Friday, March 27, 2015

Van Gogh: The Drawings

The Met has put more than 400 out of print publications on their web site for free download -- which really sort of blows me away. Just last night I downloaded about $500 worth of glossy art books. And promptly got rid of half of them since the quality of the scans is not consistent. But the best ones are amazing. Among these is Van Gogh: the Drawings, the catalog of a 2005 show.

Two different styles are represented. These earlier, more conventional drawings. And then more impressionistic drawings that resemble his mature paintings. I love them both.


G. Verloren said...

It amazes me that we would value copies of the works of a man who has been dead for just shy of 125 years at $500 dollars, which we gladly hand over to publishers who produces such books for literally 1/100th of that price each, or less.

Perhaps in time we'll come to our senses and democratize culture, instead of feeding through a system of rent-extraction. Van Gogh is long dead - so why do we requiring people to pay for the privilege of seeing mere copies of his works? Charge a nominal amount to offset production costs, sure - but 99% profit margins are completely insane.

John said...

Perhaps a misunderstanding? The books I am downloading are free; the $500 refers to the cover prices of the old printed versions.

G. Verloren said...

No, I understood. But the fact that any art book ever was valued at such a price, when the reproductions they contain cost so little to produce, is absurd.

It's great that these digital versions were released openly without cost. But to think that this is the rare exception, and that as a society we find it routinely acceptable to charge the equivalent of nearly 70 hours of labor at minimum wage for a book of mass produced copies which cost the publisher less than a single hour of such labor...

pootrsox said...

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, though it has a "suggested" entry fee, will let you in for not a penny.

It takes several days to thoroughly explore even the part of its holdings that are on display.

And its buildings need to be maintained and upkept; its collections need to be protected and insured and conserved; its employees need to be paid.

And of course it's nice to be able to expand the collections and mount special shows!

One way to recoup some of the costs of these investments in art-- some but not all of which are supported by patrons' donations-- is to charge for the catalogs of special exhibits.

Hardbacks of such catalogs often cost $50 or more; trade paperback versions perhaps $35-$40.

How else would you suggest maintaining the institution that *does* democratize great art from Mesopotamia through last week?

When I lived in CT, I had a yearly Met membership, even though I could not visit more than a few times a year. I got in for "free"-- but my real reason was to support the institution.

Now that I am in VA, I suspect I shall need to join, instead, the VA Fine Arts Museum in Richmond.