The Art of Fred Martin
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On Art and Money

April 2006.
This month's little essay...
From Studio Notes, March 8, 2006.
Is there a value for art other than what people will pay? In a community with materialist values, it’s “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” So, what is the value of work made only second for market, but first—as was  the Shang bronze—for ritual worship of the powers of life?

The Shang bronze…an odd object crawling with forgotten meanings and crusted with thirty-five centuries of dirt: a dark mirror to reflect the face of every scholar since.

The Shang bronze is the ritual implement of a 3500 year old rite with content lost at least 2000 years ago; my painting is the ritual product of a recent method and with content surely lost on my death.

The content of and value for the Shang bronze—other than the monetary result of rarity—is what? The content and value for my painting is... ?

We (I) live in a time of “the transvaluation of all values”—to what purpose? To sell another one of whatever is being sold. In this flux of buying and selling, I have worshipped the gods of life as I have known them—Venus and Priapus, Aphrodite and the Herm. Their names have passed away as will the names I have given for them. But, as #3 March 2006 shows, the power of life in whatever name still ascends over the tumulus of death.