In this art market, driven as it is by private capital, an artist has to have the means to publicise their work and display it in galleries known to the wealthiest social classes, in order to meet with public success. One might ask, for example, with reference to the UK, whether Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst would ever have enjoyed their enormous success had they not been included in ‘Sensation’ – Charles Saatchi’s 1997-98 exhibition of young British artists.
It is men like Saatchi who ultimately, due to their huge capital, have the means to control the general social perception of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ contemporary art. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to judge whether such figures are successful because they really do understand what the public reaction will be to various works and artists or, as seems more likely, they are able to shape such reactions through the deployment of their capital and its influence.
It is possible to enumerate many factors which might have brought certain artists to the attention of the influential, highest social classes, and thus have brought them great success. They may have had some initial capital, which afforded them the leisure time to pursue their projects, and the ability to purchase materials and studio space. Talent and effort should not, of course, be excluded, but good social skills and the ability to communicate ideas must be seen as crucial factors, especially when presenting works to potential patrons, or attending social functions and exhibitions at galleries.
The market for traditional art materials, such as canvasses and paints, arguably shows some elements of monopoly, but just as contemporary artists have extended the meaning of ‘art’ far beyond painting and sculpture, a corresponding extension of art materials has occurred. Indeed, it seems that no material is now excluded from the art world.
With garbage now commonly used to fashion new art works, creative and