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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How much was that $1 Million Vase worth?

I've been pondering the irony of the fact that Ai Weiwei's art show in Miami was vandalized by local Miami Florida artist Maximo Caminero.  Caminero took one of the ancient, priceless Han Dynasty Chinese vases (apparently owned by Ai WeiWei, not China or its people) that Ai Weiwei's art team, under Weiwei's direction, vandalized by painting bright colored paint and he (Caminero) smashed the vases on the ground into smithereens.  

One could possibly call this performance art.  Or art imitating art.  

If you know nothing about Ai WeiWei, you might be surprised to learn that Ai and his team of artisan assistants smashed priceless antique vases as a part of a performance art statement that was filmed by Ai's team.  

I was surprised that so few of the reporting agencies that carried the story forgot to mention that this mirrored Ai's own work.  One of the few who actually got this ironic bit was the LA Times. 

Caminero says he did it because he was upset that the Perez Art Museum in Miami.  They apparently have neglected and passed over the local talents of artists who are available for the picking like the ripe fruit Florida is known for, choosing instead to seek out the art of those who are half a world away.

Having viewed Ai WeiWei's film Never Sorry, a 2012 documentary about his works and life, I value his contribution to the world, but I also see Caminero's point.  If more galleries would make more effort to show the works of local artists, the world would be even richer.  

And wouldn't it be delightful if a local gallery in China wanted to showcase a local artist from Miami and it caused a worldwide stir so that that artist's works would sell and become worth millions more than it was before the show.  Maybe, if they were really lucky, someone would come in and slash up the work.  It would make the news and the art prices for that artist would skyrocket.  Additionally, the artist would immediately gain the attention of the Art World as a Very Important Artist.  I'm just saying here that the ironies abound in this situation.

For some reason, Ai Weiwei, who some say is a better activist than artist, inspires other artists to springboard off of him.  For example, in 2011, the television show The Next Great Artist runner up Young Sun Han  used Ai WeiWei to catapult himself into a strong contender position to win the show.   Was his stack of tied up newspapers with the words 
Where is Ai Wei Wei and redaction truly art?  To me, it was. And perhaps the Art World only takes artworks seriously if they either focus on human rights issues or artists that do a figurative nose thumbing to the rules of the Art World.

Here is a very interesting report about Ai WeiWei's reaction to the destruction of the vase. The actions truly raises some serious questions for the Art World.  I particularly liked this quote "However, Mr Ai, 56, also believes that something positive may come out of the incident, namely more publicity for the art show in Miami, which so far has attracted little attention.   Now the show will be noticed," he said.  So practical of Ai.  I'm sure his show will now garner far more than the $1 Million that the broken vase was worth.

I have only one other question.  The artwork that Caminero smashed is reportedly worth $1 Million.  Is this what it was worth before Ai vandalized it by painting it?  Just curious.