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Cheap Original Hand Painted Oils

Originally posted on April, 30, 2008

In booksellers booths along the Seine quays in Paris you may purchase “Original Hand Painted Oils? (the sign is in English). The paintings are hand painted (not reproductions), they are done in oil, but original, they are not. Most certainly, mass produced in Chinese Art Factories (see article). The vender is evasive when questioned about where the paintings come from. No telling what they say the tourists? Prices I saw started at 15 euros and went to 85 euros for the largest sizes. They were around 50 cm x 65 cm. Copies of Van Gogh subjects are a favourite it seems.

What happened to the booksellers that previously had these spaces? It had been a while since I had been along the Seine on the left bank. In fact, it has been a while since I’ve spent any time in Paris at all.

Another change I noticed was the lack of the charcoal portrait painters by Notre Dame: On nice days in April? Well, nothing last forever. Maybe the fact that almost every tourist is carrying a digital camera has something to do with this.

I believe technology and the internet have a lot to do with the changes we are seeing. One thing, younger people have grown up pirating music and images. Many of them would not think of purchasing original software: Money for original artwork? It had better be cheap.

I use the word cheap because it seems to me we are losing the cultural elegance to use more delicate descriptions for shlock. As well also not to glorify something demonstrating bad taste: Chinese shlock art on the quays in Paris?

In my mind, there is one and only one valid justification for purchasing a work of art: If it gives you pleasure. A stimulating painting can give you, your children and their children pleasure into the distant future. If the painting is not up to this measure anything spent on it is probably too much.

Galleries and painters are not having an easy time of it at the moment. As always, there remains many committed to high standards of excellence. It will, however, require a lot of courage and perseverance to ride out this tide of …? : What is the word? : May be artistic deprivation. Deprivation both of on the part of many would be artists as well as their public.

Published in french as Huiles originales et pour pas cher

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