Art – what is it worth?

A few years ago I prophesied that ‘when we learn how to value art, the housing market will be re-valued’. I have re-visited that word many times with perplexity. Many artists struggle to make a living; many of the high, high end earners will buy up art as an investment. The ‘art market’ is all over the place. The investment of time, effort and soul that some put in for little return is so wrong; storing art away from public view simply as a means for personal security is also so wrong…

What is the value of art? (And rightly by extension I include ‘the arts’.)

My perplexity I now realise (I got this insight by reading Deb Chapman’s comment on the last post) is that I have been thinking in monetary terms. As we know the vast percentage of money does not exist. 97% in most western economies does not exist, hence it is only confidence and debt that keeps the economy at the levels we find them. I should never have been trying to work out what the word meant money-wise. Driving as we do in our San Lorenzo (died 258AD in Rome) whose gift was to force a revaluation I should never have been trapped into the way of thinking I was in over art.

The value of art

It has to be given its rightful place. It is one of the means to connect heaven to earth. It touches the imagination (and therefore can also be perverted to connect hell and earth) so that speech can be made that releases heaven to earth. God made the trees and saw that they were good… If for a moment I overstate things. God saw what he had made and it impacted him. That is art. We are not talking about a rational function but of an inner transformation through a visual / auditory / kinesthetic experience. How do we value that?

Art challenges how we value everything. This is the challenge San Lorenzo presented to the emperor when he presented him with the blind, sick and poor. ‘These are God’s riches’, he said! The emperor had him killed… but he being dead still speaks. Jesus said that no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem, but he fulfilled that. From his time on the place of death is Rome / Babylon / the empire, the place that says we value things and you will not buy nor sell unless you bow to our value system.

Art is subversive. In art we learn how a new economy that is not based on trade, but on giving and receiving.

Now is the time. Yes the winds are adverse but there is a breath of the Spirit behind the arts right now. So vital as we are coming to another economic crisis. The last one was patched over when the body of Christ (the ‘authority carriers’ for the future) opted for an alignment with the familiar, lacking imagination for a different future. When we can only imagine change through getting to the top we have failed to imagine. Art can help us imagine change through the subversion of service and love. We owe you a huge debt, you artists.

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6 thoughts on “Art – what is it worth?

  1. This is great Martin, thanks. I have just been given ‘The Divine Dance’, Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell. A quote from Wm Paul Young’s introduction: ‘ Waters made of many voices rise into a fountain of life that is collecting dreams-of expectancy and chronic wonder and longing love-the cusp of a new reformation and the release of renaissance. As wonderful as revival has been, it has never been enough.’
    Looking forward to the book. I sense the growing invitation to join the dance. Rohr himself talks of ‘The Trinity’ by Andrei Robrov (15th Century) and artists response ‘if that’s the nature of God, then I’m a believer’ subversive and valuable-yes!

  2. I’ve probably posted this before, but in 2015 I did a presentation and I said this

    Adopting sustainable landscape governance needs inspiration and participation more than mere information. It has to address minds by providing a toolkit to help frame problems and possible solutions, but it also has to address hearts as well. There is a need for innovative approaches to draw artists and story-tellers, scientists and therapeutic professions, conservationists and policymakers, the public and experts into a conversation to help formulate images of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, well connected to the landscape and the environment in which people live. This is not about portraying a utopia, but inspiring people and bringing hope. Without a dream of the future, without hope, it is unlikely people will be willing to make the tough changes needed to get there.

    1. If you had posted that before it was certainly worth posting again!! Feels we are at a moment when the future is opening up to the imagination, but what a battle…

  3. This is an inspiring post Martin. The Eurocentric arts of the west have become valued by monetary worth putting great pressure on the artist to create something that can sell. This then suffocates the creative spirit!! Art can often be a reflection of a reality seen by an artist – seen = visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Then possibly the value is measured by – has the art captured the essence and spirit of what was seen…. A child’s picture or dance is a good example. What was ‘seen’ is what is given and received. Then the ‘currency’ and value becomes what we ‘see’ with no monetary price. Indigenous arts function in an interesting way… We may see beautiful dances, movements, sounds, designs, dots and symbols, another will see sacred hunting grounds, water holes, directions, places to gather and topography of an region. The arts are used to learn the protocols for honouring and living life and sacred is in everything and not separated!!!! As Enlightenment separated the sacred from the ‘daily task’ and made art a lofty thing to be horded as an investment. The challenge for me is to revisit some of our ancient arts and see what they truly are saying and learn a whole new language beyond words!!!!

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