Buzzfeed video: Can you tell which art is more expensive?

As soon as I saw this video pop up in my recommended videos on YouTube, I had a feeling I might want to write a blog post about it. I think it drives home some of the points I’ve made before about modern and contemporary art, accessibility, and how art is perceived. I also took a few things away from the video, like how art is represented or portrayed. In this video, various Buzzfeed staff, including artists, are asked to pick between two works of art which one is more expensive. No context is given, and they are not to scale.

buzzfeed potato vs freight train

Immediately this raised some things in my mind, as I thought this would not only automatically make it more difficult, especially as some of these pieces ended up being massive in scale, but photographs of art, no matter how good, do not convey the full experience of a piece of art. Seriously. The second point is that the video then just conveys that monetary value, and how to determine this, is the most important quality in a work of art. It shouldn’t be. Many museums won’t even disclose the values of artworks/artifacts because it should be irrelevant, and/or because they are priceless (and, I imagine, to help prevent theft…)

Some quotes from the buzzfeed staff

The one that is more stupid is the one that’s more expensive.

I’m getting more emotion out of this [one]…

…the simpler and low key uglier is more expensive

I like this one better…  [but..]

Neither really speak to me

Should I just go take photos of potatoes now?

While there is some idea of emotion, feeling, and identification with the pieces, this is never the most important value expressed. It is fully on the monetary value, and I think many people’s perceptions of modern art are reinforced in the dialogue we see occurring: art is stupid, expensive, unapproachable, impossible to understand.  Focusing on monetary value doesn’t help any of these issues, which is what we do need to start focusing on. How does the ‘ordinary’ person understand art, beyond what is expensive or famous?

Many of the comments on the video were actually quite insightful, and I enjoyed reading the debate! Overall, they may be the best things to come out of the video… I know the point was to do a light hearted, easy video, but I do think it raised good questions, as the comments demonstrate.
You can watch the video here:

Enjoy reading some of my favourite comments below, and I’m sure new ones have already been added to the comments section on YouTube.

buzzfeed comments 2buzzfeed comments 3buzzfeed comments 4buzzfeed comments 5buzzfeed comments


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