Final: Revising Essay #1
So, here it is, the end of the semester. Hard to believe. In order to try to bring closure to our conversations regarding the role of art and the artist in American culture, you will return to the first thing you wrote for this class and revise it.
What do I mean by revise? Well, to revise means literally to “re-see” it. In the case of your essay on the ways in which Weatherford’s The History of Money relates to value of art and the artist, I want you to re-see it through the lens of everything that we have read and discussed this semester. In particular, I want you to pay close attention to Lawrence Weschler’s Boggs: A Comedy of Values. In many ways, Weschler is trying to answer the question you took up in your essays.
Beginning at the bottom of page twenty-two in Boggs (I said twenty-five in class, sorry), Weschler starts to connect the history of money and the idea of money/currency to the work of the artist. On page twenty-four, he quotes Norman O. Brown:
It is essential to the nature of money for the objects into which wealth or value is condensed to be practically useless … .This theorem is equally true for modern money (gold) and for archaic money (dog’s teeth).
Weschler then further interprets Brown:
Brown goes on to suggest that money therefore consists in the transubstantiation of the worthless into the priceless (of the “filthy” into “lucre).
Hmmm….This should sound very familiar. The artist—no matter her medium—is engaging in a similar process of creating worth and value where previously none or (literally) nothing existed. We could say this for DaVinci as easily as we could say it of Banksy.
So, your assignment for the final, is to revise your first essay in light of the connections Weschler is making between money and art and the value of art. Again, pages 22-35 are a good place to start, but there are plenty of other places in the book that would be useful, too.
You can and should borrow from, and use as examples, things you wrote on this blog over the course of the semester, including your reflections on leisure, your evaluation of a piece of campus art, your responses to On the Road, and your oral presentation (as well as that of others in the class).
You can also borrow from things your classmates wrote, though you will have to quote them properly (use MLA style!).
Please be prepared to discuss your ideas for revision next week. The entire last day of class will be devoted to discussing the revision, but I would like to also schedule an additional help session (food and drinks provided) during Reading Days, so stay tuned for that.
See you next week. In the meantime, re-read what you wrote on the blog and finish Boggs.
PS Please see this article in today’s NY Times for even more ammunition for your revision! Here’s a little taste of it:
Prominent art writers and critics, including Sarah Thornton, Felix Salmon, Will Gompertz and Dave Hickey, have been attacking the art world, arguing that the staggering sums of money being spent on works are distorting judgments about art and undermining its long-term cultural significance.
“Money talks loudly and easily drowns out other meanings,” Ms. Thornton wrote in TAR magazine in a recent article, “Top 10 Reasons NOT to Write About the Art Market.”
In its special edition for the opening day of the fair, The Art Newspaper asked whether “the art world is facing a crisis of values” because of the “pernicious influence of the market on art.”