press release

Investigating the rising power of the art market over taste, the influences weighing on people’s choice, and the notion of building a new history of art, DNA Berlin's exhibition explores the subjective and personal value given to an artwork. Both parties, artists and collectors, participate to the new deal where art pieces are goods. What triggers the action of buying or selling a work once it has already been bought? The primary market refers to the first sale of an artwork, through a gallery or directly from the artist; while the secondary market deals with works that have already been sold, at least once, by collectors. Because the art market's participants are extremely few, and because artworks are not fungible, art valuation mainly relies on the enthusiasm of a handful of analysts. But trends are powerful in our society of euphoric spectacles where the social links are mediated by images.


The game of axiology does not comply with fixed rules, for its players are fickle. Selling has thus the same purpose as buying: it is an answer to an emotional connection felt or lost towards a work, and collectors often sell in order to diversify their collection. One can argue that the process of estimating the potential market value of contemporary art is more a financial rather than an aesthetic concern, however it remains an emotional investment far from economic measures. Pleasure, by definition, never lasts forever.


The fact of being given, of passing from hands to hands is probably the best thing that can happen to an art piece that, in traveling, will encounter a new audience, new exhibition spaces; while if stored in a storage room, owned by some patient speculator, its environment could be compared to a cemetery. Moreover, not only is art always produced in a historical context, but the first buyer also has his own history that adds some dimension to the piece, enlightening a certain possibility of reception: an enriching opportunity for cryptic works. What meaning has to inherit from a work of 2005 in 2015? It is a very short period of time, everything changes fast and no one has enough distance to seize what structures the contemporary scene. In revisiting some of the Pop art principles, which are modern, Julian Opie, Johannes Wohnseifer and Lucie Stahl have contributed to creating a self-referring modernity; while works of Neo Rauch or Sam Francis built new aesthetics that are related to more traditional and even classical movements such as surrealism or lyrical abstraction.


Who decides the value of an art piece? Answering « the market », or « the ranking system » is but incomplete. Saying that the authority of experts prevails over taste would not give justice to the real value of the spontaneous aesthetic pleasure, and the force of art is to always redefine itself. Concentrating on defining art by its use or monetary value is missing the nature of art. It is possible to change our vision of a theory of art, only if we also change our vision of art. In other words, on the one hand, the value of art depends on its value for the viewer, and on the other hand, defining a way of evaluation will also give birth to a definition. At the end, the decision-maker is always you, from the private experience you have with the art piece.