Artwork or not work? – Why art is sacred and the key to sociability

Erik Empson
Egon Schiele: “The work of art is sacred, too.”

E.F Schumacher: “…there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price.”

The awe which may have once greeted any one excellent work of art, is today more likely to be generated by the price it fetched when sold than anything to do with the work’s visual affect. How do we account for this apparent reversal?

Art, because of its uniqueness, and because it is the result of irreducible, complex human labour, never fitted into the Marxian conception of value and work – based as it was on factory production and its particular type of discipline. But in escaping that dreary paradigm, artists themselves have long struggled over the problem of authenticity and the commodity form and in so doing sought to challenge the separation between art and life.

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