A story on NPR told of artist Justine Gignac, who packages New York City garbage into plexiglas cubes and sells these cubes for a profit. He began his venture in order to prove that the packaging of a product makes a big difference in how it is perceived. Attempting to sell garbage seemed like a good way to prove his point. He began selling his cubes for $10, and customers initially purchased them as gag gifts and souvenirs.
Sales were so good that he eventually raised his price. When the cubes hit $50, customers began perceiving the cubes as art, and so he began marketing them as such.
This is the problem with art. My wife is a huge fan of the visual arts, and though I appreciate art as well, there is simply some work that I would not characterize as art, regardless of what anyone says. And don’t Gignac’s cubes illustrate this point? At $10, these cubes are gag gifts. At $50, they may be worthy of a place in MOMA.
It’s why I appreciate art but tend not to embrace it.