Mysterious Art: The “I Could Have Done That” Cliché

You’ve surely been in a museum at least once in your lifetime. And even if not, you probably have seen your fair share of art on the internet. And while there are the iconic pieces of artists like Salvador Dali or Vincent Van Gogh, there is other work that does not seem very distinguishable and thus has caused one famous outcry: I could Have done that too!

Recipients of these outcries are usually pieces that seem overly simple, like an exclusively one-colored canvas with little to no visible variation from a distance or simple structures with plain color schemes. And to be entirely honest with you, I too don’t get this kind of art, and some of us could recreate it without much effort. What’s the point then you ask? Let’s dig a bit deeper, shall we?

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Not as Simple as It Seems

While some modern art pieces may seem very simple on the outside, this is not necessarily the case. Even plain pictures can be challenging to create. Some nuances and details are only really visible when standing right in front of it. Often there are textures worked into the painting or specific patterns achieved by slight variations in the chosen color. What may look like a blue pane from a distance, might be a mixture of several bluish colors up close, arranged in a certain way.

Modern art is often simple, and many people, therefore, devaluate it. But being fair, a painting is a painting, and a simple one may not put ideas straight in your head as a complex one would. A portrait is straightforward, even when not closely expected. It instantly means something to us. The more abstract it gets though, we have to actively project things into it to perceive it in a certain way. Again, just to be clear, I struggle with this as much as you do. Nonetheless, that’s how it is, and that’s why I’ll never be an art guy.

But even then, some may claim they can produce similar pictures, and that is entirely true, they can indeed. But then it’s just an amateur copy of another painting. Like it or not, you may conceive a picture as super simple, yet you did not have the idea to create it. There is no point being pissed at the simplicity certain art inhibits. But if it’s not a thing of skill, why are those paintings yielding millions of dollars, while if I came up with a similar idea no one would pay me a dime? Oh, that’s simple. The whole game is rigged of course.

The Exclusive Art Scene

No matter what skills or ideas you have, there are countless other artists around that don’t make millions. But why are some successful and others not, is there anything they do better than me? Well, they certainly do know the right people, who can lift them up to make money themselves. The whole art industry with all its auctions and galleries is a straightforward money making scheme of rich people. Let’s look at an example.

The collectors market is mainly comprised of people holding significant amounts of money, which is why major galleries only sell to prominent collectors. This practice alone elevates prices above payable amounts for most people. If a painting is auctioned, it may get artificially pushed by the auction house or by the owner (anonymous bidding) to yield higher prices in addition to that. Once a painting generates a high amount of money, the whole collection of the artist will be worth more, which is another incentive for owners of these paintings to get the prices pushed higher.

Simple Money

Paintings can be used very efficiently to launder money as well because they usually don’t lose their value. If you go into any gallery and buy a painting for 4 million, the price of that painting is henceforth 4 million or more when it gets resold. Therefore bringing in some cash to buy some painting is not the worst idea to transfer the value of the money into something less shady.

If money laundering isn’t your thing, it can always help you to get text cuts. As the value of paintings is artificially created by “experts” you are free to donate a painting you deem worth millions to the local museum to create tax benefits.

It may look like simple art. However, there’s more to it, and it is unlikely any of us mortals underneath the elite will be able to replicate any of it. Don’t be discouraged though if you’re an artist, there are still ways to earn a living, perhaps not a couple million though.

About Andreas Salmen

Born and raised in Germany, learned a job in IT and Business and ultimately decided that this wasn't exactly where my life was going to end. Left everything behind to become a writing backpacker instead. The world's crumbling away anyway so why not write about it and get a few good Instagram pics on the way, am I right?

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