Saturday, 31 July 2010

Supply, demand and art

From The Joyless Economy:
However similar the differences between producers' and consumers' tastes and between artists' and their public's tastes may be, our reaction to them is very different. We would much rather see consumers' tastes influence what producers sell them than the other way around; but many of us would hesitate to express a similar preference for the influence of the public's tastes on artists' products. The reason is that when we weigh the artist's stimulus enjoyment against the public's, we tend to give the artist the greater weight. For works of art are durable sources of enjoyment that can last for years, or even centuries. Since the specialist's judgment is believed to be a better predictor than is that of the general public concerning what posterity's judgment is going to be, we attach the weight to the specialist's judgment. This, of course, outweighs that of the single present generation. Hence the feeling that artists should not prostitute their art to please the consumer's passing fancy and make more money. By sticking to what they deem good, they may stay poor, but have a better chance of gaining recognition of posterity and of pleasing the more durable fancy of future generations of art connoisseurs.

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