Thursday, January 29, 2009

Paris Becomes Walmart

Not sure if this is a recession related phenomenon, but it sure is a shift.

When you dream of running away and becoming an artist, that vision must include a cigarette, a beret and a friendly community of starving artists on the streets of Montmartre. Ah, Paris. The grungy center of the civilized universe, where I sat at a little cafe table sipping cafe au lait and watched the Parisian rats running along the cobblestones and under the sidewalk. It's beautiful with the kind of beauty that's real - even more beautiful because it's so imperfect. Part of its charm is its reputation as a haven for creativity.

But now souvenir shops set up near Montmartre are slicing into sales of art by Parisian artists. There are three hundred officially registered artists there - and they're competing with mass produced Chinese pictures that sell for a fraction of what they have to charge to make any money at all.

A BBC reporter asked the souvenir shops where the paintings came from, and it took a bit of persuading to get them to admit that yes, the paintings were from China. And some of them even touch them up themselves!

It's a tough economy. But buying rip off, assembly line art is a bad call on every level. Do you want your money to support a factory or an artist? Would you choose a bigger, bad piece of art over an exquisite small one simply because you have a lot of wall to cover? Do you want bad art in your life?

Thanks to Art News Blog for this one.

1 comment:

pinkpackrat said...

aha-- so that's why the art seemed so tacky the last time I visited in 2005-- I couldn't figure it out. 30 years ago there was actually some decent art to be found in that touristy little square near Sacre Coeur.... no more-- thanks for the heads up:-)