“Apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world.”

Man, I LOVE Robert Hughes when he’s railing against money!!! And this short documentary series about how money has come to rule the world of contemporary art is so good, I’ve posted posted all six episodes here. Not only is the message (and the historical footage) all kinds of amazing, the scenes that show Hughes staring dramatically into space are straight out of Masterpiece Theatre. There are many fantabulous moments in this doc (footage of Robert Rauschenberg crashing Robert Scull’s auction of his work is one of them), but my most favorite comes in Episode 6, in which Hughes interrogates collector Alberto Mugrabi about art. IT IS FUCKING SUBLIME (even if Hughes conveniently overlooks the fact that Rauschenberg was kind of phoning it in at the end).

Seriously, light a fattie and watch this. It is sooooo good on so many levels.

Double hat-tip to Jörg Colberg for pointing the way on this. The additional five episodes can be found below.


  1. Jim Linderman

    Truly the last refuge for the scoundrel, which is why the art market is so interesting. Huge capital gains, artificially created scarcity through “limited” edition works with no more validity than Franklin mint “rare” coins, interlocking relationships between the art “press” and the dealer, inflated donations for tax breaks, crooked dealers who poop on anything they don’t represent, taking unfair advantage of ill-informed (but rich) collectors who have no more smarts than the average carnival attendee, incestuous relationships between institutions private dealers and collectors and finally the largest mark-up from raw material to finished product greater than drugs. Collusion in the secondary and auction market. The whole thing is a glorious sideshow with rubes, shills and talkers…and since for the most part it only hurts the rich, just fine with me.

  2. Hugh

    Started watching segment six and so far feel its just revealing the interviewer’s prejudices (although the interviewee is pretty woeful). If I had made my mind up that all classical music was boring and sounded the same I could make equally snotty comments asking what the point of all Bach’s chorals were when they all sound pretty much identical.

  3. Anders Rikardson

    “The Art World” which probed in this program represents maybe much less then a 1% of the contemporary art and artist out there (though moneywise probably +95%).

    The struggling young artist which often works 1-2 “normal” jobs to survive (and afford the art supplies) and then fade away because of lack of patrons.
    There are no more “Vogels” (ep.1) to make them survive as artists. What happened to the middle income takers, have they stopped buying real art with their heart?

    Did everybody get hexed by the “International Art World”? Have the “normal” person just reduced themselves to spectator rather then a participator?