THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This Documentary is an intriguing look behind the workings of the contemporary art world. The Price of Everything explores the role of art and artistic passion in today’s money-driven, consumer-based reality. All art nerds (and I count myself in this group) will enjoy the access behind the scenes and perhaps be pained at the spectacle that contemporary art has become.
This film features collectors, dealers, auctioneers and a rich range of artists, from current market darlings Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby, to one-time art star Larry Poons. I love his story arc in the film because he was one of the breakout stars in the 1960s that walked away from “The Dot” painting style he was known for and could have kept doing to make money. Instead, he kept evolving and fell out of favor with the fickle modern art world. Now at the age of eighty-one, his new take on Abstract Expressionism paintings are being lauded as brilliant.
With millions literally being spent on art at the big auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's, people with the means are now adding art pieces to their portfolios alongside stocks, bonds, and real estate. Because of this shift in attitudes towards art as an investment and not just art for art's sake, the film asks questions like are we in the midst of an art crisis or bubble that will burst? Can the value of art really be measured in dollars and cents? How are these values assigned? And does the art market have a chilling effect on our great museums and the ability of the public to engage in the art of our time?
In the midst of all this monetizing of art, segments showing the artists actually creating and making it. We see the artists, unlike Koons, that form the art themselves. They may make a living off what they sell in the gallery shows, but they never see even a fraction of the millions that people pay at auction for it once it is resold. They do it because they are driven to create.
Not all collectors are shown in a bad light. People like Gael Neeson and her husband Stefan Edlis who donated 42 works of art, valued at more than 400 million, to the Art Institute of Chicago are precious people. They do trade in art but enjoy it on their walls and in their homes as well. They enjoy the magic that a truly magnificent piece of art can give to the viewer.
One of the art critics interviewed about the ultra rich that have turned the art auctions into a circus and art into a business transaction simply quoted Oscar Wilde and said, “Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
This Documentary is timely an even-handed. I think anyone that enjoys art especially modern art will enjoy The Price Of Everything. I give this documentary a solid B+ rating.
Directed by Nathaniel Kahn
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 1hr 38min
Limited Release October 26th The Alamo Drafthouse Lake Highlands Airing on HBO on November 12th
Starring: Amy Cappellazzo, George Condo, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Stefan Edlis, Larry Poons, Jeff Koons
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.