Do artists have to be weird?

Want to buy a fine art print? Not easy as it sounds! Last Friday in London, Sotheby’s had just hammered down a $1.4 million bid on the infamous and secretive street artist, Banksy’s art print creation, Girl with a Red Balloon, when – accompanied by gasps and yells of surprise – a shredder, hidden in the frame, consumed and shredded half the digital print (as shown in the photo inset).

Supposedly, Sotheby’s, nor anyone else but the artist, knew it was going to happen.

Shock. Dismay. Horror.

Or was it an ‘Artist message to the world’? According to Jonathan Jones of The Guardian* (no relation to our Jonathan Zak Jones) it was just that: “Art is being choked to death by money. The only rebellion left is for artists to bite the hands that feed them – as Banksy appears to have done on Friday night”

Uhhh, Publicity stunt to drive up the prices? Some say the half-shredded piece will now be worth over 2M. Not bad, making .6 mil in 10 seconds! Take it!

But, no, the Guardian’s JJ goes on: “For once, an artist has genuinely pissed all over the system that reduces art to nothing but a commodity. What happened at Sotheby’s is Banksy’s greatest work. He has said something that needed to be said: art is being choked to death by money. The market turns imagination into an investment and protest into decor for some oligarch’s house. The only real rebellion left is for works of art to destroy themselves the moment they are sold.”

I admit, I have burned up stacks of my paintings before. They were not my light ray photographs, nor my light prints…they were actual paintings. I will look for the photos and show you one day. Problem is, unlike Banksy, who at least had strips of his piece still around, all I had to re-sell was a handful of ashes. And how could you prove those weren’t the result of last week’s trash fire? Or grandma?

So, do artists have to be weird?

Seems to be working, so why the hell not? I am wondering if we should blow up a Light Sculpture or burn a stack of Light Ray Photographs…

What do you think? Let us know.

*The Guardian October 8, 2018 – Jonathan Jones


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