Part of the series: “The Great Art Conspiracy”
In part 1 of this series, I explained how standards were intentionally destroyed in art, for private profit and government propaganda. In the process, a wealthy elite took by force the role of tastemakers, newly able to define art as anything they wanted.
With the power to call anything “art” comes the ability to call anyone an “artist”. After all, signing a urinal is enough. All that matters is that something is on display, to be bought, sold, and donated. All that matters is that the money keeps flowing.
This article will not point fingers. I have no interest in naming names; the whole structure is so corrupt that singling out individuals would be a distraction. Furthermore, it would compromise my already fragile anonymity. I will highlight a few well-publicized cases.
With the power to select who prospers in the art world, and lack of ability no longer disqualifying, the obvious beneficiaries are the sons and daughters of the wealthy. We touched on this in part 1, and the mechanism is self-explanatory. But you can’t run the whole industry on nepotism, if you want to keep it looking clean to the public. So how do you select the lucky few who are raised from poverty to fame and fortune? Which “starving artists” get to eat?
For over a century, the selection mechanism for new artists raised to prominence has been rape.
Rape: an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; an outrageous violation.
For over a century, artists have been trapped in a sophisticated financial and propaganda operation. To sniff the heights of success, they have been sexually abused, critically misled, financially enslaved, and robbed of their creative freedom. The end goal is extinction: the elimination of the artist entirely. We will address these abuses in order.
Some have cynically gone along with this, and even roped others into the scheme. But most are innocents. For the true artist, to create is not a want, but a need: a burning fire inside that simply must be expressed.
And so, faced with an art “industry” of unfathomable corruption, they have been forced to go along. What choice did they have? To not try at all would be a fate worse than death.
The destruction of standards in the world of art was backed by enormous financial and state power. Since the early 20th century, a propaganda operation global in scale has abused the many, and the very nature of art, for the benefit of a select few. The tastemaking capability in art has been restricted to a handful of institutions, whose disciples have spread its corrupt system across the world, supported (among other sources) by Rockefeller money and CIA power. All of this is detailed in part 1.
With the objective value of art (such as judgments on the basis of skill, technique, and vision) demolished, it is impossible for the public – or the tax authorities – to determine why or how certain artists, and certain pieces, become favored or disfavored. This results in a system that is the perfect cover for abuse. There can be no scrutiny of why one piece, or one artist, is celebrated and successful, while another is not. All of the power rests in the hands of the gatekeepers.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how sexual abuse then occurs. If you don’t keep the gatekeepers happy, you can’t get in the gate. Let me list a small selection of cases I have seen. Professors holding back passing grades, recommendations, and referrals unless they receive sexual favors. Gallerists reserving shows for those they have slept with. Art publishers and auction house runners raping those who work under them. Wealthy buyers teasing a sale, but not completing the transaction until they’ve extracted sex. It’s a great way to hide infidelity from a spouse, too: I gave them my money and time because I love their art, honest. Major collaborations and promotions hinging on participation in depraved orgies. This is not limited to men or women, on the side of the abusers or the abused. I myself have been propositioned by both men and women for advancement. And while the abuse is equal opportunity (surprisingly so), the abusers do tend to have their preferences. It is not for “social justice” reasons alone that the growth of this control system in the art world has coincided with a rise in the number of gay and women artists.
Make no mistake, the “Harvey Weinstein” style of doing business reigns supreme. Sexual abuse is rife and systematized. It is notable that Netflix’s Epstein documentary opens with the case of Maria Farmer, who was introduced to Epstein by a member of the Guggenheim family (of New York City museum fame). She was pressured into selling her art to the billionaire financier at cut price, then lured into a residency where she, and her underage sister, were sexually assaulted.
Honestly, it would be too depressing for both me as writer and you as reader to elaborate further. As I said, it’s not hard to see how this works, and you can find or deduce plenty more examples. This is hardly exclusive to art: the Hollywood case has been mentioned, and you can find the same in many industries, including the music business or book publishing, all of which are highly centralized. Unlike movies or music, however, art is barely consumed by mass audiences at all, so it can operate deep in the shadows. The elite circles of art are so small, the industry so close-knit, and, after the destruction of standards, the public so disinterested, that nobody dares to speak out – and if they did, who would hear them?
People in the art world are scared stiff, whether they realize it or not. Power is held in the hands of the few, who are connected to the centers of power in the world at large. So it is no surprise that almost no art is really speaking truth to power.
How can one be terrified, and not realize it? The mind operates on conscious and subconscious levels. At the conscious level, the efforts of state and financial power over the last century have been so massive, and so totalizing, that we now have decades upon decades of theory and rationalization for “modernism” and “postmodernism”. Entire generations have grown up, lived, and died under this system. There are academics whose whole careers have been built as the unknowing tools of a financial and propaganda operation. Remember: to maintain this scheme, not only is true artistic talent not prioritized, it is actively attacked. If given the choice, audiences will select the classical style. At the subconscious level, the participants in this scheme know that it stinks: something fraudulent is going on, there isn’t any real meaning behind any of it, and for all the claims of democracy and liberation, the art world is completely subservient to the whims of a tiny, powerful, moneyed elite.
The cognitive dissonance results in bizarre, self-destructive, and cruel behavior. Knowing, deep down, that barely anyone is holding their position on the value of merit, people begin to act in naked self-interest and play the games of power politics. As with the art itself, and as with the sexual environment, the rule becomes: anything goes.
Anything, that is, except what could be a threat to the power structure. Sadly, this includes the creation of works that dare to truly excel: because if you show up the rest of the slop that has been accepted, packaged, and sold as art, you might end up bringing the whole thing down.
Earnest artists enter the world of art and are guided by teachers, agents, galleries and museums into actively making their art worse. The deception is so total that sometimes every single participant in this chain does not even know why they are doing it.
It’s all good, though – as long as the money keeps flowing.
When you have a system where all the value is decided by those at the top, you will eventually end up with more and more of that money flowing to the top. After all, if no work is better or worse than any other, and artists are not selected on the basis of merit, does it really matter who the artists are? They can be swapped out at will, and if the control is total enough, they will end up taking almost any deal you put on the table.
The result has been financial enslavement. Artists are desperate to make a living doing what they love, but have no options to find an audience that have not been captured directly by the oligarchical scheme, or brainwashed by the century-long propaganda effort. Under this control system, there are few spots for artists, and much more supply than there is demand. So artists have no choice but to submit to the financial schemes imposed on them by industry agents.
What do agents require? Well, you’d be hard pressed to find an artist not giving away at least 20% to a combination of agents and galleries. That number is actually almost unheard of: far more often, the figure is 30-50%. And there are manycases where after all is accounted for, the artist will receive under 10% of the actual price for their own work. In fact, the most common arrangement found nowadays is for the artist to pay up front for the right to even be shown in a gallery or exhibit. That’s before those percentage fees are deducted.
It’s little wonder you see so many artists living like serfs. Even if they understood the finances – and let’s face it, they’re artists, not accountants – they would have little option but to get screwed. But many hold out hope that eventually they’ll be in the right place, at the right time, and they’ll start to have the leverage to change the deals in their favor.
The reality, though, is you’re unlikely to find an advantage in a financial game pioneered by the Rockefellers and the CIA. Most artists won’t ever turn the tables – even if they “make it”.
How could an artist become celebrated, and have their works sell for high ticket prices, yet still not be making any money? I’ll give you an example of a cruel trap that I have seen many an artist fall into.
A young artist gets into a prestigious art academy. Often, they get into debt to do so. At this school, they produce, say, 20 works over the years. At the graduation exhibits, a collector “discovers” them, and buys up all their works for $5k a pop. The young artist now has $100k! Subtract agent fees, pay off the school debt, and you’re not left with much, but at least you’re being collected now.
The collector begins to pull the strings. They set up some gallery shows, maybe get their friends in the art press to run some articles, pay some people to show up at the gallery opening. Yes, that really happens – but you could also just offer free champagne to anyone who walks in the door to boost the crowd a bit. The journalists and photographers from your friends in the press need to see a crowd for social proof. The collector has now got a bit of buzz going, and the average value of the artist’s work has increased to $20k a pop.
That’s a 300% return in just a few months! The artist is over the moon – they’re dreaming of their warehouse studio and pied-a-terre already. Unfortunately, they already sold all their works when they graduated. All of that profit goes to the collector, who dumps the 20 works into the market onto unsuspecting buyers – or their circle of friends, who all scratch each other’s backs.
The artist doesn’t mind, because they have a new baseline price. But it took them years in art school to make those 20 works, and you’re only ever in the spotlight for a moment. They simply cannot produce works fast enough to profit as the collector did, before their 15 minutes is up. And, of course, money isn’t really a motivator for producing great art.
By the time they have enough works made to make some real money, the collectors have moved on and somebody else is the flavor of the moment. Well, they might not sell for $20k any more, but they can always go back to the $5k price point. Right? But then the agent breaks the news – if you start chucking artworks into the market willy nilly, you will be diluting the value of your catalog overall. Can’t do that, or you’ll be blacklisted. And under no circumstances can you ever start listing works at your old “I-just-graduated” prices – you would be depreciating the value of the works held by your collectors. And you’ll be blacklisted.
Maybe you’re sick of it all anyway, and you’ll just find an independent gallery. You’ll just have to pony up the fees to display. And of course, if you make any sales, remember your friendly agent is going to need his cut.
The artist is now despondent. There has to be a way out, right? Well, we know of one way to curry favor and get ahead, at the cost of your body and dignity. Is there another?
Artists tend to be a kooky bunch. You need to have a few screws loose to pour your heart and soul out for the judgment of the world. They’re often moody, too, which is hardly surprising when you consider what they face in the industry. All of this leads to unpredictability, and such inconsistency is bad for business. Not only that, but PR disaster is always one mistimed comment away – or one ill-advised disclosure of what’s really going on behind the scenes.
This kind of risk is intolerable for the interests in control. So they will pull out all the stops to make sure they stay in control. It helps when the artist has been abused and deliberately misled for as long as they’ve been in the industry, and it definitely helps to enslave them financially. But all of this can eventually become intolerable, and those unpredictable artists are likely to snap and do something rash. So a way has been made for them to stay afloat, and get their feet back under them: shut up and do what we tell you.
So long as you don’t say anything stupid, so long as you do exactly as you’re told, you’ll be allowed to continue existing. At this point, the artist is entirely dependent on the control system for survival. And the system packages them to be good for business, turning them – and their art – into a commodity, against their will. I know black artists who resent that they are called “black artists”, and their work packaged and sold as “black art”. I know Latinas who will sigh and go to the events around “Hispanic voices” and “powerful women” to prostitute themselves and repeat the mantras, even though they would rather just be… artists. I’ve met a talented nude painter who was forced by his agent to start painting vaguely Asian looking women, because the agent found a niche in the Chinese market. And it’s funny how these wild creatives end up churning out such formulaic works. Surely some painters would like to try their hand at photography? Or photographers at sculpture, perhaps? Well, do it on your own time, and don’t bring it to market. You need to have a focused catalog. You know the rules: play along or get blackballed. Shut up and do what we tell you.
Eliminating The Artist
This system of abusing the artists has created great pleasure and wealth for the rich and powerful. But the desires for pleasure and wealth are bottomless pits, and the taste for them never satisfied. They think to themselves, how can we get even more?
Sure, sexually abusing upcoming artists and those in the industry brings some fleeting pleasure. But with enough money, sex is never hard to find. Power is its own aphrodisiac. Ultimately, it was never about sex. Art was destroyed to increase the wealth and power of the ultra-rich and their captive governments. It’s just good business. And any good business is always looking to cut costs and eliminate risks. Keeping the artists subjugated takes a lot of effort, time, and money. Plus, there’s always the risk they start to speak out.
Wouldn’t it be convenient if the artists could be eliminated entirely? They’re basically placeholders as it is.
For that matter, wouldn’t it be convenient if the whole charade of the galleries and museums could be eliminated? If canvases and installations didn’t need to be shipped from city to city, and country to country?
Wouldn’t it be convenient if people and things would just go away? If the art could be created out of thin air, given a value determined by the gatekeepers, then moved and traded at the speed of light?
In part 3 of the series, we will take a look at the rise of the NFT.
Series home: “The Great Art Conspiracy”