If you remain someone who likes to think that art is valued only for its creativity, “The Price of Everything” should straighten you out. Directed by Nathaniel Kahn, this documentary takes you deep inside the contemporary art world and exposes how money and marketing trump creavity.
Not completely, of course. Differences in taste play a role, but by the time you have viewed this incisive film and listened to the battery of interviews it contains, you will have a broad picture of the crassness that exists.
Kahn takes us into various galleries as well as the operation of auction houses. We see what may determine values on particular works and reasons people collect, sometimes because one enjoys a work, but often purely as art investment. The art market flourishes on buying to park one’s money and eventually sell.
An artist will become especially hot for the moment, so that his or her work is a good investment. (You may either enjoy or recoil as some of the paintings you see.) There is also the problem that if someone buys art enthusiastically to hold in one’s personal collection, that takes it away fom the public’s opportunity to see it.
Popular Jeff Koons is extensively interviewed. Among the many others on whom director Kahn focuses are gallery owner and art dealer Mary Boone as well as artist Gerhard Richter. Larry Poons, whose popularity declined but who is coming to the fore again, is another interviewed.
“The Price of Everything” stands as an important, informative and often entertaining tour through today’s art scene and anyone interested in the subject would do well to see what director Kahn has achieved. An HBO Documentary Films release. Reviewed October 20, 2018.