or installed in their hallway. Why is this bad if they are able to spend their cash that way?
Well, anyone spending their own money can demand what they want – can´t they? I say yes, of course. However, it would be nice if they took the time to learn a bit more about the art and the artist prior to doing so. In art, finding the art or artist that is in second or third or even better, 100th or 500th place can be more rewarding personally if you are looking to buy art that you like and not the one “voted” #1 by the media, which we all know is just paid advertising anyway.
Nobody wants to be in last place. But given that the pyramid of artists who make up the broad spectrum of artwork available are probably all more or less on an equal footing then one may say that they, in art, come in last. And if you think that it is a pity that art can thought of in that way, as just a signature, then art itself, even of those artists who come in “first”, is also really coming in last.