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Damien Hirst is a brand, because the art form of the 21st century is marketing. To develop so strong a brand on so conspicuously threadbare a rationale is hugely creative—revolutionary even. —Germaine Greer.

In 2007, London-based art critic Ben Lewis wrote an article for the Evening Standard newspaper entitled “Who put the ‘Con’ in Contemporary Art?” The article discussed the overinflated art-market bubble that Lewis thought was ready to burst. Doubting the compelling idea that capitalism nurtures art and creates a free-trade zone for ideas and feelings, he suggested that the current art market might actually not be good for either making meaningful art or for democracy and freedom of expression. Lewis notes that the art market is notorious for its lack of regulations and transparency. He also points out that, between 2003 and 2008, billionaire hedge-fund managers, as well as the new business classes from Asia, Latin America, and Russia, pushed the already inflated prices of contemporary art into overdrive. Additionally, according to Lewis, the world’s biggest galleries, dealers, and artists were buying work by their most prominent artists, propping up their ever-rising prices. He concluded that the art market’s recent roller-coaster ride was fueled by “cynicism, absurdity, and greed,” accurately predicting the art-market crash at the end of 2008.

The Great Contemporary Art Bubble

Ben Lewis’ The Great Contemporary Art Bubble Trailer

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