income inequality drives art prices up

When conceptual artist Andrea Fraser was invited to be in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, she responded with an essay entitled “There’s no place like home” in which talked about why she’s not really part of the contemporary art world. It was printed in the biennial’s catalog, and a companion piece called “L’1% c’est moi” appeared in Texte zur Kunst. I found both on the website of continent, which is also hosting a download of the full pdf (which I heartily recommend, she’s an ace writer). It takes someone of the stature of Fraser to talk with authority about withdrawing from the insanity of the art world, since the horror of less well-known artists tends to be dismissed as some form of sour grapes.

One of the points Fraser makes draws on a Yale study showing that, globally, increasing inequality of income is strongly tied to inflation of art prices. Specificially, for every 1 percentage point of increase in the income earned by the top tenth of a percent (0.1%), art prices rise an astonishing 14%.