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The relation of Art and Commodity has always through history been a complicated one. Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, now considered Art, were purely enterprises to make money, and their popular appeal often goes against their poetry and aesthetic appeal. Many scholars have difficulty reconciling these two impulses. In Renaissance times and on into the 19th century, Art was sponsored by rich patrons whose “artistic” desires were actually simply class/status needs; even such famous “art” as Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel were actually “commodity” paid for not by aesthetes but by social elites. In modern times (20th and 21st century), visual art (painting, sculpture, photography, even architecture) is seen as an investment. The modern ability to reproduce visual art has brought out the problem of whether we see “art” in a reproduction of an original, or only in the one-of-a-kind original. For example, expensive jewelry is often reproduced in “paste” for public wear, to avoid the possibility of theft. Performance art (dance, theatre, song) is also capturable with modern technology, so the value of “liveness” is brought into question. Finally a modern problem is the geometric proliferation of “entertainment,” a form of “art” deliberately aimed at markets of profit. Is there anywhere an artist who does not concern himself/herself with “making a living” with art?
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