Refined surroundings and even more refined reflections of one’s tastes seem to be the order of the day. Blame it on branding – blame it on the need to make instant impressions in a day and age where everything goes out of fashion or comes right back in the game, in nano seconds.
The point in question here is art. Ah, the foremost (for most at least), measure of one’s standing. Own work by an upcoming artist and you are hailed as a patron with a large heart (for promotion, of course). Display something by a middlish artist who does what he does as a hobby (an investment banker or surgeon patronised by the owner of a chain of luxury hotels), and you have taste. Brandish a Picasso and – whoa, you are revered. The most recent case in mind is Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’.
Having started in the most humble way, it made its first appearance behind a Reader’s Digest, only to become a popular icon of artistic and creative expression of angst in modern day brand activities. Finally, it has been bought for the whooping sum of $120 Million. Incidentally, it is one of the nine pieces of art in the world to have touched this particular mark.
What is it about art? Now, two things to consider here are statements, and measure of value. When I say statements, I do not talk of boasting about what you own. I also speak of what it might mean to you. Art does to a home or a lifestyle what a bulb of the right wattage would do to a beautiful lamp. It is a chosen form of brightening up any space and with the right pieces in place around it, a piece of art can actually create a theme or an ambience for that particular space. People with expensive art usually design their spaces (or hire people to do so), with the best display of the work in mind, an not vice versa. All this, without, of course, making the home look like a museum.
Further, when I speak of measure of value, there are two sides to it. First, the value attached to the work of an already well established artist. This artist may also have lived centuries before the owner or buyer of his work actually acquired it – thus making it all the more valuable. And then you have the Munches of the world, who come into a certain bracket when their work is patronised and bought at an unspeakable amount. Luxury bought = Luxury created, in this case.
Art has a way of breathing life into listless walls, but it also has the capacity to propel the owner into a value bracket of his own. Luxury and its value added economics start with investments such as these – art, carpets, vases, curios, chandeliers, wine goblets, crystal and more. Many may insist that they are dead investments with the value reflecting only in figures on the debit side and creating value addition in terms of verbal discussions of the same, yet the fact is that there is a huge market for imitation of such goods and the use of names in hushed tones. And that my dear friend, is what luxury ultimately stands for – branding of the highest order.