Mundane to Megabucks

This month we take a tour through the online art world, moving from open source freebies to stratospheric price tags.

Matthew Barney's "The Cremaster Cycle" was organized by the Guggenheim Museum and has traveled throughout Europe and in the United States. Barney combines video, photography, drawing and sculpture to produce these screenings. For each of the five cycles you can view project details and get a sense of how he builds his fantasies.

Sculpture that utilizes common everyday objects found in our homes and offices always fascinates me. Have you ever thought of the pencil, for example, as sculpture? See what imaginative hands and minds have produced: (Scroll down for the images.)

After spending many absorbing hours looking at sun-bleached walls on the Greek Islands, I remember the glorious drama that Opi Zuni's bright abstractions can produce. Born in Egypt but with roots in Greece, she has created some startling effects with color and perspective. Be sure to click on "works" for some additional gallery installations:

We're all familiar with screensavers, from the days of our fascination with flying toasters. But now there's one you can download for free that will give you hours of exploding forms. An open-source project that works on both Macs and PCs, the continually morphing shapes are so compelling that my neighbors watch my desktop through their windows:

Many people have been fascinated by the toroidal heptahedron, constructed originally in 1977 by the Hungarian mathematician Lajos Szilassi. The requirement is that each of its faces must touch all other faces. Now there is a site that claims to help you make your own model of a Szilassi polyhedron by downloading a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. I haven't tried this yet, but would love to hear from anyone who has:

I'm sure you have read, as I have, of the phenomenal prices being paid for art at the leading auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's. So far these manias have not traveled to most working artists, but a glimpse at Bloomberg's review of galleries in the Chelsea area of New York City will give you an idea of how pricing in the Big Apple stands in stark contrast to the rest of the art world. One film described as showing "decrepit surroundings and rotting characters" fetches up to $10,000 for a copy. Another work features Brad Pitt in the rain holding a gun and wearing only undershorts and white socks. It can be yours for $100,000. (but only if you buy one of the two editions). And for multimoney you can own an artist's self portrait made of vegetables and cast in bronze and painted vinyl (a la the Italian artist Arcimboldo). It's all here: For an additional and very pungent comment on the manic art scene, be sure to read Jerry Saltz's recent article in the Village Voice. Saltz introduces us to the current ridiculous puffery, like this comment by Sotheby's Head of Contemporary Art, "The best art is the most expensive because the market is so smart". In an article entitled "Seeing Dollar Signs", he goes on to describe the art market today as "a cash-addled image-addicted drug".,saltz,75590,13.html

c.Corinne Whitaker 2007