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1/4 — John Myatt, *The Harvest*. via Castle Galleries



Art So Bad It Feels Good

When we think of ‘bad art’ usually what comes to mind is a lawn stricken with plastic flamingos, kitschy garden gnomes, and without a doubt, motel/dentist art (I wonder if they have the same decorator). Oscar Wilde said, “Bad art is a great deal worse than no art all.” Well Oscar, it seems that the public thinks otherwise.

According to The New York Times, the market for ‘bad art’ is having a thriving resurgence, with its market attaining levels typically reserved for the likes of Basquiat, Pollock, and Hirst. Alright, alright, we exaggerate but $10,000 “price points might seem puny compared with what’s being paid today at auction for hot young names like Alex Israel — one of whose abstracts fetched $1 million in May — but sales of this kind of commercial contemporary art can add up.”

What’s the deal with this ‘bad art’? Well, for one, they’re basically “genuine fakes”, meaning artists like John Myatt, Robert Deyber, and Bernard Buffet, each of which unabashedly insinuates mimics of Van Gogh, de Chirico, and Dalí/Magritte, respectively. And even though their price point might be higher than expected, their collection and profit worth are essentially as bad as the art itself. Regardless, these pieces sell, and calculatedly so – galleries settled in vacation hotspots or cruise ships, like Martin Lawrence in SoHo, bait customers with Warhol or Basquiat pieces and then offer more accessible but equally as “art” pieces by the younger artists.

So if there is no collector worth then why do people buy them? Says Myatt, “Buying these paintings isn’t a display activity for a wealthy elite. People are buying simply because they like them.” Hey, as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks…just make sure you’re not paying $10,000 for something you can get at the Salvation Army for $5.

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