Contemporary Art Burns

The Times reports that more than 100 works of contemporary art were destroyed in a conflagration at a London warehouse. There's something strange and oddly fascinating about so much postmodern art going up in flames. One thing I find odd is that the thing that makes the story newsworthy is that the art was worth millions of dollars. It's not so much notable that the expressions were destroyed, it's that the expressions were highly valued. Another is that many of these particular expressions were controversial and conceptual art, such as Tracy Emmin's “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995,” a tent into which the artist had stitched the names of dozens of past lovers. One of the works lost, the Chapman Brothers' “Hell,” which took the artists years to complete, featured 5,000 figures depicting skeletons, Nazis, soldiers and deformed humans, portraying the horrors of war. Jake Chapman jokingly suggested that the work may have gone up in value as a result of having burned to death. At the time it was sold to Charles Saatchi, the work was worth about $900,000. Perhaps Champan's comment is appropriate. Although the works themselves are lost and are now economically valueless, maybe their auras will grow as a result of their incineration.

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