Selling Out Or Take What You Can Get: Hiroshi Sugimoto for Hermes

The tale of how Hiroshi Sugimoto came to his pictures  of pure light is beautiful: He evokes a long running history from Newton over Goethe into an everyday practice of careful observation and attentiveness. And then Hermes goes on to make a scarf out of it that sells from 7000$ upward.

What does that mean? Selling out? The circular organization of history, that vortexed us back into the Renaissance, where art is funded by seigniors and kept behind the high, expensive walls of castles? Or just ignore this aspect, wake up to the harsh, social realities of how art is produced and distributed, come on, don’t be so naive? Or how far democratizing art has brought us, the attempts of the 68-generation to bring art out of the museum and break down barriers of social strata has mostly failed. Art is still linked to money, to wealth, to a certain ability for leisure. Basically not because of a lack of acces, but mostly because “the worker” does not care (nor does he even exist any more) – which was part of the disappointment of this generation, that lead them on their march through the institution into the sober, anti-utopian and “realistic” state we have today. Today it seems like these ideas of connecting art to a liberation-movement, discussing it in a social context of classes seems ridiculous: A large part of the funding of art-production is unthinkable without the contributions of companies like Deutsche Bank or British Petrol. So, should we accuse Sugimoto of “selling out”, when producing art for scarves for (very) rich  people? Or just accept the world as it is, take the money and do great art with it?

No matter what, the project is beautiful, which in the end, when all castles have crumbled to dust is what actually matters…

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