Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Other Modernism

Here's a wonderful little bronze (82.5 cm)
by one of my favorite
20th C. sculptors,
Waino Aaltonen (1894-1966)

It was just sold
at auction
for 7400 Euros (about $10,000 )

So 6,500 of them
could have been purchased
with the money the Art Institute of Chicago
just spent on a a Kazimir Malevich

Is Waino somehow less modern than Kazimir?

He's 16 years younger,
he was considered
a modern sculptor in his day,
and his work
is just as distinctively 20th C.

He didn't write a manifesto like Malevich did,
but does anyone still seriously believe
that geometric art
expresses a more pure feeling
than pieces that are more recognizably figurative?

Though actually,
I'm quite glad
the A.I.C. did not buy
this piece
or 6,500 other
20th Century bronzes.

Because if they did,
all those pieces would
soon be sitting in the museum basement,
and nobody alive
would ever see them again.

When artworks
are left in the art market,
some people (even if a very few)
actually get to see them.

And when the next generation
puts them to auction,
large, juicy images,
like the ones above,
are published by the auction house.

Images that are far, far better
than anything any public art museum
is ever willing to offer.


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