Where's my NAMA - The Painters Edition

A letter in the Irish Times. I don’t have a link so you’ll have to trust me that I’m not making this shit up.

I wasn’t joking either when I said NAMA would debase all logic.

Time for new art to be created.

My God, that must be one of the most self-serving things I’ve ever read. After all, what art are banks likely to be holding? That of people like Robert Ballagh I would have thought. The idea that struggling or unknown artists - or 99% of the art community for that matter - would be in any way effected by this is laughable. So this is a plea to protect probably not many more people than the signatories to the letter.

Come Armageddon, come…PLEASE.

Here’s the link (althought I think that will only work for today)

I laughed when I saw this… It’s all there, firesale… blah blah… unlikely to realise their real value in the current market… etc…

Basically the state needs to buy them to realise the long term economic value…

And the signatories are probably the ones who were sold these works (or were commissioned) in the first place! So they’ve already made money out of them and are now complaining that the sale will drive down the value of their new work…

Will be difficult for them alright, to have to admit that their work is not worth half of what they let on it is. Sorry chaps there have been bubbles in bulbs, so bubbles in wallpaper substitutes are also possible

It’s pointless for BOI to sell its collection just to satisfy the braying mob, which is what is happening. Banks are historically buyers of art - it’s one the ‘socially useful’ things they do. It’s a part of their corporate social responsibility obligations. We should be doing more to encourage corporations to get involved in cultural philanthropy (Ireland is very backward in this regard) because it reduces the claims vested interests can make on the state. Instead people shit all over them for one of the few good things they do. This country eats its own.

You’re factually wrong about this. While Ballagh is represented in bank collections, banks also buy emerging artists. AIB has actually been a heroic supporter of new Irish art for decades through regular buying and prizes. They have a museum quality collection out of which they lend generously.

What Ballagh is arguing is that artists will be collateral damage in the rage against banks. There is actually no need - apart from PR - for the banks to sell their art. It’s purely symbolic.

^^ Well, if that’s true Jon I stand correct. I guess I would counter-argue that while traditionally banks (and other large corpos) do philanthropic art-buying, in philistine Ireland I seriously doubt they did anything much other than buy the big boys in a bling Celtic Tiger stylie. I can’t bring myself to credit them with either taste or foresight.

But as I say, I am glad to be corrected if the banks really are Sacchiian in their support of the broad artistic community. I doubt it, but I don’t know for sure so I’ll take your word on it.

Agree with that - it’s playing to the gallery.

But it’s still a comical letter… you could substitute the word art with the word property and it would read like a CIF press release. Except I thought it was de knowledge/smart/green economy which would save us, now it’s apparently our culture…!!!

Seriously read the letter again - Van Gogh would be chopping off his other ear in the grave to hear such politico-economic, self-serving, NAMA-tastic drivel from any self-respecting “artist”.

tribune.ie/article/2008/mar/ … 0aib%20art

AIB employs a serious and respected buyer, buys only living Irish artists and has an annual prize for emerging artists whose names I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t recognise most years. They do it right. That’s one example I know a bit about. I can’t speak really for the other banks, although at first glance KBC has a very good collection.

how is buying art ‘socially useful’

when a person buys a picture from the bank, is that not socially useful ?

if banks should buy art, should galleries give loans

Yes, I think artists are backing themselves into a utilitarian corner here. The core point remains: forcing the banks to sell their art hurts artists for no good reason, without hurting the banks (which is presumably what people want out of the exercise).

A key part of human society is artmaking. It has been since we lived in caves. As buyers of art, banks are socially useful in that they enable a lot of valuable artmaking to occur which otherwise would not.

It’s not the commerce itself that is the socially useful part of art, so someone buying a painting from a bank isn’t quite CSR; moreover, by needlessly taking the arse out of the art market, a firesale will make it harder for artists to keep making work.

To answer your third question, I’m not being positively prescriptive. I’m saying banks do buy art and they own a lot. This, on balance, has turned out well for all involved (artists, banks, society at large). So we shouldn’t screw up a good thing by being a bunch of retarded begrudgers (again). This is an example of banks doing something for us. We should encourage it. Galleries don’t do loans and nobody is asking them to. Your question is purely rhetorical and irrelevant.

If a privately owned bank wants to spend money on art then that’s the shareholder’s problem. Any institution that is publicly owned or subsidised through guarantees should have to sell all assets which are not essential to its operations. If the state wants to subsidise the arts then there’s probably some other institution that’s more equipped to do that than the banks. And then everyone can get dragged along to look at it rather than just bank employees and customers.

As someone who owned a lot of Irish Art and sold all of it around June 2007, I can tell you that the Irish Art market was just as insane as any part of the Irish property market.

An unbelievable amount of junk was churned out and hyped as “Modern Irish Art” and flogged for insane prices. But that’s nothing new - a great deal of so-called modern art worldwide is just a sophisticated con.

The arse has already fallen out of the Irish Art Market - classic work from the early 20th Century is down at least 50% as the latest miserable Sotheby’s London auction showed. Much of the modern stuff is simply unsaleable - bit like our ghost estates.

I wonder if the Bishopstown credit union will sell me the painting of a Credit Union on a beach that I did as a 9 year old for one of their competitions?

As for the artists? You sold those works of art tax free didn’t you? You got breaks.

This is like a perverse version of the taxi drivers’ quibble, whereby Mr. Painter doesn’t want too much art on the market, especially not his own, as it will reduce the value of the pieces he’s trying to sell? He wants his paintings sold (tax-free) and off the market, so that his new paintings will hold their value.

There’s asset depreciation going on all around us. Nothing is exempt.

Don’t worry, Mr Painter, good paintings on good canvas will always hold their value!

I don’t disagree with Banks or any other organisation buying works of art from local artists. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind a few hanging in Biffo’s office. However, I have a problem with this selfish submission from a group of artists trying to protect their own interests when one of these organisations has their backs against the wall. Someone is trying to run a business.

Hey I just thought of a solution!

Why doesn’t the bank lend the artists the money to buy their own art back at bubble value, thereby protecting the value of the art to keep up Irish art prices? These loans can be securitised on the art itself!

I should be on the board of a bank!

The real reason the greedy artists are complaining is they had the law changed to introduce “Droit de suite” a few years ago so they now get paid twice for the same work, the more money the painting is sold on for, the more they get.

Where’s my NAMA?