Crisis may curb "stupid" art prices: sculptor Caro

Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:28pm EST
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By Robin Emmott

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters Life!) - "Stupid" prices for art could be brought down to earth as the global economic slump forces even the wealthy to tighten their purse-strings, British sculptor Anthony Caro said.

Caro, one of the biggest living names in sculpture and famous for revolutionizing the art form in the 1960s, said sky-high prices have been a distraction for young artists, some of whom are more concerned about getting rich than making lasting and meaningful work.

The financial crisis could slam the brakes on a trend of recent years where some people view artworks as mere investments, like stocks, Caro told Reuters this week.

"Because of this crisis, something will change in art and there may be a rethinking of value," Caro, 84, said in an interview at a new sculpture exhibition that includes his work in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

"Some art has got some stupid, outrageous values and it is very sad that money has become a very important part of the art world," said Caro, who broke with tradition to work with brightly painted steel and hardboard resting directly on the floor.

The worst recession in Europe and the United States since World War Two has begun to push down contemporary art values at auction after a long run of dizzy gains until late last year.

In 2007 an abstract canvas valued at $40 million by 1950s artist Mark Rothko sold at auction for a heady $72.8 million.

Buyers are also losing sight of quality as artworks become commodities, according to Caro's disciple Tim Scott, another British sculptor showing work at the Monterrey exhibition that organizers hope to take to a U.S. museum later this year.   Continued...