Strikes, Strokes and Dark Crossroads – Where does Art Meet Business?

Art, often considered to be the most sacrosanct thing to ever grace the human race. Creating art was like meditation for the artists, expressing things which they couldn’t put into words from their art. Current times, however, paint a very bleak picture as far as art is concerned, like everything else it has also been capitalised on by the bigwigs and hotshots from the upper echelons of society. Art has now become just another way of staying relevant in a society filled with posers and pretenders. The masters of the yesteryears did it the best, representing art for what life is with a higher meaning, contributing to a higher cause, and bringing the angels and demons of their world to us. But now, we live in a world filled with angels and demons alike that have lost their way and somewhere there, art lost its meaning.

The world of art has become an industry, churning out mass-produced art to appeal to the masses and exploit it for their own monetary gain. The works of Van Gogh are being turned into immersive theatre experiences, for example.

Though it gives people a glimpse into his world, it has lost its importance. Basking under the swirling sky of the starry night has now been brought into reality. But, the true meaning has shifted, the pain and misunderstanding that Van Gogh went through are completely disregarded for aesthetic purposes, and the pain is whitewashed for the purpose of beauty.

Yayoi Kusama, the revered Japanese artist collaborated with Louis Vuitton, the same artist that wanted to create an infinite loop with her psychedelic dotted art, created a line of handbags. Exhibit A of The Business of Art. Yet another artist’s ingenuity sold out for wealth and fame. Her art has now become somewhat repetitive and derivative after the collaboration. The work of a true artist never wavers nor changes, but in recent times, there have been many artists who sell their work or turn it into prints for mass production, to make a grand living off of it.


Yayoi Kusama with her viral Louis Vuitton collaboration. Source: Tatler Asia

The commercialised world of art is plagued with so many more issues. Even though art is now easily accessible, many artists are turned down, no matter the quality of work, just because they do not have the clout or the “IT factor” to brand their work. In another sense, art is something bigger than the art itself. It’s no longer about the artist expressing their deepest desires and feelings through a medium they consider to be freeing and safe,, it’s to sell culture, when people associate with it, they feel themselves to be a part of something they might not necessarily understand completely

The meaning of art has vastly shifted, this difference can be seen from the numerous real-world repercussions. Like the NFTs of Monkey faces that had more value than paintings with care and detail.

Nowadays, art is both highly commercialised and highly-priced, the paintings of old and new masters being owned by the wealthy, to show off wealth, not knowing what the painting means.

Even after artists die, their work is being capitalised on, like, Keith Haring, who passed away after his works took off. His prints were sold everywhere and used on mass-produced products like t-shirts and posters.

The new generation thinks that putting up an aesthetic poster of the works of Van Gogh or Botticelli on their wall, makes them cultured, but that just goes to show that they will never understand the thought or the hard work put into them. 

The most appalling and dismal example of today’s art scene is the underpaid and overworked writers in Hollywood,  going on strike because they have been stiffed from what they deserve: Health benefits, good pay and more recognition. Shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, which ended almost 2 decades ago, still stay relevant now because of how well it has been written, well-thought-out concepts like the true bond of friendship, finding love in your 30s, adoption, changing careers later in life and even not finding a partner like Joey, until the very end, has a lot of real-world impact. 

The Hollywood Writer’s Guild strike shows how far the business of art has gone. Source: Vanity Fair

Using a more relevant example to this generation, like the show Euphoria, encapsulates the struggles that the present generation goes through with abusive relationships, drugs and real-world politics of a teenager’s world. The writers and the actors have been the sole reason for that. But, only a tiny part of the show is credited to the writers.

They have been wronged by the production houses, the ones who fund the projects. Without good writers, we would end up having shows like The Idol. Both of these shows, Euphoria and The Idol have been produced and directed by Sam Levinson, but the quality of the story is as different as day and night.

Art has umpteen different forms, whether it’s canvas, music or written, and in this dog-eat-dog world, it has lost its meaning. Even the voice of a person and their ability to write music has been taken advantage of and mismanaged. Record houses not paying royalties to the respective artists, causing them tremendous mental trauma and distrust in people, is just scratching the surface of this problematic industrial behaviour.

The ticket sales for these artists’ concerts are charged so exorbitantly, that they take advantage of the people’s love for the artist and their work and exploit it with merch sales and CDs.

To conclude, the world is a very exploitative place, no matter what talent you express and want to make a decent living out of it, eventually, the true meaning behind the art is exploited and turned into something away from what it originally meant.

There is no clear-cut way to beat the system in place, all you can do is take control of what you place where and analyse the situation before it’s too late, like Taylor Swift taking control of her own fate by re-recording her music to take her rights of it from Capital records, from Braun Scooter who tried to steal her own voice from her. Now, she records, produces, directs and casts her own crew for everything and is a raging success in the music industry, turning it into a successful billion-dollar business, in the most graceful way possible. Like her, if you do succeed in beating the archaic system in place, mission accomplished!

Written by Sai Shree for MTTN

Edited by Chaitanya Pandey for MTTN

Featured Image by The Art Assignment via YouTube

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