So this recent surfacing of sentiment, supporting your local art hoe and living artists, got me to thinking…
What if we, hypothetically, took the price paid for the art of deceased artists and instead were to use it as a stipend for living artists… I wanted to know what that’d look like so I did some lite maths!
The approximate prices paid (not adjusted for inflation) for the top ten known most expensive paintings done by now deceased artists comes to about $1.7 BILLION USD.
If every artist were to get a set stipend…
At a stipend of $30,000 per year, $1.7 billion would support about 56,000 artists for a year.
At a stipend of $10,000 per year, $1.7 billion would support about 170,000 artists for a year.
At a stipend of $5,000 per year, $1.7 billion would support about 340,000 artists for a year.
Now if we were to attempt to make that $1.7 billion last longer / be more sustainable…
At a stipend of $30,000 per year, for ten years, $1.7 billion would support about 5,600 artists.
At a stipend of $10,000 per year, for ten years, $1.7 billion would support about 17,000 artists.
At a stipend of $5,000 per year, for ten years, $1.7 billion would support about 34,000 artists.
The art market is on such a tear even the insiders are scratching their heads. Since New York’s spring sales started last week, at least $2.1 billion of art has been sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, with the top 10 lots accounting for almost $800 million.
The amount I’m talking about here is not unheard of or apparently so unreasoanable. Now from a moral perspective I’m not so sure it’s right to give money to artists but not others. The reality of this is very different from the hypothetical I’m talking about. I’m just trying to illustrate just how much dang money is spent on the works of deceased artists while many living artists are forced to see their art as a hobby.
I’d hate to break it to y’all who think that these deceased artists are gods… but anybody can make Mark Rothko’s No. 6 Violet, Green, and Red and a girl in my middle school art class was able to reproduce Van Gogh’s works without much difficulty. Yes these works are wonderful, yes the world would love to see them, yes they’re important, but are these artists’ works really worth more than the art 340,000 artists could make on a $5,000 stipend? I think perhaps society needs to reevaluate its priorities.
P.S. To all artists out there, just imagine getting $5,000 for art supplies…