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SoHo Artist Kicks Off Controversial Auction
Nelson Diaz stars on eBay at $1
Thomas Johansmeyer (tomj)     Print Article 
Published 2008-06-17 04:43 (KST)   
Nelson Diaz, "Self Portrait with Pipe, 2008."
©2008 Nelson Diaz

The auction has begun! Nelson Diaz, an artist in New York's SoHo neighborhood, initiated an auction last night for the first in a series of 10 paintings.

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"Self Portrait with Pipe, 2008," rendered in his signature mathematical style, is available for a starting bid of $1, which is where the action stood at 7 a.m. The auction is scheduled to last for a total of seven days.

Diaz was inspired to conduct this art market experiment by a conversation he had 25 years ago with British artist Francis Bacon. Despite the fact that Bacon's works routinely fetch more than $50 million at auction these days, Diaz is convinced that the master would not have been happy with the news.

He remembers Bacon saying, "It is amazing that people buy my work. It is stupid. They only buy it because the market tells them it's worth something. But, in reality, to me, they're totally worthless."

With this eBay auction, Diaz wants to bring the aesthetic back into art.

With seven consecutive years of growth and total 2007 sales of $9.2 billion according to ArtPrice.com, fine art has become a commodity. Investors pull pieces off studio walls as though they are inventory rather than expressions of emotion, social criticism or philosophical investigation. As a result, in a sense, its meaning has been determined by market forces rather than the tastes of the collector.

"People are more interested in buying art just to have it than acquiring pieces that mean something to them," Diaz believes -- and he's tired of it.

"Fuck the money," Diaz says.

By auctioning "Self Portrait with Pipe, 2008," for a starting bid of $1, he is sending a powerful message to the global art market. For a change, the average collector can have a shot at owning a Diaz original, which is not easy, given the prices his work normally garners. The fact that his work is held in The New York Academy of Art and The Eileen Guggenheim Collection suggests the opportunity now available to art aficionados who otherwise would settle for reproductions.

Diaz continues, "I just want someone who loves my work to be able to afford it, at least once in a while."
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Thomas Johansmeyer

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