Turning Wool into money … or fool’s gold

Eric Coombes responds to an editorial about the art cash cow

alt="" width="454" height="598" srcset="http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Fool1.jpg 454w, http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Fool1-227x300.jpg 227w, http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Fool1-41x55.jpg 41w" sizes="(max-width: 454px) 100vw, 454px" />Is a celebrity a person ‘famous for being famous’, or //--> merely ‘someone in the media that one

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of’. Despite being obscure – in this paradoxical and mysterious mode of obscurity – celebrities, however ill-informed and stupid

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they might be, are entitled to have their ‘opinions’ widely disseminated,

and heard, at least with respect, and quite possibly with hysterical enthusiasm – especially if they are ‘comedians’. This /* xin-1 */ entitlement is now regularly exercised, on an almost weekly basis,
in supposedly serious discussion programmes such as Question Time.


we regard his ‘work’ as the

equivalent of the celebrity’s ‘opinions’, then the status of Christopher Wool, who appears to have ‘risen without trace’, as described in the Nov/Dec editorial, is strikingly analogous to that of a celebrity with google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; opinions as fatuous and ungrounded
as Wool’s
‘art’. As our editor observes, the ‘value’ of google_ad_width = 970; a Wool ‘resides purely in its perceived status as a tradeable luxury’. There is nothing new in the craving for social status, and its pursuit through ostentatious display or ‘conspicuous consumption’, to google_ad_height = 90; use google_ad_height = 90; Thorstein Veblen’s term. But in the past, the ‘work of
art’ – as tradeable luxury and vehicle of social display – however vulgar or spurious, at least had observable


features that a rich undiscriminating fool could be duped into mistaking for the marks of aesthetic merit. What is new is the sublimation of social display to the point where the vehicle of display is purged of such
features, and reduced to its essence


as a counter in the
game of social display itself.

The situation is cleverly described by the editor as one where a ‘work of art’ (improperly so-called, to adapt an expression of Collingwood’s) has value in the same sense in which a share certificate

has value, and, moreover, appears to

with money need not be laboured. Here too


we //--> clearly have circularity – circularity of a kind
which characterizes the logical structure of

respect like money, are connected with the institutions of the

vicious circle src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> of state art, which has also detached itself from the institutions of art (properly so-called), and usurped
their google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; authority.
This true authority – when it exists at all – emerges tacitly in traditions of practice and criticism that are integrated into the wider culture, and belongs to institutions that are


quite distinct from such officially constituted entities as the Tate Galleries, or the Arts Council.