There are many possible ways to make a documentary about art and money. One tack might be to focus on the question of art’s value. Where does this value lie? Is art more valuable than a house? Than liberty? A human life? These are interesting questions, but unfortunately, Nathaniel Kahn’s new documentary, The Price of Everything, barely touches on them. Another approach might be to cast a broader net, and discuss blue chip art as one of many models artists have of making money off their work: regional artists selling to a local market, performance artists living off commission, workaday artists making souvenirs for tourists. These lives are interesting too, but Kahn’s documentary makes no mention of them. One could even make a comparative study of the few activities that receive market attention versus the many that have been practiced and continue to be practiced with no relation to markets at all: hobbies, cave paintings, ritual objects, outsider and underground art, decorative doodles in the margins of notebooks. This would be a fascinating typology, but unfortunately, Kahn’s documentary does not attempt it.
Van Der Plas Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Venticento, a show of classically-inspired nudes on canvas, wall and paper by Russian-American artist Phil Rabovsky. Taking its name from the quattrocento, or Italian High Renaissance, Venticento is a twenty-first century look at the humanist tradition, bringing out ways this tradition has idealized, standardized, and appropriated the female body as a cultural symbol. Parallel to this critique, the show also sees in humanism the remains of something valuable—a faith in our own agency and ability to access truth that is missing from the politically-disoriented postmodern world. Politics, humanism reminds us, is not just about resisting power. It must also build polities. In light of recent events, Venticento asks if it is possible to reclaim a positive image of our own power, and believe in civilization once again.