The Price of Everything
MAD | Music/Art/Design
What is it about the contemporary art market that holds us mere mortals in thrall? How and why can a shiny, metallic balloon-animal dog sell for $58.4 million, as Jeff Koons’ original did in 2013? Why is some contemporary art now worth 10 times more than what it fetched at auction only 10 or 15 years ago? Featuring interviews with such art-world luminaries as Gerhard Richter, Marilyn Minter, Larry Poons and, yes, Koons himself, as well as others, Nathaniel Kahn’s first film since the brilliant My Architect (2003) tries to answer these questions (and many more) as it delves deeply into the machinations of the contemporary art market, a world seemingly gone insane in its pursuit of money and prestige. Kahn seems to have had unlimited access to the billionaire players pushing up prices as well as the behind-the-scenes skullduggery that hypes some artists and suppresses others, and the picture he paints—sometimes cynical, sometimes upbeat—captures the crazy spirit of this crazy time.
"[A] brilliant and captivating documentary about how the art world got converted into a money market… It all sounds, on the surface, quite greedy and vulgar and trendy and disreputable. And it probably is. Yet The Price of Everything isn’t a simplistic rant against the money culture… [It’s] also a freewheeling meditation on what art is… Kahn’s enthralling documentary is… a look at the value of beauty…"—Owen Gleiberman, Variety